ECAC East/NESCAC weekend wrap: Jan. 24

The topsy-turvy world of the two interlocking conferences continued this weekend, with yet again more surprises in the games’ outcomes.
There were only a handful of 2-0-0 teams on the weekend, including Castleton, which at 15-2-0 isn’t surprising anyone with its  play at home or on the road. Even Middlebury’s first four-point weekend of the season wasn’t a question of if in most people’s minds, but more a when, they get it together. The Beacons of Massachusetts-Boston aren’t really a surprise anymore when they pick up a couple of wins on the weekend, so after surviving an OT thriller with Southern Maine, the win over pesky UNE was icing on the cake. Three other teams are heading into the final weekend in January with some new-found confidence and strong play that may surprise some other opponents moving into February.
Colby went 2-0-0 this weekend with wins over Tufts and Connecticut College. On Friday night, the White Mules scored three unanswered goals, including an empty-netter to overcome an early 3-2 deficit and earn the win. Will Hartigan paced Colby with two goals, including the game tying effort in the third period.
On Saturday, a shootout with Tufts found Colby trailing 2-1 after the first, only to tie the game in the second period and score three more in the third for the convincing 5-2 win over the Jumbos. Five different players scored for Colby in Saturday’s victory, showcasing some of the depth on the roster.
In Middletown, Conn., there must be something in the water for coach Chris Potter’s team, who continued their mastery of opponents from Vermont by sweeping highly-ranked Norwich and St. Michael’s to capture four much-needed points.
On Friday night, the Cardinals played a bit of rope-a-dope, being outshot 49-20 by the Cadets, only to score four goals on five shots in the second period and take control of the game on the way to a 5-2 win.
On Saturday, the Cardinals, who have been offensively challenged, upped the ante and put a six-spot on the Purple Knights in posting a 6-2 win. Both goaltenders (Matt Hadge and Gleen Stowell) picked up wins over the weekend and held the opponents off the scoresheet until the third period after their teammates had already inflicted the damage.  The Cardinals have been playing solid defense, so the offensive breakout couldn’t come at a better time for a team that would love to move up from it’s eighth position in the standings.
Coach Neil Sinclair’s Skidmore squad has been battling to get some wins strung together all season, having entered the weekend at 3-10-2 overall.  On Friday night, the Thoroughbreds caught a banged up Amherst squad at the right time and didn’t let up after building a 3-0 lead early in the third period.  Colin Bessey out-dueled Cole Anderson in goal and a late flurry didn’t derail Skidmore, who posted the 3-2 win.
On Saturday, Skidmore traveled to face Hamilton and after a wild first period that saw Hamilton build a 3-0 lead in the first seven minutes, the Thoroughbreds owned the rest of the scoring for the game.
Three goals, two on the power play, tied the game at 3-3., the last goal by Zach Menard  coming with just 18 seconds remaining on the clock.  Things quieted down without any scoring in the second period, but midway through the third period, Julian Malakorn scored the game-winner in the 4-3 win.
Colin Bessey entered the game after Hamilton’s opening salvo of goals and shutout the Continentals for the remainder of the contest, stopping 26 shots in the win.  If Skidmore can start winning the close ones consistently, they just might surprise a few teams in February.
So clearly the action this year is not for the weak at heart, and as all of the highlighted teams this week have shown, your team is never out of the contest unless they just give it up.  Lots more action in store the rest of the way.
Who’s next? Drop the puck!