College Hockey Wrap-up, D-III East: February 17, 2020

Fitchburg State’s Brian McGrath is among players on many teams chasing playoff position in the final week of the season (Frank Poulin Photography)

As a true indication of the competitiveness in the conferences, it took right up to the penultimate week of play to determine a couple of regular season conference winners in Geneseo and Norwich. That said the ride in the rest of the conferences has suspense in every game and it looks like the No. 1 seeds are going to be determined with the last breaths of the regular season. And if that isn’t enough excitement, the battles for home-ice and even getting in the post-season are all tight after a weekend that muddled the standings further.

Here is this week’s recap of another dynamic week in the East:

Endicott and the University of New England are in a dead heat in the race to determine the top seed in the upcoming CCC playoffs. Both teams completed weekend sweeps with the Gulls downing Wentworth and the Nor’easters taking two wins over Western New England. In Saturday’s 7-1 win over the Leopards, Endicott’s James Winkler scored a hat trick including his 20th goal of the season. The Nor’easters also showed off some offensive firepower with a 10-4 win on Friday that saw Austin Morgan, Ryan Bloom, Brett Mecrones and Tyler Seltenreich each record three-point games.

Nichols continued their hot play and move up the leaderboard with a pair of wins over Becker to move their unbeaten streak to eleven games. After a 5-0 win on Thursday, the Bison had to work a bit harder in a 5-4 overtime win on Saturday. Philip Virgili was the hero in the extra session scoring the game winner just 59 seconds into overtime. Forward JB Baker had a three-point game assisting on three Bison goals to help sweep the Hawks.

Curry has virtually locked down the third spot in the standings following a sweep of a struggling Salve Regina team that now just has a one-point advantage in the standings over Nichols entering the final week of play in the regular season. The Colonels won big at home on Friday led by Billy Vizzo’s hat trick and two assists in an 8-4 win. Saturday the margin was even larger in a 9-1 win that featured Viktor Jansson’s hat trick and four assists from Alex Ochterbeck.

Bryn Athyn and Canton played a two-game series that would close out the 19-20 campaign for the Lions. On Friday, the host Kangaroos jumped out to a 3-1 lead on goals from Adam Petric, Brett Bannister and Tanner Congdon. Canton sealed the win with a three-goal third period which included Bannister’s second of the game. On Sunday night, the Lions made sure their season ended on a good note as they downed Canton 7-4. A four-goal first period and two goals from Vojtech Luza paced Bryn Athyn to a comfortable lead that helped the Lions finish the season at 12-10—3 on the season.

Plymouth State regrouped to solidify their position atop the MASCAC standings with a pair of convincing wins. On Thursday JR Barone, Peter Laviolette and Leo Stolpe paced the offense in an 8-1 win over Westfield State. On Saturday the Panthers took to the road and came away with a 5-2 win over Worcester State. Jake Gerbner scored three goals for the Panthers who extended their lead in the standings to four points over Fitchburg State.

The Falcons are hanging close following a 3-3 tie with Salem State on Thursday and a big 7-1 win over Framingham State on Saturday. Wyatt Wilmshurst scored one goal and added three assists to lead the offense while Brian McGrath made 26 saves to earn his 12th win on the season for the Falcons.

Steven Leonard’s first period shorthanded goal was all the offense that goaltender Daniel Davidson would need in a 2-0 shutout win for Massachusetts-Dartmouth over Salem State on Saturday. Davidson stopped all 26 shots he faced to earn his third win of the season.

Assumption moved to the top of the standings with two wins over Southern New Hampshire. On Friday night, Kyle Galloway’s two goals kept the Penmen even with the Greyhounds through regulation but John Piggott scored just over three minutes into overtime for the big road win for Assumption. On Saturday, Dante Maribito and Robert Roche scored goals in the second period to break a 1-1 tie on the way to a 3-1 win and weekend sweep for Assumption.

Stonehill made the most of some games in hand in the league schedule with a three-win week. On Tuesday, the Skyhawks scored three goals in each of the first two periods on the way to a 6-4 win over St. Anselm. Over the weekend Stonehill continued their offensive game with 4-1 and 5-1 wins over Post. On Saturday, Kayser Raei and Jared McCracken each had two-point games in the win that helped Stonehill move to third place with three games remaining on their schedule.

St. Anselm rebounded from the loss to Stonehill with a win over Franklin Pierce on Friday which featured Trey Aiello’s hat trick and game winning goal in the final 33 seconds of regulation. The ravens rebounded on Saturday with a 4-2 win that tightened the standings to just a three point difference from third to sixth place in the NE-10.

Norwich has been on a roll and none bigger than their goaltender Tom Aubrun who set a NCAA D-III record with his sixth consecutive shutout that extended his scoreless streak to over 397 minutes as he and the Cadets downed Johnson & Wales 5-0 on Friday and Suffolk 6-0 on Saturday to close out the regular season as the top seed in the NEHC tournament.

Hobart stayed in the three spot but picked up a big road win over Babson on Saturday skating away with a 4-1 win that was much closer that the score indicates. Andrew Longo and Zach Tyson scored empty-net goals in the third period to break open a tight 2-1 game for the Statesmen who were backstopped by Liam Lascelle’s 32 saves in the win.

New England College wrapped up the fourth home-ice seed with a come from behind win over travel partner Southern Maine on Saturday. The Pilgrims tied the game in third period on a shorthanded goal from Trevor Momot and saw the game winner come from Alex Laplante just over a minute into overtime for the 3-2 win.

If there is a conference where there is absolutely chaos on the horizon, it is NESCAC entering the final weekend of play in the regular season this week. Trinity and Williams remain separated by just a point as both teams took a pair of wins over the weekend and the highly valued four points. Williams downed Middlebury in a home and home series by 3-2 and 5-3 while the Bantams took down Bowdoin 8-1 and Colby, 4-1 on Saturday. Against the Polar Bears both Barclay Gammill and Cole Poliziani scored hat tricks in the runaway win.

Hamilton stumbled a bit with a loss to Connecticut College in overtime on Saturday but is still just four points from the top spot in the standings and then the there is a mere four points separating fourth place from eighth place with two games remaining on the schedule. Amherst took advantage of two wins to move into fourth place as the Mammoths have found their game in the last month going 7-0-3 in their last ten games to move from the bottom of the standings into the final home-ice berth. After Friday’s 3-1 win over Connecticut College, the Mammoths downed Tufts 4-2 as PJ Conlan, Joey Lupo, Sean Wrenn, Nick Bondra and Matteo Mangiardi all had two point games in the win that leveled Amherst’s record at 9-9-4 overall and 7-6-3 in NESCAC

Geneseo ended the suspense as to the top seed for the SUNYAC tournament as they a 4-0 win over Buffalo State and a 4-2 win over Fredonia on Saturday. The Knights used three power play goals and 18 saves by Aaron McKay in the Friday night win over the Bengals.

Oswego wrapped up the No. 2 seed with a pair of shutout wins over Morrisville by 4-0 and 7-0 scores. Seven different goal scorers found the back of the net for the Lakers who blew open a tight game with a five-goal third period in the 7-0 win on Saturday night.

Brockport and Buffalo State are in a battle for the third position entering the final week of regular season play. Brockport helped themselves with a big win over Buffalo State on Saturday by a 2-0 score. Ryan Romeo and Jeremy Solat scored the goals while goaltender Matt Schneider stopped all 22 shots, he faced to earn the shutout win. Both teams now stand 7-6-1 in SUNYAC play.

Sometimes the way the schedule lays out is amazing in terms of the drama it creates. This weekend both Wilkes and Utica had big wins setting up what should be a showdown for the top spot in the UCHC tournament. All six tournament teams are qualified but there is still some opportunity for some movement in the seedings with the remaining games this week.

Utica took a big win to move into second place by downing Stevenson on Saturday, 4-3. Jarrod Fitzpatrick’s shorthanded goal in the third period proved to be the game winner as the Pioneers and Gianluca Baggetta held off the Mustangs and bump them down to third in the conference.

Tyson Araujo’s five-point night including a hat trick along with Nick Fea’s four assists helped to give Wilkes a comfortable 6-2 win over Neumann on Friday. Michael Paterson-Jones earned his 14th win in goal and has the best winning percentage of any goaltender in the country.

Three Biscuits

Billy Vizzo – Curry – scored a hat trick and added two assists for five points in pacing the Curry offense to an 8-4 win over Salve Regina on Friday night.

Tyson Araujo – Wilkes – picked up a five-point night with three goals and two assists in the Colonels 6-2 win over Neumann on Friday night.

Troy Aiello– St. Anselm – scored three times including the game-winner in the final minute as the Hawks rallied from a 3-2 deficit to down Franklin Pierce 4-3 on Friday night.

Some teams clinched their regular season titles this weekend while other races tightened up right to the final weekend and games on the schedule. For some the playoffs have arrived while others still hope to qualify in the best position possible over the next 10 days.