Sunday, March 1, 2015

NESCAC Quarterfinals in tweets

As we have done for the past few seasons, we tell the story of each round of the NESCAC playoffs as told by you: the fans, players, coachers, SIDs, writers, etc. of the 'CAC. 

#8 Tufts at #1 Trinity


NESCAC Quarterfinals Results

In an exciting day of playoff hockey, top seed Trinity fell to Tufts, two games were decided by OT and Amherst ends up hosting championship weekend next week. 

#8 Tufts (9-14-2)     2
#1 Trinity (21-3-1)  1
Box Score   Trinity Recap    Tufts Recap

Mason Pulde (G, '16) made 25 saves in the third period as Tufts held on for the huge upset and the program's first ever NESCAC playoff win. The Jumbos didn't play mistake free hockey as they gave up five power plays to the #2 team in the country, but goalies can take over playoff games. The Bantams went 0/5 on said power play opportunities and Pulde made 42 saves overall. 

After a scoreless first, Tufts struck first midway through the second when Matt Pugh (F, '17) beat Nathaniel Heilbron (G, '16) low on a nice feed from Scott Majowski (F, '18). With less than a minute to play in the second frame, the host Bantams evened up the score where Anthony Sabitsky(F, '18) followed up a rebound on shots from Paul Burns (D, '15) and Ryan Cole (F, '16), who picked up assists on the play. 

Tufts scored the final goal of the game 4:43 into the final frame, when a failed Bantams clear ended up with Tyler Voigt (F, '15) putting in a rebound from a Dom Granato (F, '16) shot.  Trinity looked poised to even it up when Tufts Sean Kavanagh (D, '16) took a charging call with less than atwo to play, but with the net empty and a 6-4 skater advantage, the hosts were unable to get put one past Pulde. 

Tufts now travels to Amherst next weekend for the Jumbos first ever NESCAC semifinals. It was the second eight seed victory over a one seed since the conference moved to an eight team playoff format in 2003. The other victory came in 2011 when eight seed Wesleyan defeated one seed Hamilton 5-2.  

For Trinity, they now play the waiting game to see if they will get one of the three Pool C (at-large) bids to the 11 team NCAA tournament. Based on the NCAA regional rankings and Trinity's relatively strong non-conference schedule, a trip to the semifinals should have locked up a bid. But such an early exit will leave many questions for the selection committee that will depend on how other conference tournaments play out and what Amherst does the rest of the tournament.

It might be the second straight year that a strong Trinity regular season is negated by an exit one round too early in the conference playoffs. Last season, Trinity failed to earn a Pool C bid after losing to Bowdoin in the semifinals. Based on the Bantams  weak non-conference schedule, the relative consensus of the online chatter was that Trinity would have needed to have lost in the finals to get a Pool C bid. 

#7 Middlebury (10-12-3)   0 
#2 Amherst ( 19-4-2)        3    
Box Score     Amherst Recap   Middlebury Recap 

Amherst shutout Middlebury for the second straight week at Orr Rink to earn the right to host NESCAC championship weekend thanks to Trinity's loss.  After Middlebury carried a scorless opening period with a 11-2 shots advantage, the Lord Jeffs drew first blood when David White (F, '15) poked home a goal for his team leading 18th goal. The Jeffs would add an insurance goal from Andrew Fenwick (F, '15) in the third and a Topher Flannagan (F, '16) empty-netter to seal it. 

Middlebury played without leading scorer Jake Charles (F, '16), who earned a game disqualification for a spearing call in the regular season finale against Hamilton. The Panthers were also without starting goalie Stephen Klein (G, 1'8), who was injured during practice during the week. Senior Mike Peters (G, '15) stopped 22 shots in defeat to finish his college career at 7-5-2 in net. Peters had defeated Amherst at Orr Rink just two years prior in the NESCAC quarterfinals. It's the second straight Quarterfinals loss for Middlebury and only the third time the Panthers have failed to make the semis. 

On the other end, Danny Vitale (G, '15) made 28 saves for the shutout in the senior's first NESCAC playoff action. The Lord Jeffs will host championship weekend for the third time as they take on eight seed Tufts next weekend. The Jeffs will focus on winning the tournament, but we can start the conjecture of whether they will get a Pool C bid over Trinity if Amherst loses in the semis or finals. We should have a bit of a better picture after the latest NCAA Regional Rankings are released this week. 

#6 Hamilton           (9-10-6)    3
#3 Conn College   (14-9-2)    4    OT
Box Score      Conn College Recap     Hamilton Recap 

With Tom Conlin (G, '16) pulled and a Hamilton defender without a stick, Conn College's Louis Belisle (F, '18) buried a feed from Joe Birmingham (F, '16) to pull the game even at three with 48 ticks to play. The Conts carried much of the OT, but a tripping call on Bennett Hambrook (D, '17) setup the second power play goal of the game for the Camels to send them to their first ever NESCAC playoff win. JC Cangelosi (F ,'15) put home a nice pass from Birmingham for the game winner. The UConn transfer added a secondary assist on the Camles first goal for three points (0-3-3) on the afternoon. 

In a back-and-forth affair, Hamilton held leads of 1-0,2-1 and 3-2. In his final collegiate contest, the Conts' Pat Curtis (F, '15) scored two tallies (ninth and tenth) for his first double digit goal season. His second lamp light of the afternoon broke the 2-2 tie 13:21 into the final frame. 

The Conts 2-1 lead came 14:46 in the second on the power play, when Brandon Willett (F, '18) slammed in a re-direct. Willett drew the power play when he was tripped trying to bull through two Camel defenders. Less than a minute later the Conts lost the lead, when Tim DiPretoro (F, '16) put in his second goal of the game on a controversial unassisted tally. After a shot was deflected at the right point, Hamilton goalie Tim Nowacki (G, '18) stood up to freeze the puck, but had it dislodged with DiPretoro eventually scoring from the subsequent scrum. The Hamilton bench was incensed that a goalie interference call was not called. 

Nowacki ended up with 24 saves to take the loss in his first playoff start. The Continentals graduate only one of the four goalies that saw playing time this year, with injured Evan Buitenhuis (G, '18) likely to have the job if he is healthy next year. Coach Rob Haberbusch switched up the lines for the playoffs, moving Charlie Neil Conway (F, '18) up to the first line with Curtis and leading scorer Robbie Murden (F, '17). 

For the Camels, reigning NESCAC Player of the Week Conlin was solid in net down the stretch and finished with 33 saves for the game. Jim Ward's charges now head to Amherst for a semifinal showdown with Williams, the team they surpassed the final regular season weekend to earn the three seed. Hopefully the Camels Team Impact player John-Anthony  is able to make the trip to Massachusetts next week after he was on hand in his CC jersey for his team's first ever playoff victory. 

#5 Bowdoin (14-8-3)     3
#4 Williams (15-8-2)    4   OT
Box Score    Williams Recap        Bowdoin Recap 

Craig Kitto (F, '15) scored his team leading 12th goal in OT to eliminate the two-time defending NESCAC tournament champion Polar Bears from the playoffs.  Bowdoin fought back from two goal deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 before eventually faltering in OT. It's the first quarterfinals loss for Bowdoin since 2009, when the then sixth seed Polar Bears lost in OT to the third seed Ephs.

Bowdoin brought their offensive A game, edging Williams in shots on goal 47-39. After a rough regular season finale weekend, Sean Dougherty (G, '15) rebounded for 44 saves to move to 3-0 in quarterfinal games. For Bowdoin, coach Terry Meagher went with freshman Peter Cronin (G, '18) over senior Max Fenkell (G, '15) in net, though Fenkell was likely injured as he is having surgery later this month. Cronin stopped 35 shots to end his first season at 6-3-1.

Williams - whose third goal came on a penalty shot from Alex Debaere (F, '15) after a trip on a breakaway - will now head to Amherst for a semifinal showdown with Conn College. The Ephs five man senior class in the only one in the 'CAC that can say they made it to championship weekend in each of their four seasons. The Ephs, however, have never won the NESCAC crown.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

NESCAC Quarterfinal: #5 Bowdoin at #4 Williams

Who: #5 Bowdoin (14-7-3; 8-7-3 NESCAC).at #4 Williams (14-8-2; 10-7-1 NESCAC)    
Where: Lansing Chapman Rink  Williamstown, MA
When: 1 PM Saturday 3/1/14
Video/Audio: NSN Sports

Preview: Williams 

Overall  (Conference Rank)                       Conference Games (conf. rank)
Offense: 3.67 G/GM (2nd)                          Offense: 3.17 G/GM (3rd)
Defense: 2.29 G/GM (3rd)                          Defense: 2.78 G/GM (7th)
Power Play 28/86 - 32.6% (1st)                 Power Play: 16/60 - 26.7% (3rd)
Penalty Kill 61/72 - 84.7% (2nd)               Penalty Kill: 51/60 - 85% (2nd)
Special Teams Net: +18 (1st)                    Special Teams Net: +7 (2nd)

Overall  (Conference Rank)                           Conference Games (conf. rank)
Offense: 3.08 G/GM (4th)                                 Offense: 3.06 G/GM (4th)
Defense: 2.50 G/GM (5th)                                Defense: 2.61 G/GM (6th)
Power Play:  24/94 - 25.5% (4th)                      Power Play: 17/67 -25.4% (4th) 
Penalty Kill: 54/69  - 78.3% (7th)                     Penalty Kill: 36/47 - 76.6% (8th)
Special Teams Net: +10 (3rd)                           Special Teams Net: +7 (8th)

The Lowdown
Williams hosts a team from Maine for the third straight year in the Quarters. The last two times they beat Chris Hall's Colby teams, but this year they'll get the reigning two-time NESCAC champion Polar Bears. Bowdoin enters the game as the fifth seed, the spot from which they ran the table and won the title last season and in 2011 as well. In terms of historical experience, Bowdoin enters with a 20-12 record in conferencce tournament play, while Williams is 9-15. The two have met three times in the playoffs, with Williams winning once and Bowdoin winning in the 2011 and 2013 title games (in a controversial decision, Bowdoin later vacated the 2011 title).

Williams heads into the game having been swept by Hamilton and Amherst last weekend to fall from the third to fourth seed. Bowdoin split home games with Conn College and Tufts to end up in the fifth spot. In the head-to-head matchups this year, the two teams tied 3-3 opening weekend in Brunswick in a matchup that had only one penalty whistle blown. Later in Williamstown, five different Ephs nettted goals on Max Fenkell (G, '15) as Williams won 5-2.

Coach's Corner with Chris Hall 
Key Matchup: Bowdoin’s 32.6% PP vs Williams 78.3% PK. A matchup that looks to decidedly favor the Polar Bears, Williams will have to out-perform their season average if they are to win this game. A good PK usually comes down to clears and goaltending – if Sean Dougherty and the Ephs PK can keep McGinnis and Quinn in check on the man advantage it will have a huge impact on the outcome. Of course, staying out of the box will go a long way as well, and Williams is the nation’s least penalized team, averaging only 7.1 minutes in the box per game.

Tactical Analysis: This game should be an offensive zone affair, as both teams are smart and active with the puck in the offensive zone. Look for pucks to change sides and go low to high in both ends – both teams like to activate forwards low in the offensive zone and play behind the net. Williams and Bowdoin both possess active and offensive-minded defensemen, so look for the points to be a threat whenever the puck is in the offensive zone. While not likely to be a high scoring affair, look for this game to have lots of offensive flair and puck movement – two fast and smart teams going head to head.

Bowdoin Wins If...: The Max Fenkell of 2012-13 is in net. The goaltender who took the Polar Bears to the NCAA Quarterfinals is looking to make a return in his Senior season. Posting a .922 save percentage this year, he is to Bowdoin what Grant Fuhr was to the 1980’s Edmonton Oilers. You know Bowdoin is going to score – when Fenkell is on, they are a hard team to beat.

Williams Wins If...:  The Sean Dougherty of 2011-2014 is in net. Entering this season, Dougherty possessed an out of this world .937 save percentage and 1.89 goals against average for his career. This season he has come back to earth with more human .911 save percentage and 2.46 goals against average. Dougherty is the type of goaltender that when he is on his game, everyone in the building knows it. For Williams to move on to the NESCAC Semifinals, Dougherty will need to return to being the dominant goaltender everyone knows he is.

Players to Watch (besides the goalies)
Connor Quinn (F, '15) The senior Polar Bear had 0 points in six games in his first three seasons against Williams. In his senior campaign, he has had three (2-1-3) in two games against the Ephs. 

David Italiano (F, '18) The Ephs' second leading scorer, the freshman Itialiano has three points  (2-1-3) in his first three games against the Polar Bears. 

Both of these teams enter the tournament with high hopes: Bowdoin that they can win their third straight NESCAC title, while Williams hopes they can get that elusive first conference crown. We present  a  live performance of Bruce Springsteen's  "High Hopes"   featuring Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame. 

NESCAC Quarterfinal: #6 Hamilton at #3 Conn College

Thanks to Colby assistant Chris Hall, who is helping us preview all four quarterfinals in his "Coach's Corner" section of each preview. Follow him on twitter @chall4431

Who: #6 Hamilton (9-9-6;7-7-4) at  #3 Connecticut College (13-9-2; 10-7-1)
WhereDayton Arena New London, CT
When: 3:00 PM  2/28/15
Video/AudioFirst Time Broadcasting 
Preview:  Hamilton 

Overall  (Conference Rank)                           Conference Games (conf. rank)
Offense2.83 G/GM (5th)                              Offense: 2.72 G/GM (6th)

Defense: 2.54 G/GM (7th)                              Defense: 2.56 G/GM (4th)
Power Play: 15/90 -16.7% (7th)                    Power Play: 11/67 -16.4% (7th) 
Penalty Kill: 76/92 - 82.61% (5th)                  Penalty Kill: 61/72 - 84.7% (3rd)
Special Teams Net: -2 (7th)                           Special Teams Net: -1 (6th)

Overall (Conference Rank)                            Conference Games (conf. rank)
Offense: 2.75 G/GM (6th)                               Offense: 2.89 G/GM (5th)
Defense: 2.38 G/GM (4th)                               Defense: 2.44 G/GM (3rd)            
Power Play: 15/93- 16.1% (8th)                     Power Play: 10/64 - 18.6% (8th)
Penalty Kill: 66/80 - 82.5% (6th)                     Penalty Kill: 48/59- 81.4% (5th)
Special Teams Net: +3 (6th)                           Special Teams Net: +1 (5th)

The Lowdown
Both of these programs are trending up from their recent history. The Camels made their first NESCAC playoff season in five years last season and this season they earned their program's first ever home playoff game. Hamilton enters the game after a one year absence from the postseason. The sixth seed is their highest since they were the first overall seed in 2011 before being upset by eight seed Wesleyan in the Quarterfinals. 

The Continentals have a 6-12 record in the NESCAC playoffs and have never made it past the semifinal stage. Since 2006, the Conts have made it out of the quarters only once (2010). The Camels have even less success as they are still searching for their first playoff win in what will be their fifth appearance. 

Hamilton swept the season series, winning 3-1 at home in January and 4-2 at Conn earlier this month. Both wins were predicated on big third periods for the Conts, who outscored the Camels a combined 5-0 in the final frame in the regular season. Hamilton netminders came up big in both games with Tim Nowacki (G, '18) (will likely start on Saturday) coming up with 30 saves at home and Zach Arnold (G, '15) stopping 40 Camel shots in the come from behind win in New London. 

Coach's Corner with Chris Hall
Key Matchup: Curtis, Matheson & Murden vs Birmingham, Cangelosi & DiPretoro. Two of the top lines in the NESCAC go head to head in New London, CT. Throughout the season, each team has depended upon their top group to carry the offense. While the lines may or may not go head to head on the ice (due to coaches line matchups), whichever group finds their name on the scoresheet more will very likely be moving on to the Semifinals.

Tactical Analysis: Two competitive, physical teams. Look for this one to be a zone to zone game with lots of physicality and grit. Both teams like to possess the puck down low with one forward high in the offensive zone. The first lines can be lethal off the rush, otherwise this game will be a gritty battle from the tops of the circles and below.

Hamilton Wins If...: They limit their mistakes and receive a strong goaltending performance (likely to be Nowacki). Four goalies have seen time this year for the Continentals and they’ve received strong play out of every man to don the pads. A .925 save percentage as a team will go a long way towards winning a playoff game. Conn is a team that limits their own mistakes and takes advantage of their opponent’s misplays. Protecting the puck will be critical if Hamilton is to move on.

Conn Wins If...: They move past the first home playoff game jitters and play the style that has led them to success this season. A streaky team, they started 1-5-0 before going 12-4-2 in their last 18 games. Two of those four losses came two weeks ago at home to Amherst and Hamilton – when they had an opportunity to lock up home ice in the first round. Staying focused on the task at hand and playing the way that led them to win 12 of 18 will lead them to the NESCAC Final Four.

Players to Watch
Pat Curtis (F, '15) The senior member of Hamilton's all-important first line (31 of the team's 68 goals), Curtis has three points (2-1-3) against the Camels this season. 

Tom Conlin (G, '16) The junior netminder is coming off his second NESCAC Player of the Week honor of the 2014-15 campaign after he stopped 60 of 62 shots in Maine against Bowdoin and Colby. 

Conn's looking to get to their first ever NESCAC championship weekend while Hamilton is looking to make only their second appearance in the NESCAC Frozen Four since 2006. Better win, or you're not getting out of February. Death From Above 1979 - "Black History Month" 

Friday, February 27, 2015

NESCAC Quarterfinal: #7 Middlebury at #2 Amherst

Thanks to Colby assistant Chris Hall, who is helping us preview all four quarterfinals in his "Coach's Corner" section of each preview. Follow him on twitter @chall4431

Who: #7 Middlebury (10-11-3; 7-8-3 NESCAC) at #2 Amherst (18-4-2; 14-4-0 NESCAC )
WhereOrr Rink Amherst, MA
When: 1:00 PM Saturday 2/28/14
Video/Audio:  Northeast Sports Network   Live Stats     Middlebury Radio 
Previews:  Amherst

                                     Overall (Conference Rank)            Conference Games (conf. rank)

Offense: 2.25 G/GM (9th)                    Offense: 2.22 G/GM (7th)
Defense: 2.50 G/GM (5th)                    Defense: 2.56   G/GM (4th)            
Power Play: 19/84 - 22.6% (5th)         Power Play: 13/61 - 21.3% (5th)
Penalty Kill: 72/87 - 82.8% (4th)         Penalty Kill: 52/65 - 80% (7th)
Special Teams Net - +4 (5th)              Special Teams Net -  -1 (6th)

Overall  (Conference Rank)             Conference Games (conf. rank)
Offense: 3.46 G/GM (3rd)                   Offense: 3.72 G/GM (2nd)
Defense: 2.12 G/GM (2nd)                  Defense: 2.22 G/GM (2nd)
Power Play: 20/77 -26% (3rd)            Power Play: 15/53 - 28.3% (1st)
Penalty Kill: 78/92 - 84.8% (1st)        Penalty Kill: 58/71- 81.7% (4th)
Special Teams Net - +8 (4th)             Special Teams Net - +6 (4th)

The Lowdown 
This is uncharted territory for the Middlebury, the winningest program (8 NESCAC titles, 30-7 NESCAC playoff record) in the 'Cac. The Panthers finished fifth two years ago for their first ever road NESCAC Quarterfinals (against Amherst, no less) and now they enter the playoffs in the seventh seed. It's been a particularly weird season for the Panthers, who saw coach Bill Beaney win his D-III record 600th game as well as the Panthers defeating the then #2 and #3 teams in the country (Norwich and Plattsburgh) in non-conference play (Norwich is now #1). 

They'll face off against Amherst, who has two NESCAC titles of their own and a 12-13 record in the NESCAC postseason. The Lord Jeffs have finished first or second in the NESCAC three of the last four years. Amherst may have had the relative regular season success recently, but the Panthers own a 3-2 mark over the Jeffs in the playoffs, including the only Quarterfinals matchup between the two in 2013, when a fifth seed Panthers squad defeated Amherst 4-3. 

The Jeffs swept the season series against the Panthers, including blanking the navy blueshirts 4-0 at Amherst at last weekend. Earlier in December, Amherst won a more competitive 5-3 game in Vermont. The game was chronicled in The New England Hockey Journal episode on Middlebury hockey found here (game is from about 11:00 -15:00 in video). Stephen Klein (G, '18), who replaced Liam Moorfield-Yee (G, '16) in that game should start against Amherst, but with Beaney's propensity for shaking up the netminder situation, who knows?

Update Saturday morning: According to the radio voice of Middlebury hockey, Brian Gardner, Klein is out in net and senior Mike Peters is in.

Coach's Corner with Chris Hall
Key Matchup: Middlebury’s speed vs Amherst’s physicality. One of the strongest teams in the league, Amherst likes to impose their will on their opponents with finished checks and heavy play. Middlebury will look to use their skating ability and depth to take advantage of Amherst’s short bench. The best wayto beat a physical team is to skate around and through the checks – look for this matchup to have a biginfluence on the outcome.

Tactical Analysis: A matchup of two strong forechecking teams. When the puck is dumped in, look for immediate pressure from the forechecking team with two forwards coming hard. The defense will also be active, looking to take away the walls and jam up the breakout. When they force turnovers, look for the forechecking team to jump onto the offense and quick strike. On the flip side, the ability of the team breaking out to execute clean passes under pressure will go a long way towards determining the outcome. 

Middlebury Wins If:... Puck protection and winning the crease battle will be key. Limiting Amherst’s
opportunities off of turnovers will keep them in check. On the offensive side, rebounds will be available and the Panthers must crash the net hard and bury second chance opportunities. Scoring the first goal will be important – Middlebury is 9-1-2 when scoring first and 1-10-1 when giving up the first marker.

Amherst Wins If...: They jump out to an early lead and never take their foot off the gas. Middlebury has had an up and down year with some big wins and unexpected losses. Amherst has beaten them twice, both games following a similar pattern. Early Amherst goal, second period domination by the Jeffs followed by a strong push by Midd in the third. A similar formula would move Amherst on to the Semifinals.

Players to watch 
Evan Neugold (F, '16) With their leading scorer (Jake Charles) out due to a DQ in the regular season finale against Hamilton, Middlebury will need Neugold to step up if they want to make it to Hartford (or wherever championship weekend will end up being). 

Danny Vitale (G, '15) The senior from suburban NY has done a solid job stepping in for reigning second team All-NESCAC goalie Dave Cunningham (G, '16), who has been out of the lineup since a season ending hip injury in a loss to Conn College on January 16th. Vitale enters the playoffs with the second best GAA (1.75) and the best save % (.942) among eligible goalies in NESCAC games.

It's been a funky season for the Panthers, but they'll try to make Amherst give up the funk for a trip to NESCAC championship weekend. Parliament's "Give Up the Funk" 

NESCAC Quartefinal: #8 Tufts at #1 Trinity

Thanks to Colby assistant Chris Hall, who is helping us preview all four quarterfinals in his "Coach's Corner" section of each preview. Follow him on twitter @chall4431

Who: #8. Tufts (8-14--2; 5-11-2 NESCAC) at #1.Trinity  (21-2-1; 16-1-1)
WhereKoeppel Center  Hartford CT
When: 1 PM Saturday 2/28/15
Video/AudioTrinity Live Stream  Live Stats
Preview: Trinity 

Overall  (Conference Rank)             Conference Games (conf. rank)
Offense: 2.46 G/GM (8th)                  Offense: 2.06 G/GM (9th)
Defense: 3.62 G/GM (9th)                  Defense: 3.50 G/GM (8th)
Power Play: 13/83 -15.7% (9th)        Power Play: 7/59 - 11.9% (9th)
Penalty Kill: 59.78 - 76% (8th)          Penalty Kill: 45/60 - 75% (9th)
Special Teams Net  -6 (8th)               Special Teams Net  -13 (10th)

Overall  (Conference Rank)             Conference Games (conf. rank)
Offense: 4.37 G/GM (1st)                  Offense: 4.22 G/GM (1st)
Defense: 1.79 G/GM (1st)                  Defense: 1.56 G/GM (1st)
 Power Play: 28/99-28.3% (2nd)       Power Play: 20/73 - 27.4% (2nd)   
Penalty Kill: 64/76 84.2% (3rd)        Penalty Kill: 53/61 86.9% (1st)
Special Teams Net: +16 (2nd)          Special Teams Net: +12 (1st)

The Lowdown
Trinity wrapped up the top seed in the NESCAC playoffs for the second straight year, while the Jumbos made the playoffs after a two year absence.  The teams have met once before in the 2005 NESCAC Quarterfinals with the #1 seed Bantams thumping the eight seed Jumbos 9-2. Tufts has never won a 'Cac playoff game going 0-6 in their playoff apperances. Trinity, who has won 2 conference titles, is 16-12  all-time in the playoffs. They were the favorites last year before being upset by the fifth seed and eventual champion Bowdoin Polar Bears in the semifinals. Trinity swept the Jumbos this season, just as the Bantams did ever NESCAC team not named Amherst or Hamilton. cruising to easy 7-2 and 4-1 wins over the Jumbos, 

Coaches Corner with Chris Hall
Key Matchup: Tufts physical style vs Trinity’s Power Play. Trinity is home to one of the most lethal power plays in the country, currently fifth in Division III with a 28.3% success rate. The easiest way to kill penalties? Stay out of the box. Tufts is the third least penalized team in DIII, with an average of 8.3 minutes per game. However, Tufts took a total of 24 penalty minutes in their two games against Trinity and the Bantams made them pay to a tune of 41.6% on the PP (5 for 12). Tufts plays a physical, gritty style – the game will hinge on their ability to play their style without crossing the line.

Tactical Analysis: When the game is 5 on 5, look for transition to rule the day. Both teams like to get up and go in the rush, looking to activate a defenseman and beat their opponent up ice. Four players will be on the attack for both teams almost all the time. By the same token, the team that backchecks the best (hardest & smartest) will have the most success thwarting their opponents chances. In the zone, look for Tufts to try to make this more of a possession game, while Trinity will want to use their speed and creativity to produce offense.

Tufts Wins If..: The Jumbos stay out of the box and Sophomore goaltender Mason Pulde (G, '17) has a night to remember. Trinity has shown the ability to put pucks on net regardless of the score, averaging a shot on net every 80 seconds. Dictating the style of play will be important – Tufts will want to play an ugly road game, getting pucks deep and playing hard and clean.

Trinity Wins If...: The game becomes a track meet. Trinity’s wide open style of play favors their skill and speed. If the game starts moving up and down the ice in transition, look for Trinity to break the game open. A true momentum team, once they get one they will get on their toes and look to strike again.

Players to watch 
Mason Pulde (G, '17) If the Jumbos want to pull of the big upset and win their first ever NESCAC playoff game, the Middlebury transfer will need to play lights out in net. 

Jackson Brewer (F, '15) The reigning Joe Concannon Award winner has eight points (4-4-8) against the Jumbos in his four years in Hartford. 

Are the Jumbos ready to defy Swedish defenseman Ben Hjalmarsson and the rest of the top seeded Bantams? Here's Swedish hardcore mainstay Raised Fist with "Ready to Defy" off their latest release, From the North. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Conference Finals 2/21/15 and playoff seeding

We finally have the field of eight and all the seeding set for the NESCAC Quarterfinals next Saturday. Find the leagues official seeding announcement here .  

Middlebury  3
Hamilton       1
Box Score    

Middlebury, who had nothing to play for in terms of seeding mobility, swept the season series with the Continentals on the strength of  Brendan McGovern (F', '16)'s rebound heavy first ever collegiate hat trick. In 70 previous games, McGovern had scored six goals. Bill Beaney, forever in love with goalie switches, pulled Liam Moorfield Yee (G, '16) for Mike Peters (G, '15) after the second Middlebury goal for unknown reasons.  A melee near the Hamilton bench broke out in the later stages of the 2nd period which left three players in the locker room for the rest of the game (game disqualifications for Cam Romoff (Middlebury) and Brendan Willet (Hamilton) and a disqualification for Jake Charles (Midd).

Conn College  4
Colby               1
Box Score 

Joe Giordano (F, '17) scored twice as the Camels ended up with the three seed in the NESCAC  for the first time in their program's history (first home playoff game as well). A young Colby squad ends the season on the outside looking in on the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12 when the Mules finished last (but had a better record tan this season when they finished ninth).

Williams 3
Amherst  5
Box Score

Williams outshot Amherst 43-29 and jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Jeffs scored five straight - including David White (F, '18)'s team leading 17th goal and Tyler Granara(D, '18)'s first collegiate tally - to drop Williams to the fourth seed and even the regular season series. Reigning First Team All-NESCAC goalie Sean Dougherty (G, '15) gave up 4+ goals on back to back days this weekend, both on less than 30 shots from the opponent. On the other end, Danny Vitale (G, '15), who took over full time starting duties mid-season after an injury to reigning Second Team All-NESCAC goalie Dave Cunningham (G, '16), ends the regular season as the conference leader in Save Percentage  (.942).

Tufts          0
Bowdoin    4
Box Score

 On senior day, Max Fenkell (G, '15) made 20 saves for his fifth collegiate shutout and Mike Schlagel (F, '15) scored his first two collegiate points (goal and assist) in just his ninth game in four years. The win leapfrogged the Polar Bears over Hamilton into the fifth spot, the same position that they made  run to the championship from last season.

Wesleyan  0
Trinity       6
Box Score 

Trinity jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one period of play on senior day and let senior netminder Kevin Green (G, '15) closeout the final 40 minutes for a combined shutout with Nate Heilbron (G, '16). Want to get a glimpse of  why Trinity finished the season with a school record best regular season 'Cac mark of 16-1-1? Nate Heilbron leads the NESCAC with a 1.69 GAA and four of the five goal scorers from Saturday have double digit goals for the year. On the other side, Wesleyan closes out the season with a 2-16 conference mark, bad enough for the worst winning percentage (.111) in NESCAC men's ice hockey history, dating back to 1999-00.

Playoff QuarterfinalMatchups
All games to be played on Saturday, February 28th, times to be announced.

(8) Tufts at (1) Trinity
(7) Middlebury at (2) Amherst
(6) Hamilton at (3) Conn College
(5) Bowdoin at (4) Williams

The regular season has ended and for two sets of seniors (Colby, Wesleyan) their careers have as ewll. For four more (Bowdoin, Hamilton, Middlebury, Tufts), they've played their last college game at home (though theoretically Bowdoin could hold NESCAC championships if all lower seeds miraculously won). So, we present Thrice's "At the Last"