week 5: power rankings — updated on 1/20/14

STANDINGS

1. Williams: 14 points (6-0-2)
Amherst: 14 points (7-3)

3. Trinity: 12 points (6-2)

4. Bowdoin: 11 points (5-4-1)
Colby: 11 points (5-4-1)

6. Middlebury: 9 points (4-3-1)

7. Hamilton: 7 points (3-6-1)

8. Wesleyan: 4 points (2-6)
Conn College: 4 points (2-6)

10. Tufts: 2 points (1-7)

POWER RANKINGS # 5

1. Williams: Two big OOC games: a clinical 5-1 dismantling of no. 3 ranked Plattsburgh on Saturday, with equal parts of lockdown defense and opportunistic scoring; and a solid 4-1 win over the ECAC West’s Manhattanville on Saturday. Lets see whether Williams’ outstanding performance this past weekend has any impact on the dingwats who cast ballots in the USCHO and the D3hockey.com polls, both of which had Williams in the no. 12 spot in their most recent polls. As usual, Sean Dougherty was immense in net, especially in the Plattsburgh game as he held off a fierce 5-3 Plattsburgh attack in the 3rd period with a series of spectacular saves. At 6-0-2, the Ephs have yet to lose a game in the NESCAC and have a chance to solidify their hold on first if they can get by the Maine duo (Colby on Friday and Bowdon on Saturday, each of which has something to prove (Colby that its resurrection is for real and Bowdoin that it still has the fight left to defend its NESCAC crown)).

2. Trinity: The Bantams had an excellent weekend, easily downing a solid Bowdoin club on Friday by a score of 5-1 and then winning over feisty Colby that hung with the Bantams for two periods before succumbing to a flurry of late Bantam goals in the 3rd period to lose on Saturday by 6-3. The Trinity defense is not as impressive as Williams’ defense but Ben Coulthard is quietly putting together excellent numbers (no. 3 in the league in both save percentage and winning percentage). At the other end of the ice, Trinity is lighting up the scoreboard with 4 of the top 5 scorers in all of D3 in John (Mike) Hawkrigg, Jackson Brewer, Ryan Cole, and Sean Orlando. It would be nice to see a higher quality webcast from Hartford as the distorted perspective created by the peculiar placement of the cameras (up high and at the far end of the rink and practically in a heating duct) made it difficult to spend much eyeball time with either Trinity game this past weekend. Next up for Trinity are away games with Conn College and cellar dweller Tufts this coming Saturday and Sunday.

3. Amherst: The Lord Jeffs defeated lowly Conn College and last-place Tufts but struggled to do so, beating the Camels by 4-2 and barely edging Tufts 4-3, thanks in part to a slightly iffy goal scored in the last second of the 2nd period. Amherst is back on the winning track and, in spite of its recent travails, is tied with Williams for first place in the NESCAC (Williams is in its bye week and has two games in hand). Given the rest of the league’s struggle with the on-again off-again relationship that comes with parity, Amherst finds itself in a very strong place as it crossed into the second half of the NESCAC season this weekend. Even with the recent uptick in goalie Dave Cunningham’s numbers, Amherst’s team defense is second only to Williams, and we all know that team defense really matter in the NESCAC. Next up for Amherst is its bye weekend, which it will occupy with a long trip to the midwest to play Concordia (Wisconsin) and Lake Forest.

4. Colby: In the age of parity, it’s tough to distinguish among the teams after the top three but we are going to go with Colby in the fourth spot, mostly due to its impressive 2-goal comeback in the last 2 minutes, with one of the goals a shorty, against Wesleyan on Friday to tie the game at 4-4 and to then win it in OT. Colby’s seniors seem to be committed to finishing their careers with a serious bang as they are providing much of the offense (seniors Ben Chwick, Nick Lanza, Jackie Bartlett, and Brendan Cosgrove are the team’s top four scorers and the only players in double figures). Junior goalie Sam Parker is middle-of-the pack in statistical terms but is holding down the fort more often than not. The Mules face a tough weekend, with Williams coming to town on Friday (and looking to avenge its 1-1 tie with Colby on the opening weekend of the season) and then Middlebury showing up the next day and needing to make a statement as its record has sunk to the .500 level.

5. Bowdoin: Where Colby is, we are likely to find Bowdoin close by. Both Maine teams continue to have identical records and to be somewhat inconsistent. Bowdoin lost badly to Trinity on Friday (by a score of 5-1) but actually skated with the Bantams, dominating the second and third periods by healthy margins, but experienced lapses on the defensive end and in goal that made a comeback impossible. Then on Saturday, Bowdoin was more disciplined despite falling behind in the early going and managed to come back for a nice 3-2 win over Wesleyan by scoring the last three goals. Also, on the bright side for the Polar Bears, last year’s leading scorer, senior Ollie Koo, returned to action for the first time since Nov. 23. Bowdoin continues to rotate a lot of players in and out of the line-up for each game, meaning that the last 5 or so players in the line-up tend to be less experienced than their opponents and prone to more defensive lapses. Bowdoin hosts Middlebury on Friday and faces off with no. 1 Williams on Saturday, with important points at stake and the opportunity to avenge a bad 5-2 loss to Williams and a hard-fought 2-2 tie with Middlebury in the opening weekend of the season.

6. Middlebury: The Panthers come in at the sixth spot, primarily because they put up a spirited battle against Plattsburgh on Friday, falling 4-2, with the final Platty goal being a late goal (62 seconds to go in the game). The results were not so good on Saturday night when the Panthers were totally dominated in the first period (Norwich out shot Middlebury by an eye-popping 17-1 for the period) and fell behind Norwich by a score of 5-0 early in the third period before scoring two late goals for a final score of 5-2. The NESCAC’s reigning RoY, Matt Silcoff, continued to search for his scoring touch, scoring only 6 points in 13 games (no. 9 on the team) after a freshman year in which he led the team in scoring with 24 points. Sophomore forward Jake Charles continues to be missing from the line-up, presumably due to injury, after a torrid start on the offensive end (11 points in 6 games or almost 2 PPG). More ominously, the game of musical chairs resumed in net, with senior Nick BonDurant yanked from the Norwich game after two periods and four goals and replaced by freshman Drew Michals for the last period. Next up for the Panthers is a trip to Maine, with a game on Friday with Bowdoin and one Saturday afternoon with Colby. These three teams are tightly bunched up in the standings so these two games will be of great importance to all three teams, with the Mules likely motivated to avenge a bad 7-1 loss to Middlebury in the season’s opening weekend.

7. Hamilton: The Continentals had a mixed road trip this weekend, splitting a pair of games with the two lowest ranked teams in the league. It edged Tufts in OT by a score of 3-2 on Friday and then fell to Conn College on a late Cangelosi goal by a score of 4-3 on Saturday. The loss to the Camels was costly as it left Hamilton in 7th place in the NESCAC. Super forward Mike DiMare is having a fine senior year for Hamilton, scoring points at a 1.7 clip per game and leading the league in scoring with 17 points. Frosh Charlie Fennell has taken over for the injured Joe Quattrocchi in net and could very well be Hamilton’s primary goalie for the rest of the season. The Continentals’ bye weekend is this coming weekend but there will be no rest for the weary as Hamilton hosts the no. 2 SUNYAC team, Geneseo (12-3 and ranked no. 14 in the latest USCHO poll), on Friday and makes the short trip from Clinton to Utica face the ECAC West’s no. 1 team (ranked no. 9 in the latest USCHO poll and with a nice 10-3-3 record) on Saturday.

8. Conn College: The Camels managed to split their two games this weekend, edging Hamilton on Saturday by a score of 4-3 with a late goal by J.C. Cangelosi after falling to a strong Amherst club in a 4-2 loss on Friday. On the good news front, sophomore forward Tim DiPretoro (and the Camels’ no. 4 scorer as a freshman) returned to action after a 7-game absence. Conn College continues to alternate goalies, with senior Mike Petchonka getting the win on Saturday over Hamilton and sophomore Tom Conlin credited with the Amherst loss on Friday. The two goalies have virtually identical numbers so it is not a surprise that they are being rotated. This coming weekend, Conn College will host in-state rivals Trinity on Saturday and Wesleyan on Sunday.

9. Tufts: The Jumbos stay out of last place in the power rankings even though they lost two games because they hung tough with both Hamilton and Amherst before falling in the late going in both games (a 3-2 loss in OT to Hamilton on Friday and a 4-3 loss to Amherst on Saturday after taking a 3-0 lead early in the second period). The Jumbos surrendered two goals in the last minute of the second period, including a controversial one as time expired, that were the difference in the Amherst game and allowed the Lord Jeffs to sneak out of town with the win. Tufts continues to put together strong offensive numbers (no. 4 in the league), with offensive production distributed among a large number of players. But the Jumbos struggle on the defensive end, giving up 4.25 GPG, and are tied with Wesleyan for last in the league in scoring defense. Freshman goaltender Ryan Kellenberger has handled virtually all the goaltending after an early season injury to senior Brian Phillips. Tufts hosts Wesleyan on Saturday in a battle of struggling teams and Trinity on Sunday.

10. Wesleyan: The Cardinals earned the last spot based on a performance that included booting two winnable games in the late going. Wesleyan had a 2-goal lead over Colby with less than 2 minutes to go on Friday and managed to lose the game in OT by a score of 5-4. Its collapse wasn’t quite as dramatic against Bowdoin on Saturday but Wesleyan did jump out to an early 2-0 lead, only to have Bowdoin take over the game late in the second period and score the last three goals of the game to win the game going away. Wesleyan’s defensive struggles are undeniable, giving up 4.25 GPG in league play and being tied with Tufts for last place in the league. Freshman Elliott Vorel, who shocked the league with his furious pace of scoring in the first 11 games of his career, has settled into a more humdrum life on the ice, with his third consecutive game without a point. On the bad news front, Keith Buehler, the reigning NESCAC PoY, was injured in the Colby game and did not play in the Bowdoin game. We’ll see how quickly he is able to return to action. Wesleyan webcast Saturday’s Bowdoin game and has nice HD equipment but the picture was frozen more often than not, making the game unwatchable. Next up for Wesleyan this coming weekend are Tufts (on Saturday) and Conn College (in the rare Sunday game). All three teams will be fighting to avoid sole occupancy of the cellar, with Wesleyan and Conn College each with just two wins and Tufts with only one but all three teams having shown more life than their records would suggest.

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