OPENING FACEOFF – Cam Speck and Logan DiScanio have been great friends since their youth hockey days in the Capital Region.
This weekend may not be so friendly for the duo, because they could be playing for a national championship on Sunday night.
Speck, who is from Burnt Hills, and DiScanio, a Troy native, are playing the NCAA Division III championship round at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. Speck, a junior defenseman, plays for third-ranked Endicott, which will play second-ranked Hobart in the second at 7 p.m. Friday.
DiScanio, a junior forward, leads the 10th-ranked University of New England against third-ranked Adrian in the first semifinal at 3 p.m. Friday.
Speck and DiScanio are looking forward to the weekend. When I caught up with them earlier this week, they both discussed their friendship and how much they were looking forward to playing for a title.
One of the teams they played on together was the Albany Titans.
“We were best buds back then,” Speck said. “He lived a bit away. I think he was in Albany, and I was in Burnt Hills, so it was a bit of a drive. We were 12, 13 at the time, and that group we had, most of us keep in contact to some extent today. Playing together then was awesome. It was a lot of fun, traveling around Massachusetts and everything.”
“Cam and myself played with each other growing up my whole life, [playing] for the Troy Albany Titans, the CD Selects and the Junior River Rats, so I know Cam very well,” DiScanio said. “We talk to each other throughout the year. We always talk to each other when we play each other. It’s always fun playing against him. I’m getting to play against someone who’s a really good friend of yours and someone you played with your whole life.”
Naturally, the question had to be asked about the possibility of facing off in the title game. And, like players do, Speck and DiScanio didn’t want to look ahead.
“That’d be something special,” DiScanio said. “Cam’s a great hockey player and really a nice kid. But we’re not really looking at that right now. We’re really just set on Adrian right now and trying to get through them.”
“Trying not to think about it too much,” Speck said. “We got a big one on Friday, so we can focus on that. But if it comes, I’m sure I’m going to be about as speechless as I am right now.”
Speck has been a steady defenseman for Endicott. He has four goals and eight assists in 27 games this season. Speck scored an empty-net goal to seal Endicott’s 3-0 quarterfinal win over Norwich last Saturday. He’s third on the team in plus/minus rating with a +23. Speck was named to the second team All-Commonwealth Coast Conference.
“He’s ultra athletic, he’s ultra poised [and] he’s ultra coachable,” Endicott head coach RJ Tolan said. “He’s ultra competitive, and wants to do good for the people around him. And I think he has a special relationship, and just sometimes, things work out.”
DiScanio helped La Salle win the 2017 Section II Division I championship in a dramatic 6-5 victory over Shenendehowa when he assisted on Kevin Mainello’s goal 23 seconds into the second overtime.
DiScanio is fifth on UNE in scoring with seven goals and 12 assists. He had a goal and assisted on Anthony Sciucco’s goal with 6:53 left in the first overtime to give UNE a 4-3 upset of top-ranked Utica before 3,978 fans at Adirondack Bank Center in Utica.
“It’s definitely a game I’ll never forget,” DiScanio said.
UNE head coach Kevin Swallow has been impressed with DiScanio’s play.
“He’s having an unbelievable year,” Swallow said. “He’s kind of stepping up [into] a little bit more of a bigger role this year for us as a junior. … His work ethic [and] his all-around game has been tremendous for us this year.”
Monday was the first day freshmen, sophomore and juniors could enter the NCAA hockey transfer portal.
Union, which had senior forwards Matt Allen and Christian Sanda already in the portal, saw sophomore forward Michael Hodge and freshman defenseman Greg Japchen join them.
Hodge, who has two years of eligibility left, played in just two games this season. He scored the game-winning goal in the Dutchmen’s 6-0 win over RPI on Oct. 29. Last year, Hodge had five goals and five assists in 34 games.
Japchen, who has three years of eligibility remaining, appeared in eight games and didn’t have a point.
RPI had three players enter the portal.
Sophomore forward Reid Leibold saw action in just two games this season and didn’t record a point. In 2021-22, Leibold had a goal in six games.
Junior forward James McIsaac had two goals in 16 games this season. He had a goal and an assist in 11 games in 2021-22.
Junior forward Henri Schreifeis had a goal in 21 games this season. He didn’t have a point in 18 games in 2021-22.
The trio join seniors Mason Klee, Ryan Mahshie and TJ Walsh in the portal.
Former RPI forward Zach Dubinsky, who transferred to Michigan State last year, is heading to Vermont for his final year of eligibility. Dubinsky, who had 10 goals and 10 assists in 44 games in 2021-22 for the Engineers, had just a goal and four assists in 37 games for the Spartans.
Clarkson junior goalie Ethan Haider is in the portal. Haider was 16-16-3 this season with a 2.51 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage and three shutouts. Last season, Haider posted a 13-10-5 record with a 2.39 GAA, a .908 save percentage and three shutouts.
Here’s a breakdown of the other ECAC Hockey teams whose seasons are over that have players in the portal: Brown, 7; Clarkson, 7; Dartmouth, 4; Princeton, 3; St. Lawrence, 2; and Yale, 3.
Contact Ken Schott by email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @slapschotts.
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