A lot of movement in the standings was seen in the NESCAC, SUNYAC and NE-10 amidst the last weekend of regular season play. The NEHC playoff saw a big quarterfinal upset with No. 2 Babson losing to No. 7 Southern Maine and all across the remaining conferences regular season title winners were determined before playoffs begin in earnest this week. The weekend had the feel of the playoffs already and the results reflected that energy and excitement with some classic league battles.
Here is this week’s wrap-up of another eventful week in the East:
Endicott and the University of New England finished in a tie on points for the top spot in the conference following both teams closing the regular season with a pair of wins. With both teams splitting head-to-head match-ups, the next tiebreaker was against common opponents (Curry) where UNE had the advantage and earned the No. 1 seed with Endicott the No. 2 seed.
In game action, the Gulls downed Becker, 5-1 on Friday night before edging Curry, 2-1 on Saturday. After Curry’s Nick Magill-Diaz scored to tie the game at 1-1 in the final five minutes of play, Azan Dorsett scored with just 57 seconds remaining to give the Gulls the stunning victory. UNE downed Wentworth 2-1 on Friday and routed Becker 5-1 on Saturday to earn their bye position for the playoffs. Curry finishes as the third seed and ended Nichols’ 12-game unbeaten streak with a 3-2 overtime win on Friday night. Magill-Diaz tied the game with the goaltender pulled for an extra attacker and Jordan Williamson won it for the Colonels just under 90 seconds into overtime.
After winning just three of their last eleven games, Salve Regina rebounded to capture the fourth seed with a pair of wins. On Saturday, the Seahawks scored four unanswered goals to overcome a 2-1 deficit and down Wentworth, 5-2. On Sunday, Salve Regina closed out the conference schedule with a 6-0 win over Western New England. Danny Eruzione paced the Seahawk attack with two goals and two assists while Cayden Kraus added two goals and an assist. Goaltender Tony Rehm picked up the shutout stopping all 19 shots he faced.
The quarterfinal round will feature No. 3 Curry playing No. 6 Wentworth and No. 4 Salve Regina hosting No. 5 Nichols.
Canton was the only team of the Independents to play this final weekend and the Kangaroos took care of business against two SUNYAC opponents with wins over Morrisville and Potsdam. Jesse Farabee and Brett Bannister scored third period goals to support Michael Cerasuolo’s 18 saves in a 2-0 win over the Mustangs on Tuesday night. On Saturday, to close out the season at home, Canton took advantage of Jake Mayette’s three-point night to help earn the team’s 13th win of the season.
Anna Maria, Bryn Athyn and Canton all finished with records over .500 with the AmCats and Lions finishing with 12 victories on the season.
Following the weekend’s action and with just one game remaining on the schedule for six teams on Tuesday night, Plymouth State secured the regular season title following their 3-1 win over Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Thursday. Brandon Barillaro scored two first period goals to pace the Panthers who will close out their schedule on Tuesday against Salem State.
Fitchburg State has clinched second place following a big 2-1 win over Westfield State on Thursday and a 0-0 overtime tie with Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Saturday. Anthony Ceolin scored the game winning goal in the second period and goaltender Brian McGrath made 30 saves in the win over the Owls. McGrath made 35 saves on Saturday and the Falcons and Corsairs combined to go 0-13 on the power play in the scoreless tie.
Westfield State didn’t gain any ground as the Owls dropped their second game of the week to Framingham State by a score of 5-1. The Rams scored four consecutive goals, two from Bryan Whelan, to help keep Westfield tied with UMD entering the final league contests on Tuesday in a battle for hosting a quarterfinal round game. The two teams play at Westfield State on Tuesday with the winner hosting a rematch on the weekend.
Assumption captured the top seed in the NE-10 tournament with a weekend split of games with Franklin Pierce. In Friday’s 4-1 win, Dante Maribito scored two goals while Robert Holyoke added a goal and an assist for the Greyhounds. The Ravens took Saturday’s game and the final playoff position by just a point over St. Anselm. Ian Wallace earned the 1-0 shutout win and Jason Ladzinski scored the game’s only goal for the Ravens.
St. Michael’s earned the other home seed with a win and a tie against Stonehill to close out the regular season. On Friday, the Purple Knights again showed their comeback prowess by overcoming a 2-1 deficit in the final seven minutes of play in the third period. Thomas Flack scored a pair of goals for St. Michael’s. Saturday finished in a 3-3 overtime tie as Kayser Raei scored for Stonehill in the final 4 minutes of regulation to help the Skyhawks secure third place.
St. Anselm won the special teams battle against Southern New Hampshire on Saturday. In the 4-2 win, the Hawks scored a pair of power play goals and two shorthanded goals to earn the win in their season finale that fell just short of playoff qualification.
The semifinal round this week will see No. 3 Stonehill play No. 2 St. Michael’s in a re-match of this past weekend’s games and No. 4 Franklin Pierce faces No. 1 Assumption.
The upset of the weekend was found in the NEHC quarterfinal round where No. 7 Southern Maine upset No. 2 Babson 3-2 on Saturday night. Adam Papayoanou scored in the first period, Cody Braga scored in the second and Michael Green extended the lead to 3-0 midway through the third period for the Huskies who saw goaltender Paul Leger make 37 saves and hold off the Beaver rally in the final five minutes. Babson finished their season at 18-6-2 and now await and hope for an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament to extend their season.
Elsewhere the home-ice seeds all took care of business to set-up next weekend’s semifinal round matchups. No. 1 Norwich extended their shutout streak to seven games in a 9-0 win over No. 8 Castleton. Tom Aubrun made 19 saves and Gabriel Chicoine and Brett Ouderkirk each recorded four-point games for the Cadets who will host Southern Maine next weekend.
The other semifinal pairing features Hobart who downed Skidmore 4-2 on Saturday and New England College who defeated Massachusetts-Boston, 4-1. The Pilgrims broke open a 1-1 game in the third period with Nikita Pintusov’s 25th goal of the season and two more power play goals to eliminate the Beacons. The Statesmen also needed a strong third period to break a 2-2 tie. Travis Schneider scored on the power play in the final five minutes of regulation and Zach Sternbach added a shorthanded empty-net goal to provide the final margin for Hobart.
The final weekend in conference play certainly lived up to the hype with lots of movement and tiebreakers coming into consideration in breaking a three-way tie for fifth place.
Following Friday night losses by Williams and Trinity and a win by Hamilton, Saturday shaped up to be a race for the top spot. The Ephs took the No. 1 spot with a 5-2 win over Amherst spurred on by Mac Carso’s two third period goals. Trinity slotted into the second seed with a bounce back win over Wesleyan by a 3-1 score. Lucas Michaud’s empty-net goal sealed the win for the Bantams. Hamilton stayed in third place despite dropping a 6-0 decision to Middlebury who claimed the final home-ice berth behind Owen Powers’ four-point game for the Panthers. With the Amherst and Wesleyan losses and a Bowdoin wins over Connecticut College and Tufts, the three-way tie for fifth place was determined by tie-breakers that see Wesleyan finishing in fifth, Bowdoin finishing in sixth and Amherst dropping down to seventh place. Connecticut College finished in the eighth position following their 2-1 win over Colby on Saturday.
The quarterfinal match-ups next week will be No. 1 Williams vs. No. 8 Connecticut College; No. 2 Trinity vs. No. 7 Amherst; No. 3 Hamilton vs. No. 6 Bowdoin and No. 4 Middlebury vs. No. 5 Wesleyan.
Geneseo and Oswego collected wins on the final weekend and will get some rest earning first round byes into the semifinal round of the SUNYAC tournament next Saturday. Meanwhile there was some movement on the final weekend that created the final playoff positions.
Buffalo State’s 2-1 win over Cortland combined with Brockport’s loss to Geneseo left the two teams tied for third place with the Bengals holding the tiebreaker and capturing the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. Brockport will be the No. 4 seed and hosting a quarterfinal matchup.
Plattsburgh was the big mover with a pair of wins over Morrisville to jump up to the No. 5 seed. On Friday, the Cardinals used two goals from Adam Tretowicz and Hunter Alden to pace an 8-2 win at home. On Saturday, five different players scored goals and Jimmy Poreda made 20 saves in a 5-1 win that gave Plattsburgh a much needed four-point weekend. Potsdam is the final playoff team.
Quarterfinal matchups find No. 3 Buffalo State hosting No. 6 Potsdam while No. 4 Brockport will be at home against No. 5 Plattsburgh.
The six playoff teams were already known entering the final weekend of conference play but the top spot was not determined awaiting Saturday’s winner take all matchup between Wilkes and Utica. The Pioneers left no doubt as to the No. 1 team with a dominating 5-1 win. Gianluca Baggetta moved to 15-1-2 on the season making 28 saves and three second period goals broke open a 1-0 lead for the home team who claimed their fourth consecutive regular season title.
Elmira showed that they were playoff ready by downing Stevenson 8-2 on Friday and Chatham, 6-1 on Saturday. Marty Kapoian scored a hat trick in the big win over the Mustangs while Aleksi Ojala paced the offense against the Cougars with a pair of goals.
After a lopsided 9-0 loss to Utica on Friday night, King’s bounced back with a 2-1 upset win over Nazareth. Goaltender Brandon Daigle was immense for King’s stopping 59 of 60 shots. Tommy Green and Alex Bastone scored to overcome an early 1-0 deficit and help the visitors earn their second UCHC win of the season.
Utica and Wilkes have earned first round byes while the quarterfinal matchups find No. 3 Stevenson hosting No. 6 Neumann and No. 4 Elmira facing No. 5 Nazareth.
Walker Harris – Wesleyan – scored four goals in the weekend’s games with Trinity including a hat trick on Friday night leading to a 4-1 Cardinal win.
Brandon Daigle – King’s – stopped 59 of 60 shots from Nazareth including 24 in the final two periods in King’s 2-1 win on Saturday.
Jack Hall – Stonehill – scored three goals, all on the power play, to push Stonehill past Southern New Hampshire, 6-2 on Tuesday night.
There are just three regular season games remaining on Tuesday and the playoffs also begin across the region this week. Win and advance is the key now for any team hoping to extend their season into March.