‘Tis the season for giving and receiving. The holidays are truly a time of reflection and goodwill and so too is the annual wish list for Santa from the D-III teams in the East who hope the second half will be more than merry and bright. Here are a few items on wish lists across the conferences as teams celebrate the semester break and holiday season with the anticipation of great things in the New Year.
Santa, it isn’t a surprise to see the top four teams in the conference separated by just three points at the break, but sitting just another point in arrears are the Curry Colonels. Coming off their upset of nationally ranked Massachusetts-Boston to close out the semester, the Colonels could use a little penalty killing magic in the second half to improve their chances of battling the teams above for the CCC title.
It may have taken awhile to find their rhythm as a team, but Endicott has a nice four-game win streak going where they are averaging more than six goals a game. How about keeping the offensive numbers going after the break where they face several challenging nonconference opponents like Amherst, Buffalo State, and either Neumann or Norwich?
Santa, how about some frequent traveler points or a Netflix subscription for the first-year program from Anna Maria, which is logging some serious bus miles this season with just seven home games on the schedule. The Amcats have been more than competitive despite playing a vast majority of their games as the visitors, so please make sure their “in-flight” entertainment keeps the team morale at a high level.
The Kangaroos from Canton have made it a habit of playing overtime games this year, going 1-2-2 in their five extra time games so far this season. Can we find a couple of extra third-period goals for some regulation wins for the young ‘Roos, who are playing some good hockey as evidenced by their win and tie with a ranked Fredonia team?
Santa, the defending champions from last year, Fitchburg State, found their footing to close out the semester with four straight wins, but still trail Plymouth State by three points in the standings. The two teams play twice in the second half, so can we build a little more rivalry between the current top contenders in the conference that will have possible playoff implications.
Massachusetts-Dartmouth has battled in close games all season with mixed results. Jonathan Ruiz, their senior leader and leading scorer, is just 14 points away from the century mark for his career, so can he hit the milestone in the New Year with some meaningful goals for the Corsairs to help them emerge in the conference race?
Santa, the Greyhounds from Assumption have a nice 9-4-0 record overall, but struggle at just 2-3-0 in NE-10 play this season. They have already played in seven one-goal games, going 4-3-0, so how about a little more cushion after the semester break and some success on the road in conference, where they play eight of 12 games.
The Hawks from St. Anselm are 3-1-0 in NE-10 play, but just 7-7-0 overall. Would it be possible to stuff a few power-play goals in their stockings to help them get on a roll and maybe build a multiple game win streak with their tough schedule that starts with Colby on New Year’s Eve?
Santa, schools that host holiday tournaments find immense satisfaction in hoisting the trophy in front of their home crowd as champions. The Beacons from Massachusetts-Boston have been snake-bit over many years as hosts for the Codfish Bowl, usually running into a white-hot goaltender to take them out of championship contention. How about this year you help the Beacons find a way to open the New Year on a high note and celebrate with a tournament title?
Suffolk enters the second half as underdogs in the Boston Landing Tournament that includes Lebanon Valley, New England College, and Nichols. The Rams seem to like the underdog position, so how about a few more favorable puck bounces to support Michael Levine’s great goaltending that led to first-half upsets over Norwich and Hobart and will help them surprise some teams in the early January tournament?
Santa, the Colby Mules are the defending champions and maybe didn’t get enough credit as candidates to repeat in the ultra-competitive NESCAC standings. How about some continued magic in the blue paint for netminder Andrew Tucci, who brings a 1.72 goals-against average and three consecutive game shutout streak into the second half?
The Middlebury Panthers already have as many wins as they recorded all last season and are just two points out of the top spot in the conference standings. How about helping them in the second half with some special teams presents under the tree. A better power play and penalty kill could keep them in the hunt for a playoff spot in February.
Santa, the Fredonia Blue Devils stumbled a bit at Canton to close out the first semester, but find themselves five points behind league-leading Geneseo with three games in hand. They have quality wins over Oswego and Plattsburgh already this season, so can you find some second-half magic that keeps the balanced and deep Fredonia squad in the hunt for the top spot?
Geneseo has roared out of the gates with an 12-1-1 record overall, leading to the no. 2 ranking in the country. The offense has been spectacular, with 72 goals scored in their first 14 games. Junior Conlan Keenan has just surpassed the 100-point mark for his career, and teammates Andrew Romano and Anthony Marra could join him with a strong second half. Let’s keep things rolling for a Knights team that already boasts seven players with more than 10 points on the season.
Santa, the loss by Utica to the nation’s no. 1 team, Wisconsin-Stevens Point, may have been the catalyst to finding their game as they entered the break on a four-game win streak. How about helping the Pioneers out with a little road magic in the second half, where they will need to improve their 3-3-0 mark if they want to stay at the top of the UCHC standings?
Wilkes is also a first-year program and already battling near the top of the UCHC in their inaugural season. Please make sure coach Riley’s squad gets to build on their 7-4-0 overall record with some nice nonconference wins before entering the league schedule in mid-January. The very young Colonels could use the added confidence heading into a difficult stretch run that opens with Lebanon Valley and closes with Utica.
Santa, please accept my wish for a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season for each of the players, coaches, officials, administrators, and fans across D-III in the East and beyond. The first semester saw some terrific action that I only hope carries over to a wonderfully competitive drive to the playoffs and 2019 national tournament in March. Happy Holidays to all, and best wishes for a wonderful New Year!