Hope the thanksgiving holiday weekend was enjoyable for all! There was some great hockey played over the weekend, with some dramatic holiday tournament action as well as some intriguing nonconference matchups to spice up the weekend. Hosting and winning the tournament seemed to be a challenge, as only two teams successfully defended their home ice by hoisting the trophy. That continues to show the depth and breadth of talent across D-III. Here are some of the highlights from the past weekend.
Endicott and Salem State tangled in a nonconference, backyard brawl that became a one-sided affair early. The Gulls put up a 10-spot in the 10-4 win over the Vikings. Josh Bowes and Logan Day scored two goals apiece, and Jason Kalinowski added a goal and two assists for Endicott, which moved to 7-1-0 on the season.
The Suffolk Rams won the PAL/Stovepipe Tournament with a 3-2 win over Southern New Hampshire. Goalie Michael Levine was key to the Rams success as he recorded 48 saves in the opening round win over Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Joseph Mortillaro scored twice, including one short-handed goal before Brian Brooks scored the ultimate game-winner.
In the championship game, the Rams won in dramatic fashion as Mortillaro scored with just 13 seconds remaining in regulation to break the 2-2 tie and give the Rams the win and the tournament title.
The Steve Hoar Memorial Invitational tournament featured the Fitchburg State Falcons in the championship game against Becker. The host Hawks were coached by the late Steve Hoar, so the motivation to win had to be high in the Becker locker room. Fitchburg State earned a berth in the final with a 4-1 win over Stonehill. Tyler Warila led the way with a pair of goals in the opening round win. Becker downed Bryn Athyn by a 5-1 score, with five different players scoring for the Hawks.
In the championship game, Becker jumped out to an early 2-0 lead behind two goals from Macgregor Howey, but that apparently woke up the Falcons. Four unanswered goals in the second half of the period gave Fitchburg State a 4-2 lead, and they never looked back. Dean Zerby, Tyler Warila, and Sascha Figi each scored a pair of goals on the way to an 8-3 championship win.
Last Tuesday night, the Worcester State Lancers moved to 7-0-0 on the season with a 2-1 road win at St. Anselm College. The Lancers, who are atop the conference standings, have been very opportunistic with the power play, as evidenced by the two extra-man goals against the Hawks. Nick Patullo and Bryan Green scored in the second period, and that was enough for goalie Josh Reinstein, who made 22 saves in picking up his sixth win of the season.
Assumption downed Johnson & Wales prior to Thanksgiving by a 3-1 score. The Greyhounds outshot the Wildcats by a wide 55-35 margin, but could only net goals from Brian Farrell, Cam Laughlin, and Tommy Mahoney. Goalie Mike Rockwell was stellar for the visitors, making 52 saves in the losing effort.
Massachusetts-Boston traveled to Maine to play in the Bowdoin/Colby Face-off Tournament. The Beacons, led by Nolan Redler’s two goals, downed the host Mules by a 5-1 score, with goalie Bailey MacBurnie making 35 stops in the win.
On Sunday, MacBurnie did one better, stopping all 26 shots he faced to earn the shutout in the 4-0 win over the Polar Bears. Colin Larkin scored a pair of goals to reach 10 in the team’s first 10 games, and the Beacons won the tournament with a 2-0-0 record while outscoring their opponents 9-1.
Joe Osaka’s two goals led New England College to a 5-1 nonconference win over Wentworth on Saturday. The win moved the Pilgrims to 6-4-0 overall on the season.
Hamilton played in the Skidmore Invitational and won the tournament with a 3-1 win over Canton followed by a 4-1 win over the host Thoroughbreds. Rory Gagnon scored all three goals in the opening round win, while the line of Brandon Willett, Jason Brochu, and Neil Conway combined for two goals and seven points in the 4-1 championship game win. Evan Buitenhuis stopped 35 of 36 shots to earn his first win of the season.
Trinity played a pair of nonconference games and proved they could win the close ones as well as blow-out an opponent. On Saturday, second-period goals from Ryan Pfeffer and Andy Chugg were all Alex Morin needed to down a tough Plymouth State team, 2-1. On Sunday, the game was less stressful for coach Matt Greason as his team put up 11 goals to beat Franklin Pierce. Eric Benshadle scored three goals in the third period to earn a hat trick, while 13 Bantams picked up points in the decisive win.
Williams remained unbeaten as the Ephs took on an always tough Babson squad on Saturday in Williamstown. After a scoreless first period, the Ephs struck for three goals in the second period off the sticks of David Italiano, CJ Shugart, and Colby Cretella. Despite outshooting the hosts, the Beavers could only manage a goal from Josh Beck before the second period ended. Shugart scored his second of the game into an empty net to seal the 4-1 win and 3-0 start for coach Mike Monti.
Plattsburgh headed to the Primelink Great Northern Shootout with a 2-4-0 record and defending national champion Norwich looming in the opening round game. The Cardinals surrendered a first-period goal to the Cadets’ Payton Baldillez, but tied it in the second period on a short-handed goal by Ayrton Valente late in the second period. The momentum created by the late goal carried over into the third period, where goals by Cam Owens, Pat Egan, and Antoine Desnoyers gave Plattsburgh a big 4-1 win over Norwich.
On Saturday, Plattsburgh faced a Lawrence team that had defeated the hosts from Middlebury, 6-3. The Cardinals wasted no time in setting the tone against the visitors from the west as Pat Egan and Cam Owens scored 34 seconds apart in the first period and Cole Stallard added a third goal for a 3-0 first-period lead. The second period was scoreless, but Plattsburgh’s Lawson Fenton had to work hard to keep it that way, making 14 saves.
The teams exchanged goals early in the third period, but an extra-attacker goal in the final 70 seconds wasn’t enough to derail the Cardinals’ win and hoisting of the championship trophy.
Cortland was the winner of the Binghamton Devils Tournament over the weekend following wins over Framingham State and Amherst. The Red Dragons downed the Rams by a 6-3 score in the opening round before beating the Mammoths 4-1 behind two goals from Scott Donohue and 23 saves from Drew Weigman.
Utica hosted Johnson & Wales and Salve Regina over the weekend in nonconference action. On Friday, Dalton Carter’s two goals and two assists led a 9-0 rout over the Wildcats. The confident Pioneers carried that momentum into Saturday and downed a tough Salve Regina squad, 3-1. Two power-play goals from Carter and Kyle Lajeunesse combined with Anthony McVeigh’s short-handed goal were enough for Patrik Virtanen, who stopped 33 of 34 shots in the win. Seahawk Jack Billings picked up his 10th goal of the season in the loss.
Game of the Week
As the host school of a holiday tournament, it is special to win the event in front of your home fans, so when the Castleton Spartans found themselves down a goal in the first 20 seconds and trailing 3-0 after the first period to a strong Brockport team, there had to be some doubt it was going to happen.
Tim Kielich got the visitors on the board early and added his second of the game on a power play just six minutes later. Aidan Verbeke added another power-play goal before the midway mark of the period, but that is all Ryan Mulder and his mates would give up for the game.
In the second period, Ryan Ng scored just 27 seconds after the opening faceoff and Ryan O’Toole scored less than three minutes later to pull the Spartans within one goal after 40 minutes of play.
The third period saw the hosts level the score on a goal by Matt Bloomer. The power-play goal was Castleton’s only conversion in seven chances, but momentum had shifted. Trevor Hanna scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with just over four minutes remaining in regulation to make the score 4-3, and Ryan Mulder stopped all eight Brockport shots in the third to seal the championship game win.
Rory Gagnon, Hamilton: The Continentals forward scored all three goals in registering a hat trick in Hamilton’s 3-1 win over Canton in the opening round of the Skidmore Invitational.
Ryan Mulder, Castleton: He shut the door on Brockport over the final two periods, making 16 saves and backing the host Spartans to 4-3 win in the championship game of the WYSB Catamount Radio Invitational.
Michael Levine, Suffolk: Levine stopped 48 of 50 shots as the Rams downed Massachusetts-Dartmouth 3-2 in the opening round of the PAL/Stovepipe Tournament at Southern New Hampshire. Levine also stopped 28 of 30 in the championship round game against SNHU to secure the 3-2 win and tournament championship.
Playing for any kind of hardware is always a strong motivation to play at your best, and for many teams this weekend, hoisting the trophy showed they were definitely on the right track and playing some very good hockey. That is a big step forward as the weeks and games remaining in the first half begin to wind down.