NCAA preview: Trinity v. Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh at Trinity (7:00 pm)

Trinity, the winner of back-to-back NESCAC championships, has a decided statistical advantage over Plattsburgh, this year’s SUNYAC champion, in virtually every important statistical category, including both offense and defense. But this first-round NCAA play-off game is to be decided on the ice rather than by past statistics. Plattsburgh has some important intangibles in its favor – like the momentum associated with a strong close (a 11-1-1 finish, culminating in the league championship) but those intangibles do not clearly outweigh Trinity’s, whose season had a similar trajectory, so perhaps a wash.

Plattsburgh has some offensive depth but no flashy scorers, with 11 double-digit scorers but with its 2 top scorers maxing out at the modest point total of 21 (Joe Drabin ’20 (11-10-21); and d-man Ayrton Valente ’18 (6-15-21)). Trinity, in contrast, has 4 30+ scorers (Sean Orlando ’17 (15-18-33); Tyler Whitney ’18 (12-20-32); Anthony Sabitsky ’18 (16-15-31); and Ryan Cole ’17 (13-17-30)) and a host of other offensive threats. On the defensive end, Trinity has an excellent corps of d-men and a solid goalie in junior Alex Morin (1.88 GAA (no. 7 in D3) and .930 save percentage (no. 14 in D3)). Plattsburgh’s greatest vulnerability may very well lie on its side of the blue line where its no. 1 goalie (and Quinnipiac transfer), Brady Rouleau, has compiled mediocre numbers (2.84 in GAA (no. 60 in D3) and .895 in save percentage (no. 87 in D3)) and the team’s overall defensive numbers are unimpressive (surrendering 3.26 GPG or tied for the no. 53 defense in D3). Rouleau can rise to the occasion, however, as he backstopped Platty to its SUNYAC championship with a 3-2 win over regular season champion, Oswego, in the conference finals and was named tournament MVP.

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NESCAC Semifinals Preview

We are guaranteed at least one first: one of the two teams playing for the NESCAC championship on Sunday will be a championship virgin. All 4 of this weekend’s participants (no. 1 Hamilton, no. 3 Trinity, no. 4 Williams, and no. 7 Wesleyan) have made it to the semifinals at least once but only two (Trinity and Williams) have survived the Saturday game, with Trinity advancing to the finals 5 times and Williams 4 times and the Bantams going on to win the championship on 3 occasions while the Ephs have failed to capture the crown on all 4 occasions. So we will be looking at a first-time finalist on Sunday and, unless Trinity prevails in both games this weekend, we could also be looking at a new first-time NESCAC champion.

Hamilton is a strong performer on home ice, with just one loss on home ice (5-1-3 in the NECAC; 9-1-3 overall) and none if its visitors has an impressive road record, with Trinity having a losing NESCAC record on the road and Williams an overall losing record on the road:

Trinity: 3-4-2; 5-4-3
Wesleyan: 3-3-3; 6-4-3
Williams: 5-4; 6-7

Statistics and history do not decide games but Hamilton has an important advantage this year, having successfully navigated the regular season and the quarterfinals to nail down that all-important home ice for the first-time ever. The open question is whether Hamilton will be writing a new chapter of NESCAC history this weekend by joining that small circle of NESCAC champions (Middlebury (8) and 3 each for Amherst, Bowdoin and Trinity) and expanding the number of members in that exclusive club from 4 to 5.

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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

two D1 transfers and one D3 transfer to NESCAC schools at the semester break

Updated on Jan. 6, 2017, to add a Conn College transfer

Two goalies transferred to NESCAC schools at the semester break from other college programs, with former Quinnipiac goalie Sean Lawrence transferring to Colby and former Endicott goalie Connor Rodericks transferring to Conn College. Former Bentley d-man Andy Chugg transferred to Trinity at the semester break and has already seen action in Trinity’s 2-1 win over Adrian.

Lawrence has gaudy junior credentials from the USPHL (league MVP, for example, in 2014 for the Boston Jr Bruins) but saw little action at Quinnipiac (7 games over 2 seasons with weak stats). Rodericks had solid stats during two years with the Walpole Express in the EHL and got the start and the win in his first game since joining the Camels (a 5-2 win over Manhattanville on Jan. 5) although he did not see action for Endicott. Chugg played in 12 games for Bentley in his one year with the Falcons. All three should play significant roles for their new teams, with each player providing needed depth at key positions (Andrew Tucci has been spectacular in net for the Mules but, before the Lawrence transfer, Colby did not have an experienced goalie as an alternative to Tucci; Conn College has relied on a threesome of inexperienced goalies). Go here for more detail on their backgrounds.

Trinity’s 2016-17 roster

At long last, Trinity has posted its 28-member 2016-17 roster, with no surprises. The 6 new players included in our recruits database are all on the roster, and the 22 veteran players that were expected to return are all on the roster.

Now that we have complete data for all 10 NESCAC teams, our season preview should be coming soon!

polls – Dec 14, 2015

The three ranked NESCAC teams–Trinity (8/8), Amherst (12/11), and Williams (14/13)–are still ranked but in the bottom half of both the USCHO and D3hockey polls. Amherst took the biggest tumble, falling from no. 5 to no. 11 in the D3hockey poll, which is not surprising, given its 3-2-3 record and 0-1-1 weekend. The highest ranked eastern teams are Plattsburgh, Babson, and UMass-Boston, with St Norbert the consensus no. 1 pick (UMass-Boston’s lone loss was a 5-0 shellacking at the hands of Bowdoin and its one tie was a 1-1 tie with Colby):

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Latest polls

All three ranked NESCAC teams took a bit of a hit in the latest polls, with formerly no. 1 Trinity slipping to no. 3 (USCHO) and no. 4 (D3hockey) following its 6-4 loss to Salve Regina on Sunday and a 7-1 win over Stonehill on Saturday. We expected Trinity to struggle a bit in the early going as it rebuilds much of last year’s stellar defense. And early season losses stand out for NESCAC teams due to their late start and the resulting tiny sample of games played (just four games in the books in the case of the three ranked NESCAC teams).

Amherst also slid a bit, slipping from 6 (USCHO)/7 (D3Hockey) to 8 (USCHO)/10 (D3Hockey) after struggling to beat lowly St. Mikes’s (4-3) last Tuesday, losing to Elmira on Saturday by a score of 6-3, and tying Nazareth 1-1 on Sunday. Similarly, Williams slipped from 14 (USCHO)/12 (D3Hockey) to no. 15 (USCHO)/14 (D3Hockey) after it fell to Geneseo by a score of 3-0 on Saturday and defeated Johnson & Wales on Sunday by 5-1.

In an interesting side note, undefeated Plattsburgh (8-0-0) is now ranked no. 1 although it had to really battle to get by Middlebury (1-2-1) in the first round of the Primelink Tournament on Friday, finally vanquishing the Panthers with a late goal by a score of 5-4:

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