Let’s play word-association. Albany … tournament. Daylight savings … glorious. Season … winter. Harvard … Crimson.
ECAC Hockey … parity.
Talk to any coach in the league for more than two minutes, and I’d bet you top dollar (Canadian now, please) that he would say that word. To put it simply, out of 13 league games played, six have gone to overtime … and five are in the books as ties. Ten teams have one win or fewer on the league charts. Four teams — Brown, RPI, Union and Yale — have combined for a dumbfounding 0-0-8 record! Gary Bettman would wet himself in horror if he ever looked at these standings.
Cat’s Got His Tongue
After a four-point weekend to open league play, Guy Gadowsky is making Ben Stein look excitable.
The veteran coach iterated, reiterated and re-reiterated the fact that the season is still very young for the Tigers, who are 2-0-0 in the ECAC for the first time since 1998-99. The most the sedate Gadowsky would say with regards to the early points is that securing early wins “was an area we struggled in the last few years.”
However, the fourth-year Princeton headman did take the time to praise a few of his charges, especially his freshman defensemen.
“[Their] transition to the college game was good,” he said. “All three freshman defensemen were excellent [last weekend].”
The trio of Taylor Fedun, Cam Ritchie and Matt Godlewski played equal minutes with the returning blueliners in the victories at Cornell and Colgate, and Gadowsky specifically praised Godlewski and Brad Schroeder as being “the best [defensive] pair last weekend.”
I don’t think anyone out there really expected Quinnipiac to be struggling at this point of the season, at 2-3-1 and fighting for offense. However, coach Rand Pecknold believes that his team is starting to come around.
“We made some good competitiveness strides” over the weekend, he said, in tying Colgate at one and losing at Lynah 5-3 the following evening. “We need to play harder, we need to compete, we need to battle,” he said of his squad’s inconsistent efforts. “We haven’t done a great job on mental prep.”
However, the usual suspects are still atop QU’s scoring list, and the coach felt better about the team’s attitude last week. The year is young; don’t bury this cat just yet.
Skate Harder …
As mentioned prior, Brown is one of the four winless, lossless teams in the ECAC right now. Head coach Roger Grillo is none too happy about it, either.
“I’m disappointed in our first two games,” he said. “We were in constant chase mode.”
Bruno was outshot 35-18 in the 2-2 tie at Union, and had to kill off seven Dutchman power plays. However, the next night was a bit better for everyone … including goalie Dan Rosen.
“We started to pick up the pace [at RPI],” Grillo said.
Despite another 2-2 tie, Grillo said that the Bears’ performance at Rensselaer was far beyond their sloppy, slow-footed play at Union.
“We were at two different levels. Two different performances … same result,” he assessed.
Grillo complimented the play of Ryan Garbutt (“very consistent”), Paul Baier and Sean Hurley (“they’re playing really well”), and of course his sophomore goaltender Rosen.
“The numbers don’t lie,” he said of his goalie, who has allowed six goals against in 190 minutes of play, stopping 93.3 percent of 83 shots faced.
… And Smarter
Don Vaughan is a busy man, and can be difficult to track down … given my busy schedule, and his much much much busier schedule. But when he has a second to spare, he’ll give you your second’s worth.
Mostly, he’s happy to get incendiary forward Peter Bogdanich back in the lineup. The junior winger has yet to play a game this season, and the void had thrown the Raiders’ offense into a bit of a mess.
As far as last weekend goes, “I thought both games were good. We had opportunities to win both nights,” said Vaughan of the 1-1 tie with Quinnipiac and the 2-0 loss to Princeton.
“Princeton played very very hard,” he said, but he never doubted his own team’s effort.
“We [have been] working hard, but not always working smart,” he said. “It’s not about [lack of] effort.”
Praising solid goaltending, Vaughan pointed out that he had written up seven very similar lineups in Colgate’s first seven games, but that Bogdanich’s return will hopefully allow the offense to start performing to its potential.
“We’ve tried to up-tempo our game [this year],” said the coach after focusing on team defense in the last few years, and Bogdanich is a major cog in the team’s desired system.
Fortunately, the Raiders are getting help from other sources too. Brian Day leads the squad’s freshmen in scoring with five goals, and Francois Brisebois has four assists in his first year as well.
“[Day] is one of the most complete first-year players we’ve ever had here,” said Vaughan, who expects to play Day with Jesse Winchester and Tyler Burton this weekend.
First it was (Let’s Get) Physical, and now this. Hey, if I can get a bad song stuck in just one reader’s head each week, I’ve done my job.
Rensselaer head coach Seth Appert is asking his team for more shots, more shots, more shots.
“We’re being too selective at times,” Appert continued. “We need to crash and drive the net … and create rebounds,” he said.
The Engineers put only 94 shots on net in their last four games combined, including last weekend’s back-to-back overtime contests against Yale and Brown (both ties).
“The confidence starts to slip [when you're not scoring],” explained the coach, leading to fewer drives toward the net, and more cutesy peripheral passing. Despite holding a 2-0-2 record over those previous four, RPI only totaled eight goals.
As always — apparently — Zane Kalemba will get the start for Princeton on Friday at home against St. Lawrence. The sophomore goaltender surrendered four goals in two complete games last weekend, and holds an early .930 save percentage.
Bud Fisher is hoping to return to action within the next two weeks, according to Rand Pecknold at Quinnipiac. The junior workhorse only played one game this year before getting hurt (a 4-1 loss at Air Force), but transfer-senior Peter Vetri has performed well in his absence.
Senior d-man David Robertson and frosh forward Harry Zolniercyzk are both out with shoulder injuries, said Brown coach Roger Grillo. Robertson was hurt in the regular-season opener at Yale, while Zolniercyzk has been out since the exhibition game. Both are in “questionable” status. Also hurting Bruno is the loss of sophomore defender Jeremy Russell, who is done for the year with a torn ACL.
Colgate blueliner Nick St. Pierre will miss time this weekend with an injured finger. The junior has stacked up four points in seven games thus far.
Rensselaer defenseman John Kennedy is doubtful to play this weekend, said coach Seth Appert. Details regarding his injury were not available.
USCHO covers the ECAC all week long on the ECAC Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.