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Season Preview

College Hockey:
ECAC West Season Preview

The 2008-2009 season was remarkable for the ECAC West. The Neumann Knights ran the playoff table in stunning fashion and captured the national championship.

As if that wasn’t enough, other teams in the ECAC West also had extended seasons. Hobart made it to the NCAA semifinal round, riding the coat tails of senior All-American goaltender Keith Longo and Elmira also carried its season into the NCAA’s last year.

In an interesting twist, Hobart and Elmira both lost to eventual champ Neumann as the Knights romped towards the title.

Soon after the season ended, long time Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski retired only to be replaced by Soaring Eagle alumni, former assistant coach, and Potsdam head coach Aaron Saul.

But enough of last season, it’s time for the 2009-2010 campaign to get underway.

Most teams lost quite a bit to graduation and have large freshmen classes as a result. The defending champs, for example, have 26 players on the roster that are either freshmen or sophomores.

Hobart has brought in nearly as many, including three netminders to try and replace Longo. And Lebanon Valley has its second large class entering school as it tries to right the ship.

Manhattanville and Elmira are in the best shape. Neither lost very much talent and both recruited a few strategic players to fill specific rolls.

Utica finds itself in between, returning a veteran corps but trying to plug some holes after a very disappointing 2008-2009 season.

With so many unknowns, predicting the order of finish this season is a crap shoot. Any of the teams, except perhaps Lebanon Valley, can make a case for finishing at the top of the league at the end of the regular season.

And with another large influx of new talent, Lebanon Valley should continue to improve and could play the spoiler role this season.

It should be another wild ride in the ECAC West. Hang on!

Stay tuned for the regular season ECAC West column to cover all the action beginning next week.

Click on any team name at the top of a section below to view its individual season preview. Teams are listed in order of predicted finish by USCHO.com.

Manhattanville College Valiants

2008-09 overall record: 16-4-5
2008-09 ECAC West record: 8-3-4
2008-09 ECAC West finish: Second (tied)
2009-10 Coach’s poll: First (tied)
2009-10 USCHO predicted finish: First

Outlook: Manhattanville is feeling good about its freshmen class and looking forward to a strong season.

Elmira College Soaring Eagles

2008-09 overall record: 16-8-3
2008-09 ECAC West record: 9-3-3
2008-09 ECAC West finish: First
2009-10 Coach’s poll:Third (tied)
2009-10 USCHO predicted finish: Second
Outlook: Elmira has a new coach at the helm this season, but as an alumni and former assistant coach Aaron Saul won’t take long to get things rolling at the Thunderdomes.

Neumann University Knights

2009 National Champions
2009 ECAC West League Champions
2008-09 overall record: 21-9-2
2008-09 ECAC West record: 8-5-2
2008-09 ECAC West finish: Third
2009-10 Coach’s poll: First (tied)
2009-10 USCHO predicted finish: Third

Outlook: Neumann ran the table last season, capturing the school’s first national championship in any sport. But the Knights lost 12 seniors and now must rebuild the team.

Hobart Statesmen

2008-09 overall record: 21-7-2
2008-09 ECAC West record: 9-4-2
2008-09 ECAC West finish: Second (tied)
2009-10 Coach’s poll: Third (tied)
2009-10 USCHO predicted finish: Fourth

Outlook: Hobart has some holes to fill in net and on defense, but the Statesmen offense should carry the day at least early on.

Utica College Pioneers

2008-09 overall record: 11-12-3
2008-09 ECAC West record: 5-9-1
2008-09 ECAC West finish: Fifth
2009-10 Coach’s poll: Fifth
2009-10 USCHO predicted finish: Fifth

Outlook: After a disappointing season last year, Utica is looking to regain its defensive focus as they pack the Aud.

Lebanon Valley College Flying Dutchmen

2008-09 overall record: 0-25
2008-09 ECAC West record: 0-15
2008-09 ECAC West finish: Sixth
2009-10 Coach’s poll: Sixth
2009-10 USCHO predicted finish: Sixth

Outlook: Lebanon Valley brings in its second large freshman class in a row as the Flying Dutchmen struggle to turn the program around.


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