Sunday, December 4, 2016

Conference Roundup 12/3/16

Colby held on in a wild 208th meeting with Bowdoin

Hamilton (5-0-1; 2-0-1 NESCAC)     2
Wesleyan (4-2-0; 2-2-0 NESCAC)      0
Box Score    Recap

Evan Buitenhuis made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season as Hamilton remained the only team in the NESCAC unbeaten overall (Tufts and Colby are also undefeated in conference). Rory Gagnon bounced a rebound in off his body in the first and Brandon Willett added another in the second for the only scoring on the afternoon. Dawson Sprigings made 26 saves in defeat. The Continentals, likely to enter the polls for the first time this season this week (if you care about such things), finish up the semester on the road at Middlebury/Williams. The Cardinals are done with NESCAC play for 2016 but hope to match their overall win total from the past two seasons combined this coming Saturday with the semester finale one the road at Stonehill.

Tufts (5-1-1; 3-0-1 NESCAC)                5
Middlebury (0-6-0; 0-4-0 NESCAC)       3
Box Score  Recap

Middlebury yielded ten power plays for Tufts, including three power play goals for the Jumbos to drop the Panthers to 0-6-0 for the first time since...perhaps ever. Tufts jumps out to their best start since a 7-0 start in 2000-01 when the Jumbos still played in the ECAC-Northeast. Seniors Sean Kavanagh and Greg Conrad had their first two goals of the season for Tufts and Middlebury, respectively, while two Jumbos had their first goals of the season (Tackasi-Nagy and Berger) and the Panthers Mitchell Allen scored his first collegiate tally.  Mason Pulde turned aside 28 saves in victory while rookie Brian Ketchabaw stopped 35 shots in his second college appearance for Middlebury.  The Jumbos return home to the municipal confines of the Malden Valley Forum to take on Mainers Bowdoin and Colby to close out the semester. The Panthers stay at home, still looking for their first win against Hamilton or Amherst.

Conn College (1-5-0; 1-3-0 NESCAC)      4
Williams (2-2-1; 2-1-1 NESCAC)            8
Box Score   Recap

The Ephs had their biggest offensive production since a 9-0 win over Tufts in 2014 as Williams rolled to their first home win of the season. Roberto Cellini and Tyler Young each scored twice and David Italiano added five points (1-4-5) for the Ephs, while Brian Belisle, whose grandfather was inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame this week, scored twice for the vanquished Camels. Three Camels saw action in net, with Austin Essery giving up three goals, Tim Cooney two, and Avery Gobbo three. Michael Pinios made 18 saves for the victory. After the game, Williams had the trophy presentation for their 19th Directors Cup win in 21 years, an award given to overall athletic prowess for a school at the D-III level.  The Ephs stay home for Amherst/Hamilton while Conn College hosts undefeated Colby and then Bowdoin to close out the calendar year.

Amherst (3-2-1; 0-2-1 NESCAC)     3
Trinity (4-3-0; 2-2-0 NESCAC)      4
Box Score   Recap

Trinity outshot their opponent for the seventh of seven times this season (average of 47.6 to 19, though that's skewed somewhat by the Post game) and Alex Morin made enough saves (15) to earn Trinity the rebound win after a loss to Hamilton on Friday. Arizona State transfer Charlie Zuccarini scored his first collegiate tally and the other Cole brother, Brandon, poked in the game winner in the third. Connor Girard made 37 saves but left one too many rebounds to drop the Purple and White to 0-2 on the weekend after a non-conference Thanksgiving week that saw Amherst vault into the polls on the strength of wins over two ranked opponents. Coach Arena's squad heads to bitter rival Williams on Friday (Middlebury on Saturday) and Trinity closes out the semester with non-conference matchups vs ninth ranked Hobart and Elmira.

Bowdoin (3=4=0; 1-3 NESCAC)  4
Colby (5-1-0; 4-0-0 NESCAC)     5
Box Score  Recap 

Colby took the lead for the first time in the third period, and survived a six-on-three in the final minute (too many men on the ice call, bench minor for Coach MacDonald arguing, goalie pulled) to sweep the 207th and 208th installments of Bowdoin/Colby's rivalry. A night after making 41 saves, Andrew Tucci made only 20 for the victory at home and Peter Cronin made 35 saves in the loss. Jack Burton scored twice for Colby while Cody Todesco had his team leading seventh tally for the Polar Bears. The Mainers both leave the state for the first time this season for a road trip to Tufts/Conn College next weekend. Bowdoin hosts Southern Maine on Tuesday before that road trip.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Conference Roundup 12/2/16

Bowdoin-Colby is always packed and it was again tonight, just as it was
in the 2014 installment in Brunswick (above) 

Colby (4-1-0; 3-0-0 NESCAC)        2
Bowdoin (3-3-0; 1-2-0 NESCAC)    1
Box Score   Recap

Colby freshman Andrew Tucci made 41 saves to earn the Peter Schuh Memorial award (given to MVP of Bowdoin/Colby game in Brunswick) to help the Mules win the 207th installment of this rivalry.  Bowdoin struck first late in the second, when Cody Todesco capitalized on a short handed breakaway during the first power play of the game for either team.  Colby answered back early in the 3rd with goals from Kienan Scott and Cam MacDonald and they held on the rest of the way. Peter Cronin made 34 saves in defeat. The two teams will meet again tomorrow in Waterville for the 208th time.

Amherst (3-1-1; 0-1-1 NESCAC)       0
Wesleyan (4-1-0; 2-1-0 NESCAC)   3
Box Score  Recap

The last time these two met in Middletown, Wesleyan ended a winless streak against Amherst that dated back to Barack Obama's President Elect status. Now with Donald Trump as president elect, the Cardinals made it into a mini winning streak thanks to a 25 save shutout from Dawson Sprigings. James Kline's goal in the second was all the Cards needed, but they added a few more in the third, including an empty netter for good measure. Connor Girard had 20 saves in defeat.  Amherst travels to Trinity on Saturday not used to being .500 while Wesleyan welcomes a Hamilton team that is the only undefeated team overall in the NESCAC. Wesleyan won five games combined in the last two seasons (48 games). A victory over the Continentals on Saturday would match that total in six games this season.

Tufts (4-1-1; 2-0-1 NESCAC)               3
Williams (1-2-1; 1-1-1 NESCAC)         3   OT
Box Score  Recap

In a rematch of the NESCAC Quarters from last season, Tufts blew a 2-0 lead but hung on for a tie thanks to Mason Pulde's first 40 save performance of the season. Brian Brown had his team leading fourth and fifth tallies for the Jumbos, who travel to Vermont on Saturday to take on the winless Middlebury Panthers. Michael Pinios had 27 saves for Williams, who welcome a Conn College team on Saturday that is coming off their first NESCAC win since the 2014-15 season.

Conn College (1-4-0; 1-2-0 NESCAC)      4
Middlebury (0-5-0; 0-3-0 NESCAC)            2
Box Score  Recap

....speaking of the Camels. They scored three third period goals to erase a 2-1 Panther lead after two to win their first game in conference since the 2015 NESCAC Quarterfinals. It was the home opener for the Panthers, who probably have never started a season 0-5, least not in a very long  time. Vincent Gissonti scored both Panther goals, while the three goals from the Camels in the third were all first time scorers this season (Moreau, Paris and Doyle). The frosh Jacob Moreau actually leads the offensively-challenged Camels in scoring with four points (1-3-4).  Austin Essery got the start in net for CC and made 24 saves in victory while Stephen Klein made only 19 saves in defeat.

Hamilton  (4-0-1; 1-0-1 NESCAC)   4
Trinity  (3-3-0; 1-2-0 NESCAC)         1
Box Score   Recap

Two years after bursting onto the scene with 46 saves in Hartford as a freshman, Hamilton goalie Evan Buitenhuis made 45 saves to help the Continentals beat the defending NESCAC champions and remain as the only unbeaten team overall in the NESCAC. The Continentals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first thanks to three power play goals. The Bantams would not stop commiting penalties but they did stop letting up power play goals and the Conts ended up 3/9 on the PP for the evening. Rory Gagnon had two goals (and 3 points) for Hamilton while Alex Morin made 23 saves in defeat for Trinity.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Non-Conference Roundup 11/22-11/27/16

Former Amherst goalie turned Purple and White assistant
Dave Cunningham ('16) was certainly proud of his team this week.
Thanksgiving week means non-conference play in the 'CAC - 23 games in all - with each NESCAC team playing at least one and at most three games. Below please find a recap by team (alphabetically, since it is too early for standings to have much meaning right now).

Additional Bowdoin reporting from youth writer Seamus McCune (website)

Amherst (3-0-1)
The Purple and White started the week on Tuesday with a 5-1 win  (Box) over frequent whipping post, St. Mike's in Vermont. Giancarlo Ventre made 23 saves to earn the win in his first collegiate start while Pat Daly and Thomas Lindstrom scored two goals each.

Saturday brought a big matchup at The Aud against the fourth ranked Utica Pioneers, who lost their first game of the season on Friday night. In a back-and-forth affair through two periods, the Pioneers created some breathing room with two goals in the first half of the third. Amherst rallied with two goals within a minute of each other in the final five minutes to force OT. In the extra frame, frosh Noah Gilreath fired a wrister from the right circle past the glove of the UC goalie for the 6-5 victory. Gilreath, along with fellow frosh PJ Conlon and Stanley Brenner, scored their first college goals while senior Adam Ellison became the third Amherst goalie to start in the first three games of the season.

Things did not get easier the next day as Amherst took on another ranked team (Babson) in the home opener. Coach Arena's charges were up to the task, scoring three goals in the first half of the second period after a scoreless first. Beaver goalie Matt Pompa, who was coming off a 41 save performance against Williams on Saturday, was pulled after giving up the third goal.

The Beavers were able to get one of their 26 shots past Conor Girard, but it wasn't enough as a Will Vosepka empty net tally with 2:26 remaining sealed the 4-1 victory (Box). The Beavers were aggressive with the goallie pull, amassing five and-a-half minutes of extra skater time in the third, including opting for a six on-three skater approach with eight minutes to go on a 5-on-3 power play. Overall, the Purple and White had a medley of scores, including a regular strength goal (Johannson), a power play goal (Lindstrom), a short handed goal (Ho) and the aforementioned empty netter.

On Monday, Amherst reaped the rewards of their big OOC week and entered the national polls ( for the first time since officially dropping their unofficial mascot in January of this year. The Purple and White came in at 11 in the D3H poll and 13 in USCHO as the only NESCAC team to make both polls. On an individual level, freshman Pat Daly's five point week (3-2-5) earned him NESCAC Player of the Week honors.

Amherst heads to the Nutmeg State to take on Wesleyan on Friday. 

Bowdoin  (3-2-0)
The Polar Bears started a three game week at home against in-state opponent University of New England. The PBs scored three unaswered goals over the final period and a half, including two from Cody Todesco and Thomas Dunleavy's first collegiate tally, to quell the Nor'Easters 5-3 (Box). Eric Wurman made 33 saves in his first start of the season to earn the victory.

The weekend brought the Bowdoin/Colby Faceoff Classic. On Saturday in Brunswick, Geneseo goalie Devin McDonald made 30 saves and despite Cody Todesco’s best effort(a hat trick), the Polar Bears could not pull an upset against the 7th ranked Knights. Bowdoin had 34 shots on the evening. A power play goal from Tedesco in a 5-on-3 situation in the third pulled the Polar Bears to within two goals at 6-4. This put a crack in the Sidney J Watson Arena ceiling the size of a puck, but they could not break the ceiling as the Knights finished off the game 7-4 (Box). Peter Cronin made 21 saves for Bowdoin in defeat.

On Sunday in Waterville, Mark Schiller became the fourth goalie to start in five games for Bowdoin. The Polar Bear senior earned his first collegiate victory with 34 saves in an 8-3 beatdown of Becker (Box). The Hawks will be glad to be done with the NESCAC for this season after being outscored 19-6 in three losses to the 'CAC during the week (Bowdoin, Colby, Tufts). Max Ginsberg scored his first college goal, while fellow frosh Christian Cappello one-uped him with his first two collegiate goals. Ronnie Lestan had a less celebratory first: his first game disqualification after a hit from behind in the second.

The rivalry is renewed on Friday as the Polar Bears take on Colby in Brunswick at home, followed by Colby's home game on Saturday. 

Colby (3-1-0)
The Mules remained in Maine after their 4 point opening weekend for the Bowdoin Colby Faceoff Classic. On Saturday in Brunswick, the Mules took care of Becker, 8-3, (Box) with the help of Kienan Scott's first two college goals. The win setup Sunday's home matchup with Geneseo as the championship of the Faceoff Classic. Colby fell behind 2-0 in the first period but fought back for a 3-2 third period lead. Just 25.2 seconds from victory, the Knights - with the goalie pulled and the extra attacker - fired one past Andrew Tucci to force OT.  Geneseo then knocked one home in overtime to give Colby their first loss of the season (Box). 

Conn College (0-4-0)
The Camels dropped a pair at the Skidmore Invitational to remain winless on the year and 3-22-3 in their last 28 dating back to the start of last season. On Saturday, host Skidmore outshot Conn college 34-14 but Avery Gobbo kep them in the game with 32 saves, but it wasn't enough as the Camels fell 2-1 (Box). Gobbo was again in net for a 3-2 loss to Fitchburg State on Sunday (Box). Rory Galasco had his first collegiate tally in the loss. The Camels head up to Vermont to face fellow winless squad Middlebury on Friday.

Hamilton (3-0-1)
The Continentals framed Thanksgiving with a home-and-home againt SUNY Canton (1-7-1) this week. On Tuesday in Clinton (box) , senior Charlie Fennell stopped 18 stops in his first start of the season and five different Conts scored (including Nick Ursitti's first collegiate tally) as the Conts vanquished the visiting Roos 5-2.  

On Saturday in Canton (box), the shots on goal were a bit closer (36/28 compared to 42/20 on Tuesday) but the result was the same: a three goal victory for Hamilton.  Boots made 27 saves and Neil Conway scored twice to move into the team lead for ponts (3-3-6) early in the season. 

Next up for Hamilton is a trip to Hartford for a matchup with Trinity. 

Middlebury (0-4-0) 
The glory days of Middlebury are long, and it is unfair to keep comparing this team to a memory, but it's hard to image a Middlebury team finishing last in three straight Primelink Great Northern Shootouts as they have the past three seasons. 

The Panthers played well in the opening round against nationally ranked rival Norwich (Box), before falling 3-2 in OT for their second OT loss in three games. The Panthers then lost 5-2 to host Plattsburgh in the consolation game (Box) to remain winless on the season. Platty fell to the consolation game after being upset by the invite team, Concordia College (Mn.), in the opening round. Stephen Klein played both games in net this weekend for Middlebury. 

The Panthers return to Vermont for their home opener on Friday against Conn College with both teams looking for their first win of the season. 

Trinity (3-2-0)
The Bantams opened up non-conference play with a couple of a$$-whoppins of D-II teams. On Tuesday, Post University, in their first year of existence as an NCAA program, fell to Trinity 12-0 in Hartford (Box) with a shot differential of 72-3 (no that's not a typo). Several players got their first collegiate tallies including Liam Feeney, not to be confused with beloved character George Feeney from Boy Meets World, who also may have scored in this game, not sure.

On Saturday, Trinity continued the beatdown train with a 12-0 victory (Box).  The shot differential was a much more modest 59-19 with Trinity going 7/13 on the power play. Things got immediately tighter on Sunday when the Bantams returned to playing D-III competition. The Bantams outshot University of Southern Maine 48-20, but Huskies goalie Kyle Shapiro stood on his head for a 2-1 victory (Box). 

Tufts (4-1-0)
The Jumbos started the week with a blanking of Becker (box), 3-0, thanks to a couple of goals from first timers (Tyler Scroggins and Blake McIntyre) and  35 saves from Mason Pulde. Pulde then made 24 saves in a 4-1 win over Brockport in the opening round of the Rutland Herald Invitational (Box), a tournament which the Jumbos won in 2015. In the finals, an emerging Western New England team knocked off the defending champs (Box) , 3-1, to hand the Jumbos their first loss of the season. Nik Nugnes was in net for the loss. 

Coach Norton marches his charges into Williamstown on Friday for a rematch of the 2016 NESCAC Quarterfinals. The eight seeded Jumbos downed the top seed Ephs in that contest for their second straight 8/1 upset. This season the Jumbos have their sites on a home playoff game and a road win in Western Mass would be a solid step in that direction. 

Wesleyan (3-1-0)
The Cardinals spent the weekend at home swapping non-conference opponents with Trinity. Sophomore George Blinick made 26 saves in his first collegiate start to shutout University of Southern Maine 2-0 (Box) on Saturday.  Fellow sophomore Andy Espinoza scored both tallies for the Cardinals on the evening. On Sunday, Wesleyan blewout Franklin Pierce, 8-1 (Box), thanks to goals from eight different Cardinals, including three first time scorers (Tydingco, McCusker, Vannier).

Williams (1-2-0)
The Ephs played only one game this week taking on the nationallly ranked Babson Beavers on Saturday (Box).  Williams outshot the Beavers, 42-24, but Babson goalie Matt Pompa channeled his predecessor (2015-16 D-III Player of the Year Jamie Murray) and stopped 41 of the shots for a 2-1 Babson victory, their seventh straight.  Williams opens up their home slate (with new unis!) on Friday with the aformentioned rematch with Tufts. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Utica Memorial Auditorium

courtesy of

This post originally appeared on the site in 2013. In honor of Amherst's trip to the Aud tonight, we have added an update at the end of the piece. 

After beating U-Mass Darmouth in the play in round of the 2013 NCAA Division-III NCAA men's
ice hockey tournament, the Polar Bears of Bowdoin travel to upstate New York to face the Pionners of Utica College at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. While their classmates will be off sipping wine at study abroad campuses or pounding beers on Spring Break, Dan Weiniger and the rest of the Bowdoin team will be sweating away in the NCAAs at one of the most storied stadiums in all of D-III hockey.      

The Utica Memorial Auditorium, or "Aud", was the vision of former Utica mayor John McKennan. In 1956, the city of Utica hired the architectural firm of Gehron & Seltzer to build a stadium, and the team soon found out the task was more complicated than your run of the mill arena construction. For starters, the site was small, necessitating a round design, and the building required a colorless roof that wasn't too high because that would make it too difficult to heat and cool the building.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Conference and Non-Conference Roundup 11/19/16

Trinity (1-1-0)               4 
 Conn College (0-2-0)   1
Box Score    Recap

Four different players scored (including frosh Barclay Gamill's first college goal) as  the defending NESCAC champs rebounded from their opening night loss to Tufts and sent Conn College to an 0-11-2 record in New London dating back to the start of last season.

Williams (1-1-0)   1
Colby  (2-0-0)      4
Box Score   Recap 

Colby scored two goals in the third period to pull away in the upset victory and end the weekend as one of only two, two win teams in the NESCAC.  Sophomore Nick O'Connor had two tallies while freshman goaltender Andrew Tucci made 25 saves to end the weekend having allowed only two goals. Reigning NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Year Mike Pinios made only 19 saves in defeat. Colby captain Geoff Sullivan added an assist to his game winning OT goal on Friday and earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors on Monday.

Wesleyan (1-1-0)          2
Tufts  (2-0-0)                4
Box Score   Recap 

A day after upsetting Trinity to start the season, Tufts took care of business thanks to 28 saves from Nik Nugnes in his first start of the season and two goals from senior Pat Lackey. Tufts Anthony Farinacci scord his first collegiate tally in the victory. Wesleyan workhorse Dawson Sprigings made 21 saves in defeat to fall to 1-1-0.

Middlebury (0-2-0)      3
Bowdoin (1-1-0)          5   
Box Score    Recap 

Sophomore Nathan Colaninno made 23 saves in his first start of the season and fellow sophomore Austin Ricci netted two tallies as the host Polar Bears vanquished the Panthers.  The PBs scored four unanswered goals in the third to erase a 3-1 deficit and earn new coach Jamie Dumont his first win behind the bench for Bowdoin.

Middlebury freshman Brian Ketchabaw made 33 saves in defeat while his fellow neophyte Danny Jacobs scored his first collegiate goal.

New England College (3-3-0)     3
Hamilton (1-0-1)                        4
Box Score   Recap

In the first Out of Conference action for the 'Cac this season, senior defenseman Jon Carkeek had a three point night (1-2-3) and sophomore forward Jason Brochu potted two tallies to earn the Continentals their first win of the season. The Conts peppered the Pilgrim netminder with 37 shots while Evan Boots Buitenhuis made 34 saves in victory.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Opening Night Conference Roundup

After a 244 day hiatus, hockey returned to the NESCAC with five exciting league games on Friday. 
Photo Courtesy of Mike Zhe

Trinity (0-1-0)     1
Tufts  (1-0-0)      3
Box Score    Recap

Mason Pulde made 38 saves  and Brian Brown scored two goals in the final two minutes (including an empty netter) to give Tufts the upset win over nationally ranked (7th/11th) Trinity. The Jumbos continued their propensity for penalties in recent years but held the Bantams to 0/6 on the power play.  Brandon Cole scored the lone goal for the Bantams in the first while first year Cooper Stahl pulled the 'Bos even with a wrister from the slot in the 2nd period that beat a screened Alex Morin, who made 18 saves on the evening.

Williams (1-0-0)   4
Bowdoin (0-1-0)   3
Box Score   Recap 

Sophomore forward Marcus Mollica scored his first two collegiate goals, including the game winner, to help the Ephs come from 2-0 down (as they did at four straight one point last season) after one period of play. Highly tauted Williams freshman defenseman Max Fuld recorded his collegiate goal s well while Bowdoin was paced  by the first two collegiate goals of rooke Pat Geary. Mike Pinios made 25 saves in victory while Peter Cronin made 32 in defeat.

Amherst (0-0-1)   1
Hamilton (0-0-1)  1
Box Score   Recap

Connor Girard made 35 saves and Evan Buitenhuis as the travel partners skated to a tie. The anemic Hamilton power play went 0/8 including over a minute of 5-on-3 in the third(.   Amherst went 1/4 on the power play with their lone goal coming from rookie Patrick Daly. The Continentals evened the score when Brandon Willett buried a feed from Neil Conway early in the third.  After nearly a decade of losing to Amherst, Hamilton now has a modest two game unbeaten streak against the Purple and White (1-0-1).

Middlebury (0-1-0)   1
Colby  (1-0-0)           2   OT
Box Score    Recap 

Oh captain, my captain. Colby's senior co-captains EJ Rauseo and Geoff Sullivan both scored and freshman Andrew Tucci made 17 saves in his first career start to earn the victory. The Mules broke a 0-0 tie in the second period when Rauseo pumped home a rebound on the power play. Colby was 1/7 on the man advantage while Middlebury did not capitalize on any of their three chances.

The Panthers capitalized on a turnover behind the net from Tucci when first year Mitch Allen took the puck and found open fellow rookie Trevor Turnbull for the equalizer. Sullivan netted the game winner in OT on an off angle shot. Junior Stephen Klein made 27 saves in defeat for Middlebury.

Wesleyan (1-0-0)          3
Conn College (0-1-0)   1
Box Score   Recap 

Wesleyan was led by a pair of first time scorers in Walker Harris and Poughkeepsie, NY (Wappinger for "Hut by the Little Water Place") native Chris White to go along with sophomore Andy Espinoza's tally in the first to earn a victory over their fellow nutmeg state NESCAC foe.  The Camels are now 0-10-2 in New London since defeating Hamilton in OT of the 2015 NESCAC Quarterfinals.

In net, senior Austin Emery made 18 saves and gave up all three goals. After the third tally he was replaced by Tim Conney, who made 10 saves for a clean sheet in relief. Cardinal workhorse Dawson Sprigings made 28 saves for the victory. Neither team capitalized on special teams with Wesleyan going 0-for-8 and Conn College going 0-for-5.


Friday, November 18, 2016

It's here! NESCAC 2016-17 MIH Opening Night Preview

Hello there, sports fans! It's been 244 days since Williams lost to Geneseo in the NCAA Tournament to end the 2015-16 NESCAC season, but today the wait ends. All ten NESCAC teams are in action for opening night, so let's get to the match-ups. 

For our music interludes, it's a new season, so let's go with some new music (albeit from seasoned vets), shall we?

Happy hockey, y'all.

Wesleyan at Conn College 
7 PM  Middletown, CT Video

First up are the basket of depl  teams that failed to make the NESCAC playoffs last season. The Cardinals and Camels tied on opening night a year ago and the Cardinals won in New London in January.

Conn College has nowhere to go but up after becoming the first team to not win a game in conference in the league's 17 years of conference play. They did not lose a big senior class, but they did lose what little firepower they had in leading scorers Tim DiPretoro (1st team All-NESCAC) and UConn transfer Joe Birmingham. The incoming class doesn't have any lights out scorers, but they have some experienced PG and juniors players like Jeff Thompson who might help a bit.

In net they lost Tom Conlin, who fell off senior year but was second team All-NESCAC as a junior. His replacement will decidedly be a neophyte, as the two returning goalies on the roster (Austin Essery and Tim Coney)  have a combined eight games of collegiate experience and the other two are  rookies, Boulder High School's Bailey Aust and Northfield Mount Hermon's Avery Gobbo. In general, the roster is ready to try different combinations and is prepared for the attrition of injury with 32 total spots, including 21 sophomore and freshman.

For Wesleyan, they return their leading scorer, co-captain James Kline (12-5-17) from a rather anemic offense. Their blueline returns almost entirely intact, with none of the seven freshman on the 28 man roster coming from the defensive end. Co-captain Robby Harbison will anchor the backline and senior Dawson Sprigings will likely be the starter in net, though Babson transfer George Blinick should get a shot. Up front, the Cardinals don't have a highly tauted recruiting class, but you might get some contribution from Walker Harris and the likes of Andy Espinoza and the rest of the sophomore class will need to step up for the Cardinals to make their way back into the playoffs.

These two teams hope the hurt is gone from last season and tonight will be an auspicious start to a playoff season. Here's Yellowcard with "Hurt is Gone" off their 10th and final album, which was released this year.

Williams at Bowdoin
7 PM  Brunswick, ME  Video

The best matchup of opening night pits the defending NESCAC regular season crown holders vs a talented Bowdoin team that erupted towards the end of last sesason only to implode in the third period of the NESCAC quarters. Williams lost 2016 NESCAC Player of the Year Zander Masucci to graduation while Bowdoin didn't lose much to graduation but did lose 33 year head coach Terry Meagher to retirement.

Former Polar Bear assistant and now head coach Jamie Dumont will inherit a mostly intact team including goalie Peter Cronin ('18) and NESCAC rookie of the year Cody Todesco ('19). The 35 man roster has a talented eight freshman class but the youngsters will have to fight to get playing time on this team.

Williams returns NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Year and Second Team All-NESCAC goalie Mike Pinios. The 27 man roster includes eight freshman with the likes of blueliners like Max Fuld and Peter Christie likely to step in immediately at defense. Up front, the Ephs return their top eight returning forward scorers from a balanced attack in which no one scored more than eight goals including leading scores David Italiano and Tyler Young.

The two teams split last season's series with each team winning their respective home games.

Williams Preview

We the People of NESCAC nation are happy that the season is starting, especially with great matchups like this. Here's A Tribe Called Quest with "We The People" off their first studio album in eigtheen years (RIP Phife Dawg).

Amherst at Hamilton 
7 PM  Clinton, NY   Video

The travel partners square off having split the season series last year for the first time since the beginning of the home-and-home format in the 2011-12 season (the end of the ECAC-E interlock).  Amherst had won every matchup with Hamilton going even further back to the 2006-07 season until the Continentals blanked the athletes formerly known as the Lord Jeffs in Clinton earlier this calendar year. Amherst won the season opener at home.

In general, the two teams had success in different seasons in 2015-16. The Conts found success in the regular season with their first home playoff game under Rob Haberbusch (took over in 2011) while the Purple and White had a disappointing season but made a run to their third straight NESCAC title game from the sixth seed.

Amherst suffered some of the greatest losses to graduation in the Cac, including starting goaltender Dave Cunningham (who is now an assistant coach), 1/3 of their d-corps and 2/3 of their top scorers. They will look to a strong eight man recruiting class, which makes up 1/3 of the 24 man roster, to provide immediate impact, especially PJ Conlon up front and Mark Esposito from the back.

Hamilton, on the other hand, returns most of their core, including their two biggest pieces: All-NESCAC first team teammates goalie Evan Buitenhuis and forward Robbie Murden. Six freshman have been added to a 27 man roster, which includes nine seniors, including second team All-NESCAC defenseman Conor Lamberti.

Amherst preview
Hamilton video preview

Hamilton looks to continue their upward trend and get on the level with Amherst, who had owned the Continentals in recent memory until their last matchup. Leonard Cohen passed away recently, but not before the 82 year old gave us one last album this year. Here he is with "On the Level" 

Trinity at Tufts
7 PM  Malden, MA  Video

Trinity got a bit of revenge last season over the Jumbos, who had shocked the NESCAC world by knocking out the Bantams in the 2015 NESCAC Quarterfinals as the eighth seed. The Bantams won all three games over Pat Norton in his first season as Tufts coach, including a NESCAC semifinal game that knocked the Jumbos out of the playoffs. All three games, however, were decided by one goal.

The defending NESCAC champion Bantams return much of their core, including a  high scoring senior trio in Ryan Cole, Ethan Holdaway and Sean Orlando. They graduated Nate Heilbron, but junior Alex Morin had taken over the starting job towards the end of the season. Only five freshman and enigmatic Arizona State transfer Charlie Zuccarino join 23 returners to round out the roster in Hartford. In the Trinity Athletics season preview, Coach Matt Greason said the boys were disappointed about not being in the top 5 in the preseason poll (they were seven), and that should tell you what the expectations are in Hartford this season.

Over at the municipal rink off campus in Medord, Tufts has less lofty expectations, but the trend is an upward slope. The Jumbos return their transfer goalie duo in Nik Nugnes and Mason Pulde and can hang their hat on back-to-back seasons with 8/1 upsets in the NESCAC tournament. Nine freshman made the 28 man roster including some impact scorers like my new favorite member of the all-name team, Tyler Scroggins.

A big win over Trinity on opening night would be one giant leap in the direction of earning only the second NESCAC home playoff game in Tufts hockey history. Well, as much as a municipial rink is a home game, anyway (amirite?).

Trinity preview
Tufts preview

These two teams have knocked each other out of the last two NESCAC playoffs. Here's  Metallica's "Here Comes Revenge" off the recently released two disc album Self Destruct.

Middlebury at Colby
7 PM   Waterville, ME   Video 

Last but not least we we have the Middlebury Panthers traveling to Maine for a matchup with the Mules of Colby, whom the  Panthers swept in the 2015-16 season series. The Mules return almost the entirety of their roster, including top scorers Devin Ablert and Cam MacDonald, with the notable loss to graduation of d-man Alex Walsh and the departure of starting goaltender Emerson Verrier from campus. The surprise loss of Verrier leaves diminutive freshman Andrew Tucci as the team's likely starter. Tucci played well for the Wild Boars at Choate Rosemary Hall before a spending a year in juniors. He'll join five other freshman on the 28 man roster.

Middlebury, who continued their mediocre play from Bill Beaney's last season into Neil Sinclair's first season, lost eight to graduation including leading scorer Evan Neugold. Middlebury will look for immediate conributions from its ten man freshman class - the largest in the NESCAC - including Danny Tighe upfront and Brendan Dawson on the back end. Stephen Klein should be back in net and rookie Brian Ketchabaw should get some time as well.

Central Colby Preview
Colby Preview
Middlebury Preview
I'm not a big consumer of country music, but many people, especially Canadian hockey  players, are, so let's not neglect this genre. The start of the season also engenders an optimistic, rosy outlook for all teams (everyone is in first place!) as it should. So, in honor of this, here's one of Miranda Lambert's new tracks, "Pink Sunglasses".