#11/14 Men's Hockey Weekend Preview: Beacons Battling For Playoff Positioning
#11/14 UMass Boston Men's Hockey is set for their final road trip of the 2013-14 regular season as they prepare to take on Saint Michael's College Friday night at 7 p.m. and #8/9 Norwich University Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Friday February 14
#11/14 Men's Hockey (16-4-3, 9-4-3 ECAC East) at Saint Michael's College (6-6-1, 3-13-1 ECAC East)-7 p.m.
Cairns Arena-South Burlington, Vt.
Saturday February 15
#11/14 Men's Hockey (16-4-3, 9-4-3 ECAC East) at #8/9 Norwich University (15-5-3, 11-3-2)-4 p.m.
Kreitzberg Arena-Northfield, Vt.
What's At Stake
With two games remaining in the ECAC East Regular Season, UMass Boston finds themselves sitting in third place in the conference standings, with the potential to finish anywhere between second and fourth.
While all four of the top teams in the conference earn the right to host an ECAC East Quarterfinal contest, seeding at the top matters more this year than ever before. The conference's new playoff format will be carried out over three straight Saturdays, with the top four seeds hosting February 22, the top two remaining seeds hosting the semifinals on March 1st and the highest remaining seed playing host to the ECAC East Championship Game on March 8th.
What does that mean for the Beacons? UMass Boston would love to grab the second seed for the second-straight season, to potentially earn two home playoff games and to avoid #3/5 Babson College for as long as possible.
To move up to number two, UMass Boston will need to pass second-place Norwich University-who stands three points ahead of the Beacons heading into the weekend.
For the Beacons to pass Norwich, the Beacons need Babson College to earn a victory or a tie on Friday night at Norwich. With a Babson victory over Norwich, UMass Boston would need a win or tie Friday against Saint Michael's College and a victory over Norwich. If Babson ties Norwich Friday, UMass Boston would need to win both contests to finish the regular season second.
To stay at number three, UMass Boston will need to record the same amount or more points over the weekend than New England College, since the Pilgrims swept UMass Boston during the regular season to earn the tiebreaker. New England College will travel to cellar-dwellers University of New England Friday night at 7 p.m. and University of Southern Maine Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Beacons will be looking for their fifth-straight victory over Saint Michael's College Friday night.
UMass Boston earned a 6-4 victory on January 11 when the two teams met at the Clark Athletic Center Ice Arena. After falling behind 4-1 after one period of play, the Beacons erupted for five unanswered goals led by two goals from senior captain Travis Daniel (North Brunswick, N.J.). Sophomore Billy Faust (Alta Loma, Calif.) picked up the win in relief, by making 20 saves on 20 shots in the second and third periods.
Saint Michael's College is playing their best hockey of the season after getting off to a 1-13-1 start. The Purple Knight have won five of their past eight contests including multi-goal victories over conference foes Saint Anselm College (4-2) and the University of Southern Maine (7-1). Kevin Altidor who recorded a goal and two assists against UMass Boston in the first contest, leads the Purple Knights with a team-high 14 goals and 23 points. In net, Dave Donzanti, who did not play against the Beacons, has seen the majority of the action. He has posted a team-best 3.81 goals against average and .893 save percentage, while earning five of the team's six wins on the year.
UMass Boston will be aiming to ruin Senior Day for Norwich after the Cadets handed the Beacons a 4-2 loss last season on Senior Day in Boston.
The Beacons own a 1-0-0 record against Norwich thus far this year after downing the Cadets 4-2 on January 10th at the Clark Athletic Ice Arena. UMass Boston went up 2-0 early in the second period, only to have the Cadets even the game at 2-2 with four seconds remaining in the period. Sophomore Jeremy Finger (Orlando, Fla.) scored his second goal of the game and the eventual game-winner 6:28 into the third period and Peter MacIntyre (Norfolk, Mass.) added on a power-play goal to lift UMass Boston to a 4-2 victory.
Norwich University is trying to keep their streak of 16 consecutive ECAC East Regular Season Titles intact this weekend, as they trail Babson College by three points with two games to play. Mike McShane's team is extremely young with nine freshmen having played in double-digit contests. Three seniors lead the team in goals, assists and points, as Travis Janke, Shane Gorman and Chris Duszynski are three of the four players on the roster with 20 points or more. Matic Marinsek has seen the majority of time in net this season, including allowing four goals on 28 shots in the Cadets loss to UMass Boston.