Men’s D-III Playoff Preview: Curry

Last Meeting:
January 1, 2010 (Norwich, 4-0)
League: ECAC Northeast
Record: 16-8-3 (10-2-2 ECAC NE)
NCAA History: Fourth Appearance
Scoring Offense: 3.92 goals per game
Scoring Defense: 3.09 goals per game
Power Play: 21.6 percent
Penalty Kill: 80.6 percent

Team Leaders
Goals: Payden Benning,16
Assists: Ryan Warsofsky,18
Points: Warsofky,27
Power-play Goals: Benning,7
Short-handed Goals: Christopher Atkinson,2
GAA: Robert Dawson, 2.72
Save Pct.: Travis Owens, 9.09
How they got here: Beat Becker, 5-1, in conference semifinals; beat Wentworth, 2-1, (OT) in ECAC Northeast Championship.

If Curry has its way, they’ll be no repeat champion in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Of course, that’s easier said then done for the Colonels, who travel to Northfield, Vt., to take on Norwich, last year’s champs.

“We had a feeling it would be Norwich,” Curry coach Rob Davies said, while also adding that he and his staff considered Castleton and Bowdoin to be possible opponents.

Castleton did not receive a bid, while Bowdoin is hosting Neumann.

“A year later, they are still a very good hockey team,” Davies said of the Cadets. “They take care of pucks and are battled tested. They’re responsible in all three zones. They’ve got some good forwards whose speed can hurt you. They definitely lost some on the blue line, but their new defensemen got thrown into the fire pretty quickly.”

The same could be said for the Colonels, who experienced a rash of injuries during their toughest portion of the schedule around the turn of the year, which saw them play national powerhouses Oswego and Plattsburgh, among others.

“We had a freshman, Mikey Lopez, the youngest kid on our team play his first collegiate came up at Oswego when the were No. 1,” Davies said after Saturday’s  conference championship game. “It’s not how I would have scripted it, but to his credit he played well, as did a lot of other guys, and I think that’s helped us now that we’ve gotten healthier.”

It  also didn’t help that goaltender Robert Dawson was mired in a slump during that stretch. However, the sophomore has turned it around, starting and allowing only one goal in both of Curry’s playoff games.

“He’s figured out how to do his job responsibly, and its made a difference,” Davies said.

Dawson will be put on the spot, especially if the Colonels repeat their early performance against Wentworth in the ECAC Northeast championship game. Curry took seven first period penalties, but cut down the infractions as the game went on.

“For us, we’ve got to make that a point of emphasis,” Davies said. “In some situations, there are good penalties. But we have to hammer home not taking the lazier penalties. Those are the toughest ones to kill; the slashing, hooking and stick penalties.”

Being down a man hasn’t always been a bad thing for Curry. The Colonels lead the nation with 10 short-handed goals, including one against Wentworth Saturday.

If Curry can pop in a few short-handed goals and early and run their power play efficiently, it could go a long way towards making sure the defending champions are sent home in the first round.

“We’re excited; we like the draw,” Davies said. “It’s a nice place to play, and we feel pretty good. There were some trips we didn’t want to make from a driving standpoint. We’re fired up about coming up here. This is what we play for.”