Sunday, November 22, 2015

11/21/15 Roundup

Tufts (0-1-1; 0-1-1 NESCAC)          1
Wesleyan (0-0-2; 0-0-2 NESCAC)   1
Box Score   Recap 

University of Maine transfer Nik Nugnes (G, '18) made 46 saves in his first start as a Jumbo to earn the first pont of the Pat Norton era for Tufts. Wesleyan, who didn't tie a single game in a dismal 3-21 season in 2014-15, ends opening weekend with two 1-1 ties and having outshot opponents (Conn College/Tufts) 89-51. Dawson Sprigings (G, '17), made 32 saves Saturday afternoon to earn his second tie of the weekend.

For Tufts, Mike Leary (F, '17) notched his third collegiate goal in the 2nd while the Cardinals leading scorer from a year ago, James Kline (F, '17), evened up the contest in the 3rd period. Poor coverage for Wesleyan over the weekend, with no webcasts and only late published capsule reviews of the games.

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

The Trinity power play didn't look as smooth as past seasons, but the Bantams still ended up going 2 /5 on the man advantage to finish their first weekend as defending champs with a perfect record. The Bantams penalty kill also held the Camels scoreless in their four special teams opportunities as the Bants penalty kill unit killed off eleven of twleve power play opportunities on the weekend.

Trinity jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the strength of Sean Orlando (F, '17)'s two second period goals and Ethan Holdaway (F, '17)'s second of the season. The Camels lone tally came on a one timeer from freshman Dylan Chase (D, '19) - his first collegiate goal - on a setup from Joe Birmingham (F, '16). Reigning NESCAC player of the year Ryan Cole (F, '17) scored late to roundout the scoring.

Colby (0-1-0; 0-1-0 NESCAC)             0
Middlebury (1-0-1; 1-0-0 NESCAC)   4
Box Score    Recap

Four different Panthers socred(Goguen/Gisanti/Charles/Cage), including Spencer Cage (D,'19)'s first collegiate goal, and co-captain Evan Neugold (F, '16) chipped in three assists as the Panthers won the first game in the post-Bill Beaney era and Neil Sinclair's second stint as coach. Stephen Klein (G, '18) made 28 saves to earn his fourth collegiate shutout at just the start of his second season in Vermont.

On the other end, Colby had their chances but were unable to capitalize, while they only commited one penalty on the evening. Emerson Verrier (G, '18) made 35 saves in net in defeat. Colby heads to Williams on Sunday while Middlebury welcomes Bowdoin.

Bowdoin (01-1; 0-1-1 NESCAC)       1
Williams (1-0-0;1-0-0 NESCAC)      4
Box Score   Williams Recap    Bowdoin Recap

Noah Klagg (G, '16) made 30 saves in his first NESCAC start to help power the Ephs past the Polar Bears in Bowdoin coach Terry Meagher's last of his 33 first games of the season. The Ephs recognized Meagher's final campaign before the start of the game.

Four different Ephs scored (Hunkele/Italiano/McNamara/Young), including three unanswered after Bowdoin rookie Cody Todesco (F, '19) tipped in a  Matt Lison (F, '18) shot to tie the game at 1 midway through the second. For the PBs, Peter Cronin (G, '18) made 34 saves and it will be interesting to see if he gets the nod Sunday at Middlebury or if Meagher goes to a weekend rotation in net like he has in the past. For Williams, they host the Mules of Colby on Sunday and it will also be interesting to see if coach Kangas is going to stick with Klagg or give one of the youngsters a shot in net.

Franklin Pierce (1-6-0)         0
Hamilton (1-1-0)                  5
Box Score      Recap

Hamilton beat up on lowly non-conference opponent Franklin Pierce for the second straight season (the Conts beat the Ravens 4-0 in January).  Robbie Murden (F,'17) scored his first two goals of the season and added an assist, while sophomores Brandon Willett (F, '18) and Neil Conway (F, '18) each chipped in with a line of (1-1-2). Pointe-Claire, Quebec native Rory Gagnon (F,'19) will have a souvenir in his dorm as he potted his first collegiate tally to round out the scoring.  Evan Buitenhuis (G, '18) made 22 saves for his second collegiate shutout, exactly a year after his first shutout which came in a 31 save performance against Wesleyan on 11/21/14.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

11/21/15 Preview: Evening Games

The busiest day of opening weekend featuring four conference games, including the openers for Bowdoin, Colby, Middlebury and Williams. Hamilton also hosts Franklin Pierce tonight, while Amherst has the rest of the weekend off after defeating Hamilton last night. 

Colby at Middlebury 
7 PM     Chip Kenyon Arena    Middlebury, VT
Live Stats   Video    Middlebury Season Preview   Colby Season Preview
Burlington Free Press Middlebury Preview  WCAX Middlebury Preview   Maine Hockey Journal Colby Season Preview

Former Middlebury All-American Neil Sinclair becomes the first coach to take the whistle from Bill Beaney since...Neil Sinclair in 2002-03 when Sinclair coached the Panthers during Beaney's sabbatical. Sinclair would love for that 22-5-2 mark he had back in 02-03 as he takes over a team which suffered its first losing season in 27 seasons last year with a 10-12-3 mark. Sinclair was a logical choice as the replacement given his relationship with the school, but he is coming off a less than stellar ten year tenure at Skidmore that ended with a 4-19-3 mark in his last year in Saratoga Springs, NY.

As far as the talent he will be taking over, the Panthers return nearly all of their production from last season, including leading scorer Jake Charles (F, '15), who was the only Panther to break double digits in the goal column. Charles ended the 2014-15 campaign in ignominy, however, as he missed the playoff loss to Amherst after a game DQ in the season finale against Hamilton.

Beaney was a favorite of the goalie carousel, which certainly had its detractors, but Stephen Klein (G, '18) ended up winning the full-time starting job down the stretch. It will be interesting to see if Klein has earned the job for Sinclair as well, or if senior Liam Moorfield-Yee (G, '15) or frosh Henry Cutting (G, '19) get a shot.

In terms of style of play, the BFP article has some quotes from Sinclair that he will continue the aggressive forechecking style and uptempo play that Middlebury hockey is known for. He also admits that the standards of Middlebury hockey (8 national titles under Beaney, but none in the last decade) will likely never be repeated. He's right. There's just too much parity in the NESCAC and DIII hockey now, and that's probably a good thing.

As far as their opponent for the opener, Colby is also coming off a disappointing season in which they failed to make the playoffs, finishing ninth in the conference. They had a very young team last season, and return 10 of their 11 top scorers, including top scoring classmates Devin Alpert (F, '17) and EJ Rauseo (F, '17), who combined for 23 of the teams 63 goals. The MHJ has quotes from Colby coach Blaise MacDonald saying he expects a jump in secondary scoring this season from other returning players.

In net, Colby only returns 341 minutes of collegiate action in sophomore Emerson Verrier (G, '18), but MacDonald thinks he can be a solid netminder at this level. He better hope so, as the backups are both freshman and not very highly regarded recruits at that.

Last season the two squads played two tightly contested games, tying 2-2 in Maine in November and going to OT in Vermont in January with Charles scoring the game winner for the Panthers in OT for the 4-3 victory.

The beginning of a new season brings new hope and everyone has to believe they have a shot at a NESCAC title when they sit at  0-0-0.  Here's to the belief of these two programs looking to have a rebound year.  The Bravery  "Believe" 

Bowdoin at Williams 
7 PM     Lansing Chapman Rink         Williamstown, MA
Live Stats   Video    Williams Preview     Maine Hockey Journal Bowdoin Preview   
Berkshire Eagle Preview 

Williams opens up at home in a rematch of the 2015 NESCAC Quarterfinals, a game which the fourth seed Ephs won 4-3 in OT on the strength of  then senior Craig Kitto( F, '15)'s goal. The Ephs went 2-0-1 overall against the Polar Bears last year with a regular season tie in Brunswick opening weekend and a win in Wiliamstown in January.

The Ephs will look for their ever elusive first NESCAC title this season, after five straight seasons of making the semifinals which includes three losses in the championship game. Last season they lost a 1-0 final to arch-nemesis Amherst. The goalie in that tight-kit affair was Sean Dougherty (G, '15), a three year starter and two time All-NESCAC selection. Replacing him is the biggest question for the Ephs, who have a goalie competition which features a freshman, Michael Pinios (G, '19), a sophomore, Stephen Morrisey (G, '18), who has only one game of collegiate experience, and a senior, Noah Klagg (G, '16) who has ten games of collegiate experience. Before we write Klagg off, remember that Danny Vitale (G, '15) had even less playing time before taking over for Dave Cunningham last season and Vitale took Amherst all the way to the NCAA semis.

For the skaters, the Ephs do lose top scorer Kitto, along with smoothing passing d man David Jarrett (D, '15) and stay at home blueliner Brian McNamara (D, '5). They do return standout freshman David Italiano (F, '18) as well as much of their offensive output and defensive corps from last season. Like most seasons, expect Williams to hang around the top half of the division.

If the other conference game tonight features a team that lost a coaching legend, this game has a NESCAC stalwart that is on his way out. Bowdoin coach Terry Meagher announced before the season that this would be his 33rd and last season as the Polar Bears coach.

If Williams biggest question is in goal, Bowdoin's biggest question is on the other end of the ice. The Polar Bears graudated their top two scorers in John McGinnis, who is currently playing professionally on the SPHL's Hunstville Havoc with Trinity's Jackson Brewer - and Connor Quinn. Sophomore Matt Lison (F, '18), represents the highest returning offensive production (7-6-13) and he did that in just 12 games in a season cut short due to injury. Expect to see significant time for freshman.

It's not the biggest question for Bowdoin, but the loss of Max Fenkell (G, '15) also leaves a void for the PBs. Peter Cronin (G, '18) saw plenty of playing time in Meagher's rotation, posting a 6-3-1 mark and a .911 save percentage. It will be interesting to see if the coach will go with a goalie rotation of Cronin and one of the two frosh for his final year behind the bench.

As part of the Movember campaign, the Ephs will sell fake mustaches at the game, raffle off a signed team stick and fans can vote on the Eph with the best mustache. All proceeds go to the Movember Foundation.

In honor of Movember, here's a live version of Spinal Tap's "Tonight We're Gonna Rock You Tonight" with Derek Small's iconic 'stache.

NON-CONFERENCE: Franklin Pierce (1-5-0) at Hamilton (0-1-0) 
7 PM   Sage Rink   Clinton, NY
Live Stats   Video 

After several years of having one of the hardest Out-of-Conference schedules in the 'CAC, Hamilton is taking it easy this year with home-and-homes with Canton and Skidmore, along with games at home against Franklin Pierce and Daniel Webster, who is playing in their first season as an NCAA D-III hockey school. To put tonight's opponent in perspective, the Ravens only win this season came against Daniel Webster.

So tonight should be a welcome respite for the Conts from the onslaught of the NESCAC season, especially after a tough loss at league powerhouse Amherst last night. Since there's not much to say hockey wise, here are some random facts about former U.S. President Franklin Pierce:

- he was the 14th President
-the anniversary of his birth is in just two days (November 23, 1804)
- he went to Bowdoin!
-he died of cirrhosis of the liver after a lifetime of heavy drinking
-he is considered one of the worst Presidents of all-time

After taking their lumps against Amherst, Hamilton gets a cupcake game to start the home schedule. Here's The Presidents of the United States of America with their 90s hit "Lump"

11/21/15 Preview: Afternoon Games

The busiest day of opening weekend featuring four conference games, including the openers for Bowdoin, Colby, Middlebury and Williams. Hamilton also hosts Franklin Pierce tonight, while Amherst has the rest of the weekend off after defeating Hamilton last night. First up are the afternoon games. 

Tufts (0-1-0;0-1-0 NESCAC) at Wesleyan (0-0-1; 0-0-1 NESCAC) 
3 PM    Spurrier-Snyder Rink     Middletown, CT

These two last met  in February in Middletown with Tufts emerging victorious, 3-1. On opening weekend 2014, Wesleyan earned the first of only two conference wins with a 5-2 victory at Tufts on the strength of two Jay Matthews (F, '16) goals. A win over Tufts today would give the Cardinals three points after a tie against Conn College last night in which the Cardinals carried most of the play. Wesleyan only had four conference points last season. Tufts will look to earn new coach Pat Norton his first win after the Jumbos dropped a penalty filled opener at defending national champs Trinity.

In an age where virtually all NESCAC games get webcast, it is sad that opening weekend contest won't get to be seen by the Jumbo and Cardinal faithful not in Connecticut.  The Wesleyan Athletics website also tends to be very slow getting recaps up, with last night's opener still not appearing on their site as of 10 AM Saturday morning.

In protest of the game not being webcast (thought it could, they have in the past done it last minute), we present giants of the 70s NYC rock scene, Television, with "See No Evil" off their iconic debut, Marquee Moon.

Conn College (0-1-0; 0-1-0 NESCAC) at Trinity (1-0-0; 1-0-0 NESCAC)   
4 PM      Koeppel Community Sports Center    Hartford, CT
Live Stats    Video

The NEHJ cover articles have been written, the polls with Trinity at preseason #1 have been cast, the banner has been raised, and last night it was finally back to puck for the national champion Trinity Bantams. After exacting a bit of revenge on Tufts for last season's NESCAC Quarterfinals, the Bantams welcome interstate foe Conn College to Hartford. The Bantams swept the regular season series against Conn College last season as they did with everyone but Amherst/Hamilton.

Conn College will need a better defensive performance than they put up yesterday to do what no NESCAC team has done in the regular season since February of 2014: win in Hartford. The Bantams have gone 13-0-1 in regular season conference games at home since that 3-2 loss to the Purple&White. If the Camels give up 42 shots (or more) to Trinity as they did reigning cellar-dweller Wesleyan it will take a Herculean effort from Tom Conlin (G, '16) to pull off the upset.

The Camels hope to make breaking the Bantams conference home regular season winning streak a reality. So, here's CC alums Clap Your Hands Say Yeah with "Beyond Illusion" 

Conference Roundup 11/20/15

Hamilton (0-1-0; 0-1-0 NESCAC)      1
Amherst (1-0-0; 1-0-0 NESCAC)     3
Box score   Amherst Recap 

Air Force transfer Will Vosejpka (F, '18) scored his first collegiate goal to make it 2-0 for what proved to be the game winner 5:39 into the final frame. The Purple&White (Amherst athletics preferred designation) jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the 2nd when they turned a neutral zone turnover into a two-on-one rush and a short handed goal from 2014-15 Amherst leading scorer, David White (F,'18) on a feed from classmate Thomas Lindstrom (F, '18).

The Continentals scored their lone tally on a rip from the blue line by blueliner Connor Lamberti (D, '17) a few minutes after Vosejpka's poke in. The Purple&White sealed it later in the third with a power play tally, flipping the Lindstrom/White connection from the first goal, this time with a G for Lindstrom and an A for White.

Both teams returned their starting goalies from season ending injuries last January. Dave Cunningham (G, '16) , who could be seen on crutches celebrating his team's 2014-15 NESCAC men's ice hockey title, made 26 saves in his triumphant return from the quill to the pipes. Evan Buitenhuis (G, '18) turned aside 31 saves in the Continentals third straight 3-1 defeat to Amherst and tenth straight loss to the Purple&White.

Speaking of the Purple&White, I am not sure how long the athletic website has used this designation and whether or not it has anything to do with the recent protests on campus. The Lord Jeff mascot has long been a contentious issue on campus due to Lord Jeffrey Amherst's controversial history, so it is possible it has  been in the works.

On a lighter note, it was nice to hear Hugh Campbell back behind the mic for Amherst:

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

Sam Johnson (D, '17) netted his second career goal 5:21 into the third to break a 2-2 tie and earn a win for the defending national champs on banner night. The pesky Jumbos, who shocked Trinity 2-1 last February in the NESCAC Quarterfinals, stuck around despite being outshot 39-19. Tufts, led by rookie coach Pat Norton, answered back to each of the first two Bantam goals by Ethan Holdaway (F, '17) and Tyler Whitney (F, '18) with Whitney's goal coming on a penalty shot. For the Jumbos, junior Matt Pugh (F, '17) and rookie David Lackner (F, '19) provided the firepower. The goal from Lackner came short handed nearly four minutes into a five minute major penalty kill thanks to a game misconduct to fellow Tufts rookie Ryan Wolter (D, '19).

Not sure if the box score will be fixed, as there appeared to be another game misconduct (or was it DQ?) in the second period for Tufts'  aspiring astronaut Sean Kavanagh (D, '17), but it only shows up as a boarding call after a dirty hit from behind on Ryan Cole. Regardless, it was a penalty laden opening night with the Jumbos going 1/8 on the man advantage and Trinity going 1/7.

Conn College  (0-0-1;0-0-1 NESCAC)     1
Wesleyan (0-0-1; 0-0-1 NESCAC)           1
Box Score

2015 Second Team All-NESCAC goalie Tom Conlin (G,'16) made 41 saves to earn the visiting Camels a point on the road against in state rival Wesleyan, who is looking to turn the program around after a 3-21 mark last season. Dawson Sprigings (G, '17) only had to turn aside 17 shots to earn the tie for the host Cardinals. Last season's Camels leading scorer, Tim DiPretoro (F, '16) provided the scoring for the Camels while Jay Matthews (F, '16) had the goal for the host.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Conference Preview 11/20/15: Opening Night

The NESCAC men's hockey season faces off with three matchups, including travel partners Amherst and Hamilton squaring off as well as a rematch of last season's NESCAC Quarterfinals in which Tufts stunned eventual national champion Trinity. 

Hamilton at Amherst
7 PM    Orr Rink    Amherst, Ma
Live Stats    Video   Amherst Season Preview

Goalie Heal Thyself
This is a travel partner matchup, but it hasn't been much of a rivalry recently as the Conts have lost all nine times to the LJs in the Rob Haberbusch era.  Amherst enters the game as the defending NESCAC champions and NCAA playoff run that ended in the semis, while Hamilton heads to Mass. after a heartbreaking OT loss to Conn College in the Quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament to end the 2014-15 campaign.

Amherst made their playoff run without starting goaltender and budding sports journalist Dave "Papa Cunny" Cunningham (G, '16), who missed over half the season due to injury. Cunningham will likely make his return in net against another highly touted goalie who missed a significant portion of last season. Conts sophomore goalie Evan "Boots" Buitenhuis (G, '18) broke onto the scene in his rookie campaign with a 77 save/1 goal allowed weekend at Wesleyan/Trinity, but a variety of ailments kept the Ontario native oot (is that how you pronounce it up north?) of all but five contests. One of those contests happened to be a January visit to Amherst in which Boots gave up two goals on thirty shots in a 3-1 Amherst win.

For the skaters, Amherst lost more on the blue line ( Turin/Deutsch) than up front (Rowbotham), but a strong recruiting class that the WordPress blog ranked the best in the 'Cac will help ease some of that pain and the LJs enter the season ranked top 10 in both polls (USCHO/ The Conts didn't come away with quite the same haul, but they also didn't lose much outside of Pat Curtis up front and offensive minded blueliner Marko Brelih.  They'll likely need a repeat performance of Boots collegiate opening weekend to come out with their first win against Amherst since before the ECAC-E/NESCAC interlock ended.

On a broadcasting sidenote, we certainly hope Hugh Campbell will return for another season of calling Amherst games. Hugh lost his wife during NESCAC championship week but returned for the thrilling OT win over Norwich in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

With a song as good as Explosion in the Sky's "Catastrophe and the Cure" we only need something as tangential as the returned health of the netminders to justify its inclusion 

Connecticut College at Wesleyan
7 PM   Spurrier-Snyder Rink     Middletown, CT
Wesleyan Season Preview   Conn College Season Preview

Crossing Paths
The Camels and Cardinals enter the season having had very different 2014-15 campaigns. The Camels ended a four year NESCAC playoff drought, earning their first ever home 'Cac playoff game and a trip to NESCAC championship weekend. The Cardinals, on the other hand, dropped from back-to-back sixth place finishes to fall to the cellar of the league and a 3-21 overall record.

The Cardinals barely lost any output from last year, which could be a good thing or bad thing when you consider their record. One name that is conspicuously absent from the roster is Elliot Vorel, who broke out like gangbusters in the first half of his rookie season, but slowed down in the second half and was limited to only eight games in his sophomore campaign. On the other side, the Camels return Second Team All-NESCAC goalie Tom Conlin, but were decimated on the blueline with 2/3 of the defense lost to graduation.

Conn College looks to avoid a step-back into the bottom half of the NESCAC, while Wesleyan is just looking to step out of the Cac basement. So, we present Vampire Weekend's remix of their song "Step" which includes a verse from Wesleyan alum Himanshu Kumar Suri aka Heems ("We went to Wesleyan and she scoffed at Vassar/I Met Her at a Wine-and-Cheese and looked right past her"). 

Tufts at Trinity  
7:30 PM     Koeppel Community Sports Center     Hartford, CT
Live Stats    Video    Tufts Season Preview       Trinity Season Preview

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Frozen 
I don't think Trinity will have too many regrets from a season that ended with the school's first ever men's hockey NCAA title, but if they have any it's the loss to Tufts in the NESCAC Quarterfinals. The loss helped galvanize the Bantams in their NCAA tournament run, but don't expect any thank you notes for the Jumbos in Hartford tonight.

It will be tough for the Jumbos to repeat their performance from February. Tufts is led by a rookie head coach in Pat Norton, who was only hired late in August, and who inherits a team missing Second Team All-NESCAC defenseman Blade Edwards. The Bantams lost even more on the blueline, including first Team All-NESCAC/Third Team All-American Mike Flynn, but they also return the reigning NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding player in senior netminder Nate Heilbron.

Don't expect the top ranked (in both polls) Bantams to take this game lightly, as fifth year bench boss Matt Greason has proven he knows how to make adjustments, posting a 70-28-6 all time record as head coach at his alma mater. Everyone knew the Bantams would be a good offensive team heading into last season, but the main questions were how they would hold up on the other end of the ice. The Bantams responded with a top five defense statistically in the D-III nation.

Teams will be motivated to hunt down a win against the defending national champs all season long. The Bantams will have to be strong to defend their crown.  We present Herbie Hancock collaborators, Headhunters with "Gotta Be Strong" 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The 'Cac is Back: Catching up on the offseason

Welcome back, Hockey in the 'Cac fans! Another exciting season of NESCAC men's ice hockey faces off tomorrow night. We've been derelict in our duties, but we'll heat up as the season gets underway. For now let's catch up on what happened in the off-season on the non-recruiting front. 

Trinity's National Championship
In case you forgot, the NESCAC's own Trinity College conquered the D-III men's hockey world and won a national title in March. The Bantams did quite a bit of celebrating - and rightfully so - with everything from visiting the Connecticut Governor to getting honored at Fenway and even getting team tattoos.

The Bants keep nearly all their offensive firepower from last year's title team (though they lost a majority of their blue line corps) and enter the season with quite a deal of hype. The USCHO and pre-season polls both have Matt Greason's squad in the number one position and New England Hockey Journal did a cover story on the team and interviewed junior forward Sean Orlando.

Coach Greason did a couple of interviews this fall with Managing Editor and friend of HITC, Ray Biggs, as well as ESPN Radio's Hartford Affiliate. Greason talked to Biggs about recruiting, defending the title, the strength of the 'Cac his out of conference schedule and the retirement of some NESCAC hockey legends.   The ESPN 97.9's "Pulse of the Region" interview starts around 19:30.

Coaching Carousel
You should have heard by now that legendary Middlebury coach Bill Beaney retired in March  from coaching men's hockey and was replaced by Skidmore coach and former Middlebury assitant, Neil Sinclair. Beaney did, however, remain on as Middlebury men's golf coach and won his third straight NESCAC Coach of the Year award this fall.

Tufts longtime head coach Brian Murphy also left in May and his position wasn't filled until the university announced his replacement, prep school coach Pat Norton in August. Norton played his college puck at University of New Hampshire in the early 90s before going on to a career as a college assistant at both the DI/DIII levels and then as a head coach at the prep school level for the past decade.

The hits just kept on-a-comin' when NESCAC establishment and Bowdoin men's hockey coach Terry Meagher announced in October that this season, his 33rd behind the bench,  would be his last.  With Meagher's mentor and arena namesake Sidney Watson coaching the team before him, this offseason's coaching hire will be just the third for the Polar Bears since 1959.

NESCAC in the Pros
This is the first time since 2010 that the NESCAC won't have an alum at the AHL level as Bowdoin alum Jon Landry ('06) didn't land on a AAA hockey roster despite leading his team, the Hershey Bears, in +/- last season.

At the AA level, Middlebury alum and golf standout Robbie Donahoe ('14) moved up from the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) - in which he won a league title with the Knoxville Ice Bears in his first pro season - to the ECHL's Manchester Monarchs. The Monarchs were the LA Kings AAA affiliate last season, but that team switched places with the Ontario Reign for this season in the AHL's massive migration (5 teams) to California.

Donahoe has 3 points (0-3-3) in nine games with the Monarchs, but was placed on injury reserve  yesterday .

At the A level, the most common for NESCAC alums, several players have taken their talents south of the Mason Dixon in the SPHL. Middlebury alum Louis Belisle ('14) is in his second season with the Columbus Cottonmouths with whom he earned SPHL All-First Team honors as a Defenseman last season. This year he has moved up to forward and is currently sixth in the league in scoring with nine points (4-5-9) in eight games.

The Hunstville Havoc feature two rookie forwards in Trinity's Jackson Brewer ('15) and Bowdoin's John McGinnis ('15). Brewer went from national champion Trinity to SPHL champion Knoxville, where he notched four points (2-2-4) in eight games before being released this week. He was quickly picked up by the Havoc, who have included McGinnis on the roster since opening day. The Cocoa, FL native has three points (1-2-3) in eight games for the Alabama based team.

Everbody's Shufflin, Shufflin
D-III hockey leagues saw some shaking up during the offseason. In October, it was announced that the sixteen team ECAC-East would break off from the ECAC and form a new league, the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) effective this season. The league keeps its ten men's member schools and will keep it's automatic bid to the NCAA D-III men's hockey tournament (the women's will as well).

The ECAC will also lose the ECAC-E within a year as the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) also announced that they will have a D-III league starting in 2016-17. The current nine team men's ECAC-E (including new member Endicott) will join University of New England - which means UNE will break away after only one year in the NEHC - to form the new ten team conference The new CCC

That leaves only the ECAC-West left as the ECAC brand for D-III. Since the seven member ECAC-W doesn't have an automatic bid (it is adding an eighth team in Stevenson University in 2016-17) to the D-III tournament, we all have to wonder if the ECAC is in its final days of the D-III level.

The NESCAC will certainly not disband anytime soon and we'll just leave you with this little tidbit...

November is not just the start of NESCAC Men's hockey season, it's also Movember, an international movement where men grow moustaches to raise money and awareness for men's health issues such as prostate cancer.

If you have ever watched Minnesota high school hockey or the NHL playoffs, you know hockey players are fans of the facial hair - from shitty to stylish - so clearly NESCAC hockey players, who are also men of moral character (hopefully), participate in Movember.

Last year, the NESCAC puckers raised over $26,000 (led by Amherst) and the ten teams of the Cac have set a benchmark of $30,000 this season. To donate to your favorite team and see some pics of the boys muzzles, check out the NESCAC  site.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


courtesy @sheamckillop
Trinity  5

Two pretty disciplined teams in terms of commiting penalties coming into this one, so of course we had a penalty laden first period. The teams combine for about 20 penalty minutes a game on average but had a total of 12 in the first period alone. Both capitalized on one of their two plus man advantage opportunities with the Bantams striking first at the 3:38 mark. Sean Orlando pumped home a goal from the low slot after puck movement from Ryan Cole and Mike Hawkrigg. The Pointers struck back at the 15:16 mark, when Alex Brooks laid it off for Kyle Brodie, who lazered it past the right shoulder of Nate Heilbron from the point.

Three more power plays in the 2nd (and three too many men on the ice calls through two periods, weird) but neither team scored on special teams. The only goal of the period less than two minutes in on an excellent concentration play from Mike Hawkrigg as he put in a short pad rebound while falling to the ice on a Paul Burns rip. The Pointers swirled throughout the period and ended up with a 25-12 shots advantage through two, but nothing got past Heilbron in the second frame.

Since it is a national title game, unless someone pulled out a machine gun, there were going to be no penalties called. In a more evenly played period, the Pointers pulled even at 9:10 mark when Nick D'Avolio put in a rebound far pad side on a Brooks shot. D'Avolio had the equalizer against Amherst as well, but this time the Pointers wouldn't pull away. The Bantams took the lead for good with 3:52 remaining when Brandon Cole dislodged a puck behind the net and found Ethan Holdaway in the slot for the tally. UWSP pulled their goalie with 1:39 but couldn't capitalize and Trinity put in two empty netters to seal it.

It's the first D-III MIH title for a NESCAC team not named Middlebury, ironically (poetically) in the year that eight time national champion coach Bill Beaney of Midd. retired. Matt Greason took a team that was 9-13-2 in his first season (when his seniors were freshman) and brought them to a national title just three years later. He also kept them focused after a deflating NESCAC Quarterfinal loss to eight seed Tufts that could have knocked them out if not for a Pool C bid. It's a special moment for all ten seniors including Liam McKillop, who transferred from D-II (which has no playoffs) St. Anselm to Trinity in fall of 2013. Sean Orlando, Mike Flynn, Mike Hawkrigg and Nate Heilbron all made the All-Tournament team, with Heilbron earning the tournament's Most Outstanding Player Award. The junior netminder stepped up big this season in his first full season as a starter. Congrats to the Bantams and that's a wrap on an uber exciting season of NESCAC hockey!