Lakers hold No. 1 spot as conference championship looms

For the third consecutive week, the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team is the top-ranked team in Division III according to the latest Men’s Ice Hockey Poll released Monday afternoon. The Lakers received 296 total points and 16 first-place votes. Oswego State defeated SUNY Fredonia, 8-3, in the SUNYAC semifinal on Saturday night and will host fourth-ranked SUNY Plattsburgh on the SUNYAC Final at the Campus Center Ice Arena on Saturday, March 3. The Lakers are the only team in Division III to amass 22 wins this season. The Cardinals remained at No. 4 after winning a marathon game against Buffalo State in the other SUNYAC semifinal game. Plattsburgh’s Mark Constantine scored the game-winning goal in triple overtime to propel Plattsburgh into the SUNYAC Final. The two team played a grand total of 111 minutes, with the Cardinals outshooting the Bengals, 71-41.

Norwich University holds the No. 2 spot in the rankings and received two first-place votes. The Cadets are one of two teams to have 21 wins this season after defeating the University of New England, 5-0, in the opening round of the ECAC East conference playoffs. Norwich will play Southern Maine in the ECAC East semfinals on Friday night in Norwich. Amherst continues its winning ways and remains at No. 3 after winning its ninth straight game. The Lord Jeffs shut out Hamilton College, 6-0, in the first round of the NESCAC playoffs and advanced to play Williams College on Saturday in the NESCAC semifinals. Amherst received the final two first-place votes in the poll. St. Norbert rounds out the top five after blanking Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 2-0, to advance to the NCHA Final against Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Saturday with an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament on the line.

Both Adrian College and Castleton College moved up one spot each, as the Bulldogs now sit at No. 6 and the Spartans at No. 7. Adrian received a bye to the MCHA semifinals while Caslteton edged New England College to advance to the ECAC East semifinals, where it will face Skidmore College. St. Thomas dropped two spots to No. 8 after losing to St. Olaf in the MIAC semifinals. Bowdoin jumped up three spots into the top 10 at No. 9, defeating Trinity in the opening round of the NESCAC tournament. The Polar Bears will face Middlebury in the NESCAC semifinals. Milwaukee School of Engineering remains at No. 10 after narrowly escaping Lake Forest to advance to the MCHA semifinals.

Gustavus Adolphus also moved up three spots in this week’s poll, moving to No. 11 after advancing to the MIAC Finals to play St. Olaf with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line. Gustavus defeated St. Johns to advance. Neumann returned to the top 15 after a rough mid-season losing streak, coming in at No. 12. The Knights upset Elmira College in overtime in the ECAC West semifinals and will play Hobart in the finals. The ECAC West winner is not guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament. As a result of the loss, Elmira dropped four spots down to No. 13 and will have to wait until next Sunday to find out if its resume is strong enough to get into the NCAA tournament. Wisconsin-River Falls remains in the top 15 at No. 14 despite losing in the opening round of NCHA playoffs last weekend. Wisconsin-Stevens Point cracks the top 15 at No. 15 and will play for the NCHA championship against St. Norbert.

Utica and St. Scholastica dropped out of the top 15.

Other teams receiving votes into the top 15 include St. Scholastica, Middlebury, Wentworth, Utica, St. Olaf, Hobart and Williams. Men’s Poll (2/27/11)

1. Oswego State (16)

2. Norwich (2)

3. Amherst (2)

4. Plattsburgh

5. St. Norbert

6. Adrian

7. Castleton

8. St. Thomas

9. Bowdoin

10. Milwaukee School of Engineering

11. Gustavus Adolphus

12. Neumann

13. Elmira

14. Wisconsin-River Falls

15. Wisconsin-Stevens Point

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