Mass. College Hockey: D3 Conference Tournament Semifinal/Championship Preview
By Matt Noonan
It’ll be a busy day in the Division 3 hockey world with a slew of local teams vying for either conference crowns or spots in their conference tournament championship. Below is a quick preview of today’s contests.
No. 7 Babson @ No. 2 Norwich, 7 p.m.: The Beavers and Cadets are starting to become a frequent matchup in the postseason. According to BabsonAthletics.com, Babson and Norwich have met seven times in the last two seasons. Babson won the ECAC East crown last year, 2-1, but lost to the Cadets seven days later in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. A win for the Beavers would provide them with their second straight conference crown, along with a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Norwich has defeated Babson twice this season by a combined score of 2-0. Babson’s Mike Driscol leads the Green and White in points (25) and goals (12). Jamie Murray, who was named the ECAC East Player of the Year and Goaltender of the Year, has compiled a record of 20-4-2 this season. He’s deflected 697 of 735 shots and owns a .948 save percentage.
Wentworth @ Nichols, 6:40 p.m.: The Bison will attempt to claim their first ECAC Northeast crown since 2009 when they host the Leopards at Levy Rink. Nichols secured the top seed in their conference’s tournament with a 17-6-3 overall record. They recently defeated Curry College in the semifinals, 4-3, thanks to a pair of goals from Sean Swansen. Wentworth earned a spot in the title game following a 4-0 victory over Johnson & Wales University. Dan Szerlip netted two goals in the contest, while Joel Miller turned away 24 shots. Nichols defeated Wentworth twice this season (4-3 & 5-3), but will the third time be the charm for the Leopards? We’ll have to wait and see!
Plymouth State @ Salem State, 2 p.m.: Both teams will attempt to earn their second MASCAC crown this afternoon as the Vikings host the Panthers at Rockett Arena. Salem State enters the contest on a three-game winning streak. They ended their season with back-to-back wins against Fitchburg State and Worcester State before dislodging Framingham State from the conference tournament on Tuesday. Brandon Platt and Gabriel Cromp secured the Vikings a spot in the title match as each skater netted a goal in the final frame. Plymouth State, which finished second in the conference, as well as a spot behind Salem State, has won five consecutive contests. The Panthers haven’t lost a match since falling to Worcester State on Saturday, January 25. Since the first day of February, the Panthers are 6-0-2. Plymouth State is 0-1-1 against the Vikings this season. They lost, 4-3, in November before rallying to tie their last outing, 3-3.
No. 15 Amherst vs. Williams @ Hartford, Conn. (1 p.m.): Ah, another round of Amherst-Williams, this rivalry never gets old! The Lord Jeffs are 1-1 against their archrival this season. Williams edged Amherst, 1-0, in December before the Lord Jeffs topped the Ephs in their regular season finale. So, today’s contest is technically the rubber match. Amherst ended its season going 1-1-2. Similar to Amherst, Williams was victorious in one of its final four contests when they defeated Hamilton, 3-1. Both squads secured a third meeting by earning quarterfinal victories last weekend. Craig Kitto and George Hunkele each have 20 points, but Kitto leads all Williams’s skaters with 11 goals, while Amherst’s Dave Cunningham owns a 13-7-1 mark between the pipes. Cunningham has deflected 538 of 583 shots this season. A win would provide Amherst or Williams with a chance to compete for the NESCAC crown tomorrow against Trinity or Bowdoin.
Conn. College vs. Williams @ Williamstown, Mass. (1 p.m.): Williams College, which entered the conference tournament has the third-seed, will host its first ever NESCAC Championship. A win on their home ice would indeed be special for Meghan Gillis’ squad, but before they plan their celebration, Williams will first have to deal with Connecticut College, a squad that won one of two meetings against the Ephs this season. Williams won their first contest, 5-2, thanks to two power play goals and a shorthanded strike by Hanna Beattie before the Camels responded the following day with a 5-1 win. Beattie secured the Ephs a spot in the semifinals by recording her 13th tally of the season at 11:36 in the final frame. The first-year skater will look to continue her postseason success against the four-best overall scoring defense. The winner of this particular matchup will meet Bowdoin or Colby in tomorrow’s championship.