Friday, February 17, 2017

Conference Roundup 2/11/17

The weekend ended with some movement in the standings but will remain tight headed into the final weekend. Williams holds a 1 point lead over Hamilton for the first spot with the two meeting on the final game of the season. 

In New London, Amherst (12-6-3; 7-6-3) rebounded from a three game losing streak with a 2-1 victory (Box) over Conn College (4-15-2; 2-12-2 NESCAC). It was the third straight 2-1 loss for the Camels. Conn College senior and co-captain Joe Giordano, an assist machine but not tally maker, scored his second goal of the season for the lone Camel score on senior day (5 seniors were celebrated - Giordano, team point leader Brian Belisle, forwards Ryan Mowery, blueliner and co-captain Greg Liatuad, and seldom used netminder Austin Essery). Max Roche and Pat Daly (with his team leading 11th goal) scored for the victorious Purple and White.

Amherst sits at sixth headed into the final weekend at home against arch-nemesis and first place Williams and last place Middlebury. The Purple and White are a long shot for a home playoff game but a lock for the playoffs. For the Camels, they head to the great white north for tilts with Colby and Bowdoin, the team they trail by four points for the eigth and final playoff spot. The Camels chance at the playoffs is next to-none, relying on an unlikely threeway tie between them, Bowdoin and Middlebury. So it looks like the Camels are missing the playoffs for the second straight season. At least they won a conference game this season, compared to last season when they went 0-15-3.

Up the road in Malden, Hamilton (15-3-4; 9-3-4) won their third straight with a 3-1 win (Box) over Tufts (10-9-3; 8-7-1).  The frosh crashed the party on senior day for Tufts. Hamilton freshman Bennett Morrison scored the game winner in the final three minutes on the short-hand (sort of, it was three seconds into an eight second power play for Tufts) to break a 1-1 tie.  Fellow private first class in the Continental hockey army Nick Ursitti scored the games first tally in the opening frame while Tufts only goal came from rookie Tyler Scroggins in the second. The only upperclassmen contribution on the afternoon in the goals column came from junior Tyler Bruneteau with an empty netter.

In net, it was the fourth straight game that reigning 1st Team All-NESCAC goalie Evan Buitenhuis gave up one goal. He heads into the final weekend 1st in the DIII nation in save percentage (.949) and third in Goals Against Average (1.50) among qualified netminders. In conference games he is first with the same save percentage and a 1.47 GAA. The second best save percentage comes from the goalie he beat on Saturday, Nik Nugnes, who let up two goals on Saturday or as many as he had let up in the previous four games.

Tufts, who celebrated six seniors including goalie Mason Pulde - his career ended early with an ACL tear- and recent Joe Concannon semifinalist Sean Kavanagh - head to Maine for the final weekend. The Jumbos are a longshot for their seocnd ever home NESCAC playoff game but they can't fall any lower than the seventh seed which they currently occupy and only one point away from the fifth seed.

Hamilton heads home in second place and can control their own destiny for the first overall seed with wins over Middlebury and current first place holder Williams, a team they tied earlier this year and haven't lost to since 2014. The Continentals are in the top 10 in both of the polls, but came in only seventh in the east in the first installment of the NCAA's regional rankings, which are used to select and seed the 12 team NCAA tournament. Based on this and assuming Williams would win the NESCAC playoffs, they just barely miss the tournament in's first installment of Bracketology. A non-conference schedule that featured exactly one legit opponent in New England College is the likely culprit in keeping the Conts out. Luckily for Hamilton , the Bracketology is just an excercise on paper (or binary code, really, but details!) and there is plenty of puck left to be played on the actual ice.

Speaking of the ice, Colby (11-6-4;9-4-3) rebounded from a loss at Trinity to escape Connecticut with a 3-2 victory (box) over Wesleyan (12-6-4; 7-5-4) despite being outshot 38-25. Mike Rudolf scored twice for the Mules to pull in to a threeway tie with Phil Klitirinos and Nick O'Connor. Sean Lawrence, who has had consecutive starts just twice since transferring (both Trinity/Wesleyan weekends), made 36 saves for the victory.  Frosh George Blinick, who has performed his way into rotating time with Dawson Sprigings in net, made 22 saves to drop to 5-2-1 on the season.

Colby returns home for the final weekend against Conn College and Tufts in third place, two points out of first and three points ahead of Wesleyan in fifth place. The Mules are looking for their first home playoff game since 2008 when they finished first and the first under fifth-year coach Blaise MacDonald. They are likely to get one with a win in either game clinching at least the fourth spot. the Mules enjoy the Mayflower hill home ice advantage, going 7-1-1 at Alfond, including a 6-0-1 mark in conference.   Home ice advantage, especially home ice advantage throughout the NESCAC playoffs, would be key for a team that will need to win the NESCAC to make the NCAA tournament. The Mules are in the top 15 in both polls, but did not appear in the first edition of the NCAA regional rankings. If they are able to pull off a  top seed, they would likely play arch-nemesis Bowdoin, who is a near lock for eighth.

For Wesleyan, they will make their first NESCAC conference tournament since being blownout as the eighth seed by top seed Trinity in 2014.  The Cards control their own destiny for earning their first home playoff game since 2007 when they finished fourth if they can sweep the home-and-home with the aforementioned Bantams.

Speaking of those angry chickens, Trinity (13-6-3; 9-5-2) cruised past Bowdoin (8-14-0; 5-11-0) 6-1 (Box) thanks to a hat trick from junior and NESCAC Player of the week Tyler Whitney. The Polar Bears head into the final wekend with nothing to gain, incapable of rising higher than eighth but still possibly failing out of the playoffs, though only in a very unlikely scenario.  The Polar Bears, who are in their first season under head coach Jamie Dumont, have never finished lower than sixth since NESCAC started a postseason tournament in the 1999-2000 season. Current four seed Trinity heads into their home-and-home with Wesleyan as the most enigmatic team in the 'CAC. They have the best goal differential in conference (+22, seven better than second best Hamilton at +15) but have never fully gotten the momentum they were expected to have as the preseason favorite in the NESCAC.

In the lone night game on Saturday, Williams (13-6-3;10-3-3) outshot  Middlebury  (3-17-2; 3-13-0) 46-15 and scored four times in the first period on rout to a comfortable  4-1 (Box) sweep of  the home-and-home. The victory puts the Ephs in first headed into the final weekend and keeps Middlebury, who has never missed the conferencce playoffs before this season, in last. Middlebury needs to win both games the final weekend at Hamilton and Amherst and would still need help to sneak into playoffs. For Williams, they are in the drivers seat headed into the final two games, with the final game at Hamilton a potential de facto first place game.

The Ephs are not ranked in either poll despite being the conference leader, but are the highest ranked team in the CAC in the more important NCAA Regional Rankings, coming in at sixth in the east. Williams finished first in the NESCAC regular season standings for the first time last season before being upset by eighth seed Tufts in the playoffs. They still made the NCAA Tournament, a feat they will only likely make this season by winning the conference tournament.

NESCAC teams seeking the CAC crown hope not to be burned up in their pursuit. Here's Metallica and Lady Gaga "Moth into Flame" from last Sunday's Grammy Awards. We are hoping for some good games with no technical difficulties (looking at you Andy Tucci's goalie equipment), so we present the version with James Hetfield's mic feed not off. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Conference Roundup 2/10/17

The NESCAC standings remain tight after last night and now only two teams completely control their destiny: 1st place Williams and 2nd place Hamilton get the top seed if their win their respective final three games, including a head-to-head next Friday.  Nothing else is certain, though Bowdoin in the eight seed and Conn College/Middlebury not making the playoffs are virtually locks at this point. 

Three of the five games last night were played in the Nutmeg state.  Hamilton (14-3-4; 8-3-4) and Conn College (4-14-2; 2-11-2) seem poised to head to OT, when Jason Brochure bullheaded his way to a goal with just .2 ticks left to earn a 2-1 victory in New London (Box). Conn College frosh Avery Gobbo looked nimble in net with 32 saves while NESCAC goaltending leader Evan Buitenhuis only had to make 17 saves for the victory.  William White scored past a screeened Buitenhuis in the first for his third of the season while Brandon Willett scored his team leading 12th goal of the season for the Conts in the first as well.

Down the road in Middletown, Jordan Jancz first tally of the season in the third proved to be the game winner, as Wesleyan (12-5-4; 7-4-4) dropped Bowdoin (8-13-0; 5-10-0) 5-3 (Box). The Cardinals have 12 wins in a season for only the second time since the late 80s and there are still three games and the playoffs to go.  Bowdoin, headed in the opposite direction in Jamie Dumont's first season behind the bench, is at risk of missing double digit wins for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Things won't get easier as they travel to Trinity on Saturday.

Finally in Hartford, Anthony Sabitsky's goal 2:56 into OT on assists from the Cole brothers lifted aforementioned Trinity (12-6-3; 8-5-2) past Colby (10-6-4; 8-4-3) 2-1 (Box). Streaky goaltender Alex Morin made 31 saves for the victory while Quinnipiace transfer Sean Lawrence made 29 saves in a losing effort.   The Mules, who fell out of first place with the loss, head to Wesleyan on Saturday with some key points on the line. Colby assistant Chris Hall is jacked up for the game, as this tweet from 4:37 AM somewhere in a CT hotel indicates:

Crossing state lines into Massachusetts,  the Jumbos hadn't beaten the Purple and White in any municipality in 18 games, a streak dating back to 2005. Nevertheless, they persisted and Tufts (10-8-3; 8-6-1) blanked Amherst (11-6-3;6-6-3) 4-0 (Box). Four different Jumbos scored, including junior Trevor Davis's first collegiate tally, and Mason Pulde made 27 saves for his second shutout in four games. Nugnes has let up only two goals in that four game stretch since taking over the starting job full-time after rotation-mate Mason Pulde went down with an ACL tear a few weeks ago.  Across the ice, Conor Girard, fresh off being named a semifinalist for the Joe Concannon award (along with three other CAC players, including Tufts Sean Kavanagh) was pulled in the third after giving up four goals in favor of senior Adam Ellison.

The Jumbos, now in sole possession of sixth place, welcome second place Hamilton, a team that the Jumbos beat earlier this year. Amherst, whose six losses this season have come in two, three game losing streaks, looks to get back in the W column against Conn College.

Traveling northward to Vermont, last place Middlebury (3-16-2; 3-12-0) fell to first place Williams (12-6-3; 9-3-3) 3-0 (Box) in the Panthers final home game of the season.  Sophomore Michael Pinios made 23 saves for his first shutout of the season while fellow sophomore Roberto Cellini scored his team leading 14th of the season (and NESCAC leading 10th conference goal).  The two travel partners face off again in Williamstown on Saturday night.  A loss and any kind of points from Bowdoin would officially knock the Panthers out of the NESCAC playoffs for the first time since the conference playoff system began back in 1999-2000.

The lead at the top of the NESCAC is razor  thin and players and coaches are losing sleep in anticipation of the final three games. Thin Lips - "Not Losing Sleep" 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Conference Roundup 2/4/17

Another day, another slate of results that make the NESCAC even more competitive. Headed into the final two weekends (4 games left for each teams) first and seventh place are separated by just four points. 

In Maine, Colby (10-5-4; 8-3-3) scored three third period goals (Rudolf, Schulen, MacDonald) to down Amherst (11-5-3; 6-5-3) 5-2 (Box) and move into a tie for first thanks to a Williams loss to Wesleyan. A traditionally disciplined Jack Arena team gave up eight special teams opportunities for the Mules, who went 2-for-8 on the man advantage. Amherst is now third in the conference in penalty minutes at 12.4 per game. It is only the second time in his collegiate career that Conor Girard has given up more than four goals, as the junior turned aside 27 of 32 Colby shots. On the other end, frosh Andrew Tucci, the Saturday goalie of the Mules netminding duo, stopped 29 shots for the win.

Before the game, we made a haha on the twitter machine @ Colby alum and SB Nation writer Charlotte Wilder, who is in Houston covering the Super Bowl. Later in the day, Colby College's official twitter handle laid down the smack snark on where the Mules are now in the standing.

Down the road in Brunswick, Hamilton (13-3-4; 7-3-4) rode two third period goals (Neil Conway on a nice feed from Brandon Willett and Richard Court tipping in a Jon Carkeek shot) to earn a 3-1 win (Box)  over Bowdoin (8-12-0;5-9-0) and stop a five game winless slide in the NESCAC. Neither of the two worst power plays in the 'Cac converted with Hamilton going 0/5 and Bowdoin going 0/4. The Conts peppered Peter Cronin with 42 shots while Evan Buitenhuis stopped 29 of the 30 pucks the Polar Bears hurled at him.

Switching over to Massachusetts, Wesleyan (11-5-4; 6-4-4) had the aforementioned 3-2 (Box) upset of Williams (11-6-3; 8-3-3) despite the Ephs outshooting the Cardinals 35-17. Michael Pinios, reigning NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Year and 2nd Team All-NESCAC goalie now has the worst save percentage in conference games (.875) of any qualifying goalie. For the Cards, sophomore George Blinick appears to have earned a rotational spot with Dawson Sprigings down the stretch. The Cards scored the game tying (Tydingco) and winning (White) goals just 24 seconds apart in the third partly from uncharacteristically sloppy defensive zone play from the Ephs.

Up the road in Vermont, Middlebury (3-15-2; 3-11-0)'s redemption tour hit a major road block with an  11-3 trouncing (Box) by Trinity (11-6-3; 7-5-2). Andrew Klein, coming off back-to-back shutouts, gave up seven goals, and sophomore Henry Cutting gave up four goals in relief in hist first collegiate action. Freshman Barclay Gammill led the way with five points (4-1-5) for the Bantams, who are the hardest team to figure out in the NESCAC.

Tufts (9-8-3; 7-6-1) swept the home-and-home with Conn College (4-13-2; 2-10-2) 2-1 (Box) with all scoring occurring in the first period. Nik Nugnes earned his second straight win stopping 27 of the 28 shots he faced. For the weekend, Nugnes stopped 77 of the Camels 78 shots. Across the ice, Connor Roddericks made 30 saves in defeat. The travel partners both wrap up their home schedules next weekend with Hamilton and Amherst visiting the Camels and Jumbos.

The NESCAC is tight and competitive, we were just born that way.  Here's tonight's Super Bowl halftime performer Lady Gaga "Born This Way". 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Conference Roundup 2/3/17

Well, folks, the NESCAC is as tight as it has ever been heading into the stretch.

Up in Maine, Colby  (9-5-4;7-3-3) downed Hamilton (12-3-4; 6-3-4) 1-0 (Box) on the strength of 28 saves from Quinnipiac transfer Sean Lawrence for his first career shutout. The win also leaped frog Colby over Hamilton for second place in the NESCAC. The lone goal of the came in the first from Phil Klitrinos on a feed from Devin Albert. Hamilton is now 0-3-2 in their last five conference games, a stretch that includes only one game in which they scored more than two goals. Their offense suffered a huge blow for the home stretch last weekend when senior Robbie Murden suffered a season ending jaw injury. Murden ends his college career with 99 points, one shy of the century mark.  The Mules, with their new goalie duo of Lawrence and frosh Andrew Tucci, are 3-0-2 in their last five conference games.

Elsewhere in the Pine Tree State, Bowdoin (8-11; 5-4)  rejuvenated their season with a 3-1 win (Box) over Amherst (11-4-3; 6-4-3). The Purple and White entered the game on an 8-0-2 stretch, while the Polar Bears were in the midst of a 1-7-0 run. Sophomore Cody Todesco had two tallies (his conference leading 13th and 14th of season) for the victorious PBs while senior Austin Ho had the sole light lamper for the visitng P&Ws. Peter Cronin

On Saturday, as travel partners are wont to do, the teams will swap with Hamilton headed to Bowdoin, a place they don't traditionally do well but did win last year, and Amherst headed to Colby, a place where the P&Ws have done well in recent memory but did lose at last season.

In the other travel partner group in the Nutmeg State, Williams (11-5-3; 8-2-3) erased a 1-0 deficit after two periods to defeat Trinity (10-6-3;6-5-2)  3-1 (Box) and remain at the top of the NESCAC standings, a position they held at the end of the 2015-16 regular season. The Ephs are now 7-0-1 in conference since losing in Hartford to the Bantams to start off 2017. The Bantams, the preseason favorites in the NESCAC, currently sit in fifth and fall to 3-4-3 on the road this season. They looked to be poised to break back into the top half of the 'CAC a few weeks ago with a 12-1 weekend at home against Tufts/Conn College, but have only scored four goals in their last three games.

One state up in Vermont, Middlebury (3-14-2; 3-10-0) continued their season saving campaign with  their second straight 1-0 victory (Box) and third win in four games. Last night's victims were the Cardinals of Wesleyan (10-5-4;5-4-4), who came into the game on a six game unbeaten streak (3-0-3). Senior Andrew Neary had the only goal of the evening on his first tally of the year, while Stephen Klein made 25 saves for his second straight shutout. Wesleyan heads south for a rematch with Williams, who beat them in early January, while Middlebury welcomes a Trinity team that disposed of them easily in Hartford earlier this season.

In the first leg of the travel partner home-and home between Tufts (8-8-3; 6-6-1) downed Conn College (4-12-2; 2-9-2) 3-0 (Box) at Malden Valley Forum. The Jumbos wore specialty jerseys to be auctioned off for Team Hoyt (the charity for the father/son duo that does Boston Marathons you may have heard of).   For the Jumbos, freshman Jordan Haney had two goals and Nik Nugnes had 31 saves for the shutout (Avery Gobbo also had 40+ saves in defeat). The two are back at it on Saturday night with the Jumbos looking for a sweep of the home-and-home for the second straight season.

Things are tight, y'all. Everyone is holding on to the hope for a home playoff game and those on the outside looking in (Conn and Midd.) still have hope for a playoff spot at least.  Here's Thrice's "Hold Fast Hope" off of the album Vheissu, named after a reference to a Thomas Pynchon Novel and whose art work was done by Dave Eggers because it's the 'CAC, let's get literary! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Conference Roundup 1/21/17

Tufts (7-6-3;5-4-1 NESCAC)            1
Wesleyan (9-4-2; 5-3-2 NESAC)      4
Box Score 

Wesleyan followed up a furious third period comeback on Friday with a comfortable three goal win on Saturday. George Blinick made 26 saves and let up only his fourth goal in as many starts this season and Vincent Lima scored his second and third goals of the season to lead the Cardinals. It will be interesting to see if Blinick carves out a nitch in a goalie rotation with Dawson Sprigings, who has been the Cards' workhorse in net the last three seasons with mixed results.  The once stout goalie duo of Mason Pulde and Nik Nugnes has shown kinks recently for the Jumbos. Both goalies gave up at least one goal for the second straight night with Pulde giving up three and Nugnes giving up one.

The Cards have a non-conference game on Tuesday before heading to a tough weekend with Amherst and Hamilton while Tufts hosts Williams and Middlebury.

Colby (7-4-4;6-3-3 NESCAC)           3
Williams (8-5-3; 5-2-3 NESCAC)    3
Box Score

No team had more than a one goal lead in a game in which Williams outshot the Mules 39-16. Frosh Andrew Tucci stopped 36 of those Eph shots while Michael Pinios only made 13 saves in a sophomore campaign that has seen much more pedestrian numbers than his stellar rookie season.  The usual suspects scored for the Ephs (Italiano, Shuggart, Celini), including a beaut of an assist from Frankie Mork on teh Italiano goal, while senior Geoff Sullivan had two tallies and Nick O'Connor scored once for the Mules.

The Mules play non-conference affairs (University of New England; Fitchburg St.) next weekend while Williams travels to Tufts and Conn College looking to get near or at the top spot in the wide open NESCAC standings.

Bowdoin (7-10-0; 4-8-0 NESCAC)           1
Middlebury (1-13-1; 1-9-0 NESCAC)    5
Box Score

In the battle of struggling, former powerhouses, Middlebury came out the gate energized and earned the Panthers first win this season and handed Bowdoin their sixth loss in seven games. The win keeps the Panthers slim hopes for a playoff spot alive. Senior Vincent Gissonti lead the way with two goals for Middlebury while frosh Tom Dunleavy had the lone tally for the Polar Bears. Stephen Klein made 32 saves for the victory while Nathan Colaninno made 25 in defeat.

The Polar Bears play only game this week, a non-conference tilt with Southern Maine, while Middlebury hits the road looking to jumpstart a playoff push with road matchups with Conn College and Tufts.

Conn College (3-10-2; 1-7-2 NESCAC)      0
Trinity (10-5-1; 6-4-0 NESCAC)                5
Box Score

Trinity completed a weekend of outscoring opponents 12-1 as Alex Morin stopped the 16 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. The wins don't push the pre-season favorite Bantams into the top half of the standings yet, but it was a reminder of how dangerous they can be if Morin plays well in net and their high-powered offense is clicking. They'll face off against Hamilton in the Conts' annual "Citrus Bowl" next Friday and then head to Amherst on Saturday. Conn College will host Middlebury on Friday in a battle for last place and Williams on Saturday.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Conference Roundup 1/20/17

Hamilton (11-2-2; 6-2-2 NESCAC)       1
Amherst (10-3-1; 6-3-1 NESCAC)       2   OT
Box Score 

Thomas Lindstrom scored his team leading tenth tally with 3:09 left in OT to push Amherst past Hamilton. On the first day of the new Presidential administration, the Continentals were searching for their first win at Orr Rink since January 2005 in what was technically still the first term of George W. Bush.

The loss was also the second in a row for Hamilton, who had started the season out 11-0-2. The Continentals jumped out to a first period lead after Tyler Bruneteau tipped in a Brad Smelstor shot past Connor Girard. The Conts outshot the Purple and White 11-4 in the first period, but would be outshot 26-12 in the final two periods and overtime. One of those shots was the equalizer from PJ Conlon in the 2nd period. Evan Buitenhuis made 28 saves in defeat while Girard had 22 saves in victory.

The travel partners are off from conference play on Saturday. Hamilton finishes off its cupcake of a non-conference schedule vs lowly Franklin Pierce, a school named after a former ineffectual president and Bowdoin alum. Amherst, now winners of seven in a row, head to Wuh-stah (Worcester) to take on the Greyhounds of Assumption.

The loss for Rob Haberbusch's squad also puts four teams (Hamilton, Williams, Amherst, Colby) within two points of the top spot. Things will start to take shape in a few weeks when everyone has played the same number of conference games. The bottom line is that a traditionally tight confrence like the NESCAC is even more wide open than ever.

Conn College (3-9-2; 1-6-2 NESCAC)    4
Wesleyan (8-4-2; 4-3-2 NESCAC)           4     OT
Box Score 

Some teams just know how to not win. Conn College squandered a 4-0 lead after two periods but held on for a tie against the host Cardinals. The Camels jumped out to the lead with tallies from four different skaters, including senior Brian Belisle's team leading ninth goal on a feed from fellow senior and assist man Joe Birmingham. The Camels outshot the Cardinals 20-18 through the first two periods, but an onslaught of 17 shots in the third lead to four tallies,  two apiece for Walker Harris and James Klein. Frosh Connor Roddericks, who seems to have won the starting job for the Camels, made 38 saves while Dawson Sprigings stopped 24.

Conn College heads to Trinity on Saturday looking to get their second conference win of the season and enter back into the NESCAC playoff picture, while Wesleyan hosts a Jumbo team that looks to rebuild after a thrashing from those Bantams, who have been the most dangerous NESCAC team in the Trump era.

Bowdoin (7-9-0; 4-7-0 NESCAC)     4
Williams (8-5-2; 5-2-2 NESCAC)    5
Box Score

David Italiano scored twice and Williams held on for a victory that moves them within a game of first place in the conference.   Junior Stephen Morrisey had 23 saves and won but let up four goals, his weakest appearance this season in his first career home start. Across the ice, Nathan Colannino stopped 23 of 24 shots he faced in relief of Peter Cronin, who gave up four goals on 13 shots.

The Polar Bears look to cure their road ills on Saturday against winless Middlebury. The Polar Bears are in their first season under Jamie Dumont while the Panthers are in the second year of the Neil Sinclair era.   Both coaches take over for legends (Terry Meagher and Bill Beaney) who took over their respective schools in the Regan era but retired under Obama.  For Williams, who have been coached by Bill Kanas since Bush 41, welcome in the Colby Mules on Saturday, with a shot at tying for the top spot in the 'Cac on the line.

Colby (7-4-3; 6-3-2 NESCAC)                      4
Middlebury (0-13-2; 0-9-0 NESCAC)         3
Box Score

The Mules held off three unanswered goals from the Panthers to drop Middlebury to a woeful 0-13-2 start to the season.  Middlebury has now accumulated the most losses in a season since the second term of Ronald Reagan (7-16-1 in 1987-88)...and there are still nine games to go in the season. The fall of the Middlebury program from eight national titles is hackneyed by this point, but the descent to this nadir is news.  Other than the fight that lead to a third period comeback, the Panthers other small bright spot was freshman Trevor Turnball's (1-1-2) night that put him in the double digit column for the season (6-4-10).

On the other side, Colby's Sean Lawrence earned his second win in three starts since transfering with 27 saves. Junior Phil Klitirinos had a three point evenin (1-2-3) and senior Jack Burton had his team leading 13th and 14th points with a goal and an assist. The Mules head to Williamstown for a big matchup with Williams on Saturday while Middlebury looks to translate the fight they showed in the third period to their first win of the season against Bowdoin on Saturday.

Tufts (7-5-3; 5-3-1 NESCAC)      1
Trinity (9-5-1; 5-4-0 NESCAC)   7
Box Score

Trinity rebounded from a terrible weekend in the Pine Tree State last weekend to blow out the Jumbos and remind people why they entered the season as the favorite to win the conference. The Bantams aren't even in the top half of the CAC right now, but could end the regular season at the top. As we said, it's a wide open league. Senior Ethan Holdaway had two tallies and the Bantams scored all against three Jumbo goalies, while Anthony Farinacci ruined Alex Morin's bid at a shutout late in the third.  The Jumbos head to Wesleyan while the Bantams host Conn College. Trinity, the alma mater of conservative commentator Tucker Carlson and conservative Pulitzer prize winning writer George Will, look to extend their dominance under Trump (who Will hates, by the by).

Sorry Hamilton, the party is over. Two straight losses from the Conts have ended their surprise frontrunner status in the CAC and the election to crown a regular season champ is now wide open. On the political front, whether you want to Make America Great Again or Make America Rage Again, hopefully you can appreciate the music of Rage Against the Machine, Cypress Hill and Public Enemy, even if you disagree with their message. Here's super group, Prophets of Rage, with a live version of the "Party's Over" performed in the hockey haven of Toronto.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Conference Roundup 1/14/17

Tufts (7-4-3; 5-2-1 NESCAC)     3
Hamilton (11-1-2; 6-1-2)              1
Box Score 

...and then there were none. Tufts rode a 39 save effort from Top Seed Killer (TM pending) Mason Pulde to hand Hamilton their first loss of the year and to officially remove the title of "unbeaten" from any NCAA hockey team of any level or gender.

Special teams played a role in the game with Hamilton's goal coming on the man-advantage (Conor Lamberti) to take a short lived lead in the first (Hamilton was 1/7 on the afternoon) and two of the Jumbos goals coming short-handed. Neither was a traditional short-handed tally, however, as one of the goalies had vacated his respective crease when either goal was scored. The first came with the Jumbos down one in both the skater and score categories when the Conts' Brandon Willett tripped a Tufts skater.   With the refs arm in the air and Pulde to the bench for the extra attacker, the Jumbos rushed down the ice and freshman Clay Berger jammed home a loss puck before the Conts could touch up. Berger scored another in the second to give Tufts the lead before Tyler Scroggins sealed it with an empty net, short handed tally.

The Continentals are still in first at the half-way mark of the NESCAC conference schedule with Tufts and Williams right at their heels. Next Friday they'll head to Amherst, a place they have not won at for several years. The Jumbos head to the Nutmeg state for showdowns with Trinity and Wesleyan.

Conn College (3-9-1; 1-6-1 NESCAC)     1
Amherst (9-3-1; 5-3-1 NESCAC)            4
Box Score 

David White scored a power play goal in the third for the Purple and White, who never looked back, adding a short handed empty netter to finalize their sixth straight. Amherst added a +2 on special teams to end the game with the best special teams net (+6) in the conference. Conn College frosh Avery Gobbo made 26 saves in defeat while Connor Girard turned aside 22 Camel shots for the victory. Conn College stays on the road against Wesleyan and Trinity next weekend, while Amherst looks for six straight against Hamilton, a team they have owned in recent history at Orr Rink.

Wesleyan (8-4-1; 4-3-1 NESCAC)    4
Colby (6-4-2; 5-3-2 NESCAC)          4
Box Score

Tyler Kobryn put home a rebound off a James Kline shot with 1:42 left in regulation, less than a minute after Colby had taken their fourth lead of the game. Eight different skaters scored on the afternoon, including sophomore Thomas Stahlhuth's first collegiate tally on a beautiful splitting of two Cardinal blueliners on the aforementioned fourth Mules goal.

Dawson Sprigings stopped 29 shots for the Cardinals while frosh Andrew Tucci stopped 22 of the 25 Wesleyan shots he faced. A quick look at the box score shows 26 shots as Friday night hero Sean Lawerence was actually in net for the third Wesleyan goal in the only shot he saw. Tucci left for a few minutes for equipment issues, a problem that hampered Tucci on the road against Conn College in December as well.

The Mules hit the road in state for a matchup with non-conference foes Soutehrn Maine on Tuesday before leaving the Pine Tree State next weekend for games at Middlebury and Williams. Wesleyan returns home to face Conn College and Tufts.

Trinity (8-5-1; 4-4-0 NESCAC)        1
Bowdoin (7-8-0; 4-6-0 NESCAC)    5
Box Score 

Peter Cronin made 37 saves and five different Polar Bears scored (including Cody Todesco's team lading 12th) as Bowdoin stopped a four game losing streak and handed Trinity their fourth loss in conference of the season. The Bantams lost four games in conference all of last year, and lost four games in the CAC combined in the two seasons before that. Alex Morin stopped 27 of 32 shots and ended the game with a very pedestrian .897 save percentage in conference games. The Polar Bears head to Williams and Middlebury next weekend while the Bantams lick their wounds from an 0fer in Maine this weekend to take on Tufts and Conn College.

We've reached the halfway point of the NESCAC season (all teams are between 8-10 conference games). Things will only get more heated from here on out as teams jockey for position and we inch closer to the playoffs. Here's DC based classical pianist Jennifer Warren-Baker with "Intensity"