week 6: power rankings – updated on 1/27/14

STANDINGS

1. Williams: 16 points (7-1-2)
Trinity: 16 points (8-2-0)

3. Amherst: 14 points (7-3-0)

4. Bowdoin: 13 points (6-5-1)
Colby: 13 points (6-5-1)

6. Middlebury: 11 points (5-4-1)

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

8. Wesleyan: 6 points (3-7-0)
Conn College: 6 points (3-7-0)

10. Tufts: 2 points (1-9-0)

POWER RANKINGS  # 6

It was a weekend with very little evidence of any real momentum in either direction due to all but two teams splitting their games and the team with two wins, Trinity, getting them over two cellar dwellers and not looking impressive in the process. The age of parity suggests that there could difficult-to-predict twists and turns before a champion is crowned.

1. Trinity: It wasn’t pretty but with just four seconds left in OT in Saturday’s game with Conn College, freshman Sean Orlando scored the game winner on Saturday for a 4-3 win, enabling the Bantams to tame a game Conn College club and lay the ground work for the only four-point weekend in the league. Trinity did dominate Conn College by a wide margin, out shooting the Camels by 39-16. Then, in a more desultory game on Sunday, the Bantams defeated Tufts 5-2, with a couple of junker goals in the third period fattening the final margin of victory in what had been a close game. The Bantams’ victory over Tufts was its sixth win in a row (with five NESCAC wins in the streak) since its tough 4-2 loss to Williams in Fenway Park on January 7 so Trinity is very much on a roll, with its offense continuing to operate in high gear and Ben Coulthard getting the job done in net. It will be interesting to see whether Trinity moves up in the polls based on its fine 13-3 record (8-2 in league play). There has been a resistance on the part of poll participants to giving Trinity much credit, likely due to its soft OOC schedule. Next up for Trinity is a home game on Saturday with Amherst, with the Bantams looking to avenge an early season 3-1 loss to Amherst, and another home game with Hamilton on Sunday.

2. Williams: A split in Maine may not sound like the greatest of weekends for Williams but the Ephs were lucky to escape from Maine with two points. They easily could have let Bowdoin back into the hunt for a top slot in the NESCAC but for a very late and ugly goal out of a messy pile-up in front of the Bowdoin net in the third period and a 2-1 Williams’ win on Saturday. Bowdoin was in hot pursuit of a comeback win late in the game before a large home crowd and came close to tying the game in the last few seconds. Despite barely escaping Bowdoin and a 2-1 loss to Colby on Friday, it was a reasonably successful weekend if measured by escaping Maine with two points after putting on an awesome display of offensive power in the Bowdoin first period (a 25-5 advantage in SOGs) and dominating the Colby game from start to finish by a two-to-one margin (32-16). So the Ephs’ offense was clicking in enemy territory and Sean Dougherty and the Williams’ defense did a good job in limiting both the Bowdoin and Colby offenses. If this year looks like any team’s year, it looks most like Williams’ year. Williams will be hosting tricky Conn College team on Friday and then a struggling Tufts team on Saturday. The Camels have a deceptive 3-7 record in the NESCAC, with OT losses to Trinity and Middlebury and played Williams tough in their first game 5-2 Williams win that was decided by three late Williams’ goals and featured a significant territorial advantage for the Camels.

3. Bowdoin: It could have been a great weekend for Bowdoin after Friday’s thrilling 5-4 OT win over Middlebury that included a tying goal scored with 33 seconds to go in regulation and a winning goal scored 50 seconds into OT. Williams was very much in reach on Saturday with a 1-1 tie very late in the game but for the inability of five (literally) Bowdoin players and the Bowdoin goalie to coral a bouncing puck with 2:34 to go in the game. Some good things for the Polar Bears to take away from the weekend (besides winning the seasons series with Middlebury) include the return to action of key injured players, the stellar net minding of senior Steve Messina against Williams (albeit in a losing effort but he was spectacular), and the emergence of freshman d-man Mitch Barrington as an outstanding player. Next up for Bowdoin: a Tuesday night game with in-state rival USM and then 10 days of rest through an empty bye weekend, only to return to action with the long trek to Hamilton on Feb 7 with a stop on the way back to Maine in western Massachusetts on Feb 8 to do battle with Amherst. Not sure that protracted quiet period is the smartest scheduling during the money part of the Bowdoin season. The Polar Bears could split those two early season games with travel partner Colby into two weekends, with one early in the season and one late in the season, instead of jamming both games into a single weekend early in the season.

4. Colby: Some good things and some bad things this past weekend for the Mules. They stunned Williams, the NESCAC’s best team this year (so far) on Friday by a score of 2-1 , but did so largely on the back of an outstanding performance in net by goalie Sam Parker. On Saturday, the Mules crumpled back to earth and played a disastrous second period versus Middlebury, surrendering three goals in nine minutes for a difficult-to-surmount 4-1 lead. The Mules remains tightly tied to Bowdoin in the standings, with identical records and just six league games to go for each. If a tiebreaker were necessary, it would go as things now stand to Colby due to its superior record against the top four teams. Next up for Colby is an even longer fallow period than Bowdoin’s, with no games in the bye week at all and the next game not until Feb 7 against Amherst in Massachusetts to be followed by a game with Hamilton the next day.

5. Middlebury: The Panthers have tons of talent but continue to under perform due in large part to a fierce season-long game of musical chairs for that hot seat in goal. Three different goalies were used this weekend, with senior Nick BonDurant yanked after 1:42 in the Bowdoin game, to be replaced by frosh Drew Michals, who let in four goals, including the tying goal with 33 seconds to go in regulation and the winning goal 50 seconds into OT. Long-forgotten junior Michael Peters then got the start against Colby and was credited with the win but he gave up 2 goals on 16 SOGs so not the greatest stats either. All four Middlebury goalies are below .900 in save percentage, generally considered the minimum level for successful goaltending in the NESCAC. Successful NESCAC programs typically settle on a clear-cut no. 1 goalie or follow a two-goalie rotation. Coach Beaney needs to figure it out as he likely knows. But the impatience likely makes it impossible for any of the goalies to get in a groove of any sort. On the bad news front, steady freshman d-man Cam Romoff missed both Maine games, suggesting an injury in the Norwich game. And outstanding forward Jake Charles continues to be absent from the line-up — he has played in only 6 games this year, with his last appearance on January 3 in a game against St. Michael’s. Next up for the Panthers is a game with cellar dwelling Tufts in Middlebury on Friday night, followed by a Saturday game with Conn College. These games provide an ideal opportunity for the Panthers to move ahead of sleeping Bowdoin and Colby in the standings in the battle for the last home ice play-off birth.  

6. Hamilton: No wins this weekend or league play for that matter but Hamilton tied a strong (but struggling) Utica club on Saturday in a 4-4 game at the Aud in Utica before some 4,000 fans. This is a great natural rivalry, with just 10 miles separating the two schools, that has been renewed after a four-year span of not playing each other. The teams are all tied up in their series after 14 games at 5-5-4. Less impressive was Hamilton’s 5-1 loss to Geneseo on Friday night. One interesting development over the weekend was the emergence of junior goalie Zach Arnold, who saw the first action of his career, as a solid option with senior Joe Quattrocchi apparently down for the count with a non-contact leg injury suffered in the Bowdoin game. Arnold performed admirably in relief of freshman Charlie Fennell in the Geneseo game (who was pulled after giving up five goals in the first period), shutting out Geneseo the rest of the way while facing 30 SOGs in the second and third periods. While Arnold was not quite as spectacular against Utica, he played well enough to earn the tie against a good Utica club. Here’s a good piece on off-season  surgery that forward Pat Curtis had last spring to correct a chronic knee condition and reduce pain — it serves as a good reminder we often as not do not know much about the daily physical struggles that a fair number of NESCAC players face. Next up for Hamilton is a pair of Saturday-Sunday games in Connecticut, with Wesleyan on tap for the first game and Trinity for the Sunday game. The games, especially the Wesleyan game, represent an opportunity to put some day light between the Continentals and the last spot for qualifying for the play-offs.

7. Conn College: A last-second 4-3 OT loss to Trinity on Saturday put the hard luck Camels in the oh-so-close category on the momentum front. They did come back nicely to reverse the final outcome on Sunday with a 2-1 OT win over Wesleyan but were within just a few ticks of a three-point weekend and a move into a tie with Hamilton for seventh place. Next up for the Camels is a trip to western Massachusetts to face no. 1 Williams, followed by a battle with always tough Middlebury on Saturday. So it will be a tall challenge for Conn College to solidify any kind of hold on the last play-off spot this weekend but the Camels are capable of giving Williams and Middlebury a fight for their money.

8. Wesleyan: The Cardinals managed to handle the hapless Jumbos on Saturday with a 3-1 win but then fell to Conn College on Sunday in OT by a score of 2-1. Frosh Elliott Vorel resumed his scoring ways this weekend but ta a more leisurely pace than in his first 11 games. Next up for the Cardinals are a home game with Hamilton next Saturday and then another game with Amherst on Sunday. The game with Hamilton looms large for the Cardinals as they find themselves in a three-way dog fight with Conn College and Hamilton for the last two play-off spots and only one point separating the two teams.

9. Amherst: A loss and a tie to two mediocre midwestern teams in dismal arenas in the Chicago area (a 4-4 tie with Concordia (Wisc.) on Friday and a 3-1 loss to Lake Forest on Saturday). The games just seemed to be a space filler for the Lord Jeffs, with not much at stake and a subpar effort put forth. Fortunately for the Jeffs, the games don’t matter for much of anything. Seldom-used senior Johnny Russell was in net for the Concordia tie while no. 1 netminder Dave Cunningham went the distance against Lake Forest and was tagged with the loss. Next up for the Lord Jeffs upon their return to the east coast is a trip to nearby Connecticut and important Saturday-Sunday games with surging Trinity and erratic Wesleyan. Two wins could move Amherst into a tie or better for first place (assuming Williams stumbles in at least one of its games). And a win over Trinity would give the Lord Jeffs the all-important tiebreaker in head-to-head games.

10. Tufts: As the only team not to register any points in the standing, the Jumbos continued their struggles, falling to Wesleyan on Saturday by a score of 3-1 and then Trinity on Sunday by a score of 5-2. The Jumbos were in the game with Trinity well into the third period before the Bantams put the game away with a couple of junkers. Senior Greg Jenkins manned the nets this weekend for Tufts and performed roughly the same in statistical terms as freshman Ryan Kellenberger has in earlier league games. The Jumbos need to find a way to steal a game or three if they wish to have any hope for qualifying for the play-offs. Next up for Tufts is the unenviable task of a trip to Middlebury for a Friday night came and then a stop in western Massachusetts on Saturday on the way back to Medford for the game with the high-flying Ephs.

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One Response

  1. Your comments about Bowdoin are right on the mark. Messina was nothing short of spectacular, particularly during the first period against Williams, when the Ephs took 25 shots on net. And despite being only a freshman, Mitch Barrington is emerging as a dominant defenseman (or “back” in Bowdoin’s system). It may be too early to start making comparisons, but he’s beginning to remind of All American Mike Westerman even though, obviously, he has a long way to go to become the kind of player Westerman was.

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