Saturday, February 6, 2016

Conference Roundup 2/5/16

He Shoots, He Scores. Zander Massuci lists the Ephs past the Bantams in OT and in to 1st place.
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Melnik/

Williams 5 Trinity 4 OT 
Box Score   Recap 
In Hartford, the main event of the evening between Trinity (14-4-1; 10-3-0 NESCAC)  and Williams (14-4-1; 10-2-1 NESCAC) lived up to the hype. The Ephs battled back from a 2-0 deficit, there were five total goals scored in the third and it culminated with a Zander Massuci tally 37 seconds into OT on a feed from reigning NESCAC player of the week Tyler Young to lift Williams into first place and earn the Ephs a sweep of the regular season series between the top two teams in the CAC.

The game featured the return of Trinity senior Mike Hawkrigg, who had an assist after been out since an ACL injury New Years weekend. Ephs freshman standout goalie Mike Pinios, who splits time with senior Noah Klag, gave up more than two goals for the first time in his short 11 game career, but I'm sure he won't mind with the final result. It's a ways off, but the loss for Trinity probably means the NESCAC has little to no hope of getting two teams in the NCAA tournament as they did last season. The extra tightness of an already historically tight league is exciting, but it also means NCAA Pool C bids are the collateral damage.

Colby 2 Hamilton 1 OT
Box Score   Recap
Colby (7-8-4;4-7-2 NESCAC)'s Devin Albert scored on a beautiful feed from Cam MacDonald 27 seconds in OT to lift the Mules past  Hamilton (12-4-2; 7-4-2 NESCAC) for the second straight year in a low scoring, extra frame game in Clinton.  The Conts end the night tied for third with Middlebury, while Colby remains tied for eight with Tufts. The last time nine teams had at least 10 points for the whole season was 2011-12, when Hamilton and Conn College tied for eighth with ten points. The difference this year is that all teams still have five games to play.

Middlebury 3 Wesleyan 3 OT
Box Score    Recap
In the only OT game of the night that ended in a tie, host Wesleyan (2-9-8; 2-4-7 NESCAC) - who didn't tie in 24 games last season (3-21) - overcame a 2-0 deficit in the first five minutes to battle back for their seventh tie in thirteen conference games this season. Jaren Tanaka, who had the goal that lifted Wesleyan past Amherst for the first time since 2008 last weekend, netted the equalizer in the third. The Cardinals are now tied with the aformentioned Purple and White with 11 points, so a team with two wins on the entire 2015-16 campaign is in sixth place because #ThisSeason.

For Middlebury (6-7-6; 5-2-6 NESCAC), starting goalie Stephen Klein gave up one goal in 28 minutes and left with what must have been an injury. Senior Liam Moorfield-Yee stopped 22 of 24 shots in relief. The tie moves Middlebury into a tie with Hamilton for the third spot. The Panthers brutal OOC has them in third place in the CAC with a losing record overall, because #ThisSeason.

Bowdoin 3 Amherst 1
Box Score  Recap
Unlike the last time these two met back in Brunswick earlier this year, someone actually scored! Spencer Antunez broke a 1-1 tie in the 2nd en route to Bowdoin (9-7-3; 5-5-3 NESCAC)'s fifth straight win and Amherst (6-9-4;4-6-3)'s fourth straight loss in conference. Sophomore Peter Cronin made 36 saves for the win while Air Force transfer Connor Girard fell to 1-6-0 on the season with 22 saves and remains winless in conference.

The Polar Bears, who picked up their first win outsideo f Maine, are in sole possession of fifth place and a win over Hamilton on Saturday would put them one point within a home playoff game. The Purple and White are tied for sixth, likely to finish without a home playoff spot for the first time since 2007. A loss to Colby on Saturday would also make a NESCAC playoffs without Amherst for the first time ever a real possibility heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Tufts 4 Conn College 1
Box Score 

In the first leg of a home-and-home this weekend between the travel partners, Tufts (7-7-5; 3-6-4 NESCAC) took care of business to put Conn College (3-14-2; 0-11-2 NESCAC) on the verge of elimination from playoff contention. Four different Jumbos scored and Mason Pulde once again needed to stand on his head with 50 saves, but the Jumbos kept pace with Colby to stay tied for the eight and final playoff spot. For the Camels, who hosted their first ever NESCAC playoff game last season, a sunken season would be officially lost with a loss at home to Tufts on Saturday.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Conference Preview 2/5/16

All games start at 7 PM EST, except the Williams/Trinity matchup that starts at 7:30 PM  and the Tufts/Conn College game at 8 PM. 

We've entered the home stretch, with only three weekends and six games left per team in the regular season. The featured game of the evening is the one with the 7:30 PM start in Hartford, between Trinity and Williams (Video). The first place Bantams, who lost to the Ephs earlier this season in Williamstown, enter the game one point ahead of Williams for first place. A win by the Ephs would jump them into first place and would give them a tiebreaker over the defending national champions.

The two Maine members of the 'CAC return from a week off and hit the road for their longest roadtrip of the season. Colby enters their game with Hamilton (Video) in a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot with Tufts at eight points. The Mules are winless on the road in conference play (0-4-1) this season and take on a Hamilton team in third place with 16 points that is 3-1-1 at home and dismantled the Mules 7-1 in Waterville earlier this year. 

Three hours eastbound and down, Bowdoin takes on an Amherst team (Video) that has an identical 4-5-3 record in conference, good enough for fifth in the 'CAC. Continuing with the even stevens theme, The teams last met earlier this year and skated to a 0-0 tie, the first of its kind for the Polar Bears in the 21st century. Like Colby, Bowdoin is seeking their first road win in conference as well as their first win outside of the friendly confines of Maine. The Polar Bears, however, also enter tonight's contest with a four game win streak, to contrast with Amherst' three game losing streak in conference. 

Heading back to Connecticut, fourth place Middlebury takes on seventh place Wesleyan (Video ), two teams that skated to a 3-3 tie earlier in January in Vermont. Up the road just outside Bah-stahn, eight place Tufts hosts last place and winless in conference Conn College (Video) for the first leg of a home-and-home this weekend. If the Camels can't come out of the weekend with at least a point, they would be eliminated from playoff contention if Wesleyan picks up even a point. 

The home stretch has got everyone under pressure, especially teams like Williams/Trinity battling for the top spot in the 'Cac. ZZ Top "Got Me Under Pressure" 

Conference roundup 1/31/16

Hamilton 2  Wesleyan 1
James Klein's team leading 11th goal wasn't enough as Hamilton (12-4-2; 7-3-2 NESCAC) held on for a 2-1 victory  (Box Score) to bounce back after having their 11 game unbeaten streak snapped the night before against Trinity. The loss dropped Wesleyan (2-9-7; 2-4-6 NESCAC).

The Continentals scored in each in the first two periods with tallies from freshman Richard Court and sophomore Brandon Willett, with team points leader Robbie Murden earning a helper on each. The host Cardinals outshot Hamilton 44-22, but Evan Buitenhuis made 43 saves to end the weekend in first in the D-III nation with a .957 save percentage for the season.

Trinity 4 Amherst 1 
In Hartford, Amherst (6-8-4; 4-5-3 NESCAC) scored 34 seconds into the game on a Will Vosejpka rebound but would be blanked the rest of the way (Box Score). Trinity (14-3-1; 10-2-0 NESCAC) scored four unanswered in the first and second to avenge a loss at Amherst earlier in the season and to earn their seventh straight. Connor Girard made 31 saves but fell to 1-5-0 on the season while Nate Heilbron stopped 21 shots to move to 6-2-1/

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Conference Preview 1/31/16

Hamilton (11-4-2; 6-3-2 NESCAC)  at Wesleyan (2-8-7; 2-3-6 NESCAC) 
3 PM   Middletown, CT    Video 

This one is a battle of opposite momentum from last night. Hamilton heads down I-91 having been blanked by Trinity last night to snap an 11 game unbeaten streak, while Wesleyan used late game heroics to get past Amherst for the first time since November of 2008.  The two last met in Clinton, NY in February with Hamilton holding off Wesleyan 2-1 thanks to 44 saves from Evan "Boots" Buitenhuis.

How Boots responds to losing for the first time in nearly two months might go a long way in determining this game. If Hamilton can win they will have sole possession of third place heading into the final three weeks. For the Cardinals, a win would give them sole possession of sixth place and would put them only two points behind the Conts for the fourth and final home playoff spot.

Amherst (6-7-4; 4-4-3 NESCAC) at Trinity (13-3-1; 9-2-0 NESCAC) 
4 PM  Hartford, CT  Video

As with the other game today, this is a matchup of different momentums from yesterday evening. The Bantams put an end to all the buzz surrounding Hamilton's 11 game winning streak (including a USCHO feature on the Conts and coach Haberbusch doing a podcast) and reminded everyone that they are the defending national champions. The defending NESCAC champion Purple and White, however, dropped their second straight conference game to a team they hadn't lost to in quite some time.

Things haven't been great for Amherst recently, but they are one of the few teams that have beaten Trinity this season. The Purple and White dropped the Bantams 4-2 back in Massachusetts in December thanks to two third period goals from senior forwards Conor Brown and Topher Flanagan. Some increased output from Brown - who hasn't scored since that day in December - would go a long way to help sweep the season series for Amherst and get them back in the hunt for a home playoff game. For Trinity, a win would give them sole possession of first place.

The playoff battle is heating up between the young Americans (and Canadians...and a few Europeans) in the 'CAC. RIP David Bowie. 

Conference Roundup 1/30/16

Trinity 4 Hamilton 0
Box Score   Recap

In Hartford, Trinity (13-3-1; 9-2-0 NESCAC) ended Hamilton (11-4-2; 6-3-2 NESCAC)'s  D-III best 11 game unbeaten streak on the strength of two Tyler Whitney goals and a 22 save Nate Heilbron shutout. The Bantams, who have been without Mike Hawkrigg since an injury New Years weekend, extend their own win streak to six games and become the first team to both shutout and score more than three goals on the Continentals this season (though one was an empty netter).

Wesleyan 3 Amherst 2
Box Score  Recap 

In Middletown, Jaren Taenaka scored in the final two minutes of regulation to lift  Wesleyan (2-8-7; 2-3-6 NESCAC) past Amherst (6-7-4; 4-4-3 NESCAC) for the first time since Barack Obama was President Elect of the Unites States of America.

Williams 3 Conn College 2
Box Score   Recap 

In Williamstown, the Ephs (13-4-1; 9-2-1 NESCAC) held on to a 3-1 lead after two periods to keep Conn College (3-13-2; 0-10-2 NESCAC) winless in the NESCAC this season.  Tyler Young had a tally to move into a tie for goal scoring leader on Williams with David Italiano (who had an assist and leads the team in points) while Jake Farabee had his first collegiate tally for the Camels.

The Ephs end the weekend with a tentative one point lead over Trinity for first in the NESCAC, but the Bantams have a Sunday afternoon affair with Amherst still pending. For Conn College, a win or tie for Hamilton on Sunday against Wesleyan officially eliminates them from contention for a home playoff game with three weeks left in the regular season. The Camels are behind the eight ball for even making the playoffs as they head into the final six games six points out of the eighth and final NESCAC postseason spot currently occupied by Colby and Tufts.

Tufts 3 Middlebury 3
Box Score   Recap

In Vermont, Middlebury (6-7-5; 5-2-5 NESCAC)'s Brendan McGovern scored on the power play from a nice feed from Evan Neugold with two-and-a-half left in regulation to force OT and earn a tie with Tufts (6-7-5; 2-6-4 NESCAC). The Panthers end the weekend in either third or fourth place, depending on what Hamilton does on Sunday. For the Jumbos, they pull into a tie for eighth with Colby.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Conference Roundup 1/29/16

In Vermont, Middlebury (6-7-4; 5-2-4 NESCAC) avoided their second 0-0 tie of the season with a Vincent Gisonti goal three minutes into the extra frame to lift the Panthers 1-0 past last place Conn College (3-12-2; 0-9-2 NESCAC) (Box Score).  It was the second straight OT loss for the Camels and their fourth such loss of the season. Conn College, who hosted their first NESCAC playoff game last season and had their first trip to championship weekend, is in a very precarious position when it comes to a playoff spot this season being six points out with seven games left. Meanwhile Middlebury is in a solid spot to compete for one of the top four seeds despite an overall record that is less than impressive thanks to a rough go of it in non-conference games.

Williams (12-4-1; 8-2-1 NESCAC) jumped out in front with a Luke Stickel goal 2:45 in the first and never looked back in a 4-0 victory over Tufts (6-7-4; 2-5-3 NESCAC) (Box Score). The win gave the Ephs sole possesion of first with 17 points, though Trinity (16 points) has played one less game. Jumbos goalie Mason Pulde made 29 saves but gave up four goals, the first time this season he has let more than three pucks past him. Senior Noah Klag made 20 saves for his second shutout of the season, both against Tufts. Klag is in the top six in the D-III nation among qualified goalies in Save Percentage and Goals Against Average, but his teammate Michael Pinios is first in both categories. Not a bad problem for Coach Kangas to have.

Non-Conference Roundup 1/26/16

The NESCAC finished up its non-conference schedule with three games, all victory, to finish out the 29-23-6 record against non-CAC foes.

In Maine, Colby (6-8-4; 3-7-2 NESCAC) rode four third period goals to a 7-4 victory over fellow Maineiacs University of New England. Down the road in Brunswick, Bowdoin (8-7-3; 4-5-3 NESCAC) scored more than three goals for the first time since December to take care of University of Southern Maine 4-1. Further down the road in Massachusetts, Amherst (6-6-4; 4-3-3 NESCAC) rebounded from their first loss to Hamilton since 2006 with a 4-2 victory over Assumption. The Purple & White (who officially had their controversial unofficial mascot stripped this week) overcame a 2-1 deficit after two periods of play on the strength of two Phil Johansson goals.