The offseason was certainly a busy time for the ECAC West. Manhattanville basked in the glow of its first ever Final Four appearance. Lebanon Valley was saved from extinction following an administrative review and got a new head coach. And Neumann also hired a new coach.
Even the individual player awards rolled in for the ECAC West over the off-season, as Andrew Gallant (Manhattanville) was named AHCA Player of the Year and a first team All-American. Three Neumann players, Neil Trimm (first team), Mike Gooch (second team) and Mike Hedden (second team) joined Gallant as All-Americans.
But as this season gets rolling, all of the records are reset to zero and each team has begun the long twisting road again.
Neumann certainly seems to be the favorite this year, returning its top 16 scorers, goaltender, and its entire defensive corps. New head coach Phil Roy now has the unenviable job of trying not to upset the apple cart as the Knights sit atop the preseason coaches poll.
Manhattanville, on the other hand, lost both Gallant and its top two scorers to graduation. While the Valiants are still loaded on paper, for the first time in four years there is a real competition for the starting job in goal.
The top of the depth chart is intact at Elmira, as the top three forward lines return almost unchanged, and goaltender Casey Tuttle appears to have healed from his serious injury in last years league playoffs. But can the Soaring Eagles finally get off to a good start, instead of stumbling out of the gates as they have the last two years?
At Hobart — and for all collegiate hockey — an era has come to an end at Hobart as The Cooler has finally been enclosed. But it will be a different team this season for the Statesmen, as 10 new freshmen join an already young team. About the only known quantity at Hobart is the veteran goaltender trio who will need to be solid to carry the Statesmen through the rough times.
Offense is the keyword at Utica this season, a word not often heard around the crowded confines of The Aud. Solid defense and an outstanding penalty kill have become the norms, but a lack of timely scoring has cost the Pioneers in the playoffs the last few seasons. Coach Gary Heenan looks to fix that this year so his team can get over that final hurdle and into the NCAAs.
No one doubts that Lebanon Valley has a long road ahead of it as the Flying Dutchmen try to rebuild. But a strong work ethic as well as newfound support from the college and the community are the key ingredients that new head coach Ted Russell will use to lay the foundation for future competitiveness.
Stay tuned for the regular season ECAC West column to cover all the action beginning on November 9.
Click on any team name at the top of a section below to view its individual season preview.
2006-07 overall record: 17-5-5
2006-07 ECAC West record: 8-3-4
2006-07 ECAC West finish: Second
2007-08 Coachs Poll: First
2007-08 USCHO predicted finish: First
Outlook: Offensively, defensively, and in net, Neumann returns almost the entire team this season. The only question mark is on the bench, where newcomer Phil Roy takes over the head coaching role after the departure of Dennis Williams.
Coach: Phil Roy, first season overall and at Neumann
2006-07 record: 17-5-5 overall, 8-3-4 ECAC West (second)
2006-07 team offense: 5.07 goals/game (second)
2006-07 team defense : 2.74 goals/game (third)
2006-07 power play: 29.1% (first)
2006-07 penalty kill: 81.3% (fourth)
Key losses: Brent Leonhardt (2.15 GAA, .907 SV %)
Key returners: Mike Collichio (2.73, .906), Neil Trimm (18 goals-49 assists-67 points), Mike Hedden (31-21-52), Mark Van Vliet (18-33-51)
Newcomers to watch: Jeff Rodell, Sean Bianchini, Joe Dolan, Colin Davis
2007 ECAC West League Champions
2006-07 overall record: 21-2-5
2006-07 ECAC West record: 12-1-0
2006-07 ECAC West finish: First
2007-08 Coachs Poll: Second
2007-08 USCHO predicted finish: Second
Outlook: Fresh off a trip to the final four last season, Manhattanville is again loaded for bear. But a gaping hole in net has appeared as the Valiants look to replace last years Player of the Year goaltender Andrew Gallant.
Coach: Keith Levinthal, ninth season overall and at Manhattanville (133-57-18)
2006-07 record: 21-2-5 overall, 12-1 ECAC West (first)
2006-07 team offense: 5.39 goals/game (first)
2006-07 team defense : 1.93 goals/game (first)
2006-07 power play: 21.7% (third)
2006-07 penalty kill: 90.1% (first)
Key losses: Andrew Gallant (1.91, .928), Chris Mills (14-30-44), Justin Rohr (14-26-40)
Key returners: Mike Ruberto (17-21-38), Jason Murfitt (18-13-31), Matt Piegza (12-12-24)
Newcomers to watch: Any of 10 freshmen, according to the coach
2006-07 overall record: 13-10-4
2006-07 ECAC West record: 7-6-2
2006-07 ECAC West finish: Fourth
2007-08 Coachs Poll: Fourth
2007-08 USCHO predicted finish: Third
Outlook: Avoiding a slow start to the season is high on Elmiras list of priorities this year, as the Soaring Eagles look to improve on last years fourth place finish.
Coach: Tim Ceglarski, seventh season overall and at Elmira (89-60-13)
2006-07 record: 13-10-4 overall, 7-6-2 ECAC West (fourth)
2006-07 team offense: 3.56 goals/game (fourth)
2006-07 team defense : 3.19 goals/game (fifth)
2006-07 power play: 21.9% (second)
2006-07 penalty kill: 80.5% (fifth)
Key losses: Justin Joy (6-14-20), Darcy Pettie (6-8-14), Nick Lynch (1-12-13)
Key returners: Michael Richard (9-24-33), Rusty Masters (12-13-25), Nicolas Dumoulin (8-13-21).
Newcomers to watch: Karl Linden, Sebastian Gulder, Kevin Bolin, Rick Shrank
2006-07 overall record: 13-8-5
2006-07 ECAC West record: 10-5-0
2006-07 ECAC West finish: Fifth
2007-08 Coachs Poll: Fifth
2007-08 USCHO predicted finish: Fourth
Outlook: Goaltending should not be a problem this season for Hobart, with the most experienced tandem in the league. But experienced skaters are at a premium as twelve new players take the ice at the newly enclosed Cooler.
Coach: Mark Taylor, eighth season overall and at Hobart (92-70-20)
2006-07 record: 13-8-5 overall, 10-5 ECAC West (fifth)
2006-07 team offense: 4.08 goals/game (third)
2006-07 team defense : 3.04 goals/game (fourth)
2006-07 power play: 16.3% (fifth)
2006-07 penalty kill: 85.4% (third)
Key losses: Conor Bradley (14-20-34), Mike McCarthy (7-16-23), Mike Polsonetti (8-14-22), Jonathan Swift (5-15-20)
Key returners: Shawn Houde (16-10-26), Brian Cibelli (5-15-20), Keith Longo (2.59, .917 save)
Newcomers to watch: Thomas Capalbo, Nick DeCroo, Jordan Zitoun
2006-07 overall record: 13-9-3
2006-07 ECAC West record: 7-5-3
2006-07 ECAC West finish: Third
2007-08 Coachs Poll: Third
2007-08 USCHO predicted finish: Fifth
Outlook: Defense and killing penalties have never been a problem for the Utica Pioneers. Scoring timely goals has. This season, coach Gary Heenan is focusing his team on getting the puck into the back of the twine.
Coach: Gary Heenan, seventh season overall and at Utica (78-60-17)
2006-07 record: 13-9-3 overall,