ECAC PREVIEW: Jan. 3-7, 1997 ECAC Preview: Jan. 3-7, 1997 by Jayson Moy
The ECAC was the conference of champions during the holiday season. In seven holiday tournaments, ECAC teams took home four titles, finished second in three, third in three, and did not place last in any.
The titles were won by RPI in its own RPI Invitational, St. Lawrence at the Auld Lang Syne Classic in Hanover, N.H., Cornell in the Syracuse Invitational and St. Lawrence again in the Pepsi Classic in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Second-place finishers included Brown in the RPI tournament, Dartmouth at the Auld Lang Syne and Yale in the Denver Cup.
Overall in tournament action, ECAC teams went a combined 12-4 against non-ECAC foes. This included a 7-1 mark against Hockey East rivals, 3-1 against CCHA foes, 1-0 against independents and 1-2 against WCHA teams.
In non-tournament action, ECAC teams dominated again. Princeton and Union went a combined 4-0, sweeping Notre Dame and Mankato State respectively.
Updating the current ECAC-vs.-other-conferences standings:
vs. Hockey East 26-10- 2 vs. CCHA 9- 7- 0 vs. WCHA 1- 8- 0 vs. independents 6- 0- 1
Now that holiday hockey is complete, it’s time to resume the battle for the Whitelaw Trophy with a full slate of ECAC action this weekend.
Princeton (11-3-2, 6-2-1 ECAC, T-1st) & Yale (5-5-2, 3-5-1 ECAC, T-7th) at RPI (9-4-2, 4-1-1 ECAC, T-4th) Friday & Saturday, 7:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., Houston Fieldhouse, Troy, N.Y.
Yale (5-5-2, 3-5-1 ECAC, T-7th) & Princeton (11-3-2, 6-2-1 ECAC, T-1st) at Union (8-7-1, 2-4-1 ECAC, 9th) Friday & Saturday, 7:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., Achilles Rink, Schenectady, N.Y.
Princeton is in first place in the ECAC heading back into the conference schedule. Princeton is coming off a sweep of Notre Dame at home, 5-2 and 3-2, the second in overtime.
The Tigers were in the same position in 1989-90 — first place with a 5-3-1 record. That year Princeton went 6-7-0 the rest of the way (still finishing with its only over-.500 league record to date) and wound up in the preliminary round of the ECAC tournament, losing to Yale. The Tigers hope to keep the momentum going this year.
Mark Salsbury was the Tiger goaltender that year, and recorded the best save percentage in Tiger history with a .901 mark. This year, it’s a combination of goaltenders for Don Cahoon’s squad. Nick Rankin and Erasmo Saltarelli have been the main guys. Rankin has a 5-2-0 mark, a 2.80 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
The offensive stars for Princeton this weekend were Scott Bertoli and Jeff Halpern. Bertoli scored two goals on Sunday, including the overtime winner with 19 seconds left, and has a team-leading eight tallies after a two-week drought. Halpern scored two on Saturday evening.
Yale is another surprise in the ECAC, due to its youth. One key has been the emergence of freshman forward Jeff Hamilton. Hamilton was named ECAC Rookie of the Week a few weeks ago, and has been a key ingredient for the offense. He had two goals and an assist in the Denver Cup, and now has six goals and nine assists for 15 points on the season.
The Denver Cup went fairly well for the Bulldogs, with a 7-3 win over Air Force and a 3-2 overtime loss to host Denver in the championship game. The Bulldogs look like a different team from a year ago, when they struggled to win four league games.
Josh Rabjohns had his first two goals of the year in the win over Air Force, and Keith McCullough added a goal in the championship game.
Alex Westlund made 26 saves in Friday’s win, and Dan Choquette had 28 saves in the overtime loss. Westlund is among the leaders in the ECAC with a 2.71 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
After winning its own tournament with victories over Mass-Amherst 9-5 and Brown 6-3, RPI is now 5-0-2 following a stretch in which it was shut out in three consecutive games.
RPI tournament MVP and ECAC Player of the Week Eric Healey has been instrumental in the Engineers’ streak. He has nine goals and five assists in the past seven games.
His linemates, Matt Garver and Alain St.-Hilaire, have also been on fire. The three combined for 18 points in the two games of the tournament. Garver’s return from a shoulder injury has coincided with the unbeaten streak; he has one goal and eleven assists in the six games since his return. St.-Hilaire has five goals and six assists during the streak.
"That whole line, Eric with Alain and Garver work real well together," said head coach Dan Fridgen. "[They have] good instincts as to where they will be and they’re always one play ahead of each other."
Another offensive star for the Engineers during the tournament was assistant captain and all-tournament team member Doug Battaglia. Battaglia had three goals and three assists to earn his honors.
Union thrashed independent Mankato State 8-2 and 6-1 to earn its first weekend sweep at home since the final weekend of the 1993-94 season, when it swept Colgate and Cornell.
"Ever since I’ve been here, we never swept a weekend," said junior goaltender Trevor Koenig. "I wanted to do it before senior year, that’s for sure."
The two victories also gave Union more wins (eight) than it earned all of last season, when the Dutchmen went 7-19-4.
Senior Jamie Antoine picked up his fifth power-play goal in Saturday’s victory. That is a team high, and matches the second-highest total on the power play in Union’s Division I history. Antoine needs four more to tie Chris Ford’s mark of nine in the 1993-94 season.
John Sicinski also added a goal on Saturday. It was his 12th of the season, a team high so far. He is two goals away from eclipsing last year’s leading goal scorer, Brent Ozarowski.
PICKS: Princeton at RPI: This has been a highly anticipated matchup, given that both teams are in the top half of the league. The matchup to look for here is on defense. Princeton’s five-man unit versus RPI’s six-man unit, and a matchup of two good freshmen offensive defensemen in Dominique Auger and Brian Pothier. Both teams are rolling, but it gives for one team. RPI 5 Princeton 4
Yale at Union: Two more surprising teams are featured here. This will be a battle of containment on offense. Can Union put up the punch it did against Mankato State? Union 3 Yale 2
Yale at RPI: RPI will have its offense moving here; it’s up to Yale to stop them. RPI’s offense is stronger than Yale’s defense. RPI 6 Yale 3
Princeton at Union: The second matchup between these two teams. Princeton held Union down in the J.C. Penney Classic, and the Tigers will do it again. Princeton 5 Union 1
Colgate (8-7-1, 4-4-1 ECAC, T-4th) & Cornell (8-3-1, 6-2-1 ECAC, T-1st) at Clarkson (9-6-0, 4-3-0 ECAC, 6th) Friday & Saturday, 7:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., Cheel Arena, Potsdam, N.Y.
Cornell (8-3-1, 6-2-1 ECAC, T-1st) & Colgate (8-7-1, 4-4-1 ECAC, T-4th) at St. Lawrence (6-8-1, 3-3-1 ECAC, T-7th) Friday & Saturday, 7:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m., Appleton Arena, Canton, N.Y.
Colgate was upset by Merrimack in the first round of the Syracuse Invitational, 4-3. The Warriors mounted a third period that the Red Raiders could not stop. However, the Raiders came back and defeated Providence in the consolation game, 6-2.
Even though Colgate scored nine goals on the weekend, its big guns were kept relatively silent. Mike Harder had only an empty-net goal against Providence, Rob Mara tallied one goal against Merrimack and Dave DeBusschere was held scoreless.
Even though Shep Harder made 43 saves against Merrimack, it was not enough to give Colgate the win. The next evening, Dan Brenzavich made 34 saves in the victory over Providence.
Cornell won the Syracuse Invitational with a 4-3 triple-overtime win over Providence — the fifth-longest game in NCAA history — and a 4-1 win over Merrimack in the championship game.
Cornell showed its breadth of offensive power once again as eight different Big Red players scored its eight goals on the weekend: Tony Bergin, Darren Tymchyshyn, Doug Stienstra, Jeff Oates, Steve Wilson, Chad Wilson, Ryan Moynihan and David Adler.
It was the first career goal for Adler, a freshman defenseman, and it was the overtime winner at 10:14 of the third OT. Adler was named ECAC Rookie of the Week.
The story of the classic was goalie Jean-Marc Pelletier. Pelletier made 52 saves in the win, including 15 in the second overtime, giving his team a chance to win.
Clarkson continued its relative lack of success in holiday tournaments this past weekend with a 3-0 loss to Miami in the Mariucci Classic. The Golden Knights have now won only three titles in their last 15 holiday tournament appearances, dating back to 1983.
Nonetheless, Clarkson made up for it with a 7-4 win over Boston College in the consolation game.
The Golden Knight defense allowed 53 shots on goal in the loss to Miami. Dan Murphy was spectacular in net with 50 saves, but his offense could not put a goal up for him.
The next evening, the depth of the Clarkson offense atoned for Friday evening as six different players scored seven goals. Todd White added two goals to give him 15 on the year, and Jean-Francois Houle scored his eighth of the season.
When the Saints take the ice this weekend, it will be the fifth and sixth games for St. Lawrence in nine days, thanks to a scheduling quirk. St. Lawrence has two holiday titles to its credit already. With a 5-2 win over Western Michigan and a 7-6 win over Ohio State, the Saints captured the inaugural Pepsi College Hockey Tournament. Then, at the Auld Lang Syne Classic, St. Lawrence recorded two one-goal wins on its way to another title, beating Dartmouth 3-2 in the championship game.
Clint Owen is back from his suspension and made 32 and 44 saves against Western and Ohio State, respectively.
Ten different Saints scored twelve goals in the two games, two apiece by Scott Stevens and Paul DiFrancesco.
Fatigue is going to play a large part in this weekend’s games for St. Lawrence, and the conditioning level must be one of the main factors. Therefore, it will be important for the Saints to get off to quick starts in both games.
Colgate at Clarkson: Colgate needs others to score besides its big trio in order to win a game like this. Clarkson has shown its scoring depth, and that’s why they’ll win it. Clarkson 6 Colgate 3
Cornell at St. Lawrence: Cornell will wear down a tired Saint team. Cornell 5 St. Lawrence 3
Cornell at Clarkson: The depth of both teams will be something to watch. A look at the situation says it will boil down to two things: special teams and third- and fourth-line play. Clarkson 4 Cornell 3
Colgate at St. Lawrence: Can a tired Saint defense keep up with quick-skating Colgate forwards? Colgate 7 St. Lawrence 2
Brown (2-10-1, 1-7-1 ECAC, 12th) & Harvard (5-7-2, 4-4-2 ECAC, 3rd) at Dartmouth (6-3-0, 2-3-0 ECAC, T-10th) Friday & Saturday, 7:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., Thompson Arena, Hanover, N.H.
Harvard (5-7-2, 4-4-2 ECAC, 3rd) & Brown (2-10-1, 1-7-1 ECAC, 12th) at Vermont (10-5-0, 2-3-0 ECAC, T-10th) Friday & Saturday, 7:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, Vt.
Brown pulled off an upset in beating Bowling Green 5-4 in overtime at the RPI tournament. The elation only lasted one day, as RPI beat the Bears 6-3 in the finals.
The Bears are a very good two-win team. But one problem Brown has experienced is keeping its composure, especially in the penalty department. In the two games it played, Brown added 50 penalty minutes to its ECAC-leading total of 282. In the 14 power plays that resulted, Brown gave up four goals, bringing its penalty kill to 74.4 percent.
On the other side, the Brown power play is clicking very well. With 20 goals on 74 attempts (27 percent), first in the ECAC, the Bears used the extra skater to their advantage against Bowling Green, scoring three power-play goals.
"I was hoping that special teams would be a real key," said Brown head coach Bob Gaudet. "I know we can put five guys on the ice against their four that can move the puck and generate shots … and we did some of that (Friday against Bowling Green)."
Harvard has accomplished some things in its last few games that have turned some things around. The power play is working once again, and recent wins have gotten the Crimson into third place in the ECAC.
However, Harvard is coming off an offensive drought after getting swept by Minnesota-Duluth, 3-1 and 4-2, before the holiday break.
After scoring 15 goals in its previous four games, in which Harvard went 3-0-1, the Crimson could only manage three against the Bulldogs. Ashlin Halfnight and Marco Ferrari scored their first goals of the season, and Craig Adams scored his second in Duluth.
With Harvard playing only five league games in January, it must have strong performances if it wishes to stay in the top half of the league; else, other teams will pass the Crimson by.
Dartmouth has been on a real big streak. The Big Green are 6-2-0 in their last eight, and seem poised to begin a run in the ECAC. After pasting Mass-Lowell 6-2, they lost a close game to St. Lawrence in the Auld Lang Syne championship, 3-2.
The story for Dartmouth is in goal. Freshman Jason Wong has taken over the reins as the number-one goalie in Hanover, and for good reason. Wong is 4-1-0 with a 3.01 GAA and .881 save percentage. Wong also has an ECAC Rookie of the Week honor under his belt.
Dartmouth’s other freshman goalie, Eric Almon, got his first career start against Merrimack in Dartmouth’s last game. He made 42 saves and earned a 5-2 victory.
Leading the offensive charge are Ryan Chaytors (6-6–12), Jon Sturgis (6-3–9), David Whitworth (4-5–9) and Bill Kelleher (5-4–9).
Vermont was the victim of Don Lucia’s 200th career victory when his Colorado College Tigers defeated the Catamounts in the first round of the Badger Showdown, 6-0. The much anticipated rematch of last year’s exciting NCAA semifinal was not so stellar for the Cats.
Vermont bounced back with a 5-2 win over the host Wisconsin Badgers the following evening as Martin St. Louis captured the hat trick.
St. Louis continues to lead the ECAC in scoring with 31 points (13-18), while his linemate Eric Perrin is third with 26 (11-15).
Vermont has now finished its non-league schedule, posting an 8-2-0 mark in those games. Included among those eight wins are victories over No. 2 New Hampshire, No. 6 Boston University, No. 5 Miami (OH) and No. 10 Lake Superior State. The losses are to UNH and No. 7 Colorado College — yet the voters have seen fit to drop the Cats out of the top ten.
PICKS: Brown at Dartmouth: If Brown can stay out of the penalty box, it has a chance. If Brown can score on the power play, it has a chance. Dartmouth has scored 27 goals in its last six games, and must continue. Bob Gaudet’s season of woe continues. Dartmouth 4 Brown 3
Harvard at Vermont: Detractors will say Vermont is overrated, while others claim Vermont is just waiting to hit its stride. Vermont is still one of the teams to beat in the ECAC. Vermont 6 Harvard 2
Harvard at Dartmouth: Dartmouth has won its last three against the Crimson. That streak ends here. Harvard 4 Dartmouth 2
Brown at Vermont: Offensive teams seem to give Brown trouble. That should prove true again. Vermont 8 Brown 3
Cornell (8-3-1, 6-2-1 ECAC, T-1st) at Michigan (17-1-1, 8-1-1 CCHA, 4th) Tuesday, 7 p.m., Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
Cornell is previewed above.
Michigan comes off of its ninth consecutive Great Lakes Invitational title. The Wolverines defeated Michigan Tech 6-1 and Lake Superior State 5-4 to capture the tourney.
Against Lake State, Matt Herr’s second goal of the game came with less than four minutes to play, and broke a 4-4 tie between the Wolverines and Lakers.
The leading scorers for the Wolverines are Brendan Morrison (11-28–39), John Madden (9-26–35), Herr (18-14–32) and Warren Luhning (10-16–26). In goal is Marty Turco, who has a 16-1-1 record, a 2.44 GAA, and a save percentage of .890. He is one of the main reasons Michigan is up there in the standings and No. 1 in the country.
PICK: This is a tough one. There is a lot of offensive power in Michigan, and Cornell has to stop it. Cornell will make it close, but Michigan proves why it is the top-ranked team in the nation. Michigan 4 Cornell 3
Some of the teams with games in hand get going next week, and there is a light ECAC schedule. There are also some chances for the ECAC to continue its dominance over Hockey East next weekend.
Friday & Saturday, January 10 & 11: Vermont/Dartmouth at Princeton/Yale RPI/Union at Brown/Harvard St. Lawrence/Clarkson at UNH/UMass-Lowell Army at Colgate/Cornell
Tuesday, January 14: RPI at Boston College Yale at UMass-Amherst
Jayson Moy is the ECAC Correspondent for US College Hockey Online.
Copyright 1996 Jayson Moy . All Rights Reserved.
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USCHO covers the ECAC all week long on the ECAC Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.