Finally, the dust is settled in regular season play and all of the positioning and seeding is now complete for the remaining conferences opening tournament play this week, including two conferences with quarterfinal action tonight.
Lots of excitement coming over the next couple of weeks, so trying to keep pace by breaking the weekly column into a two-part preview for the week’s agenda in the East.
So here is a wrapup on the final day of play for MASCAC, as well as a preview of the four quarterfinal games taking place in the ECAC West and SUNYAC tournaments tonight.
The conference seeding at the top came down to the very last regular season games of the season with Salem State holding a slim one-point advantage over Plymouth State entering Tuesday’s action. The Panthers needed to take care of business against Westfield State while needing some help from upset-minded Worcester State playing against the Vikings.
The Panthers held up their end by downing the Owls by a 7-4 score behind three points each from Dan Dupell and Ludvig Steenberg. The Panthers were then resigned to scoreboard watching, but got no help from Salem State, who blitzed the Lancers by a 9-3 score to clinch first place and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Derek Makimaa scored a hat trick and Brandon Platt recorded five assists in the Viking win.
Massachusetts-Dartmouth had the opportunity to sneak past idle Fitchburg State with a win over Framingham State, but the Rams took the 3-0 win to leave the Corsairs in fourth position in the standings.
The quarterfinals begin tonight with two games and the winners advancing to face first-round bye recipients, Hobart and Manhattanville.
Utica, the No. 3 seed hosts No. 6 Elmira and while the season series ended 1-1-1 in the three games, Elmira took three of four points from the Pioneers in the last two game series, so expect a confident visiting squad entering the lion’s den that Utica calls home with their great fan and local support. The Pioneers were 5-1-1 at home in conference play this season, including a 4-3 win over Elmira back in November.
In the other quarterfinal, No. 4 Neumann hosts No. 5 Nazareth. The Knights posted a 4-2-1 record on home ice in conference play, but one of the two losses was to Nazareth by a 4-2 score back in November. The teams split the two game series played at Nazareth just 10 days ago, so home ice may not mean much in this matchup and the visitors certainly can feel confident in having won the season series two games to one.
Two quarterfinal games will be played tonight with the winners advancing to play on Saturday night against either top-seeded Plattsburgh or No. 2 seed Buffalo State.
Geneseo, the third seed, will host No. 6 Potsdam looking to keep their momentum against the Bears moving in a positive fashion. The Knights took the season series 2-0, registering 6-2 and 2-0 wins – the latter coming just over 10 days ago. Stephen Collins and Trevor Hills have combined for 38 goals on the seasons and will pose problems for the visitors.
Oswego, the No. 4 seed will host No. 5 Brockport, a team that they won both games from in the season series. The Lakers are just 3-3 in February, so starting a positive streak on home ice will need to come with a sense of urgency as they carry just a 5-3-0 record at home this season in conference play.
It is that time of year – you win or you hang up the skates for the season. Lots of pressure and opportunity on the line. Part two with the weekend preview of other quarterfinal, semifinal and conference championship games comes tomorrow, so stay tuned!