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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Short Shifts 1/25: Home Ice Advantage & Same Old, Same Old

By: Luke Devoe


Home Ice Advantage
I calculated home ice records over the last 3 1/2 seasons (2010-11 to 2013-14) for all current D1 and D2 teams that frequent the same rink for all their home games.  Below are the top ten home records and winning percentages.  Some of these are simply because of lopsided schedules that some teams play but some other information is truly indicative of how good some teams are on their home ice. Remember two ties count as a win in hockey when calculating win %.

1.) Ridgefield, Winter Garden Ice Arena (31-3-1, .886)
2.) Fairfield Prep, Wonderland of Ice (29-3-2, .882)
3.) Newington-Berlin, Newington Ice Arena (25-6-3, .764)
4.) BBD, Danbury Ice Arena (25-8-0, .758)
5.) Notre Dame-West Haven, Bennett Rink (33-10-1, .750)
6.) New Canaan, Darien Ice Rink (30-9-4, .744)
7.) Darien, Darien Ice Rink (29-9-4, .738)
8.) St. Joseph, The Rinks at Shelton (20-8-0, .714)
9.) Northwest Catholic, ISCC & Newington Ice Arena 2010-11 (26-11-0, .703)
10.) Guilford, DiLungo Rink (23-9-4, .694)

* 30/38 current D1/D2 teams have a .500 or better record at home over the last 3+ seasons.
* Bolton-Coventry-Rockville is 11-2-1 (.786) over the last two seasons but were separate co-ops in 2011-12 and 2010-11.
* West Haven, Bennett Rink (18-18-3, .487) and Greenwich, Dorothy Hamill Rink (12-22-1, .345) are the only D1 teams below .500 and you can argue that West Haven is technically a .500 team on home ice.
* D2 Northford Ice Pavilion teams have these records in order of winning percentage- Branford (25-17-2, .591), Daniel Hand (21-18-4, .537), (North Haven (18-17-1, .514), North Branford (20-19-1, .513). Cheshire is (16-13-2, .531) splitting between the NIP and Wesleyan.

Same Old, Same Old
As much as we preached parity and an even playing field this season we are slowly trending back to the old stand by... Notre Dame-West Haven and Fairfield Prep are the teams to beat.  The Green Knights haven't lost since December 18, a 4-3 in overtime on the season's first day against New Canaan. Prep hasn't lost since the day after Christmas, 4-3 to Rhode Island power Bishop Hendricken in the first game of the vaunted Mount St. Charles Face Off. Prep went on to win their next two in the tournament while Hendricken went undefeated until, you guessed it, NDWH beat them 6-4 at Bennett last week. NDWH sits at 9-1-1 with 66 total state power points. Prep is 6-2-2 with 54 state power points. The next highest point total belongs to East Haven (10-1) who sits 14 points behind Prep at 40. When the two faced off, we saw a legitimate finals preview in a 4-4 tie at the Wonderland that was certainly one for the ages. While there are definitely teams that could knock off both squads this year, we saw it earlier in the year when New Canaan topped ND and Darien was able to defensively defeat Prep (1-0 on 12/21), both these teams are generating momentum and starting to roll. They haven't done this against non-quality opponents either. They are two of three teams to play a strictly all-D1 schedule every year, Hamden is the other. NDWH's opponents to this point are a combined 64-44-6. Prep's are an even more impressive 68-28-8. If you take into account D1's third place team East Haven, their opponents, mainly D2 teams, are a combined 40-64-5. Every year there are solid FCIAC clubs that post impressive win/loss records but fizzle out when faced with the state tournament. Teams like ND Fairfield and Glastonbury as well as proven past powers Hamden and West Haven pose as contenders only to cower to Prep and ND's dominance. East Haven has been labeled the next best thing since sliced bread by my favorite local newspaper but lost convincing 6-3 when they had the chance to hush all the NDWH hype. This may serve as a rallying cry for many local clubs eager to get out of the Knights' and Jesuits' respective shadows. I hope it does. Nothing would be better for the state to see someone take these two down. But, as of now, I don't see it happening. NDWH gets Hamden today, certainly a team capable of pulling the upset but it would take a complete effort and a flawless game. The same goes for Xavier against Prep on Wednesday and really any team facing these two here on out.

Three To See Today
I already made my Elite Predictions for the Week, they can be found by clicking here, but I'm going to pick three games that intrigue me the most today.

1.) Hamden @ NDWH 3:30, Bennett Rink   NDWH gets another quality test today. The Knights narrowly dropped their first game since 12/18 when Xavier took them to overtime last week. Hamden and the Falcons are very comparable teams. In that one, Xavier played a nearly flawless game. Hamden will need to get production from more than the Rascati-Routh-Carignan line while NDWH will have to simply continue doing what's been successful for them to this point. It'll be interesting to see who Head Coach Tim Belcher opts to go with in net. Wade Conlan looked as if he'd wrestled the starting job from Justin Daddio but Daddio was fantastic in backstopping the Knights to a win over RI's Bishop Hendricken last week. I will be at this one, come chirp me or shake my hand... if you can find me, that is.

2.) Darien @ Trinity Catholic 3:10, Terry Connors Rink   Trinity Catholic is the lone undefeated team in the state. They have three underclassmen averaging over two points a game (Colin Bernard 20 points, Griffin Northrop 19 points, Eryk Wielgos 17 points). Not to mention senior Will Egan continuing to provide steady production and leadership on a nightly basis. They have one of the state's best goalies in junior Kyle Odierno. That's all great. They have not played a team even close to the quality that Darien brings each and every time out. I'd say to this point the Crusaders' best win would be a 3-2 final over Amity earlier in the year. This is precisely why I'm so interested in this matchup. If they can somehow stop the Wave, they announce their presence as a bona fide D2 contender. They can really do this with a close, hotly contested loss as well. Darien comes in strong. They've beaten Prep, haven't lost since opening night to Hamden and at this point, are the best FCIAC team going. They're deep and have an excellent goalie in Mike Colon. I think Darien wins, but wouldn't it be a great story if Trinity Catholic could continue this improbable run.

3.) Northwest Catholic @ Fermi-Enfield 3:50, Enfield Twin Rinks   Inconsistency has plagued Fermi over the past few years. They post wins like they did last night over Simsbury and follow it up by getting drubbed. They've battled this year, losing closely to East Catholic, Suffield-Granby-WL and South Windsor and sit as a .500 team. This one can go in one of two ways. The quick turnover from an emotional Friday night win over a quality D1 team could cause for some tired legs and inflated egos. Or, it could allow Fermi to have the confidence this team has seemed to lack in the past. A confidence, that would tell them they can play with anyone. Northwest Catholic comes in kind of tough to read. The Indians are only 1-3-1 over their last five. If I'm Fermi, I'm thinking they are ripe for the picking. If I'm NWC, I wouldn't overlook Fermi. I haven't seen either team (I'll finally see NWC next Wednesday vs. EH) so to speak on their on ice exploits rather than their past performance wouldn't be fair but I think this one will be close and I think Fermi can pull the upset.

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