Daily Noontime (Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020)

By NoontimeSports.com

Welcome to Thursday, everyone!

It is rather gloomy outside our home office, but that won’t stop us from thinking positive thoughts – we are an upbeat, positive media outlet. You know that right?

Alright, let’s get to some news, beginning with yesterday afternoon’s exciting announcement from the Hockey East.

The Hockey East Association plans to drop the puck for the 2020-21 season next Friday, November 20. Games for the opening weekend, as well as the first few weeks will be aired on NESN while other contests will be seen “through its partnership with ViacomCBSDigital.”

“We’re excited to make this announcement today, and very appreciative of all the hard work by so many in making it happen,” said Steve Metcalf, who is the league’s commissioner, in a statement.

Metcalf would continue by adding, “We’ve worked closely with all our member institutions in establishing protocols in an effort to play as safely as possible, while also giving our teams a complete and meaningful season.”

According to Wednesday’s release from the Hockey East, the league’s 11 men’s teams will compete in 20 contests this winter while its 10 women’s programs will skate in 18 games.

Prior to yesterday’s announcement from the Hockey East, Atlantic Hockey shared similar news last month about its ‘return to play‘ with games beginning later this month.

Staying in the college sports world, the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) also made an announcement yesterday about winter sports – the CCC remains “hopeful that our winter teams will have the opportunity to compete in the 2020-21 academic year.

Other New England NCAA D-III conferences have canceled winter sports competition, mainly conference play and championships, but did leave the door open for its various schools to pursue non-conference contests, pending it safe to do so.

According to D3Hoops.com, only a small number of conferences and schools have elected to cancel or “call off” competition for its winter sports teams. And there are a few schools on this list from both Massachusetts and other parts of New England.

While we do like to keep things positive, we do need to share a heartbreaking (and very sad) report: Penn State‘s Journey Brown is retiring from football due to heart condition, which the 21-year-old halfback discovered during “a routine COVID-19 test in early September.”

The news of Brown’s retirement was announced last night by his coach James Franklin, who did tell reporters that the condition is not related to COVID-19.

Brown shared an emotional tweet last night to his followers – he admitted he did not “expect to make it this far, but it’s about the Journey.”

We wish Brown all the best in the coming days and weeks – maybe we could see him on the sidelines as a coach with Franklin?

Alright, that will do it for now, but make sure to stop by later for another blog or two, and remember to keep smiling, everyone!

Four D-III Football Games Have Been Played This Fall

By NoontimeSports.com

The fourth NCAA D-III football game of the 2020 season is in the books as Bluffton University captured its only contest of the fall semester yesterday by defeating Adrian College, 28-21.

Bluffton University won its only game of the fall semester on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bluffton University Athletics)

Bluffton, which won’t return to Salzman Stadium until next February, was led by Darian Greeley, who rushed for a game-high 285 yards on 41 carries and three touchdowns while Brady Hauenstein paced the Beavers defense with seven total tackles. He also registered one forced fumble.

Yesterday’s contest marked the end to a few games that have been played this month – one more D-III game remains on the calendar for next month with Coast Guard Academy visiting Merchant Marine for the Secretaries’ Cup.

Coast Guard Academy is the only New England school competing this fall – as of now, nothing has been confirmed or reported about the potential for other teams in the region, including here in Massachusetts, to play a few games next spring.

As of this morning, Bluffton and Trine University remain the only D-III squads without a single setback – the Thunder have scored wins this month over Adrian and Manchester University.

For more NCAA D-III football coverage and news, make sure to check out the latest In The D3FB Huddle show with Frank Rossi and James Baker!

Basketball Notebook: Sheldon Announces Retirement From Tufts University

Bob Sheldon, who has coached the Tufts University men’s basketball team for three decades, announced his retirement Thursday. (PHOTO COURTESY: TuftsNow)

By Matt Noonan 

Prior to yesterday’s announcement from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) regarding an update on the upcoming winter sports season, which has been canceled, Bob Sheldon, who has guided the Tufts University men’s basketball team for the past 33 years, announced he will be stepping down effectively on Thursday, December 31, 2020. 

Matt Malone, who has been an assistant under Sheldon for the past 15 years, will take over as the interim coach, according to Wednesday’s (Oct. 7) release from the Tufts University athletic department

Sheldon and the Jumbos matched a program record for wins (23) this past winter while capturing their first-ever NESCAC Tournament Championship by outlasting Colby College in double-overtime

“I was getting near the end of my career as it was, and then when Covid came up and the craziness with that, I just felt that it was time for me to go,” said Sheldon, via the Tufts athletic department story, which can be seen (and read) on the school’s athletic website. 

Sheldon noted he “went back and forth” with his decision to retire, but seems content with his choice to leave a program that he believes is in “a good spot going forward.” 

Prior to their season concluding earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tufts won a pair of NCAA D-III Tournament games in Medford, including a come-from-behind win over Western Connecticut in the opening round. 

Sheldon, who is the program’s all-time winningest coach, would have entered his team’s 2020-21 season as one of the Top 25 NCAA D-III winningest coaches after being named the NESCAC and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Northeast Region Coach of the Year in March. 

The 2020-21 NESCAC winter sports season has been canceled: As noted above, the NESCAC became the first New England D-III conference to cancel its upcoming winter sports season on Thursday, October 7, after postponing its fall season on Friday, July 10

While health and safety were stressed in yesterday’s release regarding the decision by the conference’s presidents, the NESCAC did note that some of their schools have made “significant modifications” to their current academic calendar, which would limit the number of games each program would be able to compete in.  

The NESCAC has made no announcement regarding spring sports – an update will most likely come in a few months – but the conference did say the league’s 11 schools could schedule non-conference games if they choose to. However, D3Sports.com has reported that some schools within the conference have already made decisions for its various winter sports programs, including Middlebury College, which announced yesterday that they “will not hold any athletic competitions during the winter season.” 

Elms College to join the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC): While it is uncertain if and when Elms College will resume athletic competition in the next few weeks or months, the athletic department did announce some exciting news earlier this week about joining the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) for the 2022-23 school year. 

The Blazers currently compete in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) and would join a former member of the eight-team league – that would be Dean College – which joined the GNAC as a full-time member at the start of the current academic year (2020-21)

Both Elms College basketball teams competed last winter in the NECC Tournament with the women’s squad advancing to the conference championship game against Mitchell College

The GNAC has welcomed a few new schools to its conference over the past few years, including Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts in 2017, and Colby-Sawyer in 2018. 

D3 Football Returns With Trine Topping Adrian

The Trine University football team returned to the field today for the first NCAA D-III game of 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY: Trine University Athletics)

By Matt Noonan 

If you’re a fan of NCAA D-III football, then this post is for you as Trine University and Adrian College competed this afternoon with the Thunder scoring a 44-27 victory in Adrian, Michigan

The game marked the official return for D-III football – a majority of the teams remain on the sidelines, but apparently, four teams in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio are playing a “round-robin” format this month, according to D3Football.com. 

Trine’s Xaine Kirby highlighted his team’s initial win of the season by rushing for a game-high 141 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns while Alex Price completed 6 of 16 passes for 129 yards and two scores. 

The Thunder led by at least one score after the first and second quarters before Adrian closed the gap late in the third when Jack Wurzer connected with Jimmie Clark for a 25-yard touchdown pass which brought the Bulldogs within one point (28-27). Trine would counter on the ensuing possession with Price connecting with Michael Chandle on a 42-yard pass before Kirby recorded the team’s final score during the final session. 

Adrian’s Jack Wurzer ended the contest with three touchdown passes and 231 passing yards while James Tow led both the Bulldogs defense and all defenders with a game-high 14 total tackles. 

Trine will return to action next Saturday, October 10 when they host Manchester University for a 1 p.m. kickoff. Adrian will be idle next weekend but will visit Manchester for a 6 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, October 17. 

Fall Sports Update: Thomas, UMPI To Compete In October

By NoontimeSports.com 

Earlier today, the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Thomas College announced they would be competing in a mini fall sports series, beginning this Saturday, October 3 when the two schools compete in a men’s golf match, as well as with a men’s and women’s cross country meet. 

In addition to competing on the golf and cross country courses, both schools will also compete against each other in soccer, as well, with each institution serving as the home team on Saturday, October 10 and October 17.

UMPI and Thomas will also compete for a second time in golf on Sunday, October 11, and cross country on Sunday, October 18. 

As noted on both athletic departments’ websites, social distancing and masking will be “used when possible during competitions.” Additionally, both schools will permit spectators, but only a limited number while members of the media will be allowed to attend these contests, but will have to coordinator coverage through both athletic departments’ communication offices. 

Both schools are members of the North Atlantic Conference (NAC). Here is the release from both schools: Thomas College and the University of Maine at Presque Isle

Thomas-UMPI October Weekend Series Schedule 

Saturday, October 3, 2020 

  • Thomas Men’s Golf at UMPI Men’s Golf (Time TBD)
  • Thomas Men’s & Women’s Cross Country at UMPI Men’s & Women’s Cross Country (Time TBD) 

Saturday, October 10, 2020 

  • Thomas Men’s Soccer vs. UMPI (Time TBD)
  • Thomas Women’s Soccer vs. UMPI (Time TBD)

Sunday, October 11, 2020 

  • Thomas Men’s Golf vs. UMPI Men’s Golf (at Waterville Country Club) (Time TBD)

Saturday, October 17, 2020 

  • Thomas Men’s Soccer at UMPI Men’s Soccer (Time TBD) 
  • Thomas Women’s Soccer at UMPI Women’s Soccer (Time TBD)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

  • Thomas Men’s & Women’s Cross Country vs. UMPI Men’s & Women’s Cross Country (Time TBD)