Well now the season truly is in full swing as NESCAC joined the fray this week and didn’t waste any time adding to the chaos that has been a recurrent theme of upsets. Some new teams are emerging as contenders in conferences rich with traditional champions and blowout wins one night can quickly become defensive struggling losses the next night out. Here is a taste of the action from the past weekend.
Endicott saw a 2-0-0 week with a 3-1 win over Wentworth followed by a 3-2 win over Suffolk on Saturday. Joseph Slovak scored a goal in each game leading a balanced attack for the Gulls who moved to 3-2-1 in conference play.
Salve Regina remained unbeaten in conference play with a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Becker on Thursday night. The Seahawks rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the final 11 minutes of the third period to earn the win. Saturday, Shaun Patry’s power-play goal in the third period and Blake Wojtala’s 41 saves earned a tie with Nichols, 1-1.
The Utica Pioneers sent a very clear message about their ability to contend for the ECAC West title when they followed Friday night’s 7-1 blowout win at Elmira with a hard-fought 4-2 win at Hobart on Saturday. Goaltender Henry Dill earned the win over the Statesmen, moving to 4-0-0 on the season while making 40 saves. A fast start by Utica led to a 3-1 first-period lead that stood up before Shawn Lynch provided the insurance marker into the empty net with just over 30 seconds remaining in regulation time.
Plymouth State avoided the trap game on Thursday in a big way with a 10-1 win over Framingham State, but fell in overtime on Saturday to Fitchburg State, 2-1. Goaltender Kirby Saari made 36 saves to earn his first win for the Falcons. The Falcons also knocked off last year’s title holder Salem State on Thursday by a 5-3 score. Three unanswered third-period goals broke open a 2-2 deadlock. The 2-0 weekend moves the Falcons into contention in the conference standings.
Franklin Pierce moved to 5-2-0 on the season with a 3-0 shutout win over Stonehill behind 34 saves from goaltender Tom McGuckin. Despite going 0-8 on the power play, the Ravens scored a goal in each period for the win.
Southern New Hampshire moved to 5-1-0 on the season by downing Assumption 5-3. Joseph Berardi scored twice just 28 seconds apart in the opening three minutes of the game and Joe Collins finished the scoring for the Penmen with a hat trick for all the goals they would need in the win.
Good things are happening in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Skidmore may no longer be a dark horse candidate in the NEHC. Following last weekend’s road upset of Massachusetts-Boston, the Thoroughbreds took down another traditional power on Friday night, rallying from a two-goal deficit in the final five minutes of play to force overtime with two extra-attacker goals before Connor Van Arnam won it for the home team just over three minutes into the extra session. A 6-4 win over St. Michael’s on Saturday gave Skidmore a four-point weekend.
Babson needed a four-goal third period to erase a 2-0 lead by Southern Maine in moving to 3-0-0 in conference play this season. Tommy Munichello scored the game-winning goal and added a power-play goal in the final minute for insurance in the win.
If you are last to join the party, why not make a dramatic entrance? Two teams on the rise opened their season with 2-0 weekends, knocking off recent past conference champions in the process. Tufts took down Trinity and Wesleyan behind game-winning goals by forward Brian Brown in both games for the Jumbos.
Colby opened the season by taking down Middlebury on Friday night before upsetting last year’s conference champion, Williams, on Saturday afternoon. Despite outshooting the Panthers by a 48-18 margin, it took an overtime goal by defenseman Geoff Sullivan to give the Mules the win. On Saturday, Nick O’Connor scored a pair of goals and Andrew Tucci made 25 saves in a 4-1 win over the Ephs.
Look out for Oswego, which should be moving up the national rankings again this week after another 2-0 weekend that included impressive road wins over Potsdam by a 6-0 score and a 4-1 win over their main rival Plattsburgh on Saturday night. Matt Zawadzki made 27 saves to earn the shutout against the Bears while six different players scored for Oswego, showcasing their balanced attack.
Buffalo State took a pair of games over Canton, outscoring their opponent by a 10-3 margin in the two-game set. Forward Mac Wood was the offensive star in Saturday’s 6-3 win, posting two goals and two assists for the Bengals.
Tyler Vankleef – Curry: The Colonels forward had an epic night in last Thursday’s 7-4 win over Suffolk when he scored a natural hat trick in the first period on his way to a total of five goals and an assist for six points. He added another goal in Saturday’s overtime tie with Johnson & Wales, giving him six goals in two games.
Mason Pulde- Tufts: The Jumbos goaltender made a total of 38 saves while surrendering just one first-period goal in the season-opening upset of Trinity. Pulde stopped all 25 shots that he faced over the final two periods, enabling his team to rally for a comeback win to open NESCAC play.
Brett Norman – Southern Maine: The Huskies right wing spearheaded an incredibly efficient offense that scored five goals on just 12 shots in the upset win over Massachusetts-Boston. Norman recorded four assists in the game, helping Southern Maine to reach the .500 mark on the young season.
It seems there are great individual efforts across all of the leagues and not always from the showcase names one might expect to see in the spotlight. The teams are deeper with talent than ever and you never know who is going to light it up on any given night.