Goals weren’t exactly scarce for Trinity College a year ago. The Bantams managed 3.32 a game, a decent figure that left them smack dab in the middle of the Division 3 rankings and halfway down the NESCAC.
This year, few teams are scoring more.
The Bantams (11-3, 6-2 NESCAC) are pushing Williams for first place in the league thanks to an explosive attack that’s putting 4.57 a game. Only Wisconsin-Stevens Point, UMass-Boston and St. Norbert are scoring more; all three of those teams are nationally-ranked.
“I think we’re doing a better job getting pucks to the net,” said third-year Trinity coach Matt Greason (North Bridgton, Maine). “We’re making a bigger commitment getting pucks and bodies to the net, and it’s paying off.”
Junior Jackson Brewer (12-17-29) of Newton, Mass., sophomore John Hawkrigg (9-18-27) and freshman Sean Orlando (12-10-22) have formed one of the most productive lines in the country for a team that’s scored at least five goals in five of its last six games.
But right behind that line is the trio of freshmen Ryan Cole (10-17-27) and Ethan Holdaway of Glastonbury, Conn., and junior Liam McKillop (2-8-10), a transfer from St. Anselm.
The Bantams are also cashing in on the power play, with players like sophomore Jim Burt (Hamden, Conn.) and Orlando creating traffic in front of the net, and sophomore Elie Vered adding some puck-moving skill. Only four teams in Division 3 have been more efficient than their 30 percent (24-of-80).
Only twice all year have the Bantams been held to fewer than two goals – in an early-season, 3-1 loss at stingy Amherst, and an almost inexplicable 2-0 loss to Stonehill on Dec. 5.
Both senior Ben Coultard (South Windsor, Conn.) and his heir apparent, sophomore Nathaniel Heilbron have been solid in goal. The Bantams are still working at limiting the scoring chances allowed, and the penalty kill (76.3 percent) is very much a work in progress, but the offense has covered up many of those issues.
Trinity will look to collect some more points at Conn. College and Tufts this weekend. It could conceivably finish first in the NESCAC with a strong finish, but playing well heading into the tournament is the most important thing.
“I like where we’re at right now,” said Greason. “All you want in this league is to be in a position where you can make a run in the playoffs.”
Player of the Week
Cheyne Matheson, soph., F, New England College
It was another proving-we-belong weekend for the Pilgrims and Matheson led the way, managing seven points in three games and figuring in all three goals in Saturday’s 3-2 win over UMass-Boston.
Games of the Week
Babson vs. UMass-Boston: Friday, 7 p.m. (Clark Athletic Center); Saturday (4 p.m.), Babson Skating Center
First meetings between the ECAC East contenders are crucial ones. Either team able to skate away with three points will be positioned to win the regular-season title.
NEHJ Division 3 Power Rankings
1. Norwich (12-3-2, 8-1-1 ECAC East)
Senior Shane Gorman (Trumbull, Conn.) is looking like this year’s Colin Mulvey.
2. Babson (14-3, 8-2 ECAC East)
Max Franklin (Wrentham, Mass.) had the go-ahead goals both nights in tight wins at New England College (3-2) and St. Amselm (4-3).
3. Williams (10-2-2, 6-0-2 NESCAC)
Craig Kitto’s hat trick sparked 5-1 win over Plattsburgh Saturday, the team’s signature win this season.
4. UMass-Boston (13-2-2, 6-2-2 ECAC East)
Beacons were outshot 47-25 in Saturday’s 3-2 loss at New England College, something we haven’t seen all year.
5. Johnson & Wales
(13-3, 3-2 ECAC Northeast)
Josh Obregon scored a goal both nights as Wildcats earned weekend road wins against Potsdam (2-1) and SUNY-Canton (4-2).
6. Trinity (11-3, 6-2
Bantams are popping in goals from all over the ice, evidenced by Cole’s hat trick in Saturday’s 6-3 win over Colby.
7. Bowdoin (9-4-2, 5-4-1
Polar Bears can’t seem to get any traction in the conference race, the 5-1 loss at Trinity Friday a prime example.
8. New England
College (11-5-1, 7-4 ECAC East)
Matheson scored two goals and set up the other as Pilgrims rallied from 2-0 to beat UMB Saturday.
9. Nichols (10-4-2, 3-1-1 ECAC
Needed a Sean Fleming OT goal to win a wild one at Assumption Sunday, 4-3.
10. Colby (8-5-3, 5-4-1
Mules are trending upward big-time in coach Blaise MacDonald’s (Billerica, Mass.) second year. Williams and Middlebury come to Waterville this weekend.