ECAC East/NESCAC wrap: Feb. 7

It really is time to watch the scoreboard and see just who has helped themselves and maybe some other team in the process. With just two weeks remaining, there is still quite a lot to play for and a lot of potential playoff scenarios that will be played out right up until the final whistle in the last period of the last regular season game on Saturday, February 19.
The ECAC East is easiest to sort out, at least in comparison with NESCAC.  Norwich and Castleton are tied for first with 25 points, seven clear of third place Massachusetts-Boston.  With just eight points available in the next two weekends, it seems a virtual lock that one of these two teams is going to be the top seed entering the conference championship.  Both gained a win and a tie this past weekend, although Norwich played against Middlebury and Williams, two of the stronger teams in the NESCAC conference, and came away with three points.  In the process, Parker Carroll has emerged as the go-to netminder for the Cadets, and has an impressive 6-0-2 record since playing consistently over the past few weeks.  Since both teams took care of business on the weekend, this Friday’s game in Rutland, Vt., should be a real fan favorite, especially since the Spartans took an earlier nonconference game on Norwich’s home ice before Christmas.
Mass.-Boston, Babson and Skidmore are just separated by two points, so two of the three will be earning a home-ice position based on the outcomes of the final two weekends. Ironically, all three teams, by a quirk of scheduling, face two of the same opponents in the upcoming games.  Skidmore has Norwich as an added challenge this weekend, but road games for all with Williams and Middlebury may be the deciding factors in who gets to play it home come playoff time.
NEC, Southern Maine and UNE are mired at the bottom of the standings with the Nor’easter likely getting a road game against the top seed as the lowest seed in the conference.  Both NEC and USM have shown some signs of life in the second half but have not been able to sustain any level of consistency so while points will be nice, getting ready for the second season may be the priority as neither team will likely move much from their current position.
Over in the NESCAC conference, the playoff picture is very, very, very murky indeed.  Nine teams are separated by just eight points and the top six are separated by just three points overall.  Two of those teams, Middlebury and Williams (I am sensing a theme here) play their travel partner game tomorrow night, so it’s probable that things are going to get even tighter, if that’s possible.
Trinity and Wesleyan hit the road this weekend for the Colby-Bowdoin road trip.  Colby would like to move up if they can keep their hot play up and create some distance from the three Connecticut schools fighting it out for two spots in the conference tournament.  Bowdoin currently has a tenuous hold on the top spot after dropping a one-goal decision at Amherst and tying Hamilton this past weekend.  The match-ups make the scenarios all the more interesting as, other than Tufts, there is a lot of room to move if you get hot right now, or if your game suddenly goes away you could go from first to sixth in just one weekend.
Talk about drama, February is a whole month of playoff intensity, so don’t be surprised when the scores get closer and the letters O-T start appearing on the game recaps.  This past weekend alone, we saw five ties, three 4-4 games and two 3-3 finals.  In just a couple of weeks, those outcomes are going to go until a team wins it and moves on, so for now a tie is an all-important point and that may mean a lot in just a couple more weeks.
The chase is on, so root your team on when they need it the most.  Time is dwindling away, and November 1 seems like a long time ago when practices first started.  Just a handful of games remain, and it’s time to see which teams have got what it takes to make the magical run this year.
Get those iPhones working and check out the scores in real time as action everywhere is important to your team too – drop the puck!