A Round Of Applause
We are halfway through the ECAC season, as all teams have nine ECAC games left on the schedule except for Harvard, which has eight. And with the season half over, we’d like to take discuss what fans are discussing right now — who, at the moment, should win the awards the ECAC hands out?
This is just our own humble opinion. Remember that this is based on the first half of the season, and with half the season left, things can change dramatically. But up until now, these are our choices, we’ll make it like any other awards show, we’ll lead up to the big ones.
Drum roll, please…
Second-Team ECAC All-Stars
Matt Murley – Rensselaer Murley has quietly done the job for the Engineers. While he only has five goals on the season, he has added 20 assists, good for third on the team. But his work as a penalty killer and all-around player gets him the nod here.
Brandon Dietrich – St. Lawrence He started out slow, but Dietrich has been one of the keys to the Saints’ run over the last month. The Saint offense is led by him, and he is the reason for their scoring resurgence. As goes Dietrich, so go the Saints.
Ben Stafford – Yale When Jeff Hamilton went down, Stafford quietly stepped into the number one center role and he has certainly come through. Centering Jeff Brow and freshman Nick Deschenes, his line has become the focus of the Eli offense. For a low-scoring team, 8-16–24 is highly productive.
Dale Clarke – St. Lawrence He has been one of the cornerstones for the Saint defense. Part of the strong start for the Saints is because of Clarke’s play. After starting off offensively, he has settled back into the steady defensive role that he is known for.
Brian Pothier – Rensselaer The captain of the Engineers, Pothier leads all ECAC defensemen in scoring with five goals and 17 assists. Regularly playing 25-30 minutes per game, Pothier is the cornerstone of an Engineer defense that has only allowed more than two goals in a game seven times this season. His leadership is often cited as quiet but deadly.
Dan Lombard/Trevor Hanger – Yale It’s not often that you select a goalie tandem to an all-star team, but there is no doubt that Yale would not have experienced as much success thus far without the stellar play from these two netminders. The numbers say it all: Hanger — 9 GP, 19 GA, 240 saves, .927 save percentage, and a 2.08 GAA. Lombard — 9 GP, 19 GA, 255 saves, .931 save percentage, 2.09 GAA.
Defensive Defenseman Of The Year Justin Harney – St. Lawrence Harney is the rock that settles in on the Saint blueline. This season he has combined defense with offense to make him a threat, no matter the situation. His 15 points is second among Saint defensemen and he gets 20-30 minutes a game.
Defensive Forward Of The Year Cory Shea – Yale With Syl Apps gone from the ECAC, someone had to step in and take the reins as the best defensive forward. Where better to look than to Shea — one of the best centermen and defensive players in all of college hockey. He’s regularly relied on to take the draw in any situation — and usually wins.
Dryden Award (Goaltender Of The Year) Joel Laing – Rensselaer What can you say? His .945 save percentage is tops in the nation and he has been drawing rave reviews from everyone. Laing consistently goes out and amazes with his saves, agility and desire. He certainly has stolen a game or two or three for the Engineers and with him back there, the Engineers can let their snipers snipe.
Coach Of The Year Tim Taylor – Yale When news of Jeff Hamilton’s departure from Yale spread, those who still thought the Eli had a chance this season quickly dismissed them. Without Hamilton, Yale had no offense and their defense was suspect to begin with, which did not make for a favorable outlook. Surprise, surprise. Midway through the season, the down-and-out Yalies are holding their own and are in position to challenge come playoff time. Credit is due to Taylor, who understood his weaknesses and played to his strengths. He told his team that they wouldn’t score many goals and to be defensive-minded. He put the onus on his young defense and two no-name goalies. As a result, the Eli are allowing a mere 2.11 goals per game and scoring 2.47. You do the math. Taylor already has.
Rookie Of The Year Marc Cavosie – Rensselaer The two-time ECAC Rookie of the Week and reigning USCHO Offensive Player of the Week, Cavosie leads all rookies in the ECAC in scoring by a large margin (11-14 — 25). He’s come into the college game and immediately become the first line center at Rensselaer and is showing that despite only being 160 pounds, he’s as strong and forceful as they come.
All-Rookie Team Marc Cavosie – Rensselaer You have to have the Rookie of the Year on your All-Rookie Team.
Dominic Moore – Harvard Hands down, he has been the Crimson’s MVP so far. He is leading the team in both goals (9) and points (14). Interestingly enough, the last freshman to lead Harvard in scoring for an entire season was older brother Steve (who had 33 points in ’97-98). Moore has shown that he has some of the softest and deftest hands in the league and can wreak havoc each and every shift.
Nick Deschenes – Yale It’s not easy coming into a program with no established scorers and playing on the team’s top line. The scoring pressure was on Deschenes, who has certainly benefited from playing alongside Stafford and Jeff Brow, and he has not disappointed. He’s maintained his spot on the first line and much like Stafford, Deschenes’ numbers (4-5–9) aren’t too shabby for a low-scoring offense.
Trevor Byrne – Dartmouth The highly-touted rookie has shown his worth already. What else can you say about a freshman who is one of the most consistent stand-up defensemen on the ice and who sits third on the team in scoring with 10 points? Between Byrne and fellow frosh Pete Summerfelt, Bob Gaudet has two potential future All-ECAC selections in the palm of his hand.
Doug Murray – Cornell Game in and game out, Murray is showing that he will be a superstar in this league for the next four years. Murray is gifted offensively and defensively and as he gains experience, he will be on to control the game from the blueline. Mike Schafer was asking for more offense from his blue line, and we don’t think that Murray has disappointed the Big Red here.
Nick Boucher – Dartmouth Let’s be honest, Eric Almon’s job wasn’t up for grabs at the start of the season. Boucher has efficiently and effectively worked his way from backup to starter in less than half the season. Lest you think it was an easy feat to accomplish, Boucher had to also earn the respect of guys who have become very comfortable playing in front of Almon over the years. In the end, Boucher added a much-needed element of consistency to the Dartmouth defense. He has compiled an impressive .921 save percentage and a 2.43 goals against, but what puts Boucher over the top is his 5-2-2 ECAC record.
First Team ECAC All-Stars Joel Laing – Rensselaer Laing is 11-4-2 and has a 1.92 GAA. He has shut out New Hampshire, Yale and Union this season. He’s stopped 40+ shots in a game on numerous occasions. He’s a 4.0 student at Rensselaer and he has stolen games for the Engineers when they have needed him. As the assistant captain for the Engineers, Laing is respected, well-liked and a fine representative for the league.
Brad Tapper – Rensselaer Everyone knew that Tapper was a sniper and this year he is proving to be the best sniper in the nation. He has scored them in all sorts of ways — including a penalty shot. His 26 goals rank him first in the nation, and his 37 points lead the ECAC. With his 11 assists, Tapper is showing that he can not only snipe, but set up the others as well. Just a junior, the right winger has drawn the attention of the entire nation.
Andy McDonald – Colgate The senior captain of the Red Raiders is an offensive force. The Red Raiders are known as a team that can run and gun with the best of them, and with McDonald at the helm there’s good reason to be wary of them. His 11 goals and 20 assists are good for second in the conference overall. He leads the conference in league points with 20 (7-13–20, 1.82 average) and will be at least one representative from the league in the Hobey Baker balloting.
Erik Cole – Clarkson Cole was expected to be Clarkson’s big gun this season, so it isn’t a surprise that he is the team’s top scorer. What wasn’t expected was the Golden Knights’ ongoing struggles on both ends of the ice and their dismal 7-11-3 record. For those of you who expected even more from Cole, just think of where Clarkson would be without him around. Cole’s 14 goals and five assists are keeping this team afloat. Some may see the Golden Knights as the ECAC’s version of the Titanic, but the team would have hit rock bottom a long time ago if Cole had followed the footsteps of his buddy Willie Mitchell and jumped ship early.
Justin Harney – St. Lawrence You have to have the best defensive defenseman on your First Team. Harney deserves the honor as the rock for the Saints. No ifs, ands, or buts about it, Harney and his experience lead the Saint team.
Cory Murphy – Colgate When one mentions Colgate, one doesn’t often think defense, but if you look closely enough, you’ll see Murphy leading the way on the blue line. Gifted offensively and defensively, he is the leader on the ice for Red Raiders. With a group of young defensemen, Murphy has shown that he can lead and put up the numbers too.
Player of the Year Joel Laing – Rensselaer We’ve already said a lot about Laing, but he continues in the tradition that Eric Heffler extended last year. A goaltender can make or break you — and in the case of Laing, he has made the Engineers this year. Without Laing, the Engineers would not be riding a string of consecutive weeks in the Top Ten. You just can’t say enough about him.
Some of you will obviously disagree with our selections, but that’s the fun of it all. And just remember, there are still five weeks left of hockey. A lot can happen, and we’re sure that it will.
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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.