For one conference, everything is settled, while the top is clearer in one or two more.
The penultimate week for most was an opportunity to make a move in the standings and many teams did their best to gain home ice or solidify their game coming into the all-important conference tournaments.
Here’s the weekend East wrap:
The battle for the top spot appears to be coming down to the very last week as Nichols couldn’t cash in their game in hand with points against a peaking Wentworth squad. The Bison knocked off Curry 2-1 on Wednesday despite being outshot 32-16 before dropping a 4-2 result to Wentworth on Saturday. The Leopards got 38 saves from Joel Miller and two points each from Adam Lane and Jake Flynn to move Wentworth above the .500 mark in conference play.
Manhattanville took an overtime thriller from league leaders Hobart on Friday night, but couldn’t gain more ground on the Statesmen, who won the return match on Saturday 4-2 behind two goals from Carl Belizario. A third-period rally from a 4-3 deficit was capped off by Caspar Dryssen’s second goal of the game in overtime for Manhattanville’s win on Friday night.
Elmira and Utica played two overtime games over the weekend with the hosts taking three of four points. A 2-2 Friday tie was followed up by a 3-2 win for Elmira with Brian Depp scoring the game-winning goal on a penalty shot in the extra session.
The showdown for first place went to Salem State on Thursday night as they downed Plymouth State by a 3-1 score behind goals from Michael Casale, Andrew Bettancourt and John Needham. Both teams won on Saturday, leaving just a one-point margin between the two heading into the final week of conference play. Salem State downed Fitchburg State on the road by a 6-4 score with Casale picking up two more goals and an assist for the Vikings. The Panthers matched the Vikings by downing Framingham State by a 5-1 margin with five different players scoring.
Unfortunate news came out of New Hampshire as Franklin Pierce’s season was brought to a close by school administration following an investigation into a hazing incident. Two games over the weekend with Assumption were cancelled and the Greyhounds scrambled to schedule an exhibition game with the Boston University club team in order to complete their Senior Night festivities.
Stonehill finally fell from the ranks of the unbeaten in conference play as 54 saves from Ryan Slatky and a lone goal from Jay Sylvia gave Southern New Hampshire a 1-0 win over the Skyhawks. Stonehill finished 0-for-7 on the power play and outshot the home team by a 44-16 margin in the final 40 minutes, but couldn’t solve Slatky.
For the first time in over a decade, there is a new regular season champion in the NEHC (formerly ECAC East) as Massachusetts-Boston took three of four points to hold off second-place Babson and earn the regular-season title and top seed in the conference tournament.
Babson saw the return of All-American Jamie Murray in goal and also recorded three points with a 3-1 win over St. Anselm and 2-2 tie with New England College.
Norwich finished in third place following their 4-1 win over St. Michael’s and the University of New England took the final home-ice berth with a 4-3 win at Skidmore and a 5-5 overtime tie at Castleton. The Nor’easters rallied from a 5-2 deficit behind two goals and two assists from Brady Fleurent.
Williams took two hard-fought wins over travel partner Middlebury by 5-4 and 3-2 scores. Thursday’s game took an overtime session where Colby Cretella scored for the Ephs exactly one minute into the extra session. The sweep help to open up a three-point advantage over Trinity at the top of the standings.
Trinity could only gain a split in their two games in Maine winning Friday night at Colby before dropping a 2-1 decision to Bowdoin in Terry Meagher’s final regular-season home game behind the Polar Bears bench. With the weekend sweep of Wesleyan and Trinity, Bowdoin has vaulted into third place with just two games remaining on the conference schedule.
Plattsburgh clinched the regular-season crown with a hard-fought win at Potsdam on Saturday by a 2-1 score. Anthony Calabrese scored the game winner with just over three minutes remaining in the third period and Spencer Finney made 30 saves for the Cardinals.
Buffalo State continued their torrid play with a pair of wins over Geneseo and Brockport. Friday night’s game went into overtime where the Bengals’ Jake Rosen scored the winning goal with just over 90 seconds gone in the extra session. Buffalo State left no doubt on Saturday as a four-goal second period built a 6-2 lead on the way to the 7-3 final. Taylor Pryce and Zach Nieminen each had two goals and two assists for the visitors.
Marcus Zelzer, Salem State – the Vikings goaltender made 19 saves in a 3-1 win over rival Plymouth State that pushed his team into first place in the MASCAC standings. He followed that up with a 6-4 win over Fitchburg State, making 22 saves. The wins were Zelzer’s 13th and 14th in a row covering a stretch from late November through the weekend.
Caspar Dyrssen, Manhattanville – the forward scored two goals, including the overtime game winner, as the Valiants downed conference leader Hobart by a 5-4 score on Friday night. The win helped Manhattanvile keep a hold on second place in the tight ECAC West standings.
Ross Olsson, Endicott – the forward recorded a goal and three assists in the Gulls’ 6-1 win over Becker, keeping the first-year NCAA team in the battle near the top of the ECAC Northeast battle. Olsson’s 13 helpers lead the Gulls, as do his 23 points on the season.
WEST WEEKEND WRAP – Brian Lester
Augsburg clinched the MIAC championship Saturday with a convincing 4-0 win over St. Thomas. The Auggies got a huge lift from Jordyn Kaufer, who stopped 31 shots en route to recording his third shutout in the last five seasons. It’s the fourth shutout of his career. Kaufer is 14-4-1 on the season. Dylan Meier provided a big boost offensively, scoring twice, as the Auggies won the regular-season title for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign. Augsburg went on to play in the NCAA tournament that season. The title is the ninth in program history for Augsburg, which is now 15-6-2 overall and 11-1-2 in the conference. Augsburg has come a long way since starting 1-3. The Auggies are unbeaten in their last eight games. Friday’s game ended in a 1-1 tie but the Auggies won the shootout 2-1. Eric Brenk and Luke Dietsch scored the shootout goals, while Max Pernhem scored on the power play in the second period. Rory Vessel tallied an assist and has 13 on the year. Connor McBride scored the lone goal for the Tommies, who are now 11-7-5 overall and 8-3-3 in the MIAC … St. John’s swept St. Mary’s in a weekend series and is just one point out of second place. The Johnnies clinched a conference tournament berth with the sweep. St. John’s won the opener 5-4 and then earned a 4-2 in the finale. Huba Sekesi scored his seventh goal of the year Saturday while also dishing out an assist. He finished with a total of three assists in the two games. Mitch Fritz tallied two assists in Saturday’s victory. Fritz also scored the game-winning goal in Friday’s game. Saxton Soley came through with 26 saves to earn the win. The Johnnies improved to 6-0-1 on the road in conference games this year and have won 12 of their last 14 games against the Cardinals on the road. The Johnnies are 10-9-4 overall and 8-4-2 in the conference. Jonathan Elliott and Chad Cesarz both scored goals for St. Mary’s, which is now 9-14-2 overall and 6-9-1 in the MIAC.
St. Norbert and St. Scholastica squared off in a battle of nationally ranked teams overthe weekend. The No. Green Knights and No. 15 Saints played to a 2-2 overtime tie Saturday after St. Norbert earned a 3-2 win in the opener. On Saturday, all four goals in the game were scored off the power play. Justin Krabben and Derek Sutliffe both scored for the Saints. St. Norbert got its goals from Pijus Rulevicius and Erik Cooper. Rulevicius has 12 goals on the year and also tallied an assist. Cooper has come through with at least one point in 15 consecutive games. He has scored in 22 of the Green Knights’ 23 games this year. St. Nobert is now 19-2-2 overall and 15-2-1 in the conference. The Saints are now 14-6-3 overall and 12-5-1 in the NCHA … Adrian capped a sweep of Concordia (Wis.) Saturday with a 6-1 win. The Bulldogs won the opener 12-2 Friday night. Austin Hervey and Taylor McCloy each scored a pair of goals to propel the Bulldogs to their latest win. Third-ranked Adrian held a 40-30 edge in shots. Josh Shellman scored his first collegiate goal. Cory Dunn tallied two assists in the win as did Jeremy Olinyk. Tyler Parks nailed down his seventh win of the season behind a 29-save effort. He is 7-2-1 on the year. The Bulldogs are 11-0 at home this year and have won 18 consecutive home games dating back to last year.
Wisconsin-Eau Claire snagged huge 2-1 win over Wisconsin-Stevens Point in a showdown of top 10 teams Saturday night in WIAC action. With the win, the Blugolds share the regular-season championship with River Falls. Eighth-ranked Eau Claire improved to 15-5-5 overall and to 5-2-1 in the conference. Third-ranked Steven Point falls to 19-5-1 overall and to 5-3- in the WIAC. Patrick Moore and Brandon Wahlin both scored goals for the Blugolds while Jono Davis came up with the lone goal for the Pointers. Stevens Point dominated the shots on goal category, taking 47 while limiting Eau Claire to 16. Jay Deo was ready for the challenge, however, and racked up 46 saves en route to his fourth win of the year. Eau Claire and Stevens Point will meet again in the semifinals of the conference tournament during the final weekend of February and NCAA tournament implications will be riding on it. Stevens Point, the preseason favorite for the conference crown, is the reigning national runner-up … Wisconsin-River Falls assured itself a share of the conference title with a 4-0 win over Wisconsin-Stout Saturday night. The Falcons will be the No. 1 seed for the WIAC tournament by virtue of a tiebreaker. Zach Schrotenboer and Mike Williams both scored goals, as did Joe Drapluk and Kyle Gattelaro. Taylor Burden came up with two assists. Tanner Milliron nailed down his fourth shutout of the year. River Falls improved to 15-6-4 overall and to 5-2-1 in the conference. Stout fell to 9-11-5 overall and is 1-6-1 in the WIAC. The win was the first for River Falls since Feb. 4 when it earned a 4-3 win over Stout … River Falls wins the No. 1 seed in the league and standings because of winning the tiebreaker with Eau Claire. River Falls will enter the playoffs as the league’s top team.