The game can be simple. The game often is anything but simple. Effort, emotion, and momentum are all ingredients that ebb and flow in a way that creates great angst for coaches and often the most entertaining hockey for fans. There were many games that came down the final seconds this weekend showcasing the “never quit” attitude teams need to be successful on the scoreboard. If this is the kind of hockey we are going to see leading up to the conference and national playoffs, we are in for a real treat.
Here is the wrap-up for this past weekend, where what happened in the first half of the game didn’t always represent the final score:
Only three points separate second place from fifth in the conference, and the University of new England made a statement on Saturday that they aren’t content being outside the top four with their 4-3 road win over Endicott. The BFF line may have a new “B” with Ryan Bloom replacing Dylan Bengston as the pivot man, but wingers Brady and Trevor Fleurent have not slowed down their production. Brady now holds the single season point record for the Nor’easters with nine games remaining on the schedule and their line accounted for three goals and seven points in the overtime win. Bloom scored the game-winning goal in unassisted fashion with just four seconds remaining in the extra five-minute session.
Earlier in the week, Brady Fleurent recorded a hat trick in a 3-3 tie with Wentworth. Ryan Bloom assisted on all three goals, while brother Trevor chipped in with two helpers.
Utica had been unbeaten in ECAC West play but ran into a hot goaltender on Friday night as Brandon Lane led Nazareth to a 4-2 win over the Pioneers by stopping 38 of 40 shots. Dominik Gabaj scored on a power play and was one of four different goal scorers for Nazareth, which moved to 5-2-0 in conference play and a second place tie with Manhattanville.
The aforementioned Valiants did something not many teams in the past month have been able to do in shutting down Neumann’s high-powered offense in a 3-1 win on Friday night. Bryan Platt and Nolan Marshall scored first-period goals for Manhattanville that would ultimately be all goalie Tyler Feaver and his defense would need. Nigel Slade scored his first goal of the season, answering Ryan Luiten’s third-period goal for Neumann and the Valiants moved into second place in the ECAC West with the win.
The Plymouth State Panthers earned four points over schools bearing the same initials, FSU. On Thursday night, Quinn Carroll’s overtime goal gave goalie Andreas Pettersson his first win in a see-saw affair with Framingham State.
On Saturday, the Panthers took the more conventional route in a 4-2 win over Fitchburg State. Tord Thoreson scored his first goal of the season in the second period, which proved to be the game-winning goal and Michael Economos added an insurance goal on a power play in the third period.
Zachary Frament, Evan Jacques and Conor Cassidy helped build a 3-0 lead for Stonehill last week in a key conference matchup with Assumption that stood up for a 3-1 win behind 31 saves from goalie William Palmer. The win moved Stonehill to 3-3-0 in conference play.
Franklin Pierce was outshot 59-14 against St. Anselm, but Tom McGuckin made the Hawks earn everything as it took a Brian Cameron goal to tie the game at 2-2 before Bryan Green, with an assist from Cameron, scored in overtime for a 3-2 win.
In a game where New England College wanted to make a statement against the conference leaders from Norwich, the game certainly had all the elements needed for a dramatic upset. Both teams scored a pair of power-play goals, with Norwich rallying to first tie the game late in the second period before Ian Williams gave them the lead for good before the second intermission. William Pelletier scored on a power play with just under five minutes remaining in regulation to give the Cadets a much-needed two-goal lead. Patrick DeBlois made it 4-3 with just less than two minutes remaining, but Norwich held on behind the defensive efforts of Cody Smith and goalie Ty Reichenbach for the win.
On Saturday, the Cadets left nothing in doubt when six different players built a 6-0 lead over St. Anselm on the way to a 6-1 win and four-point weekend to solidify their position atop the NEHC standings by eight points.
It is not about playing your best hockey all season long, it is about playing your best hockey at the right time of the season. Case in point, Amherst, which was near the bottom of the standings at the break, has been on a roll including this weekend’s overtime win over travel partner and conference leader Hamilton.
Amherst has won eight in a row and rallied from a 1-0 score on a power-play goal by PJ Conlon in the second period to tie Hamilton at 1-1 before Thomas Lindstrom tallied his 10th of the season in overtime for the 2-1 win. On Saturday in a nonconference game, Amherst turned up the volume on the offense by scoring 10 goals in a 10-1 win over Assumption. John Festa led the fireworks with a hat trick, while 15 players recorded points in the game that saw Amherst record 23 shots on goal in the first period alone.
Vincent Gisonti scored twice and Middlebury broke their 15-game winless streak to start the season with a 5-1 win over Bowdoin. The Panthers were outshot 33-25 but received 32 saves from Stephen Klein to post the win.
The Oswego-Geneseo game was one I predicted would bring a lot of offensive excitement in my Friday game picks. While I predicted a 5-4 Knights win (I wasn’t far off) the fans, including USCHO’s own Russell Jaslow, got a whole lot more. In Russell’s words, “There is a reason why these two teams are ranked in the top five in the country; are two of the highest offensively productive teams in the country; and are a showcase why college hockey is the best form of the sport.”
It may as well have been a football game as the game broke down into a game of two halves. The first half was all Knights as they built a 5-0 lead midway through the second period before the Lakers began their rally. Oswego’s Joey Davies scored two goals to close out the second period and gave the visitors some momentum headed into the third period. Davies’ second goal came in the final minute of play and Chris Raguseo matched the urgency with a goal in the first minute of play in the third period to get the Lakers within two. Davies completed his hat trick to close the deficit to one and then the stage was set for a frenzied finish.
Back to Russell Jaslow and his description of the final goal for Oswego, where “Steven Johnson takes the shot with all five Geneseo defenders in front of him, including three sprawled on the ice attempting to block the puck. With the goalie completely screened, the puck somehow eludes contact with all five players, including the three sprawled on the ice [a fact he mentioned four times], hits off the near post and goes in with 3.3 seconds on the clock to earn a 5-5 tie and rally from a five-goal deficit.” In Russell’s mind, it was the best tie hockey game he has ever seen.
Congratulations to Lakers forward Kenny Neil, whose three assists on Saturday night pushed him over the century mark for his career. Neil joins teammates Alex Botten, Shawn Hulshof and Matt Galati, who all attained the 100-point mark earlier this season.
Stephen Collins, Geneseo: The Knights forward spread out his scoring across all three periods, including the game-opening tally and the game’s final goal in a 7-4 road win over Cortland. Collins totaled four goals on the evening, including three even-strength goals and adding a power-play goal to pace Geneseo in the conference win.
Brady Fleurent, University of New England: Fleurent single-handedly tied Wentworth last week in posting a hat trick for all of the Nor’easters scoring in a 3-3 final. For added measure, he added a goal and an assist in a key conference win over Endicott, which also gave him the school mark for points in a season with yet a lot of hockey remaining to add to the totals.
Brandon Lane, Nazareth: Lane stopped 38 of 40 shots as Nazareth knocked Utica from the ranks of the unbeaten in conference play with a 4-2 win on Friday night. Lane was a big part of the Golden Flyers holding Utica scoreless on four power-play chances, and made 17 of 19 saves in the third period to hold off a Pioneers rally.
There are 60 minutes to a game and any time taken off from a full effort can often lead to opportunities that good opponents take advantage of. This weekend showed a lot of big leads that vanished, or conversely poor starts that were overcome — it all depends on whose bench you are sitting. Regardless, the mantra from every coach right now is full effort and playing smart. Oh what fun the final month is going to bring.