So we are already halfway through January and the conference competition is heating up with many leaders are being challenged by teams looking to make their presence known.
Nonconference games, while not worth points in the standings, are important in building a resume for national consideration, but more importantly, building a level of consistency that will help any team compete for conference glory over the final weeks of the season.
Upsets abounded again this week and the biscuit winners really earned their recognition.
Here is the East recap:
Four different goal scorers and 25 saves from Kevin Aldridge moved Endicott closer to league leader Nichols, who dropped their first game in conference play to Suffolk by a 5-2 score. Justin Selep scored two goals, including one shorthanded, to back senior Brandon Smolarek’s 32 saves in moving Suffolk into a tie at the top on points, while the Bison have a game in hand on the Rams.
Becker’s Nicholas McKee scored the game winning goal just 33 seconds after Kyle Lebrun had tied the game for Wentworth early in the third period. Tyler Stepke made the lead stand up with 14 third period saves.
Hobart and Elmira joined ECAC Northeast schools Salve Regina and Curry in the first Vineyard Classic played on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Hobart took the title by downing Curry in the opening round by a score of 4-2 before downing Salve Regina in the championship game by a 2-1 score. The Seahawks earned the place in the final by downing Elmira 3-1. Special teams and goaltending owned the first two periods of the final before Vincent Russo’s goal with just under three minutes in regulation provided the winner for the Statesmen by a 2-1 score.
In a nonconference game that saw a total of 86 shots on goal, Mike Davis set up linemate Jory Mullin before he scored his second of the game for Neumann with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to earn a hard fought 5-5 tie with Geneseo.
Plymouth State earned a 4-2 win over Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Thursday, but stumbled on Saturday to a Salem State team that is hot on their trail for the top spot in the conference standings. The Vikings outshot PSU by a 41-28 margin and broke open a tie game with three unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes for the win.
Westfield State dropped four important points with a 10-4 loss to visiting Fitchburg State before losing to UMD on Saturday by a 4-2 score. Cameron Snyder finished with six points for the Falcons as they scored nine times in the first two periods of play against the Owls. Linemates John Celli and Nat Rojas chipped in with five and four points, respectively, as the big line combined for four goals and 15 points.
In one of the wilder games of the weekend, Morrisville won a 7-6 overtime battle with Southern New Hampshire that saw the home team rally from 5-0 and 6-2 deficits in the third period to force overtime where Danny Liscio scored the winner for the Mustangs. Darren Young was the offensive star with four goals in the game, which also were his first four goals on the season.
As is often the case, the travel partner games between Babson and Massachusetts-Boston usually find the visitor taking the win on each of the two nights. This year was no different as Babson handed the Beacons their first loss in conference play with a 3-2 win at the Clark Center on Friday night. Saturday saw the Beacons return the favor with a 4-1 win led by two goals from Colin Larkin.
UNE had another four-point weekend, including an overtime upset of Norwich at Kreitzberg Arena by a score of 4-3. The Nor’easters rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force the extra session where Trevor Fleurent won it with under a minute remaining in overtime. UNE followed the big win up with a 4-1 over St. Michael’s, while Norwich had to go to overtime for a second game in a row where they eked out a 1-0 win over Southern Maine.
Another crazy game on the weekend saw Skidmore’s Anthony Bird score the game tying goal with the extra attacker on the ice and just half a second left on the clock in a 6-6 tie with New England College.
Trinity took an important four points in conference play by downing Colby 4-3 and Bowdoin 3-1. Ethan Holdaway and Ryan Cole potted two goals each on the weekend for the Bantams.
Amherst broke back into the win column with a 4-2 win over Tufts where four different players scored goals for the Lord Jeffs.
Wesleyan picked up a pair of points with yet another pair of ties, giving them a total of seven ties on the season. The Cardinals rallied from two goals down to tie Bowdoin 3-3 behind three points from James Kline and scored an extra-attacker goal on Saturday with just 46 seconds remaining to tie Colby 2-2.
Third-ranked Plattsburgh made a road trip through NESCAC for a pair of nonconference games against Middlebury and Williams. Friday saw the Cardinals’ Michael Radisa score twice to break open a scoreless tie in a 3-0 win. On Saturday, Plattsburgh outshoot Williams by a 45-10 margin, including 19-1 in the first period, but they could not get enough past the Ephs’ Michael Pinios, who made 43 saves and got some help from David Italiano, who scored twice for the home team, including the game winner less than one minute into overtime.
Michael Pinios, Williams – the Ephs’ goaltender stood up to an offensive barrage from Plattsburgh by making 43 saves, including 18 in the first period where his team was outshot 19-1 to keep them in the game. Williams rallied for a 3-2 overtime win.
Cameron Snyder, Fitchburg State – the forward led his line with two goals and four assists for six points in the Falcons 10-4 win over Westfield State on Thursday night. Snyder’s line finished the game with a 4-11-15 line in the boxscore.
Darren Young, Morrisville – the forward broke into the goal scoring column in a big way netting his first four goals on the season in a 7-6 win for the Mustangs over Southern New Hampshire.
WEST WRAP – Brian Lester
In one of the biggest games of the weekend, St. Thomas knocked off nationally ranked Eau Claire 2-0 to make a statement in the non-conference showdown. It marked the first time all season the seventh-ranked Blugolds have been kept off the scoreboard. Joe Morris stopped all 36 of the shots he faced en route to the win. The Tommies capitalized on a pair of power play goals to earn the victory. Willie Faust scored one in the first period and Joakim Broberg scored one in the second. St. Thomas improved to 9-6-2 on the year while Eau Claire fell to 11-4-2 … St. John’s earned a split in its weekend series with St. Olaf, winning 7-2 Saturday. The Johnnies fell 4-2 to the Oles Friday. St. John’s scored five third-period goals en route to the win in the series finale. Daniel Tripicchio dished out a career-best three assists. Kevin Becker and Huba Sekesi each came through with a goal and an assist. The goal was the sixth of the year for Sekesi. Saxton Soley made 19 saves and is now 4-9-2 on the year. The win was the 42nd of his career. He ranks third all-time in school history in wins. In the 4-2 loss Friday, Nick Marsh scored twice for the Oles. Ole Stetsaas also scored twice for St. Olaf. Connor Kelly and Sean Lang both scored for the Johnnies … Bethel came through with a 6-2 win over Wisconsin-Superior Saturday to end its five-game winless streak. The Royals raced out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. Travis Payne fueled the early attack as he scored three first-period goals en route to the hat trick. It caps off a big week where he scored a total of six goals, with five coming in the first period of play. Jesse Garcia made 33 saves for the Royals to earn his second win of the year. The win for Bethel was its second of the season as it improves to 2-10-2.
Adrian continued its dominance of the NCHA as it swept Lake Forest over the weekend. The Bulldogs topped the Foresters 5-1 Friday and finished off the sweep with an 8-3 win. Mathew Thompson came through with a hat trick Saturday, scoring two of his three goals during a five-goal second period. The second-ranked Bulldogs own the nation’s longest unbeaten streak at any level of college hockey, getting through their last 15 games without a loss. They are 14-1-1 overall and 10-1-1 in the NCHA. Thompson also dished out an assist in the win. Dillon Kelley made his second career start in goal for the Bulldogs and racked up 25 saves. It’s a new career-high for the sophomore goaltender. Thompson scored a goal and dished out two assists in Friday’s victory. Tyler Parks won his fourth game in goal, making a season-best 32 saves. The stage is now set for a showdown with top-ranked St. Norbert this coming weekend. Both games will be played in Wisconsin … The Milwaukee School of Engineering salvaged a split in its weekend series with St. Scholastica, winning 3-2 Saturday. An empty-net goal by Clint Garris in the third period served as the game-winner for the Raiders, who are now 10-5- overall and 5-5 in the conference. Nick LaRue and Omar Mullan also scored goals for the Raiders. The Saints came through with a 2-0 win over the Raiders in the opening game of the series. Tyler Bruggeman got the shutout as he racked up 20 saves. It was his eighth win of the year. Keegan Bruce and Derek Sutliffe both scored goals for the Saints, who improved to 9-3-1 overall and 7-2 in the conference … Top-ranked St. Norbert blasted Finlandia 7-1 and 8-0 to complete a weekend sweep in NCHA action. Pijus Rulevicius scored twice for the Green Knights Saturday, pushing his goal total to nine for the season. Nick LeSage also scored a pair of goals Saturday. St. Norbert is 13-1-1 overall and 9-1 in the conference. The Green Knights are unbeaten in their last 13 games. They have won five consecutive games.
Wisconsin-River Falls skated to a 3-0 win over Gustavus Adolphus Saturday in a nonconference game. The Falcons improved to 11-4-3 on the year. Joe Drapluk, Christian George and Kyle Gattelaro all scored goals for River Falls. George tallied an assist on the goal by Gattelaro. Tanner Milliron was again impressive as he made 18 saves to nail down the shutout win. He is now 9-4-3 on the season. He has come up with two shutout wins in the last three games. The Falcons are unbeaten in their last seven games … Wisconsin-Stevens Point cruised to a convincing 4-1 win over Augsburg. The win was the sixth in the row for the reigning national runner-up. Tanner Karty scored twice in the victory. He has three goals in all this season. Jacob Barber and Jono Davis also scored for the Pointers, who finish 8-0 against the MIAC this season. Max Milosek earned the win in goal by making 25 saves. It was his ninth victory of the year … Wisconsin-Stout pushed its win streak to three games Saturday with a 6-3 win over St. Mary’s. The Blue Devils scored five or more goals for the third consecutive game. Jake Useldinger struck for two goals in the victory. He now has eight on the year. The Blue Devils improved to 9-4-3 on the year. They opened the weekend with a 5-3 win over St. Thomas. Gavin Smith scored his first collegiate goal in the victory. Useldinger also scored in the win.