By Mike Zhe
At the top of the ECAC East standings, not unlike most years, is Norwich, one of three teams in Division 3 still unbeaten as seasons reach their holiday breaks.
What’s more exciting is what’s going on below it.
As teams head back to work in the days after Christmas, the next seven teams below the Cadets (10-0, 7-0 ECAC East) in the standings are all clustered within three points.
St. Anselm, Castleton and Skidmore each have four league wins to their names; Babson, UMass-Boston, New England College and Southern Maine each have three.
“It’s a good league top to bottom,” said Babson coach Jamie Rice (Newton, Mass.). “The top continues to be excellent, the middle continues to work real hard to catch the top and I think there isn’t a bottom anymore.”
The team that currently sits in second place – St. Anselm (6-2-1, 4-2-1 ECAC East) – is ineligible for the postseason tournament, as it’s classified as a Division 2 school, but has plenty of motivation to keep winning.
Senior Mike Richard (Derry, N.H.) is leading the way with nine goals and 15 points, and senior Tim King of Weymouth, Mass. (4-9-13) and sophomore Liam McKillop (6-4-10) are also off to good starts on a team that dresses six seniors nightly.
“Our senior class, they’ve won the Northeast-10 three years in a row but never finished higher than fourth or fifth in the ECAC East,” said St. A’s coach Ed Seney.
Castleton State, which had a pair of memorable battles against Norwich last year (and one not-so-memorable one in the ECAC East final) came the closest anyone has come to nicking the Cadets, losing 2-1 on Dec. 1 on a goal by Colin Mulvey (Worcester, Mass.) with 15 seconds remaining in regulation.
Proven performers Josh Harris (3-10-13), Nick Lazorko (4-7-11) and Dan Bell (4-7-11) are picking up where they left off a year ago, when they combined for 45 goals and 95 points.
The league is on hiatus until Dec. 30-31, when Castleton and Babson both take part in holiday tournaments. The next full slate of games is the first weekend in January.
Player of the
Josh Woody, F, Plymouth State
Freshman had a goal and two assists as the Panthers beat Southern New Hampshire, 5-2, on Saturday for their seventh straight win.
New England Division 3 Power Rankings
1. Norwich (10-0, 7-0 ECAC East)
Only two players in Division 3 have more assists than junior forward Travis Janke’s 12.
2. Bowdoin (9-0-1, 5-0-1 NESCAC)
Polar Bears’ average of 4.60 goals a game is tops in the NESCAC and sixth in the nation.
3. Plymouth State (8-1, 5-1 MASCAC)
Five different players scored in 5-2 win over Southern New Hampshire Saturday as Panthers closed out first half on seven-game win streak.
4. Amherst (4-2-1, 3-1 NESCAC)
Senior goalie Nathan Corey’s .941 save percentage is sixth-best in Division 3.
5. Middlebury (4-2-2, 3-1-2 NESCAC)
Panthers are scoring at a 4.38 clip, an attack led by junior Louis Belisle (7-4-11).
6. Trinity (5-1-1, 2-1-1 NESCAC)
No team in Division 3 is allowing fewer goals per game than the Bantams’ 1.29.
7. Babson (5-2-2, 3-2-1 ECAC East)
Freshman Jamie Murray (1.82 GAA, .929 save percentage) has been a pleasant addition in the Beavers’ net.
8. UMass-Boston (7-2-1, 3-2-1 ECAC East)
Senior Mike DeGrazia’s six power-play goals lead the nation.
9. Williams (6-2, 5-1 NESCAC)
Senior forward Eric Rubino’s 31 career goals are the most among current Ephmen.
10. UMass-Dartmouth (5-2-2, 4-1-1 MASCAC)
Corsairs will open up the new year with games against Neumann and possibly Norwich at Northland Savings Bank tourney in Northfield, Vt.