ECAC Preview: Jan. 24-25, 1997 by Jayson Moy
There’s one thing to be said about having games in hand: when you win ‘em, you move up the standings very quickly. Cases in point are Clarkson, Vermont and RPI.
Clarkson was a huge winner this weekend, sweeping Dartmouth and Vermont. Vermont gained two points, as did RPI. All three teams moved up in the standings — Clarkson and Vermont are tied for fourth, and RPI is in third.
The next kicker of the whole situation: all three teams still have games in hand on the ECAC leaders, Princeton and Cornell. And the three teams get those games back this weekend.
It’s an important weekend for the above-mentioned three teams, as well as their opponents, because the six teams involved get their games in hand out of the way. This weekend also is the last before the beginning of the stretch run for the Whitelaw Trophy, the ECAC championship award.
St. Lawrence (8-13-2, 3-6-2 ECAC, T-10th) at Clarkson (14-7-0, 7-4-0 ECAC, T-4th) Saturday, 7 p.m., Cheel Arena, Potsdam, N.Y.
St. Lawrence had a tough go of it this past weekend. The Saints were swept by Vermont and Dartmouth, 3-2 in overtime and 6-4, respectively.
Last week, head coach Joe Marsh was concerned with a loss of discipline against Mass-Lowell. It was hard to come by when his Saints gave up 13 power plays and allowed three man-down goals this past weekend.
"There’s no reason to take a penalty after the whistle," said Marsh. "Only bad can happen to you. We have to look in the mirror and fix those things ourselves."
Clint Owen returned after aggravating a groin injury and was still not 100 percent, but one couldn’t tell against Vermont. He made 43 saves in the losing cause, and followed that up with 22 saves against Dartmouth.
"He’s (Owen) been working real hard," said Marsh. "We’ve been treating him three days a week, three times a day. He responded pretty well, and he doesn’t seem the worse for wear."
Marsh and Owen will face red-hot Clarkson this weekend. Clarkson swept Vermont and Dartmouth, and has now won five straight, three straight in the ECAC, and has moved into a tie for fourth in the league.
The Golden Knights face a familiar foe in St. Lawrence. The Knights beat the Saints earlier on this season, 7-4 at Appleton Arena.
Earlier in the year, Clarkson head coach Mark Morris commented on the rivalry.
"It’s one of the best rivalries," said Morris. "The proximity of Potsdam and Canton creates a lot of pride.
"Regardless of the team records or which team is superior, they (both teams) step it up without question; it’s a real intense game."
Two more goals by Todd White moved him into the league lead with 22 and earned him a second straight ECAC Player of the Week honor. He can now be considered a favorite for ECAC Player of the Year.
PICK: This is always a tough game, but playing at home and being on a roll points the finger right at a Clarkson win. Clarkson 6 St. Lawrence 2
Dartmouth (9-9-0, 4-7-0 ECAC, T-10th) at Vermont (15-6-0, 7-4-0 ECAC, T-4th) Saturday, 7 p.m., Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, Vt.
The Big Green had dropped four straight ECAC contests before defeating St. Lawrence on Saturday night. While they have not done well, their position in the standings has not changed. The bad news is, that position is 10th.
Ryan Chaytors broke out this weekend with a hat trick against St. Lawrence. He now has seven goals and 13 points on the ECAC season and was named to the ECAC Honor Roll.
Scott Baker saw his first action in over a month, making 24 saves in the 6-4 win over St. Lawrence. He followed that up with 29 saves in a losing effort to Providence Tuesday night.
The Catamounts scored four goals this weekend, all by Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin. In fact, the two of them had eight of the ten Vermont points on the weekend.
With 71 points between them, head coach Mike Gilligan feels good about the duo’s productivity.
"It’s good to see those guys have a little success," said Gilligan. "They’ve been snakebit this year."
The first game between the two teams saw Dartmouth upset Vermont in Hanover, 4-1. Jason Wong was in net for Dartmouth, and he made 31 saves, including 14 in the third period. He also kept the Cats scoreless in the last 56:52 of the game, and was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week.
Dartmouth will need another strong performance from its goaltending to hold the Cats down. Vermont will need to get its forwards moving through neutral ice to generate scoring chances.
"A lot of our goals are generated in the neutral zone," said Gilligan. That was evidenced by a 1-for-12 performance on the power play last weekend. The Cats often get bogged down when having to set up in the offensive zone.
PICK: Going with the way each team has been playing, one has to pick Vermont at home. I’ll take the Cats. Vermont 5 Dartmouth 2
RPI (12-7-2, 7-3-1 ECAC, 3rd) at Union (11-9-1, 5-6-1 ECAC, 8th) Saturday, 7 p.m., Achilles Rink, Schenectady, N.Y.
The Capital District Rivalry was in full force at the Houston Fieldhouse Saturday night, and the Engineers of RPI flew in the third period with four goals and buried the Dutchmen 5-2, to even the season series at one game apiece.
The return matchup is a Achilles Rink this Saturday, and we should see the exact same type of game.
RPI will try to move its forwards through the neutral zone with speed and crash the net. Three goals were scored this way on Friday night when Engineer forwards found loose rebounds in front of Union goalie Leeor Shtrom.
"They (RPI) sent them hard to the net," said Union head coach Stan Moore, referring to the goals scored on rebounds. "And they found out we weren’t taking our men and defending the way we should, and they capitalized on it."
RPI will try to continue that game, while Union will try to work with its defensemen this week to try to counter it. The Union forecheck will be a focus this weekend, as it generated some great chances for the Dutchmen, created one goal, and drew two power plays, one of which resulted in a goal.
Also expect to see Trevor Koenig in the nets this weekend instead of Shtrom. Last week, all of the media was expecting to see Koenig in net, and though Shtrom delivered with a strong game, Union failed to clear his rebounds.
PICK: There’s a lot at stake in the rubber match between these two teams. And they won’t admit it, but beating each other is huge. Forecheck is the key; whomever can escape it, or execute it, will win. RPI 3 Union 1
Ferris State (10-16-2, 7-12-1 CCHA, 6th) at Cornell (9-4-4, 7-3-2 ECAC, 2nd)Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. – 7 p.m., Lynah Rink, Ithaca, N.Y.
Ferris State upset Miami on Saturday night 6-4 at home. Goaltender Mike Szkodzinski made 33 saves in the victory. The Bulldogs followed up the upset by tying the Michigan State Spartans, 3-3 on Tuesday in Grand Rapids.
The Bulldogs let Miami come back to tie the game at four after having led 4-1. But Brett Severson scored with 1:34 left in the game to give Ferris the lead back, and an empty netter sealed the win.
Cornell had last weekend off after defeating Colgate 3-2 on the previous Tuesday night.
The Big Red do not have a single scorer with more than 19 points on its team, but they do have two top five goaltenders in Jason Elliot and Jean-Marc Pelletier.
Elliot has a 2.72 GAA, and a .914 save percentage in 12 games, while Pelletier has a 2.20 GAA and a .928 save percentage in six.
The key for the Big Red will be timely scoring with great goaltending.
PICK: Goaltending will play a large role for Cornell in the sweep, 5-2, 6-2
Providence (9-14-1, 6-8-1 Hockey East, T-5th) at Brown (4-13-2, 2-10-1 ECAC, 12th)Saturday, 7 p.m., Meehan Auditorium, Providence, R.I. Governor’s Cup Game
Providence got swept by Maine before defeating Dartmouth Tuesday 5-2. The Friars have struggled to find consistency this season; after beating Mass-Amherst and Northeastern to break a seven game losing streak, they lost two before winning another one.
A larger, physical presence is what head coach Paul Pooley is looking for from his team, and it will get a chance against Brown.
Brown received a tough battle from the Air Force Academy this past weekend, winning 5-3 and tying 7-7.
Damian Prescott has been the surprise leading scorer for the Bears this season. Prescott has 20 points (13-7), including two each night against the Falcons.
There are two things that point to Brown not having a good season — penalty minutes and team defense. The Bears are averaging 24 minutes per game, and have allowed 28 power-play goals this season. The Bears also give up 4.84 goals per game, the worst in the ECAC.
PICK: The Bears need help on defense, and Providence won’t be the cure. Chalk one up for Hockey East. Providence 5 Brown 3
Yale (6-11-2, 4-8-1 ECAC, 9th) at Army (12-9-2, 2-9-2 Maj. Div. I) Saturday, 7 p.m., Tate Rink, West Point, N.Y.
Wins over Dartmouth and Niagara are all Yale has to show for 1997. The season started to show a lot of progress for the Eli, but has not headed far during the new year.
On the offensive side of the ledger, John Chyz has three goals in the last two games: two against Niagara, and one against Lowell.
Early Rookie of the Year candidate Jeff Hamilton has faded in recent weeks. After scoring in the Denver Cup, Hamilton has not had a single point in the last six games.
Army’s last Division I outing was an impressive weekend at Colgate and Cornell. The Cadets held a 5-1 lead over Colgate before losing in overtime, 6-5. The next night they tied Cornell 1-1.
Daryl Chamberlain made 27 saves in the great tie for the Cadets, who got their only goal from Ian Tyson in the third period. Chamberlain made 23 saves against Colgate the night before.
PICK: Army has shown that it can play with the best of the ECAC. Unfortunately Yale is currently not one of the best in the ECAC. How about the first independent win against the league? Army 4 Yale 3
It’s time to batten down the hatches and get ready for the stretch run. It’s all ECAC league games, except for that thing they call the Beanpot.
Action next weekend: (league games in bold):
Friday, Jan. 31 Vermont at Clarkson Dartmouth at St. Lawrence Harvard at RPI Brown at Union Yale at Colgate Princeton at Cornell
Saturday, Feb. 1 Vermont at St. Lawrence Dartmouth at Clarkson Brown at RPI Yale at Cornell Princeton at Colgate
Monday, February 3 The Beanpot: Harvard vs. Boston University
Jayson Moy is the ECAC Correspondent for US College Hockey Online.
Copyright 1996 Jayson Moy . All Rights Reserved.
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