Perhaps one day hibernating New York City talk radio royalty Mike Francesa and Boston sports fanatic Bill Simmons will argue over DIII men' s hockey awards in the same manner they debate Lebron James vs James Harden for MVP ,but for now the boys from the NESCAC will just have to settle for mentions from ye humble blog boy. We can also hope that Simmons' Ringer.com will stop completely ignoring the fourth North American major pro sporting league, but I digress.
Things kicked off with the conference honors back at the end of February when hockey was still to be played. Conn College swept the NESCAC conference honors for the first time in program history (Connor Rodericks - Player of the Year, Jim Ward - Coach of the Year, Paul Capozzi - Rookie of The Year ) after their all-time best finish of second in the NESCAC regular season. All First Team members made the team for the first time with the exception of Trinity's Anthony Sabitsky, who made his second straight appearance on the first team and third All-NESCAC selection overall. Future Frozen Four bound Colby landed blueliner Michael Decker on the 2nd team and no school had more than two players selected across the two teams.
From NESCAC official release, here
Next up were the American College Hockey Association (ACHA) awards at the D-III Frozen Four in Lake Placid, NY. Colby's Blaise MacDonald, who led the Mules from the sixth seed in the NESCAC tournament to the final four teams in the DIII nation, earned the Ed Jeremiah Award for best coach at the DII level. The last NESCAC coach to earn the honor was Amherst's Jack Arena, who earned the award in 2015. On the ACHA All-American teams, a pair of NESCAC goalies made the cut. Rodericks earned a 2nd Team All-East spot and Evan Buitenhuis earned a 3rd Team All-East selection.
The New England Hockey Writers Association closed things out in early April with the DII/DIII All-Stars. Rodericks again was honored along with Colby's Sean Lawrence, whose incredible goaltending in postseason play led the Mules to Lake Placid. Trinity sophomore Liam Feeney was the only NESCAC skater selected as he made the blueliner All-Star corp. MacDonald won Co-Coach of the year with Salve Regina's Zech Klenn, who led the Seahawks to their first ever title game in his first season behind the bench.
Of note, Bowdoin's Camil Blanchet did not win, but he was a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which was announced at the D1 Frozen Four in St. Paul, MN last week.
The NESCAC was snubbed with no selections on All-USCHO teams.
Each year since 2006, Kraft has hosted a contest to name a city or town Hockeyville, with a rink from the winning municipality earning money for an upgrade and the opportunity to host an NHL preseason game. Since 2014, the contest has been split up into separate American and Canadian contests.
This season's American iteration included two NESCAC hometowns among the four finalists, Middlebury, Vermont and Clinton, New York, home to Hamilton and the historic Clinton Arena. Each year the Continentals play one of their home games at Clinton Arena and this past season the game - a tie between Hamilton and Conn College - was part of the Hamilton/Clinton celebration of 100 years of hockey in the central NY village.
Hamilton College hit the social media campaign trail hard for Clinton Arena in the digital contest voted for by the general public. Proponents for the former home of the Clinton Comets included the school's official accounts, the hockey team's accounts, former Cont Guy Hebert and hockey historian /TV commentator Stan Fischler, who has no official connection to the town or school, but appreciates Clinton's hockey connection to vanquishing Hitler.
When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman opened the envelope on live TV last Saturday during an intermission of an NHL playoff game, he not only wasn't booed, but he earned the admiration of Oneida County when he announced Clinton, NY had been named Kraft Hockeyville USA 2018. Members of the Hamilton team were on site along with local residents for the viewing party (video below from the AHL's Utica Comet's twitter feed. The nearby AHL Team was all-in for Clinton as well).
Clinton Arena will get $150,000 for upgrades and will host a yet to be determined NHL preseason game for next season.
Some students spend their spring break studying, others catch up on school work, still others have spring team activities and finally a very small minority of NESCAC senior hockey players get to head to the ECHL, SPHL and AHL on Amateur Tryout (ATO) contracts in pro hockey.
It was a small class this spring with only three signings and only one player actually getting ice time. Trinity senior and 100 point club member Tyler Whitney kicked it off in March when he signed an ATO with the ECHL's South Carolina Sting Rays, who employ his older brother, Steven Whitney. The younger Whitney got to play one game before being released.
That's better than Middlebury goalie Stephen Klein, who was signed for one day with the ECHL's Colorado Eagles, before being cut only 24 hours without even dressing. Go figure.
2016-17 NCAA DIII player of the year Evan Buitenhuis got a golden opportunity with an ATO with the Toronto Malple Leafs AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. Buitenhuis dressed for a few games before eventual AHL goalie of the Year Garrett Sparks returned to the Marlies from a short stint with the big club. The former Continental remained on the roster several more weeks but would not dress again before being cut last week in the final week of the regular season.
LPfan2004 will have an update on other NESCAC alums in the pros, including international players, later this weekend.
Have to admit I hadn’t heard of Evan "Boots" Buitenhuis before his first #Toronto #Marlies game.— Randall C Willis (@createdbyrcw) March 21, 2018
Based on the reactions to my photos of him, however, the man is surrounded by insane love! Good on him.#sportsphotography #MarliesLive @TheAHL pic.twitter.com/VaVL2FDS3p
A New Arena
Stick to Sports?
No thank you, says graduating Amherst senior Johnny Arena, who announced his candidacy as a Democratic candidate for the Massachusetts House of Representatives 2nd Franklin Seat at the end of last month. The 23 year old, who served as Director of Hockey Operations for his father Jack Arena's Amherst men's hockey team, will take on incumbent Sussanah Whipps Lee this fall.
For more info on Arena's candidacy, see The Greenfield Recorder's article on his announcement here.
You are likely aware of the horrific tragedy that befell a Canadian Junior A hockey team, the Humboldt Broncos, and by extension the entire hockey tournament, two Fridays ago on April 7th. The Saskatchawan team was headed to Nipiwan for game 5 of a SJHL playoff series when their bus collided with a semi-truck, leaving sixteen dead and thirteen injured.
NESCAC teams don't tend to recruit that far west in Canada, but they do recruit Canadian Junior A players that have a similar experience on buses as the SJHL. Even if they didn't play juniors, NESCAC players know the experience of bonding on long bus rides while in the NESCAC, traveling from points as far west as Clinton, NY all the way up to Waterville, ME. The bus ride was a theme of Colby's Frozen Four run with the team on the road for the final six weeks of the season from the end of the regular season up to the national semifinals in Lake Placid, NY.
The Berkshire Eagle's Howard Herman spoke to Canadian members of the Williams team (here) about the horrific event and NESCAC players and coaches have been active online in the social media campaigns to support Humboldt, including the #sticksoutforhumboldt (Colby coach Blaise MacDonald's and Trinity coach Matt Greason's tweets below as examples) and the #JerseysForHumboldt (Amherst and Colby team photos below).
No words pic.twitter.com/r7HerahM9l— mattgreason (@mattgreason14) April 10, 2018
Sticks out in Cumberland Maine #humboldtbroncos @HumboldtBroncos #putyourstickout. 🏒 pic.twitter.com/P65CO1tc5l— Blaise MacDonald (@MacDBlaise) April 11, 2018
Colby is #Humboldtstrong. Thanks to @ColbyHockey and @ColbyWIH for organizing this event on Miller steps. pic.twitter.com/94hAn5aS68— Colby College (@ColbyCollege) April 12, 2018
Wherever you are, fellas, you’re in our hearts, and part of our family. #JerseysForHumboldt #HumboldtStrong pic.twitter.com/kVsX87CfhS— Amherst Hockey (@AmherstHockey) April 12, 2018