momentum rankings — week # 1

An interesting first weekend, with good goaltending and defensive hockey and positive signs for all 10 NESCAC teams.

This week’s rankings:

1.  Williams: 2 solid wins and 4 points on the weekend; the early returns on Williams’ hunt for a replacement in net for 3-year starter Sean Dougherty are promising: the Ephs got excellent goaltending from senior Noah Klag in the 4-1 win over Bowdoin on Saturday and perfect goaltending from freshman Michael Pinios in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Colby; team defense was executed to perfection versus Colby on Sunday, with Williams outshooting Colby by 31-11; next up for the Ephs are 2 OOC home games, with Geneseo (4-1-2) on Saturday (4:30 pm) and Johnson & Wales (3-1-2) on Sunday (3:00 pm)

2.  Trinity: 2 solid wins and 4 points; the Bantams did not dominate Tufts and Conn College in the same fashion as they did during opening weekend in 2014 (dual 7-2 wins on the road) and had trouble putting Tufts away but they got the job done and showed flashes of offensive firepower in both games, scoring 7 goals on the weekend; perhaps most important, the newly configured defense, including only 2 real veterans (Sam Johnson and TJ Sherman) and 4 newbies (frosh Bryce Eviston and Mike O’Brien; sophomore transfer Griffyn Martin; and sophomore Connor Hegarty (he played in only 1 league game in 2014-15)) performed very well, surrendering only 3 goals on the weekend; next up for the Bantams are afternoon home OOC games with Stonehill (3-2-2) (4:00 pm) and Salve Regina (2-4-1) (3:00 pm) on Saturday and Sunday respectively

3.  Amherst: The “Purple & White” played only  1 game on the weekend but snared 2 points with a 3-1 win over a solid Hamilton club; the game featured the return to action of outstanding goalie Dave Cunningham after season-ending surgery in January of 2015 and solid performances by 7 new players, including D1 transfer Will Vosejpka, who scored the game-winning goal; last year’s freshman wiz, David White, picked up right where he left off last season, with a hand in 2 of the 3 goals, including a shortie, and was joined in the fun by sophomore linemate Thomas Lindstrom, who had a 1-1-2 stat line; next up for Amherst is a little OCC action with a weak St Mikes team on Tuesday and then a trip to upstate NY for OOC games on Saturday and Sunday versus ECAC West teams Elmira (2-4) and Nazareth (2-3-2) (3:00 pm starting times for both games)

4.  Middlebury: 1 win and 1 tie and 3 points as the Panthers were on the cusp of a superb first weekend for new Head Coach Neil Sinclair with a 4-0 win over Colby and a 4-1 lead over Bowdoin late in the 2nd period before giving up 3 consecutive goals and the win to a resurgent Bowdoin in a 4-4 tie in a Sunday game; still, the Panthers looked strong versus Colby and skated well and moved the puck nicely in the Bowdoin game; next up for Middlebury is a tournament game with undefeated Plattsburgh (6-0) at 4:00 pm on Friday in the Primelink Tournament (hosted by Norwich this year) and then a second game (either the third place or the championship game) on Saturday with Norwich (5-1) or Conn College (0-1-1) at either 4:00 pm or 7:00 pm

5. Wesleyan: 2 ties and 2 points; two 1-1 ties, with Conn College and Tufts; especially impressive was the squadron of new d-men (featuring 3 freshmen (Chad Malinowski, Chris White, and Mikey Yablong) and a sophomore, who was injured in his first game as a freshman and missed the rest of the 2014-15 season (Theo Tydingco)); especially impressive was Malinowski, who was smooth and in control in quarterbacking the offense from the blue line — he looks like he will be a good one; also impressive was junior goalie Dawson Sprigings, who gave up only 2 goals on the weekend; while both games ended up as ties, the young Wesleyan offense moved the puck well, gaining a huge territorial advantage in both games (outshooting Tufts by 47-22 and Conn College by 42-18); next Wesleyan hosts the same two teams as are playing Trinity this weekend in OOC games: Salve Regina (2-4-1) at 4:00 pm on Saturday and Stonehill (3-2-2) at 6:00 pm on Sunday

6. Bowdoin: a loss and a tie and 1 point; a bad 4-1 loss to Williams and then a “good” 4-4 tie with Middlebury that was the result of a strong comeback starting late in the 2nd period to close a 3-goal gap; the comeback against a good Middlebury team was impressive but the Polar Bears have much to work to do, including improving the worst scoring defense (by a wide margin at 4 GPG) and poor special teams play (0 for 8 on the PP); one promising development was the play of freshman goalie Nathan Colannino, who came in in relief of Pete Cronin at the start of the second period of the Middlebury game and shut the door hard, making the Bowdoin comeback possible; next up: Bowdoin visits UNE (1-4-1) for a 7:00 pm tilt on Tuesday and then participates in the annual Bowdoin/Colby Tournament with a game with newcomer Endicott (4-1-2) at 1:00 pm on Saturday in Waterville and a game with undefeated UMass-Boston (6-0) at 4:00 pm on Sunday in Brunswick.

7. Tufts: a loss and a tie and 1 point; the best part of the Tufts performance this past weekend was the goaltending, with Mason Pulde stopping 36 of 39 Trinity shots on Friday and UMaine transfer Nik Nugnes coming up big on Saturday to steal a 1-1 tie with Wesleyan as he turned away all but 1 of Wesleyan’s 47 SOGs; at times, the Jumbos showed promise during the weekend, throwing a scare into Trinity on Friday in a tight 3-2 loss and almost grabbing a game from Wesleyan that ended up a 1-1 tie; the Jumbos travel to Becker for an OOC game on Tuesday at 7:30 pm and then make the trip to Vermont (Rutland) for the Rutland Herald Invitational at Castleton and a 3:45 pm game with Western New England (0-7) on Friday and a game with either Castleton (0-6-1) or Brockport (3-4) on Saturday  at 3:45 pm or 7:00 pm

8.  Conn College: a loss and a tie and 1 point; the Camels were lucky to come away with a 1-1 tie with Wesleyan after being out shot by more than 2-1 (42-18); Conn College needs to crank it up more than a notch on the offensive end as it produced only 2 goals on the weekend; Tom Conlin’s goaltending was solid; next up for the Camels is an OOC game this Tuesday with Plymouth State (5-1) at the odd hour of 5:00 pm followed by Conn College’s first-ever appearance in the Primelink Tournament (hosted by Norwich) on Friday versus Norwich (6-1) at 7:00 pm and then a third place or championship game with either Middlebury (1-0-1) or Plattsburgh (6-0) on Saturday at 4:00 pm or 7:00 pm

9. Hamilton: 1 loss and no points in a tough 3-1 loss to travel partner Amherst on Friday; the Continentals showed promise in the Amherst game, hanging around until a late 3rd period Amherst goal put the game out of teach; perhaps most important, goalie Evan Buitenhuis returned to action after an injury-plagued freshman year and was solid in the Amherst game and then went on to earn a shut out in a 5-0 win over Franklin Pierce in a Saturday OOC game; on Friday, Hamilton hosts independent SUNY-Canton (1-6-1) at 7:00 pm and then makes the trek to Canton for a return match on Saturday evening at 7:00 pm

10.  Colby: 2 losses and no points, falling 4-0 to Middlebury on Saturday and 1-0 to Williams on Sunday; the Mules have the most work to do but there were glimmers of hope in the goaltending of sophomore Emerson Verrier, who saved 30 of 31 SOGs in the 1-0 loss to Williams; Colby also picked up the fewest penalty minutes on the weekend (4 PIMs/game) and killed off all 4 penalties; double goose eggs in the first weekend of league play and only 11 SOGs versus Williams indicates that much work needs to be done to get the Colby offense in gear; next up for the Mules is the annual Bowdoin/Colby Tournament, with a game with undefeated UMass-Boston (6-0) at 4:00 pm on Saturday in Waterville and a game with newcomer Endicott (4-1-2) at 1:00 pm on Sunday in Brunswick

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