ECAC East/NESCAC Wrap-up – January 18, 2011

Continentals on the Move
For some, the upset of #1 ranked Oswego by Hamilton at the Lakers holiday tournament may have been a bit of luck or the NESCAC school taking advantage of a back-up goaltender. However the Continentals have made the second half a showcase for knocking off ranked teams. Last weekend coach Norm Bazin’s team tied Middlebury and then knocked off another top five team in beating Williams. The second half was off to a good start in league play and it only got better this weekend.
After tying travel partner Amherst 4-4 last Tuesday, Hamilton swept league rivals Tufts and Conn College this past weekend in convincing fashion. Since league play began a couple of weeks ago, Hamilton has taken 8 of a possible 10 points and is contending for a home-ice berth as they move up in the standings.
Leading the way for Hamilton has been the team’s leading scorer, sophomore Joe Houk. In fourteen games played this season, Houk has 11 goals and 7 assists and is just one point off his season total from his freshman season. Even more impressive is that nine of his goals have come playing 5-on-5 hockey which is important since the power play has stumbled a bit this season.
On the back end, Scott Heffernan has very quietly put together a good season in his senior year. The senior is 8-3-0 with a .924 save percentage and a 2.25 goals against average. The shutout at Conn College was his first of the year and the team has played solid team defense in front of him yielding just 34 goals in 14 games played.
Another bright spot for the Continentals has been the play of freshman Michael DiMare. The diminutive forward, just 5’7″ and 150 pounds as listed on the roster, has played much bigger for Bazin’s squad. He leads the freshman class with 7 goals and 5 assists including 3 power play goals for Hamilton – about 25% of the team’s total.
This weekend finds Hamilton back at home to face ECAC East rivals Skidmore and Castleton. The Spartans are currently ranked eighth in the nation according to this week’s USCHO poll so look out for the giant slayers again as Hamilton seems to like the challenge of playing the nation’s best teams on their way to challenging in this year’s NESCAC conference standings.
Purple Knights Surprising the ECAC East
St. Michael’s has had the misfortune of being one of the few remaining D-II schools playing in a D-III conference. While only the games against their fellow Northeast-10 schools count for post-season, Coach Davidson’s team is a cool 4-4-1 in the league and 6-6-1 overall having defeated D-II rival St. Anselm and tying New England College this past weekend to take 3 of a possible 4 points.
Junior forward Reave MacKinnon leads the team in scoring and this past weekend led the team with a goal and four assists for five points in the win and tie. The Purple Knights can score but if they really want to show off to the rest of the league they are going to need to tighten up the defensive zone a little bit and they will be in every game. The prior weekend, St. Mike’s defeated Colby by a 5-2 score before dropping a close one to a hilly touted and ranked Bowdoin squad by a score of 6-5.
This weekend finds the Purple Knights on the road again in Connecticut to take on Trinity and Wesleyan – two teams like themselves that are trying to make a move in the second half.
Cardinals Win, Cardinals Win!!!
Since 1973, that’s right 1973, Wesleyan has never defeated Middlebury in a hockey game – 0 for 35. Well now it’s a one game winning streak as Wesleyan defeated Middlebury on the road this past weekend led by sophomore John Guay’s two goals including the game winner in OT.
After building leads of 2-0 and 3-2, the Cardinals were not undone by the Panther’s rallying back to tie the game in the third period and sending it to a five minute overtime session. Just 31 seconds into the extra session Guay won it and the 0 for 35 streak was snapped.
The Cardinals have been playing them tight recently as four of their last five games have gone into overtime including Friday night’s 3-2 loss at Williams. just a little more offense and Wesleyan has the style to play well when playoff time rolls around.