Compiled by D3hockey.com staff
Another Thanksgiving weekend brings yet another PrimeLink Great Northern ShootOut, long-considered the best holiday weekend tournament the Division III men's game has to offer. The tournament has historically brought together some of the most storied programs in DIII hockey and this year’s edition is no exception. Hosted by Norwich at Kreitzberg Arena, this year's edition again features the tournaments three staples: No. 12 Plattsburgh State, Norwich and Middlebury.
Plattsburgh State claimed the tournament title a year ago. The championship marked the fifth time the Cardinals have won the PrimeLink, with two of the titles coming in the past three years. In Friday's opening game, the Cardinals edged Middlebury 5-4, and then did the same to Norwich with a 6-5 overtime win in the championship game.
When: Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25 and 26
Where: Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena; Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Who: No. 12 Plattsburgh State (3-2-0); Norwich (5-1-1); Middlebury (0-2-0); Concordia-Moorhead (3-3-0)
Schedule: Friday: Norwich v. Middlebury, 4:00 p.m.; Concordia-Moorhead @ Plattsburgh State, 7:00
Saturday: Third Place Game, 4:00 p.m.; Championship Game, 7:00 p.m.
|Broadcasts: Video | Plattsburgh radio | Norwich radio | Middlebury radio
About the PrimeLink
Without a doubt the PrimeLink has been the premier Thanksgiving weekend tournament in the nation. This year marks the 17th edition and once again features an excellent field. The tournament began in 1998 and currently features Plattsburgh, Norwich and Middlebury as rotating hosts. The fourth team in the tournament has varied since SUNY Potsdam was dropped from the regular rotation in 2007.
Since the inaugural event in 1998, the PrimeLink champion has won the national title four times and qualified for the NCAA tournament all but three. Ten of the 18 PrimeLink champions have made it to the Frozen Four, and on six occassions they have advanced to the national championship game. This year’s field has a cumulative 36 NCAA tournament appearances in the past 16 years and has made 15 trips to the Frozen Four. 2009 marked the first time at least one PrimeLink participant failed to make the Frozen Four, though no participants have managed to advance to the season's final weekend in any of the past three seasons and this year's field boasts the lowest rankings of any field in the tournament's history.
West Region schools rounded out the field from 2007-10, with Saint John’s participating in 2007 and 2010, St. Thomas making the trip in 2008, and Wisconsin-Stout being the guest in 2009. St. Thomas returned to the field in 2012, while in 2013 UW-Superior scored the first win on behalf of the West Region as the Yellowjackets blanked Norwich in the third-place game.
Concordia-Moorhead became the first West Region team to win the tournament in 2014, while Connecticut College rounded out the field a year ago. A year belated, the Cobbers return in 2016 to defend their title in what will be their second PrimeLink appearance.
#12 PLATTSBURGH STATE CARDINALS
The Cardinals enter the weekend at 3-2-0 on the year and stand as the No. 12 ranked team in the D3hockey.com Men's Top 15. They enter the weekend on the heels of a SUNYAC weekend that saw them down Cortland, 4-3, before falling to rival Oswego State, 4-1. The Cardinals also hold wins over Fredonia State and SUNY Canton, while their other loss came at the hands of Buffalo State. Senior forwad Kyle Hall (1-3-4), sophomore forwards Cole Stallard (4-0-4) and Pat Egan (1-3-4), and junior defenseman Ayrton Valente (0-4-4) are tied for the team in in scoring, while senior Brady Rouleau (2-2-0, 3.02, .886) has seen the majority of action in goal so far this year. The Cardinals offense and defense have been middling this season as they rank just 53rd and 36th in the country, respectively.
The eight-time PrimeLink champs enter the weekend in search of their first tournament title since 2012. In a pair of outings last weekends, the Cadets fell 4-3 in overtime to Skidmore and beat Castleton, 4-0. Holders of a 5-1-1 record on the year, the Cadets currently sit outside the D3hockey.com Men's 15. Seniors have driven the Norwich engine this year as the Cadets' top five scorers are seniors. Forward Nick Pichette (6-4-10), along with Anthony Flaherty (3-5-8) and Tyler Piacentini (4-3-7) are tops on the club in scoring. Norwich has averaged an even four goals per game thus far, which stands as 17th-best in the nation, while its defense has been even more prolific and has conceded just 1.71 goals per game which ranks 9th. Senior Ty Reichenbach (3-1-1, 1.80, .914) and junior Brandon Ostepchuk (2-0-0, 1.50, .909) have both seen a solid amount of game action in goal.
The winless Panthers kicked off their season last weekend with a pair of NESCAC conference games in which they suffered a 2-1 overtime loss at Colby and a 5-3 setback at Bowdoin. The losses mark the first time since 2010 the Panthers have opened a season 0-2. Freshman forward Trevor Turbull scored twice for Middlebury last weekend while sophomore defenseman Matt Doherty and freshman forward Danny Jacobs also notched goals. Junior goaltender Stephen Klein stopped 46 of 48 shots in the loss to Colby, while his freshman counterpart Brian Ketchabaw turned back 28 of 32 against Bowdoin. The Panthers are in search of their fifth PrimeLink title and first since 2008.
The only West Region team to ever win a PrimeLink championship, the Cobbers managed the feat in 2014 when they topped Middlebury 4-3 in their opener before tying Norwich 2-2 and then winning the shootout in the title game. The Cobbers hold a 3-3-0 record on the season and have scored wins over St. Thomas, Saint Mary's and Saint John's. Idle last weekends, the Cobbers suffered losses at the hands of UW-Stevens Point and UW-Eau Claire two weeks ago. Senior forward Jeremy Johnson (0-6-6) leads the club in scoring, while junior forwards Zach Doerring (3-2-5) and Jon Grebowsky (0-5-0) are right on his heels. Fellow junior Dalton Heels' four goals are most on the team. A pair of freshman goaltenders, Jacob Stephen (2-1-0, 2.97, .912) and Sam Nelson (1-2-0, 3.02, .913), have each started three games this season and backstop a defense ranked 44th in the nation. The Cobbers' offense ranks 60th and has scored 2.50 goals per game.