Character. It’s a word that coaches hope will define their teams in many ways. Whether it is showing the consistency and work ethic to gut out a win on back-to-back days, or rebounding after a tough loss on Friday to earn a win on Saturday, character is what defines a team’s ability to focus on the here and now and get the job done. This weekend saw a lot of opportunities for teams to define and display their character.
In a home-and-home series starting on Thursday night, Endicott swept a pair of games from Wentworth. On Thursday, Ross Olsson and Logan Day scored to help the Gulls come from behind for a hard fought 2-1 win on the road. On Saturday afternoon, Endicott again found themselves in a battle with the Leopards. Jason Kalinowski scored a pair to offset Jake McDonough’s first of the season for Wentworth before a three-goal third period iced it for the home team. The 5-1 win gave Endicott the weekend sweep and a 2-0-0 record to start the league schedule.
Despite being outshot 34-28 on Thursday night, Salem State found a way to outlast Westfield State in a goal-filled affair. Ryan Wilkinson recorded a hat trick for the visitors, who broke open a close game in the second period before pulling away in the third period for a 7-4 win.
Plymouth State hosted Stonehill in a nonconference game on Saturday and beat the Skyhawks handily by a score of 5-0 behind two goals from Chris Zuccaro. Stonehill’s Conor Cassidy broke Evan Morelli’s shutout bid early in the third period, but that is all the offense Stonehill could muster as they went 0-for-3 on the power play.
In a battle of the preseason favorites, St. Michael’s visited St. Anselm on Friday night and came away with an impressive 5-1 win on the road. Five different Purple Knights scored in the victory, while goalie Tim Decker stopped 26 of 27 shots.
First-year coach Sean Walsh saw his SNHU Penmen open their season with a nonconference game against Framingham State. Walker Hamilton and Chris Moquin exchanged goals in the first two periods for a 1-1 tie that stood as the final through overtime. Greg Harney stopped 39 of 40 for the Rams, while Ryan Slatky answered with 35 saves, including five in the overtime session to preserve the tie.
New program Bryn Athyn traveled to Post for a two-game weekend series and came away with a sweep for their first ever NCAA program wins. The Saturday game was as thrilling as they come, with Post rallying from a three-goal deficit in the final eight minutes of the third period, including an extra-attacker goal with just two seconds remaining in regulation. The 5-5 tie was erased in overtime when Dakota Ullmer scored his first collegiate goal at the 50-second mark to give the Lions their first ever win. On Sunday, Alec Grollman scored a pair to help Bryn Athyn to a 7-1 win and the road sweep at Post.
The Norwich Cadets didn’t quite have the banner celebration they hoped for in losing to Salve Regina, and now faced two of their biggest rivals in an early-season test in Northfield for Mike McShane’s young club. On Friday night, UMass-Boston came out flying and outshot Norwich 13-4, but had nothing to show for it as Braeden Ostepchuk stopped everything he faced in goal. The Cadets found their game in the second on goals from Todd Jackson, Jordan Hall, and Coby Downs and never looked back in the 5-0 win. On Saturday, the Cadets again got off to a slow start as Babson took an early 2-0 lead on goals by Zach Phelps and Joe DePietto. Norwich answered in the second period, leveling the game at 2-2 before TJ Dockery scored the game-winner in the third period and Todd Jackson provided the insurance with an empty-net goal in the 4-2 win.
Plattsburgh was the bounce-back team following their opening night nonconference loss to Canton last weekend. Coach Bob Emery clearly got the boys going as they downed Morrisville by a 12-4 score where all but two skaters registered a point. The Cardinals were led by Rich McCartney (3-1-4) and Liam Lawson (1-3-4) as the first line recorded five goals and 11 points. Saturday saw a bit tighter game, as the Cardinals scored three in the second period to break a scoreless tie and go on to the 3-0 victory and shutout for Jimmy Poreda.
Brockport went on the road to Fredonia and Buffalo State and came away with three of four points by a 4-1 win over Fredonia and a 3-3 overtime tie with Buffalo State. Only Zach Nieminen’s extra-attacker goal with just 24 seconds remaining in regulation separated Brockport from a weekend sweep.
On Friday night, Manhattanville took a big road win at Elmira in a see-saw battle where the Valiants pulled out the 5-3 win. Three unanswered goals, including Jared Martin’s short-handed goal, erased a 3-2 deficit and opened the conference schedule on a winning note.
Stevenson took a pair of games from Lebanon Valley and Chatham by identical 7-1 scores, as 14 different players had a point in the Friday night win, while Mike Davis and Jordan led the way on Saturday with a pair of goals each in the romp.
Game of the Week
Saturday night’s game between Fredonia and Geneseo in the SUNYAC saw the Knights coming in strong after a win over Buffalo State, while Fredonia was looking to bounce back after a 4-1 loss to Brockport. While the home team got out of the gates first on a goal by Jimmy Morgan, Geneseo answered back with three first-period goals, including Dan Bosio’s tally with just two seconds remaining on the game clock, but you know what they say about two-goal leads in hockey. A second-period goalie change saw Anton Rosen enter for Fredonia and goals by Mike Freeman and Jacob Haynes sent the game to the third period tied at 3-3. In the third, the player that opened the scoring scored the game-winner for Fredonia, which rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn the 4-3 victory.
Nick Ford, Elmira: The forward figured in five of the seven goals scored for his team, including four goals and an assist on the game-winning goal in a 7-4 win over King’s.
Mike Rockwell, Johnson & Wales: The netminder made all 41 saves while his team was outshot 41-20 in posting a shutout for the Wildcats in a 4-0 win over the University of New England.
Bryce Nielsen, New England College: The right wing scored a pair of goals and set-up the game winner in the Pilgrims’ 5-2 win over Skidmore on Friday night.
Bob Emery, Plattsburgh: The coach picked up career win 600 this past weekend when the Cardinals bounced back from an opening weekend loss to Canton with two conference wins over Morrisville by scores of 12-4 and 3-0.
Lots of character on display this weekend, and I expect what will be the norm for the balance of the season where coaches press the right buttons to get their teams on track.