Plattsburgh State snags automatic bid
Notes: Comley leaves Michigan State with 783 career wins
When Fredonia upset No. 1 Oswego on February 26 in the SUNYAC semifinals, the Blue Devils opened the door wide for a second team from the conference to play for the NCAA Division III Championship.
On Saturday, the Cardinals of Plattsburgh State sprinted through that doorway, running over the Blue Devils to do it.
Cody Adams scored the game-winning goal and added an assist, 10 different players recorded points, and the Cardinals defeated the Blue Devils, 4-1 to claim the 2011 SUNYAC Championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Championship tournament.
While Adams was the offensive hero, recording half as many points against the Blue Devils as he did in the 27 preceding games, it was sophomore goaltender Josh Leis who was named the tournament MVP and the SUNYAC Player of the Week. Leis made 20 saves on 21 shots, only allowing an extra-attacker goal to the Blue Devils’ Ben Waldman with 1:22 remaining in the game. In three tournament games, Leis stopped 83 of 89 shots.
With the win, the SUNYAC will not only have two entries in the tournament, but two teams with first-round byes. Both Oswego, which spent much of the season battling it out with St. Norbert for the No. 1 ranking in the nation, and the Cardinals have been placed in the quarterfinals, which will take place on Saturday. The No. 3 Lakers will host the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 7 Bowdoin and No. 12 Neumann, while No. 4 Plattsburgh will get the winner of No. 2 Norwich and Curry.
Need to Know
• The comforts of home were anything but comfortable in the first round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs, as three of the four home teams were upset over the weekend. Fifth-seeded Rensselaer saw its NCAA tournament hopes likely dashed, as Robbie Bourdon’s goal at 10:06 of double overtime sent Colgate on to the conference quarterfinals, leaving the No. 20 Engineers sitting on the bubble. Elsewhere, St. Lawrence came back from a 4-1 loss at Princeton on Friday to defeat the Tigers with a 3-2 win on Saturday and a 2-1 win on Sunday, while Harvard continued its late-season surge with a 2-1 win at Clarkson on Friday and a 6-4 win against the Golden Knights on Saturday. The Crimson, with seven wins in its last eight games, will face No. 18 Dartmouth in the conference quarterfinals, with the Saints traveling to No. 3 Yale and the Raiders visiting No. 4 Union, the regular-season champion. Eighth-seed Quinnipiac, which dispatched Brown with a pair of 4-0 victories, will travel to fourth-seeded Cornell.
• With only five teams, the ECAC West does not qualify for an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship, but the conference will be represented by two teams in the tournament. No. 6 Elmira, a 5-1 winner versus Neumann in the conference title game, earned a bye to the quarterfinals, and will face No. 5 Adrian in an NCAA quarterfinal. The Knights, meanwhile, earned an at-large bid of their own, and will travel to No. 7 Bowdoin in a first-round game on Wednesday.
• Michigan State played for more than 160 minutes over the weekend to try to extend the coaching career of Rick Comley, but with a goal 3:18 into double overtime on Saturday night at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, Nanooks forward Nik Yaremchuk brought an end to the Spartans’ season, and with it, Comley’s career. Comley, who announced in January that he would retire at the end of Michigan State’s season, leaves Michigan State with a career record of 783 wins, 615 losses and 110 ties. He coached Northern Michigan to the 1991 NCAA Championship, then did the same with the Spartans in 2007, making him one of only two coaches in NCAA hockey history to win NCAA Championships at two different schools (Boston College’s Jerry York is the other).
• Bowdoin freshman goaltender Steve Messina was named the NESCAC Player of the Week, after backstopping the No. 7 Polar Bears to their first NESCAC Championship. On Saturday, Messina stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced in a 3-1 victory against rival Colby, a performance he followed with a 47-save effort in a 5-2 win against host Williams.
• Boston College junior forward Cam Atkinson was named the Hockey East Player of the Week after leading the No. 2 Eagles to a pair of wins against then-No. 7 New Hampshire. With two goals (including one shorthanded) on Friday, Atkinson helped the Eagles move past the Wildcats into first place in the Hockey East standings. Then, on Saturday, after UNH had taken a 2-0 lead, Atkinson assisted on Barry Almeida’s goal to make it 2-1, then scored the tying goal with 13 seconds left in the middle frame, setting the stage for BC’s 4-3 win to clinch the regular-season title.
• St. Norbert senior defenseman Nick Tabisz was named to the All-NCHA team for the fourth consecutive year. He was joined on the All-NCHA blueline by teammate Mike Bernardy, while goaltender B.J. O’Brien, the NCHA Player of the Year, and forwards Johan Ryd and Brandon Longley made it five of 12 all-conference selections for the league champion Green Knights.
• National rookie scoring leader T.J. Tynan of Notre Dame was named to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. The native of Orland Park, Ill.,who was joined on the team by Fighting Irish teammate Anders Lee, is No. 17 in the nation overall in scoring with 1.28 points per game.
• Wisconsin-Superior fell to St. Norbert in the NCHA title game by a 2-1 score, but the Yellowjackets could get a second shot at the Green Knights in the Division III quarterfinals. The winner of Superior’s first-round game against Hamline will travel to De Pere on Saturday on take on the No. 1 Green Knights.