Playoff preview: ECAC East/NESCAC

Amherst Lord Jeffs
League: NESCAC
Conference record: 17-1 (first)
Overall record: 23-3-1
NCAA history: Fourth appearance, quarterfinals in 2009
Scoring offense: 3.89 g/gm
Scoring defense: 1.67 g/gm
Scoring margin: plus-60 (2.22 g/gm)
Power play: 27.6 percent
Penalty kill: 86.7 percent
Penalties: 10.33 pim/gm

Team Leaders
Goals: Mike Moher (13)
Assists: Aaron Deutsch (17)
Points: Mike Moher (28)
Power-play goals: Mike Moher (6)
Short-handed goals: Three players (1)
Goals against average: Jonathan La Rose (1.56)
Save percentage: Jonathan La Rose (.942)

Conference Playoffs
Quarterfinals: defeated Hamilton, 6-0
Semifinals: defeated Wiliams, 2-1
Championship: defeated Middlebury, 4-3

Following Sunday’s exhilarating come-from-behind win over Middlebury College in the NESCAC championship by a score of 4-3, the Lord Jeffs needed to quickly re-calibrate to the excitement of playing on the national stage, as it will host an experienced NCAA team in Plattsburgh.

“This team just seems to find it when it needs it,” said coach Jack Arena. “I thought we started out slowly against a team that showed they could get up on us early the last time we played. We have some real character guys, especially in our captains Mike Baran and Eddie Effinger, and it showed the way we played after that first 10 minutes of the first period. We are a pretty confident bunch when we get the lead, and Jonathan [La Rose] certainly did his job to close it out in the third period when things got close.”

The battle between Plattsburgh and Amherst will be one of similar styles, as both teams approach the game looking at defending first and creating their opportunities through hard work and disciplined play. Both teams have been consistently ranked in the top 10 all season, so this should be a great quarterfinal matchup this weekend to determine who heads to Lake Placid for the Frozen Four.

“I don’t know how we would have done it the other way,” said La Rose. “I missed out on the 2009 championship run, so this does make up a bit for some lost time when I was away from this place and the team. I know what it is like to have to leave here already, so this is special, and I am enjoying all of the time left in the season and hopefully we still have our best hockey in front of us.”

Don’t look for the Lord Jeffs to showcase any 20-goal scorers on their roster. This team does it with balance and depth. Fifteen different players have more than 10 points this season, and four players have 10 or more goals, including leading scorer Mike Moher with 13 goals to go with 15 assists for 28 points. Freshman Aaron Deutsch may be the one highlight-reel player outside of the goal crease that Amherst has his position on the blue line. Deutsch has an impressive 17 assists and 20 points as a freshman, and reads the game well for a young player.

When you look at Amherst, the story is really about defense and goaltending. The team leads the nation ion defensive scoring, and Jonathan La Rose is the nation’s best goaltender. His .942 save percentage and 1.56 goals against average support his 18-1-1 record this season in backstopping the Lord Jeffs to their second league title in four years.

“This is really exciting for this team,” said Arena. “We have a really focused group here that has had a great season. Absolutely they look forward to the challenge of the NCAAs and the going further than any Amherst team has before.”

Norwich Cadets
League: NESCAC
Conference record: 15-2-1, (first)
Overall record: 23-2-2
NCAA history: 12th appearance, champions 2000, 2003, 2010
Scoring offense: 4.81 g/gm
Scoring defense: 1.74 g/gm
Scoring margin: plus-83 (3.07 g/gm)
Power play: 30.5 percent
Penalty kill: 80.5 percent
Penalties: 10.33 pim/gm

Team Leaders
Goals: Pier-Olivier Cotnoir  (20)
Assists: Travis Janke (28)
Points: Pier-Olivier Cotnoir  (40)
Power-play goals: Pier-Olivier Cotnoir (11)
Short-handed goals: Colin Mulvey (2)
Goals against average: Parker Carroll (2.02)
Save percentage: Parker Carroll (.884)

Conference Playoffs
Quarterfinals: defeated University of New England, 5-1
Semifinals: defeated Southern Maine, 3-2
Championship: defeated Castleton, 11-1

The top-ranked Cadets come into the NCAA tournament off their most impressive win of the season. The 11-1 victory over ECAC East rival Castleton in the championship game was as dominant a performance as the Cadets have had all season, and their return to both health and good form appears to have them setup well for a return to Lake Placid, where they won their last national championship just two seasons ago.

One thing that should concern any opponent facing the Cadets is that they are demonstrating they are a potent offensive team. The hero of the Cadets last championship in Lake Placid is back sporting great numbers as the team’s leading scorer, and has been on a roll during the postseason run. Pier Olivier-Cotnoir has 20 goals and 20 assists to lead the Cadets in scoring. Sophomore Travis Janke has had a breakout sophomore season with 39 points, and junior Kyle Thomas, despite missing some time due to injury, has an impressive 15 goals and 20 assists in just 24 games played this season.

“We really have great depth on this team,” said coach Mike McShane. “We have the guys you would expect to be scoring, but then have been getting important contributions from guys like Doug Lindensmith, Colin Mulvey, and Shane Gorman, to name just a few. We might have picked the right time of the year to get everybody going.”

The Cadets are anchored in goal by sophomore Parker Carroll, who is 15-1-1 in his 17 starts and has solid numbers, including a .884 save percentage and 2.02 goals-against-average. For his career, Carroll is 29-2-3 in 37 games. He has been very effective in making the big saves, and focused on using his size out on his angles challenging the shooters. It isn’t easy to just face 15 to 18 shots per game, and for the most part, the shots Carroll sees aren’t easy ones, so he is familiar with making the important save when his team needs it most.

Juniors Owen Carpino and Pasha Koshokin also provide the Cadets with a strong presence on the blue line, and will be key factors in transitioning the puck to the Cadets’ potent offensive players from the defensive zone. Freshmen Alec Thieda and Corey Hale have been solid for the Cadets in their first year on the team, and now look to contribute to the team’s stingy goals against average on the national stage.

The Cadets are a formidable team for any opponent by scoring at nearly a five-goal-per-game clip while surrendering just under two goals defensively. The composite of the season is that Norwich has been outstanding all season long, and enters the tournament as a favorite, with virtually all of its players back and playing well. Last year’s Frozen Four miss still stings, so look for the Cadets to continue playing their best hockey in search of their second national championship in three years.


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