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NESCAC recruiting trends (2018)

As most NESCAC schools looked for mature and experienced players, junior hockey continued to ramp up its advantage as the training ground for NESCAC players beginning their NESCAC careers in the fall of 2018. Junior hockey has built a very large lead over prep hockey as the last stop before the NESCAC, producing more than twice as many new NESCAC players. Junior hockey produced 49 of this year’s NESCAC entrants or close to two-thirds (62.8%) of the total, with prep hockey producing less than half that number (just 22) or 28.2% of the total. The remaining 8% of NESCAC recruits consisted primarily of 6 college transfers (7.7% of the total). The 6 transfers came primarily from D1 hockey programs (Quinnipiac (2), St. Lawrence, RPI, and Bentley), with one from D3 (Skidmore).


On the junior hockey front, the USPHL produced almost one-third (32.7%) of the junior hockey products who joined NESCAC programs this year, down significantly from the 45% that it produced in 2017 but only a small reduction in actual numbers (16 in 2018 versus 19 in 2017). Showing a significant spike in popularity with the NESCAC was the NAHL which produced 12 (24.5%) of the NESCAC’s 2018 junior hockey products, up from 5 in 2017. Tied for a distant third were the EHL and the OJHL, each of which produced 5 players or about 10% of the junior hockey total:

Especially popular with NESCAC coaches was the EHL’s New Hampshire Avalanche franchise, which sent 4 players to the NESCAC. Other leaders included several USPHL franchises (Islanders Hockey Club (3), Northern Cyclones (3), Syracuse Stars (3), Rochester Monarchs (2), and South Shore Kings (2)). The only other junior club to send multiple players to the NESCAC was the NAHL’s Wilkes Barre/Scranton Knights with 2 new NESCAC players. Continue reading


NESCAC preview for the 2018-19 season

[Better late than never for this year’s preview but late is going to happen as long as a significant number of NESCAC schools keep their rosters a deep, dark secret until just hours before the first puck is dropped.]

The predictions for the top-tier finishers in the NESCAC regular season are Trinity, Hamilton, Conn College, and Williams. The Camels, while having the edge in various categories, have stumbled out of the gate, making Trinity the likely no. 1 finisher followed by Hamilton. The next group of finishers after the top four (middle-tier finishers in the fifth through seventh spots) are likely to be Amherst, Colby, and Wesleyan. Bunched together in the bottom tier (eighth through tenth spots) are Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Tufts. As is the case in an era of parity, there is not much difference among the teams in each tier and plenty of opportunity for teams to move up a tier with a better-than-expected performance (or down a tier with a subpar performance or two).

Across the NESCAC, the biggest question marks are in net where six teams lost veteran, work horse goalies: Hamilton (2017 National PoY Evan Buitenhuis), Colby (D1 transfer Sean Lawrence), Tufts (D1 transfer Nik Nugnes), Trinity (Alex Morin), Amherst (D1 transfer Connor Girard), and Middlebury (4-year starter Stephen Klein). Other teams with question marks in net include Bowdoin and Williams, both of which have returning goalies that finished low in the statistical rankings. The biggest question marks with regard to goalie succession plans are at Amherst, Colby, and Bowdoin, which play a significant role in the assumption that all three teams will struggle this year.

Conn College appeared to be set in goal, with NESCAC PoY Connor Rodericks returning for his junior year after a spectacular sophomore year (.942 SV%; 1.96GAA) but based on Rodericks’ early performance (giving up 8 goals in 2 games) that may not be the case. Early returns indicate that Trinity (Loughborough and Capriotti), Hamilton (Tirabassi and Negron), Middlebury (Ketchabaw and Wisco), Tufts (Hotte) and perhaps Amherst (Ventre) may have found solutions to their goalie problems while Bowdoin, using three goalies in its first four games, and Colby (Tucci) are struggling.

Teams with the biggest question marks are defending champion Colby, which lost 47% of its points and 42% of its goals to graduation and returns the least experienced roster (it lost 46% of game experience to graduation), followed by Wesleyan (losing 34% of its goals and 50% of its points to graduation and then Bowdoin (losing 38% of its points and 35% of its goals to graduation). Middlebury did not have much to lose in the way of offensive production because of last season’s poor record and will also have the second least experienced roster. Conversely, teams with experienced rosters include Connecticut College and Tufts, with the Camels losing only 15% of game experience to graduation and Tufts losing just 16%. Similarly, Conn College returns the most offensive production (112 points and 42 goals).

As was the case last season, the range in terms of returning offensive production is small, with Conn College leading the pack with 112 returning points followed by Trinity at 107. After the top two, the numbers drop off: Wesleyan (94), Amherst (93), Hamilton (89), Colby (82), Wesleyan (80), and Williams (78); at the other end of the scale, Middlebury returns the fewest number of points with just 32 (and just 12 goals) followed by Tufts (57) and Bowdoin (62).

On the coaching front, Williams’ HC Bill Kangas will be returning after a year-long sabbatical. Newish head coaches include Bowdoin’s Jamie Dumont (entering his third year) and Middlebury’s Neil Sinclair and Tufts’ Pat Norton (both entering their fourth seasons). Dumont and Sinclair have struggled at the helm for long-time hockey powers Bowdoin and Middlebury. Norton has settled in somewhat better although the Jumbos struggled in 2017-18 and are not burdened by the expectations of history. Continue reading

Second NESCAC preview: Bowdoin (updated with a 3d preview)

A brief preview of the Bowdoin season.

A second, more detailed Bowdoin preview from the local newspaper.

And a third preview in the Bowdoin student newspaper.


Sixth NESCAC roster: Bowdoin

Bowdoin has posted its 31-member, including all 7 of the recruits listed in our recruits database and all expected returning players. No attrition and all very stable!!

Just four more rosters to go before the season kicks off this Friday with, among other things, a visit by Williams to Bowdoin and by Middlebury to Colby.

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)]



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:


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


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.  


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:


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


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).


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:


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


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.

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