ECAC West weekend wrap: Jan. 31

A pair of sweeps highlighted ECAC West play last weekend.  At the top of the standings, Elmira continued its success at Manhattanville’s Playland Ice Casino, beating the Valiants 3-1 and 4-3.
Friday night saw Elmira score a goal in each period, with the last going into an empty net with 30 seconds remaining as Manhattanville scrambled to tie the game.  The only Valiants goal came six minutes into the third period.
Saturday, on the other hand, was a more wide-open game.  Elmira’s number two  scorer, Kevin Willer, scored his second short-handed goal of the season just two minutes into the contest.  Unlike the previous night, Manhattanville not only answered back, but took a 2-1 lead in the second period.
Elmira turned on the gas in the third period, scoring three unanswered goals in the first 13-plus minutes to take a 4-2 lead.  Manhattanville added a power-play goal at 14:40, but that was as close as the Valiants could get.
The sweep has given Elmira a four-point lead in the league.  More importantly, the Soaring Eagles have opened up enough distance between themselves and the rest of the league to take control of their own fate.
In the middle of the pack, Utica swept Hobart at The Aud to move into second place in the league.  Friday was a wild affair, with three of the Pioneers goals coming off of breakaways.  Utica scored two goals in the first period to establish its lead, including one by Tim Coffman with 39 seconds remaining in the period.
Hobart climbed back into the contest when Tommy Capalbo tallied the only goal in the second period.  The Statesmen thought they had tied the game early in the third period, but the referees waived off the apparent goal with a controversial high-sticking call.
Utica scored a pair of goals during the last seven minutes of the contest, compared to only one for Hobart, to seal the 4-2 victory.
Saturday’s game was all Utica, as the Pioneers won all the little battles on the ice, and the big battle on the scoreboard, to roll to a 5-0 win.
“The bottom line is they outplayed us Saturday night,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor.  “We’ve had a couple of games this year where you could feel it just wasn’t in the air.”
The pair of wins vaulted Utica into a tie for second place with Neumann  in the standings and dropped Hobart into a fourth place tie with Manhattanville.
“That was not the way we planned the weekend, but that is hockey,” said Taylor.  “It was not what we wanted to come out of the series weekend with, by any means.  Utica played an outstanding weekend.”