East wrap: Feb. 4

The BIG game is over, and as amazing and entertaining as the Eagles’ upset win was over the Patriots, the pigskin scene has nothing on the drama across the D-III conferences in the East. Yes, some favorites like Oswego, Trinity, Norwich, and Plymouth State are in great position with just a few games remaining on the schedule, but for the UCHC, CCC, and races for position below the league leaders, this weekend only helped to create more drama for the remaining week or weeks depending on the conference, and tiebreakers will be required almost everywhere. Here are the highlights.

Endicott and Salve Regina are still tied at the top as both teams took weekend sweeps. The Gulls took a pair from Suffolk, 7-3 and 6-1, with a host of different players scoring on both nights to lead a very balanced attack. The Seahawks kept pace with wins over Johnson & Wales, winning 9-2 and 7-2, with the line of Jack Billings, Danny Eruzione, and Paul Boutoussov picking up four goals and eight points in Saturday’s win. Ulysses Lalor picked up his second win in goal making 16 saves.

University of New England split its weekend series with a Curry team that proved they might be dangerous come playoff time. Zachery White and Adam Valadao scored a goal apiece and added an assist, while Ryan Fitzgerald recorded three assists in the Colonels’ impressive 5-3 road win. The Nor’easters gained the split on Saturday with a 6-4 win that needed a late goal from Jeff Eppright to break a 4-4 tie, followed by Ryan Burr’s empty-net goal to seal the win.

Nichols picked up three points following a 4-1 win over WNE before Saturday’s 4-4 tie, where the Bison rallied from a 3-0 first-period deficit to take a 4-3 lead on JB Baker’s penalty shot before Matt O’Dea tied it with under two minutes to play in regulation time.

Canton dropped a pair at Geneseo, 7-0 and 7-1. The Knights picked up two-goal games from Tyson Empey and Conlan Keenan on Friday and Saturday respectively to spur on the victories for the home team.

On Friday, Bryn Athyn downed King’s, 6-3, on goals by Brycon Johnson, Vojtech Luza, Alex Doyle, Alec Grollman, Anthony DePetres, and Anthony Notorfrancesco. Landon Trutt picked up his first win of the season, making 23 saves. On Saturday, Brycon Johnson tied the game 4-4 in the second period, but Neumann picked up a late power-play goal from Joe Mitchell in the second to take the lead, and Jake Davidson iced the win with an extra-man marker of his own in the third period for the 6-4 win.

Plymouth State knocked off Worcester State, 4-1, on Thursday night, racing to a 4-0 lead off goals from Ryan Stevens, Christian LaCroix, Ludvig Steenberg, and Cam Cundy before the Lancers’ Mike Moran scored late to break up Evan Morelli’s shutout bid. On Saturday, the Panthers’ eight-game win streak was halted by Fitchburg State, 7-5. The Falcons saw Sascha Figi pick up four points in the win that helped vault them into second place in the conference standings.

On Thursday, Fitchburg State downed Massachusetts-Dartmouth, 6-3, led by two goals from Tyler Warila and a short-handed goal by James Gordon. Brian McGrath picked up the win, making 36 saves for the visitors.

Assumption downed Stonehill, 3-0, on Friday with Cam Laughlin sandwiching a goal from teammate Brian Farrell. David Zulauf picked up his eighth win of the season, making 33 saves for the shutout. On Saturday, Stonehill returned the favor, posting a 4-1 win, with Jack Hall scoring twice along with goals from Christopher Page and Kyle Woodruff to support William Palmer’s 40-save effort in goal.

St. Michael’s could not break the tie with Assumption for the top spot in the standings as they split their weekend series with St. Anselm. The Purple Knights won on Friday night, 2-1, as Eric Salzillo and Sam D’Antuono gave the hosts a 2-0 lead that Chris Johnson made good enough by stopping 39 of 40 shots in the win. The Hawks won the return match on Saturday, 4-2, with Bryan Green scoring twice in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and give Colin Soucy his third win of the season in goal. While tied in points, the Purple Knights have two games in hand on Assumption.

Norwich continues to hold a four-point lead in the standings entering the final weekend of play following wins over Southern Maine and New England College, in overtime, over the weekend. The Cadets’ Braeden Ostepchuk made goals from Jordan Hall and Connor Evangelista stand up in Friday’s 2-1 win. On Saturday, the Cadets rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period behind a short-handed goal from Kevin Salvucci and a power-play marker from Alec Brandrup to tie the game before Coby Downs won it in overtime on a power play to give goalie Tom Aubrun his sixth win of the season.

Hobart continued its hot play with a 3-3 tie at Babson and a 5-0 whitewashing of the slumping Massachusetts-Boston Beacons on Saturday. The Statesmen now sit in second place, just one point ahead of Babson with the final weekend of the regular season coming next weekend.

Skidmore added to UMB’s misery with an overtime win on Friday night off the stick of Brandon Borges, who gave goalie Brian Kowalski his first win after making 41 saves in the 3-2 win for the Thoroughbreds.

Trinity continues to play well and added another four-point weekend with a 4-3 win over Williams followed by a 3-0 shutout of Middlebury. While the Bantams have a comfortable lead in the standings, the real battle features not-so-regular names battling for home-ice seeding with just four points separating the second-place Connecticut College Camels from the sixth-place Colby Mules.

In a battle of travel partners, the Camels took three points from travel partner Tufts in a thrilling weekend series. Friday’s game saw great goaltending from Nik Nugnes for the Jumbos and Connor Rodericks for the Camels in a 0-0 tie. On Saturday, the host Camels fell behind 2-0 and then 3-1 before rallying on goals by Ryan Glantz and Brenden Russ to send the game to overtime for the second night in a row. This time, William White solved Nugnes just 55 seconds into the extra session for the win that keeps Connecticut College in second place.

Geneseo was the odd-team out of league play as they could only watch Oswego extend their lead in the standings off two dominant wins over Buffalo State and Fredonia. The Lakers spotted the Bengals a first-period lead, but scored twice in the second period before adding a pair of empty-net goals to seal the 4-1 win in front of goalie David Richer, who moved to 10-1-2 on the season. On Saturday, Richer added another win, making 36 saves in a 5-0 win over Fredonia. Josh Zizek and Joseph Molinaro scored two goals each for the Lakers, who moved to 16-3-2 on the season.

Despite being outshot, 40-33, on Saturday night, Jimmy Poreda stopped all 40 Potsdam shots and made Rich McCartney’s second-period goal stand up as the game-winner in a 1-0 Cardinals’ victory. Poreda was especially good in the third period, where he made 18 saves to preserve the shutout and much-needed two points for the home team.

The UCHC is truly the most interesting of all the conferences in that the top four teams are separated by just a single point, and teams 4-7 are just three points apart with two weekends remaining in the regular season. Utica, Lebanon Valley, and Stevenson are tied with 18 points, while Elmira sits at 17, which sets up a dramatic race to the finish.

The Pioneers took out Chatham on Saturday, 8-0, before downing the Flying Dutchmen on Sunday afternoon, 5-2. Gianluca Baggetta moved to 5-0-0 on the season, making 18 saves in the win over Lebanon Valley where five different players scored for the home team.

Stevenson stayed in the hunt with a 2-2 overtime tie with Elmira on Saturday night. Liam Walsh and Colin Woods gave the Mustangs one-goal leads in the first period, only to see Elmira answer with goals by Connor Powell and Spencer MacLean to level the contest and give each team a valuable point in the standings.

Three Biscuits
Ryan Dunn, Fredonia: Dunn scored two first-period goals, giving Fredonia an early lead they wouldn’t surrender against Cortland. Dunn finished his hat trick in the second period in the 5-1 win.
Sascha Figi, Fitchburg State: Figi led the Falcons to an important MASCAC win over conference leader Plymouth State by scoring twice and adding a pair of assists for four points in the 7-5 win. Figi’s second assist was on Brandon Ecklund’s goal that proved to be the game-winner.
Aaron Clancy, Westfield State: Clancy had quite a night in the Owls’ 9-3 win over Framingham State. Clancy picked up a pair of goals and added three assists for five points in the win.

There is clarity some places in conference play and still a whole lot of interesting races still to be decided for playoff eligibility and seeding.