|Hamilton Continentals taking in a team meal on Thanksgiving|
(courtesy Rob Haberbusch)
For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time for family, food and a respite from the vicissitudes of work . For those players and coaches in the NESCAC, however, it is also a time for preparation, practice and out-of-conference games. Some players get to go home for the day, others have to practice before passing the stuffing, but with nine out of ten teams in action this weekend, almost no no one gets a full break from the grind.
The only team that has off is Conn College (1-1-0), who doesn't play again until next weekend in league action against. Assistant coach and recent Conn College grad Joe Giordano told us that guys went home or to friends' houses this weekend.
On Friday, winless Tufts (0-2-1) begins the turkey stuffed weekend in Rutland, VT in the Rutland Herald Invitational, a tournament which the Jumbos frequent, in a matchup against SUNY Brockport (4-2-1) in the opening round. They await either Kings or host Castleton in the finals/consolation depending on how Friday shakes out.
The other Friday action sees Primelink host Middlebury (0-2-0) take on the western invites Lawrence Vikings of Wisconsin. The Panthers have not had any luck in recent years in the tournament, which features Norwich, Plattsburgh, Middlebury and a fourth invite team. The Panthers will take on the winner/loser of the other opening round game between the defending national champion and currently nationally ranked Cadets of Norwich vs the Cardinals.
Amherst (1-0-1) opens up the inaugural Binghamton Devils tournament on Saturday afternoon against the CCCs Nichols Bison (4-2-2) hosted by the eponymous AHL team. Fans get admission to the Rochester Americans vs Binghamton Devils game with their ticket admission after the second opening round game between Farmingham State vs Cortland. Mammoths assistant coach Edward Effinger told us that coach Jack Arena gave the boys off on Wednesday and Thursday to go home for the holiday, though he said that some players aren't able to get home and have meals at local restaurants.
Bowdoin (1-2-0) and Colby (1-1-0) remain in state for the Bowdoin-Colby faceoff classic. On Saturday in Waterville, the host Mules take on nationally ranked UMass-Boston (7-1-0) while the Polar Bears take on DII Saint Anselm (4-2-0). The next day in Brunswick the teams are switched with Colby taking on the Hawks and Bowdoin facing off against the Beacons.
Wesleyan (0-1-1) and Trinity (3-0-0) will swap opponents as well, though they will each remain at home for both weekend games. The Bantams will host the MASCAC's Plymouth State (5-1-0) while the Cardinals will take on DII Franklin Pierece (2-5-0) on Saturday. The teams swap the next day with the Panthers heading to Middletown and the Ravens headed to Hartford. Coach Matt Greason told us that the boys have off on Thanksgiving with practice sandwiched in between on Wednesday and Friday. Coach Greason traveled down to his in-laws on Thursday while members of the team that could not make it home went to local restaurants or had their own feast on the Connecticut campus.
Hamilton (1-0-1) heads east for the Skidmore Invitational on Saturday and Sunday. On turkey day, they had a light practice and ate as a team at a local restaurant (pictured above). The Continentals take on the DIII Independent Roos of Canton (2-3-0), a frequent whipping boy of the Conts in recent years. Should Hamilton likely win, they will face the winner of host Skidmore vs Fredonia in the championship. The Continentals last went to this tournament back in 2011 when the defeated the host Thuroughbreds for the title.
Williams (2-0-0) will play one game at home on Saturday against frequent 'CAC foe Babson (5-2-1) of the NEHC. The Beavers defeated Tufts 3-1 in Medford earlier this week.
Current NESCAC players are not the only ones that will be action this weekend. On Black Friday, recent Colby alum Jack Burton's Indy Fuel of the ECHL (double AA affiliate of Chicago Blackhaws) will face off against the Fort Wayne Komets. Burton has one assist (0-1-1) in seven games so far this season. Down in A, Middlebury alum Evan Neugold and the Knoxville Ice Bears will also in be in action. Neugold is second on the team with eight points (2-6-8) on the season.
Whether they play in tournament games, regular non league games or professional games this weekend, NESCAC players (and coaches) certainly had to sacrifice more than the average college student this week. From extensive travel schedules in youth hockey to extra years of prep school/juniors, hockey players have to go the extra mile to make it to NCAA competition, especially as compared to other D-III sports. For this dedication, we are thankful.
Hopefully the players took some time to pause and be grateful as well. From families that paid for and made those extensive travel schedules possible, to a world class liberal arts education, and the chance to play some of the most competitive collegiate hockey available, NESCAC players are truly blessed.