Preview for 2017-18 NESCAC season: Part IV

[This is the fourth installment of our four-part preview, covering the three bottom-tier teams (Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Connecticut College)]

BOTTOM TIER

BOWDOIN

Coach: Jamie Dumont: 2nd season (8-16-1) (.340 winning percentage)

Team history: 5 NCAA quarterfinals (1996, 2002, 2010, 2011, and 2013); 1 NCAA first-round game (2014); 2 ECAC East championships (1986 and 1993); 3 NESCAC championships (2011, 2013, and 2014)

2016-17 NESCAC record: 5-12-1 (8th place: play-offs: defeated by no. 1 Hamilton 4-2 in the NESCAC quarterfinals) (overall record: 8-16-1)

2016-17 NESCAC stats:

Offense:

goals scored (total): 50 (no. 3-T)
goals scored per game: 2.78
PP: 12.7% (no. 8)

Defense:

goals allowed (total): 65 (no. 9)
goals allowed per game: 3.61
PK: 77.1% (no. 9)
special teams net: -9 (no. 9)
PIMs: 11.1 (no. 6)

Captains: Danny McMullan (D) (Sr) and Matt Lison (F) (Sr)

Key returners:

Forwards: Cody Todesco (J) (9-7-16) (NESCAC co-RoY in 2016), Matt Lison (Sr) (2-10-12), Chris Wallace (J) (4-6-10), Tommy Dunleavy (So) (7-2-9). Spencer Antunez (Sr) (3-6-9)

Defense: Danny McMullan (Sr) (1-1-2), Cullen Geary (Sr) (0-0-0)

Goalie: Peter Cronin (Sr) (.904 save percentage in 779 minutes), Nathan Colannino (J) (.875 save percentage in 159 minutes), Erik Wurman (J) (.889 save percentage in 139 minutes)

Key loss: Matt Sullivan (F), Mitch Barrington (D) (NESCAC first team in 2016), Brendan Conroy (D), Jay Kourkoulis (D)

Key newcomers (middle tier): Jack Bliss (F), Brad Ingersoll (D/F), Keenan Murray (D)

Strengths: Despite all the ingredients being in place for a strong season last year, Bowdoin barely qualified for the NESCAC play-offs with a no. 8 finish (its worst finish since the NESCAC became a playing conference). This year’s expectations are modest as the Polar Bears return a decent offense, featuring one of the NESCAC’s more exciting players in Cody Todesco (co-RoY in 2016). The Polar Bears return the third-most goals (38) in the league in a down offensive year for most teams. Bowdoin has good facilities (Sidney J Watson Arena), a strong fan base, a great history, and a devoted alumni following. Bowdoin is one of just 4 schools to win a NESCAC championship in the last 10 years, with 3 championships during that period (2011, 2013, and 2014) (other champions were Amherst (2009, 2012, 2015), Middlebury (2010), and Trinity (2008, 2016, and 2017)).

Weaknesses/question marks: It has been a while since Bowdoin won the NESCAC championship after a great run of 3 in 4 years (2011, 2013, and 2014), with no championship experience and three consecutive first-round eliminations for the current crop of players.  Bowdoin has very little strength on the defensive end, whether we are talking about goaltending (senior goalie Peter Cronin had a down junior year after an excellent sophomore year) or blue line play. Bowdoin’s PK has been poor for two consecutive seasons, finishing dead last with a kill rate of just 77.6% in 2015-16 and then managing to do slightly worse in 2016-17 (77.1%) but avoiding last place due to Middlebury’s even more dismal performance. The PP was also bad with a 12.7% success rate (no. 8 in the NESCAC). Bowdoin has a soft OOC schedule although 2 of those 6 OCC games are with UNE, a rapidly improving program and a third will be with a UMass Boston, which has had good teams in recent years. This is new HC Jamie Dumont’s second year as the no. 1 guy behind the bench. He compiled Bowdoin’s worst record in 64 years (since 1963) in that first year. His first class of recruits is middle of the pack and should have been stronger due to the large number of losses to graduation, especially on the blue line. His may very well be the case in which a strong no. 2 guy does not necessarily make a good no. 1 guy. We’ll see what the future holds as one year is not much of a record for a definitive reading on his abilities as a head coach but the 2016-17 start was not auspicious.  

MIDDLEBURY

Coach: Neil Sinclair: 3rd season (11-30-9) (.268% winning percentage) (also served as interim HC in 2002-03 and compiled a record of 22-5-2)

Team history: 8 NCAA championships (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, and 2006); 1 NCAA finals (2007); 2 NCAA semifinals (2002, 2003); 3 NCAA quarterfinals (2000, 2001, 2010); 1 ECAC East championship (1991); 8 NESCAC championships (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010)

2016-17 NESCAC record: 3-15 (10th place (did not qualify for play-offs)) (overall record: 3-19-2)

2016-17 NESCAC stats:

Offense:

goals scored (total): 32 (no. 9-T)
goals scored per game: 1.78
PP: 16.4% (no. 7)

Defense:

goals allowed (total): 66 (no. 10)
goals allowed per game: 3.67
PK: 76.3% (no. 10)
special teams net: -13 (no. 10)
PIMs: 13.3 (no. 9)

Captain: Mark McLellan (F) (Sr)

Key returners:

Forwards: Trevor Turnbull (So) (6-4-10), Vincent Gisonti (Sr) (7-2-9)

Defense: Brendan Dawson (So) (2-5-7), Frank Cosolito (So) (1-1-2), David Belluche (Sr) (0-0-0), Jimmy McKee (J) (0-0-0)

Goalies: Steve Klein (Sr) (.905 save percentage in 787 minutes), Brian Ketchabaw (So) (.916 save percentage in 249 minutes)

Key losses: Andrew Neary (D), Travis Stephens (F), Greg Conrad (F)

Key newcomers (rated no. 4 (T)): Owen Powers (F), Alex Heinritz (F), Matt Danner (F), Eric Jeremiah (D)

Strengths: For Middlebury, it is hard to imagine that things could be any worse than they were in 2016-17, when the Panthers compiled a dismal record of 3-19-2 and, for the first time since the inception of NESCAC play-offs, failed to qualify for post-season play. The bright spots for Middlebury are a strong class of recruits (and it had a decent class that entered in 2016 too) and the experience earned under fire last year (only Amherst and Conn College have more returning game experience than Middlebury). It also has a decent tandem of netminders in senior Stephen Klein and sophomore Brian Ketchabaw. Middlebury has the strongest hockey history in the NESCAC (8 NCAA D3 championships (1995-99 and 2004-06)) but that history recedes further into the past every year, with its last no. 1 regular season NESCAC finish 12 seasons ago in 2006 and its last NESCAC championship 8 seasons ago in 2010.

Weaknesses/question marks: The Panthers had their third losing season in a row after 27 straight years of winning seasons. The Panthers’ offense and defense were the worst in the league, as Middlebury battled one injury after another on the blue line. Middlebury had the worst PK (a 76.1% kill rate) and the worst special teams’ net. There is not much good to say about the Panthers’ 2016-17 record. Third-year HC Neil Sinclair continues to subject the Panthers to a difficult OOC schedule (1 or 2 games with defending NCAA champ Norwich and 1 or 2 games with Plattsburgh). It is unclear whether HC Sinclair is primarily responsible for Middlebury’s poor performance in the past few years or whether there are other institutional forces at play that have handicapped the program (like a lack of support in admissions).

CONNECTICUT COLLEGE

Coach: Jim Ward: 15th season (107-203-31) (.345% winning percentage)

Team history:

2016-17 NESCAC record: 2-13-3 (9th place; play-offs: did not qualify for NESCAC play-offs) (overall record: 4-16-3)

2016-17 NESCAC stats:

Offense:

goals scored (total): 32 (no. 9-T)
goals scored per game: 1.78
PP: 11.6% (no. 10)

Defense:

goals allowed (total): 56 (no. 8)
goals allowed per game: 3.11
PK: 81.8% (no. 6)
special teams net: -2 (no. 6-T)
PIMs: 14.6 (no. 10)

Captains: (Sr)

Key returners:

Forward: Jeff Thompson (So) (6-4-10)

Defense: Rory Garlasco (So) (2-3-5), Mason Evans (Sr) (0-4-4), Dylan Chase (J) (1-2-3), Dan Driscoll (So) (0-1-1), AJ Wallace (J) (0-1-1)

Goalies: Connor Rodericks (So) (.919 save percentage in 420 minutes), Avery Gobbo (So) (.918 in 625 minutes), Tim Cooney (Sr) (.892 save percentage in 138 minutes)

Key losses: Brian Belisle (F), Joe Giordano (F), Ryan Mowery (F), Greg Liautaud (D) (missed senior year due to injury)

Newcomers (middle tier): Brett Stirling (D), Paul Capozzi (F), Kyle Moss (D)

Strengths: Conn College returns lots of game experience (all but 16% of last season’s experience or the third-most experienced team in the NESCAC) but returns very little offensive production (the least in the NESCAC at just 19 goals and 48 points) so most of its strength will be on the blue line where it returns a nice group of defenders. The Camels have a solid class of new recruits, with two promising and experienced d-men in Brett Stirling and Kyle Moss. Despite not qualifying for the NESCAC play-offs in 2017 for the second year in a row, Conn College was in most of its games in 2016-17 just as it had been the prior year, registering 3 ties and 8 1-goal losses in league play and putting up a real fight in most games.

Weaknesses/question marks: For the second year in a row, Conn College finished dead last in the league in goals (well, it was tied with Middlebury for last place). It also had the worst PP (a real feat in a down year for the PP in the NESCAC) and managed to register more penalty minutes than any other team. The Camels have failed to qualify for the NESCAC play-offs for two years in a row. Conn College has a small rink, but enthusiastic fans show up for games when college is in session and create a lively atmosphere.

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Bowdoin roster posted!!!

Bowdoin has posted its 33-member roster, with no surprises. The roster includes the 7 freshmen listed in our database of recruits and 25 returning veteran players (9 seniors, 9 juniors, and 8 sophomores).

NESCAC Quarterfinals Preview

The quarterfinal games are evenly split between 1 pm and 3 pm start times, with the early start times for 2 of the 4 games (Bowdoin at Hamilton and Tufts at Trinity) due to the host team also hosting a women’s quarterfinal game on Saturday. In 3 of the 4 games, the higher seed (Hamilton, Colby, Trinity) has a clear edge in momentum, making the home team the clear favorite.  In the fourth game (no. 5 Amherst at no. 4 Williams), neither team has any real momentum going into the quarterfinals but Williams has a slight edge due to the home ice advantage and Amherst’s struggles on the road.

So from our vantage point, we may be looking at something shocking in the NESCAC – an upset-free set of quarterfinal games. That last happened 8 years ago in the 2009 play-offs (it almost also happened in 2012 and 2013 but for the no. 5 seed defeating the no. 4 seed in each of those years). Predictions are just predictions, of course, and anything can happen on the ice, especially in this era of parity where narrow statistical analyses do not determine the actual outcome of games. Continue reading

Bowdoin’s 2016-17 roster posted

Here is a link to the 35-member Bowdoin roster. This relatively early posting of the Bowdoin roster is indicative of the fact that there is a new sheriff in town the form of new HC Jamie Dumont. The roster includes all of the names in our database except for F Steve Upton. Most of the veterans have returned for another year of action except for junior F Stevie Van Siclen. Van Siclen’s absence is likely due to an injury suffered during the Bowdoin soccer season (he was the no. 1 goalie prior to his injury in early October).

Four rosters down and six to go.

Bowdoin names Jamie Dumont as new head coach

Update: Here is link to a good article from a local newspaper (the Lewiston Sun Journal), which implies that former Bowdoin HC Terry Meagher began to groom Dumont as a possible successor a couple of years ago by turning over various administrative responsibilities to him. It also notes that Dumont sees the incoming class of recruits as one of the strongest classes of recruits during his tenure. And a link to an article in the Maine Hockey Journal that says similar things and goes into more depth on Dumont’s coaching experience in Europe.

Bowdoin, opting to go with continuity and familiarity, named assistant coach Jamie Dumont as its new head coach and replacement for the now retired Terry Meagher. Dumont has served a total of 9 years as Bowdoin’s assistant hockey coach in 2 separate stints (2001-05 and 2011-16) and was the Polar Bears’ primary recruiter during both periods. In between his 2 Bowdoin stints, he was an assistant hockey coach for D1 Bowling Green and garnered extensive international experience as a coach at the professional level in Bolzano, Italy. Dumont is unusually well positioned to to hit the ground running for the Polar Bears as he knows all the existing players and the incoming recruits, Bowdoin’s style of play (with its emphasis on speed and frequent deployment of a 3-back system), the NESCAC world (and its idiosyncrasies and rules), and the larger Bowdoin hockey community. He has a record of success as, during his 9 seasons as Bowdoin’s sole assistant coach and primary recruiter, the Polar Bears finished in the top 4 on 7 occasions during the regular season and finished just outside of the top 4 in 5th place in the 2 seasons in which it did not crack the top 4 (2014 and 2015).  Bowdoin has secured 2 NESCAC crowns (2013 and 2014) and 1 regular season championship (2013) during his past 5 seasons.

Dumont is a 1998 graduate of Oswego State where he was  4-year member of the varsity and served as an assistant coach at Oswego after graduation. He is a Maine native (Lewiston, which is about 25 miles north of Brunswick) but played his high school hockey at longtime New England schoolboy hockey powerhouse Mount St Charles. The 42-year-old Dumont  is only the third Bowdoin coach since 1959 and the 9th coach in Bowdoin’s history.

Congratulations to Jamie Dumont in his new but familiar post. He is the rare direct promotion from within in the NESCAC world as, in recent years, NESCAC schools have tended to look outward for new head coaches, turning  to another D3 school (Middlebury’s Neil Sinclair (Skidmore)), a prep school (Tufts’ Patrick Norton (Tilton)), USNTDP (Trinity’s Matt Greason), or a D1 school (Hamilton’s Rob Haberbusch (associate coach for Army), Colby’s Blaise MacDonald (assistant coach at UMass and former head coach at UMass-Lowell), Wesleyan’s Chris Potter (assistant coach at Brown), Williams’ Bill Kangas (assistant coach at UVM), and Conn College’s Jim Ward (assistant coach at Princeton)). (Both Sinclair and Greason had served prior stints at their respective schools as assistant coaches but had done something else outside of the school during the years immediately prior to being named head coach; Amherst’s Jack Arena followed an idiosyncratic path, going straight from being Amherst’s team captain in 1984 to its head coach in the fall of 1984.)

Colby and Bowdoin previews

Good commentary from the coaches and data for each team, courtesy of the Maine Hockey Journal, which does such a nice job covering all Maine-related hockey news.

Colby preview

Bowdoin preview

Bowdoin roster up

Bowdoin has posted its 33-member roster, featuring 12 newcomers and 21 veterans. The 12 newcomers include all 10 in our database plus 2 additional players in d-man Sam Carlin (Middlesex, ISL) and a sophomore forward who did not play last season (Samuel Rice (Hotchkiss, Founders)). The 20 veterans include all expected returners minus junior d-man Max Summermatter (played in only 1 game last year; may have been injured) and sophomore F/D Matt Crowell (a lacrosse recruit who was a hockey walk on last year). Bowdoin will likely be the youngest squad in the NESCAC with 11 freshmen, 11 sophomores, 8 juniors, and 3 seniors.

All rosters have now been posted except for Conn College’s.