ECAC East/NESCAC wrap: Nov. 28

UNE Wins PAL Cup
Of the three ECAC East tournament winners this past weekend, two are not surprising. Norwich and Castleton both remained unbeaten for the season in winning the Primelink Tournament and Rutland Invitational, respectively. The new kid on the block is the University of New England, which collected its first hardware as a member of the ECAC East in beating conference foe Massachusetts-Boston in a shootout to win the PAL Cup tournament.
After beating the host school SNHU by a score of 6-3 on Saturday, the Nor’easters started out strong in the championship game, taking a 3-1 lead in the second period before the Beacons rallied in the final minutes to tie the score at 3-3. A scoreless third period and overtime showcased UNE’s Craig Ryan in goal, as UNE was outshot 14-6 over the final 25 minutes of play. Ryan continued his strong play into the shootout, blanking the Beacons as UNE scored twice to win the shootout and the tournament.
Ironically, Mass.-Boston had earned its way into the finals with a 1-1 tie and shootout win over Worcester State in the opening round, so the Beacons lived and died at the hands of penalty shot proficiency. For UNE, it was a real confidence-building win for a young team that had to overcome some late-game struggles in order to hoist the trophy.
While the game is officially a tie on both teams’s records, UNE certainly will be looking to build on its strong play from the weekend when league play resumes this upcoming weekend and the Beacons get another shot at UNE on the road in Maine Saturday night.
Tough Weekend for NESCAC teams
Other than Hamilton’s win over Skidmore in the Skidmore Invitational, the remainder of the conference teams struggled in tournament or nonconference games after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Amherst finished 1-1 in the Cape Cod Classic, having beaten Salem State in a first round contest before losing on Sunday afternoon to Hobart by a score of 3-1. Middlebury, which hosted the Primelink this year, lost 3-2 to Elmira on Friday and tied Plattsburgh 0-0 on Saturday to finish 0-1-1 in the tournament, which was won by Norwich over Elmira by a score of 5-2. Tufts split its two games in Rutland, losing to Morrisville before blanking Becker College 3-0 in the consolation game on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Trinity split two nonconference games with a win over Assumption and a one-goal loss against Wentworth. Wesleyan dominated Assumption in shots by a nearly two-to-one margin, but lost where it counts on the scoreboard to Assumption by a score of 4-3.
The U-18 U.S. team took honors at the Bowdoin/Colby Tournament by beating both NESCAC schools by scores of 2-1 and 5-4 respectively. The Polar Bears won their other match-up with Salve Regina by a score of 5-2, while the host Mules dropped two one-goal decisions to finish 0-2 for the weekend. Sunday’s loss to Salve Regina saw the Seahawks score with just over a minute remaining in regulation to take a 3-2 win.
In a wild nonconference affair, John Rolli’s Massachusetts-Dartmouth squad scored six times on 20 shots to beat the host Connecticut College Camels by a score of 6-4. Connecticut put up 40 shots, but couldn’t solve Corsairs goalie Ben Vandervies enough to grab the win in a seesaw game which was decided in the final five minutes of play in the third period.
Finally, Williams and Manhattanville played to a 1-1 tie when the Valiants finally found a way to get the puck by Ryan Purdy with just over six minutes remaining in the third period to tie the score. Purdy finished the game with for 41 saves in 65 minutes of action for the Ephs.
Offensive Spartans
Both sophomore Colin Murray (4-2-6) and junior Chris Weiland (1-4-5) nearly doubled their season point totals in just 60 minutes of hockey when Castleton laid one on Becker College in the first round of the Rutland Invitational. The 10-0 win was also the first career college start for goalie Thomas Shelley, who earned his first two wins and secured his first shutout over the weekend.
No matter where you might have caught the action this weekend, there was a lot of it, and great balance in most of the games across the multiple New England conferences. Look for more of the same with a bit more at stake this weekend when teams return to conference play before the semester break.