The New Year is upon us in earnest and with the change in the calendar has come a renewed sense of urgency for teams to find their game, keep getting better, and in true “coach speak” get focused on the most important opponent of all — the next one on the schedule. There were some interesting tournaments that showcased teams with national aspirations and other nonconference games that continue to display the parity across conferences in the region.
Here is the wrap-up for this past weekend, where many stars showed brightly for teams that have big second-half aspirations.
Nichols made it to the final of the inaugural Boston Landing Invitational tournament played at the new Warrior Ice Arena in Boston when they downed Stonehill by a 5-2 score behind four points from JB Baker and three points each from Scott Cuthrell and TJ Roche.
The championship game pitted nationally ranked Buffalo State, a 6-2 winner over Becker, against the Bison, where the 3-0 score is not indicative of the game played. Nichols surrendered Jake Rosen’s first-period goal, but that was all goalie Colin Brennan would give up in his duel with Mike DeLaVergne, who did just a bit better in holding the Bison scoreless. Two empty-net goals in the final minute of play provided the final margin to the Bengals and a hard-fought loss for the Bison.
Elmira had a weekend feast of SUNYAC teams and Sal Magliocco helped lead them to a win and a tie in matchups with Cortland and Geneseo. On Friday night, Magliocco made 31 saves while 13 different players picked up points in the win over the Red Dragons. On Saturday at Geneseo, Magliocco stopped 44 of 46 shots in a 2-2 overtime tie.
Despite being outshot 38-29, Fitchburg State moved to 4-2-1 in the conference with a 5-2 league win over the other “FSU,” Framingham State. The Falcons saw two points each from Mike Fretz, Corey Hayashi and Josh Victor, while goaltender Kirby Saari made 36 saves in the win.
Salem State showed signs of life with a 4-2 win over Westfield State on Saturday. Casey Miller opened the scoring for the Vikings in the first period on what would be the only goal in the first two periods of play. The final 14 minutes saw a flurry of special-teams goals that led to a 2-2 tie that Miller broke with his game-winner with just over five minutes remaining in regulation. Brandon Platt’s empty-net goal sealed the win for Salem State who moved to 5-6-2 overall on the season.
The Southern New Hampshire Penmen were looking to start their second half by extending a five-game winning streak, but ran into a solid Westfield State team led by forward Jackson Leef and suffered a 4-1 loss to open the New Year. Leef scored one goal and set-up teammate Lenny Caglianone for two others to lead the Owls to the nonconference win.
Stephen Picard and Paul Amarone scored a pair goals each in leading Assumption to a 6-3 conference win over Franklin Pierce. Nick Commesso returned to the net, making 27 saves in the win.
In a game many thought would be low scoring and close checking, Norwich and Plattsburgh put on an offensive show with the Cadets earning their third win on Plattsburgh ice this season, but first over the host Cardinals by a score of 8-5 despite being outshot 48-29. William Pelletier and Kevin Salvucci combined for eight points as the Cadets scored six times in the second period before weathering a strong Plattsburgh rally in the third period where the Cardinals scored four unanswered goals to pull within two of the lead. Pelletier’s empty-netter provided the insurance marker in the win.
There is still one team with a “0” in the “L” column, and that is the Hamilton Continentals, who extended their unbeaten streak to 12 games with a weekend sweep of Colby and Bowdoin to take the top spot in the conference. Friday night, the Continentals earned a 2-1 victory over Colby as Evan Buitenhuis out-dueled recent Quinnipiac transfer Sean Lawrence. On Saturday, Brandon Willett scored the only two goals in the first 40 minutes of play before closing out a combined seven-goal third period by both teams to earn his hat trick and close out the 6-3 win over Bowdoin.
Look out for Trinity, which seems to be finding its game at the right time. The Bantams posted a 3-0 win over Williams on Friday night behind two goals from Anthony Sabitsky and 23 saves and an assist from goaltender Alex Morin, who picked up the shutout. On Saturday, Trinity completed the weekend sweep by handing Middlebury its eighth consecutive loss in conference play by a score of 5-2.
The Potsdam Bears played Nazareth on the road in a two-game series and came away with a pair of wins. Friday night saw Tyler Young lead the way offensively with a pair of goals and an assist in the Bears’ 6-3 win. On Saturday, Dylan Vander Esch added to his Friday tally by adding two more goals and a helper as Potsdam rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the third period for the 3-2 win. Goaltender Brendan McMenimen earned both wins, posting 60 saves in the two games for Potsdam.
After suffering three straight losses, Oswego righted the ship by winning the Pathfinder Bank Tournament by knocking off Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Friday, 3-2, and taking the championship from Utica, 4-1, on Saturday. Goaltender David Jacobson picked up both wins for the Lakers.
Colin Larkin, Massachusetts-Boston: The Beacons forward made it his own personal agenda to down St. Anselm on Friday night when he figured in all five goals by scoring four and assisting on teammate Ryan Cusin’s goal in the second period. Larkin’s four goals all came in five-on-five hockey and moved him to 16 for the season.
Kevin Salvucci, Norwich: He figured in five of eight Cadets’ goals by scoring one and assisting on four others in Norwich’s 8-5 win over Plattsburgh on Friday night. Salvucci picked up a goal and two assists in the second period, where the Cadets blew open a 1-1 game with six unanswered goals in the middle stanza.
Noah Gilreath, Amherst: The defenseman helped trigger a 4-for-6 night on the power play with a goal and two assists in Amherst’s 7-3 win over Bowdoin. Gilreath’s goal in the first period tied the game at 2-2 before his two assists factored in four unanswered goals in the second period for an insurmountable lead the Polar Bears could not overcome.
The level of play coming out of the break has been outstanding, so it looks like players and coaches alike avoided many of the excesses brought on by the holidays. The nonconference games showed great competition, while the league action has everyone poised for a solid six-week stretch run to the playoffs.