Conference previews
USCHO writers will be previewing their conferences this week. We’ve expanded our stable of writers this season, with one writer per conference, so the various teams in some conferences that had a shared writer should receive more coverage this season. Each Friday, the writers will offer picks on the various games, while on Monday, one writer will offer a summary of some of the weekend action. D-III Editor Candace Horgan steps in for the first full action summary.

Weather delay
Due to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, the game between D-III Fredonia and D-I Penn State, set for Fredonia Tuesday night, has been postponed. It has been rescheduled for Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. The game slated for Saturday between Penn State and Buffalo State Nov. 3 is still on schedule.

Rolling right along
Two-time defending NCAA D-III champion St. Norbert, which has won three titles in fives years, opened its 2012-13 campaign in impressive fashion with three shutouts from last year’s USCHO D-III Rookie of the Year David Jacobson. The offense is untracked as well, scoring four, seven, and four goals, respectively, in the first three games, and led by senior Kyle Stoh, who has notched six points to lead the Green Knights. Looking at how loaded the Green Knights are, other teams have reason to be green with envy, and a third straight NCAA crown for coach Tim Coghlin looks like a definite possibility.

Also looking strong out of the gate is last year’s runner-up Oswego, which opened with a 7-4 win over Cortland and a 9-0 thrashing of Elmira. A game against Geneseo looms large for Oswego this Saturday.

Explosive offenses
St. Norbert and Oswego weren’t the only teams racking up the goals this weekend. Honart crushed Salve Regina, 10-0, on Friday, and then needed five goals the next night to edge Cortland, 5-4. USCHO columnist Roman Uschak picked the Statesmen to finish first in the ECAC West this season (as did the coaches), and freshman Mac Olson looks strong right away, having scored five points to share the Statesmen’s scoring lead with Frank Salituro.

Other teams racking up impressive numbners inlcude Plattsburgh, Wisconsin-River Falls, St. Mary’s, and Postsdam. One of the interesting results was in the MIAC Showcase for St. Mary’s, which triumphed 7-2 over Bethel, then got crushed, 8-1, by St. John’s.

Goaltending strong
Last year, Milwaukee School of Engineering was led by goaltending standout Connor Toomey, an All-USCHO third-team selection. Toomey is gone to graduation, but freshman Nick Kohn looked strong in the Raiders’ sweep of Concordia (Wis.), posting a 1.50 goals against average and .948 save percentage. Senior Jordan Keizer, an All-USCHO second-team selection last season, posted five points to get untracked early. A series with Adrian on Nov. 9-10 should prove a stout early season test for MSOE.

MIAC Showcase
The three-day MIAC Showcase produced many interesting games, aside from the St. Mary’s results. Last season’s MIAC tournament winner Gustavus Adolphus was the only undefeated team on the weekend, taking a 2-0 decision over Hamline and a 5-1 win over Concorida (Minn.). Last season’s regular season champ, St. Thomas, battled St. Olaf to a 2-2 draw in the final action of the weekend. Those two squads had played a thrilling semifinal game in the MIAC tournament, with the Oles upsetting the Tommies, 4-2, so the early season matchup showed what should be a rivetting rivalry this season.

Final NCHA season
Over in D-I, much of the focus is on the looming realignment for the schools in the WCHA, CCHA and Hockey East, all of which were affected by the announcement of the Big Ten hockey conference and subsequent formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. D-III is experiencing its own realignment, as the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association will end after this season when the Wisconsin schools move to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. St. Norbert and St. Scholastica are moving to the MCHA after this year.

The latter opened conference play in the NCHA’s final season by splitting with Wisconsin-Superior, starting with a 5-1 win Friday before dropping a tight 6-4 decision the following night. After battling to a 4-4 draw through two periods, Andy Singerhouse notched an unassisted game-winning goal at 6:01, while Kyle Leahy added an empty-netter to seal the win at 19:46.

Also in NCHA play, Wisconsin Eau-Claire swept Wisconsin-Stout on the weekend.