There were a lot of big matchups that produced the expected drama early in the season, and then there were games that did surprise, at least from the final score perspective in some of the key conference games. It is still only November, and all the leagues aren’t even playing games yet (NESCAC starts this upcoming weekend), so it is early enough that no one should be hitting the panic button just yet. Here’s a snapshot of the weekend’s action.
Thus far, the home-and-home format in conference play has proven difficult for teams to pick up four points and a pair of wins. Wentworth proved that theory wrong this past week with a pair of wins over Johnson and Wales by scores of 6-2 on the road and 3-2 at home on Saturday afternoon.
After J&W took a 2-1 lead in the first period and held on through a scoreless second period, the Leopards woke up in a big way in the third period, scoring five times on the way to the 6-2 win. Angus Johnston scored a pair of goals and assisted on a third for Wentworth, which scored four times in just over four minutes to break the game wide open.
On Saturday, the formula was eerily similar as the Wildcats scored once in each of the first two periods to bring a 2-0 lead into the final 20 minutes of play, only to see the Leopards reel off three unanswered goals for the 3-2 win. Jake McDonough, CJ Grinnell, and Matthew Kennedy all scored power-play goals, erasing a prior 0-for-10 streak with the man advantage. Ryan Hubbard picked up both wins in goal for Wentworth, which leveled their record at 2-2-0 in conference play.
Plymouth State showed they could win a defensive battle as well as kick the offense into high gear with a pair of wins over Fitchburg State and Massachusetts-Dartmouth by scores of 2-0 and 7-1.
Despite outshooting the Owls by a 50-17 margin, it took a goal by Matt Volonnino and a short-handed tally from Tim Perron to pick-up the win on Thursday night. On Saturday, the Panthers left no doubt by racing to a 4-0 first-period lead behind goals from Ludvig Steenberg, Marc Happy, and two goals from JR Barone. Freshman Peter Laviolette, son of the NHL coach of the same name, scored his first collegiate goal to wrap-up the scoring in the 7-1 rout.
A fast start, including Bryan Green’s goal just 34 seconds into the opening period, jump-started St. Anselm in a 4-2 win over cross-town rival Southern New Hampshire. After Griffin Connor tied it for the Penmen in the second period, goals by Brian Cameron, Matt Chisholm, and Jonathan Pallotta sealed the win for the Hawks and goalie Shane Joyce, who picked up his first win of the season.
Brandon Mitchell’s goal with just over eight minutes remaining in the third period broke a 3-3 tie with Franklin Pierce and helped the Purple Knights to a 4-3 road win on Saturday. Forward John Barry picked up his first two goals of the season, and Chris Johnson made 17 saves to keep St. Michael’s unbeaten in NE-10 play.
The heavyweight battle on Saturday night had Norwich and Hobart face off at Hobart for the first of three conference games between the two this season. Both won their conference games by convincing scores on Friday night, with the Cadets shutting out Skidmore 4-0 and Hobart downing Castleton by a 6-1 score.
Hobart came out fast in the first period, outshooting the visitors by a 15-4 total and were rewarded with Mike Faulkner’s unassisted goal at the 5:20 mark. Braeden Ostepchuk kept his team close, and as has been the case early this season, the Cadets found their game ramp up to start the second period. Goals by Felix Brassard and Coby Downs gave the visitors the lead after 40 minutes of play, but Mike Faulkner scored on a power play midway through the third period for a 2-2 tie that would stand through the overtime session, as neither team could generate a shot on goal.
Geneseo picked up a pair of wins over the weekend, posting a 5-2 win over Potsdam on Friday night and then a 4-1 win over Plattsburgh on Saturday. The Knights were led by Conlan Keenan and Anthony Marra, who scored his first two goals of the season in breaking open a close game with the Cardinals in the second period. Goalie Devin McDonald stopped 25 of 26 shots in the game to pick up his fifth win of the season.
After dropping a 5-1 decision on Friday night to Nazareth, Elmira faced the prospect of an 0-2 weekend heading off to Utica on Saturday, but a funny thing happened on the way to the “Aud,” as the visitors got off to a fast start and never looked back in dropping the Pioneers by a 5-1 score. Matthew Cuce and Spencer McLean each scored a goal and added a pair of assists, while Gennaro Anzevino stopped 40 of 41 shots to back Elmira’s win that moved them to 2-20 in the conference.
Game of the Week
The UCHC game between Stevenson and Manhattanville on Saturday night had all the trappings of a playoff game, even though it is only November. The visitors were looking to remain unbeaten, while Manhattanville was looking to take advantage of home ice while also remaining unbeaten in the new UCHC. The game did not disappoint any of fans, as a scoreless first period showed strong penalty killing by both teams, a theme that carried throughout the game as the teams combined for 0-12 with the man advantage. One of the reasons for the power outage was certainly the goaltending of Stevenson’s Jacob Caffrey and the Valiants’ Tyler Feaver. Both were nearly perfect on the night for their respective teams, with only Austin Swingle’s second-period goal for Stevenson breaking the scoreless tie. Swingle ironically took a major penalty early in the third period, along with a game misconduct, but the Mustangs behind Caffrey were able to kill of the full five minutes, preserving the lead and the 1-0 road win to go 4-0-1 overall and 4-0-0 in conference play.
Matt Schneider, Brockport: The netminder stopped 31of 33 shots, including 25 in the final two periods, helping his team to a 5-2 win over Plattsburgh on Friday night.
Ryan Stevens, Plymouth State: He recorded four points, including a goal and three assists as the Panthers raced off to a 5-0 lead and 7-1 win over Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
Oliver Arnberg, Nichols: The right wing twice started rallies for the Bison in their road game with UNE and ultimately scored a hat trick in a hard fought 7-5 loss to the Nor’easters.
Jacob Caffrey, Stevenson: Caffrey stopped all 34 shots he faced against Manhattanville, which backed a 1-0 win and kept the Mustangs unbeaten in the UCHC.
There were not many sweeps over the weekend, just exemplifying the high level of play around the different conferences. Definitely not all the usual suspects among teams showing their high level of play early — a very good thing for D-III hockey.