They say hardly anything changes on New Year's Day, but as we wake up on the turn of the calendar, a lot already has in the Division III hockey landscape. The Codfish Bowl has a back-to-back champion, Middlebury pulled off a stunner to claim its own tournament, Northland dialed the Blugolds number - again, and the women's unbeaten ranks are now a team thinner than when the gifts were under the tree. Let's have a look at some of the top games and storylines of the weekend that was.
In a field that featured four teams that are receiving votes or better in the D3hockey.com Top 15, the team receiving the fewest votes stood alone on Saturday evening. Salve Regina won a second consecutive Codfish Bowl crown by handling a pair of top 10 opponents. They dealt No. 7 Adrian a third consecutive loss for just the second time in the Bulldogs' history, and followed that up with late game heroics in a 3-2 win over No. 9 UMass Boston to grab a hold of the title.
While they fell at some point during the weekend, UMass Boston and Adrian also walked away partial winners. They both made statements at the expense of previously ranked Williams College over the course of the weekend as well, giving them each a quality win on one of the toughest weekends to win during the regular season.
Salve Regina 6, Adrian 2
The Bulldogs kept control of the shots by a fairly large 40-24 margin, but a lopsided goaltending matchup became the story as the Seahawks overtook Adrian. Blake Wojtala was as strong as he needed to be for Salve with 38 saves, while starter Nikita Babintsev struggled for the Bulldogs, allowing four goals on fifteen shots before getting yanked for Dillon Kelley in the third period. Offensively, Jack Billings continued a remarkable season with a four point outing on two goals and two assists. Dino Balsamo and Ryan Cusin, who was playing on his former home ice at Umass Boston, each had a goal and an assist for Adrian.
Umass Boston 9, Williams 3
The entire day was lopsided at Beacon Ice Arena, and a detrimental fate also awaited the Ephs as the high powered Beacon offense ran star goaltender Michael Pinios out of the crease with three goals in their first thirteen shots, and five goals in a seven goal third added to the Beacons' festivities as they won in a rout at home. Colin Larkin's two goals and two assists set the pace for the Beacons, who were a strong 3-of-5 on the power play for the day.
Adrian 4, Williams 0
Goaltending was much better for Adrian in their tournament finale. Dillon Kelley pitched a shutout in the crease, and the Bulldogs got out of their slide with a 4-0 triumph against Williams in the consolation game. Trevor Boyd led the way with a pair of goals, while Bryan Yim and Kyle Brothers had one each. Adrian's inter-regional stretch continues with a long anticipated matchup with Trinity on Tuesday.
Salve Regina 3, UMass Boston 2
Tournament MVP Blake Wojtala was outstanding again with 41 saves, and high drama in the third period resulted as UMass Boston erased a 2-0 deficit created by the Seahawks' Pat Thompson and Vincenzo Renda, with goals of their own from Justin Holliday and Jack Riley, the latter coming at 11:17 of the third to set up a fight to the finish. Erik Uhdahl brought the tilt to a close with an 11th hour goal for the Seahawks, as he shelfed one over the shoulder of goaltender Bailey MacBurnie with just 11 seconds to play to bust the tie, and give Salve a second straight Codfish Bowl win in just their second appearance. That has not been done since the 1960s, when Boston State, part of the future UMass Boston, won five in a row at the start of the tournament's history. MacBurnie stopped 25 in the loss for UMass Boston.
MIDDLEBURY INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
No. 2 Oswego 3, Middlebury 4
The true shocker of the weekend may have happened at Kenyon Arena. After finally completing a long first half ascent to the No. 2 spot in the D3hockey.com Top 15, the Lakers may be the next team to relinquish that spot after Sunday's championship loss. Mitch Allen made the difference for the Panthers, as his two third period goals gave Middlebury the lead on two different occasions, the second permanently, as the Panthers took down the Lakers by a 4-3 score. Quick first period answers by Middlebury helped the Panthers to keep the pace in a first period that held just fourteen combined shots in its confines. Oswego's Tyson Bruce opened the scoring for the Lakers just 2:22 in, and that was negated by a Trevor Turnbull tally before the five minute mark. David Ferreira gave the Lakers separation a second time late in the period, and the Panthers would also wipe that out with David Belluche's second of the year with just 50 seconds remaining. A scoreless second set the table for Middlebury's unlikely hero, as Allen scored his first two goals of the season to give Middlebury the tournament title.
St. Michael's topped Neumann in the consolation game, 4-2.
Marian 6, UW-Superior 1
It was a matter of the Hunters, and the Hunted in Superior. Marian had the Hunters, as goaltender Hunter Vorva won his eighth game of the season with 12 saves, and Hunter Stewart scored twice as the Sabres completely overpowered the Jackets to hoist the tournament spoils at Wessman Arena. It was a tight game through forty minutes of action, as the Sabres did not assume the permanent lead until 1:45 of the second, when Clay Cross's second of the year put Marian up 2-1. The Sabres then bolted ahead with reckless abandon, scoring the next four in the third period to secure the win.
NO. 9 CAMEL WOMEN SWEEP WILLIAM SMITH
In just their fourth season of competition, the William Smith Herons have undoubtedly made a lot of noise. The rising program entered the Christmas holiday with an undefeated record with a 7-0-2 run in their first nine, including a 4-0-2 UCHC record. It took their toughest test yet, the No. 9 Connecticut College Camels, to change that. The Camels prevailed by the thinnest of margins on Saturday, as Elena Gualteri's second period goal broke up an otherwise sterling goaltending duel between Bailey Mertz and Maggie Salmon in a 1-0 Camel win. The Camels pulled together an even better performance on Sunday in a 4-0 win, with Erin Dillon netting a goal and an assist.
The Camels are now 6-2-1, while the Herons are 7-2-2.