In some conferences, the expected cream is rising to the top, while in others some usual top performers have struggled in the early season to find their game. There aren’t many games left in the first half to find all the elements that are going to be repeatable on the ice as a winning formula, but several teams got serious wake-up calls in conference losses over the weekend. Here is a quick recap of the action.
Endicott and Salve Regina both posted important sweeps over the weekend. Endicott downed Curry by scores of 4-2 and 7-1, while the Seahawks beat University of New England 8-3 and 6-4.
The Gulls used a pair of goals from Daniel Kucerovy and one each from Josh Bowes and Cam Bleck to pick up the road win on Friday. At home on Saturday, Endicott raced off to a 7-0 lead behind two goals from Logan Day and three assists from Ross Olsson in the easy 7-1 win and weekend sweep.
Salve Regina jumped out to a 3-0 lead, only to find the Nor’easters battling back to a single-goal deficit at the end of two periods. A four-goal third period broke the game open for the Seahawks, who received a pair of goals each from Jack Billings, Timothy Sweeney, and Shaun Patry in the 8-3 home win. On Saturday, a four-goal first period did the trick for the Seahawks as Billings recorded a hat trick in the 6-4 win that moved Salve Regina to 6-1-0 on the season and 5-10 in CCC action.
Thursday night saw a great game between Plymouth State and Salem State that ultimately went to overtime. The host Panthers built one- and two-goal leads, only to see Callum Hofford and the Vikings rally back to level the game at 4-4 at the end of regulation. Alec LeFave sent the home fans away happy with the overtime winner just under two minutes into the extra session and the 5-4 win.
Saturday afternoon saw another heartbreaking loss for Salem State as Fitchburg State pulled out the 3-2 conference win behind two goals from Tyler Warila and the game-winning goal by James Gordon early in the third period. Goaltender Brian McGrath made 39 saves in the win for the Falcons, who moved to 4-2-1 on the season overall and 2-1-1 in MASCAC play.
If it was a goal-filled game you were looking for this weekend, then the Assumption vs. Southern New Hampshire game on Saturday did not disappoint. Twelve different players scored for both teams in the 8-5 thriller that saw the Penmen fight to extend one-goal leads four different times against Assumption. The win for SNHU leveled their conference record at 2-2-1, while Assumption remains winless in the NE-10.
The weekend series between Stonehill and Franklin Pierce ended with a split of the two-game series hosted by the Ravens. On Friday night, FPU scored a pair of third-period goals to pick up a 4-2 win. On Saturday, Stonehill returned the favor behind Shamus Maloney’s two goals in a 5-3 win.
Massachusetts-Boston picked up a pair of wins to move into first place in the conference. The Beacons downed Hobart by a 2-1 score on Friday night before scoring three goals in the third period to break open a tie game against Skidmore on Saturday afternoon. The 5-2 win moved the Beacons to 7-1-0 overall and 5-1-0 in the NEHC.
New England College used third-period goals from Keenan Hasse and Joe Osaka to break a 2-2 tie at Norwich and down the Cadets, 4-3. Goalie Kyle Shapiro made 39 saves for the Pilgrims, who also won on Saturday at Castleton by a score of 6-3 to complete the weekend sweep on the road and show they are a contender in the conference.
Defending conference champions Trinity opened their season with a pair of hard-fought wins over Tufts and Connecticut College by scores of 5-1 and 2-1. On Friday night, five different players scored for the Bantams, who broke open a 2-1 game with three unanswered goals. On Saturday night, the Camels made things much more difficult for Trinity behind 45 saves from Avery Gobbo. Greg Pezza’s first-period goal nearly stood up for the Camels as they held a 1-0 lead into the third period. Charlie Zuccarini and Liam Feeney scored two even-strength goals for the home team to seal the four-point weekend.
The Mules of Colby showed why they should get some attention this season as they opened at Middlebury with a convincing 9-1 win. Colby blew open a 2-1 game with three goals in the second period and four more in the third period as Mario Benicky and JP Schuhlen both picked up hat tricks for the visitors. On Sunday, Colby and Williams met, with both looking for opening weekend sweeps. The Ephs got new coach Mike Monti off to a great start by pulling out a 3-2 win and limiting the Mules to just 19 shots on goal.
In an interesting nonconference affair, Hamilton handed Stevenson their first loss of the season by a 6-0 score. The Continentals got two goals and an assist from Nick Ursitti, and Anthony Tirabassi picked up his first win of the season in goal, making 29 saves for Hamilton.
After spotting visiting Plattsburgh a 1-0 first-period lead, the Potsdam Bears rallied behind goals from Dylan Vander Esch, Jacob Juron, and Vinny Guimond to hand the Cardinals their third loss in conference play. Brendan McMenimen made 30 saves in the win that moved the Bears to 5-1-1 in the season and 2-1-0 in SUNYAC play.
Oswego remained unbeaten in conference play, but had to win the hard way in a come-from-behind win over Fredonia on Saturday night. The Lakers erased a 3-1 deficit over the final 10 minutes in regulation to pick up the 5-3 win. Josh Zizek was the offensive catalyst, scoring a pair of goals and adding two assists for Oswego in the third period alone. The Lakers are now 5-1-0 overall and 3-0-0 in SUNYAC play.
Lebanon Valley stunned Utica on Friday night with a 3-2 win off the stick of Cole Hepler with just 30 seconds remaining in regulation time. The power-play goal culminated a strong comeback for Lebanon Valley, which twice rallied from one-goal deficits in the game despite being outshot 37-25. The win was the first of the season for the home team, as well as the first win in UCHC play.
Utica didn’t take well to Friday’s loss, and Chatham suffered the Pioneers’ wrath in 13-1 loss on Saturday night where every Utica skater recorded a point in the win that leveled Utica’s conference record at 2-2-0.
Game of the Week
On Friday afternoon, Massachusetts-Boston coach Peter Belisle was commenting on how much he liked his team, specifically his defensive group and goaltender Bailey MacBurnie. That was prior to a big early-season game against Hobart where Belisle felt “his team was capable of winning a 2-1 playoff-style game.”
On Friday night, the Beacons went out and did just that behind 34 saves from MacBurnie, who along with his defensive teammates made goals from Bryan Carter and Colin Larkin stand up for a 2-1 win over the Statesmen. UMB held Hobart to 0-4 on the power play and MacBurnie made 26 saves over the final two periods to help move the Beacons into the top spot in the conference standings.
Casey Shea, Massachusetts-Dartmouth: The senior forward recorded a goal and added four assists in the Corsairs’ 6-2 win over Westfield State.
Bailey MacBurnie, Massachusetts-Boston: The netminder stopped 64 of 67 shots in picking up two important conference wins for the Beacons over Hobart and Skidmore.
Conor Landrigan, Utica: Landrigan scored a hat trick while also setting up two other goals for the Pioneers in a 13-1 win over Chatham on Saturday night.
Mario Benicky & JP Shuhlen, Colby: They led the Mules with three goals apiece in a 9-1 romp over Middlebury on Saturday night. Benicky’s two third-period goals to record the hat trick came within 35 seconds of each other, while Schuhlen’s first two came on the power play for Colby.
Jack Billings, Salve Regina: The Seahawks forward picked up five goals and an assist in two games with University of New England over the weekend. In Saturday’s 6-4 win, Billings recorded a hat trick, with all three goals coming on the power play.
Everyone is officially in the 2017-18 season now that NESCAC has started conference play this weekend. There are some interesting Thanksgiving tournament matchups upcoming this week, and that is something all hockey fans can be thankful for.