Welcome to the 10th year of full coverage of Division III men’s hockey on USCHO. The ECAC West traces its history back nearly three times that number of years, but the league’s future is seriously threatened.
With the demise of Lebanon Valley’s team, the league now only counts five teams among its ranks. While all five teams are strong, healthy, and have the potential to contend for the title, the league teeters on the edge of extinction. However, for this season at least, it is ever onward for the league and the teams.
All but one team finds itself in the midst of major rebuilding on the offensive end of the ice. Manhattanville, Hobart, Elmira, and Utica all lost significant punch during last May’s graduation ceremonies.
Utica welcomes its largest incoming class since the program was born ten years ago as the Pioneers will try to get back to basics and return to the style of hockey that rocks the Aud.
Manhattanville returns a solid corpse of defensemen and goaltenders, but is replacing five of its top eight scorers from last season.
Hobart also got hit hard during the off-season and is trying to fill 10 empty roster spots.
Elmira has a ton of new faces around the Thunderdomes this fall, with 11 freshmen on the roster.
Only Neumann returns mostly intact from last year. While the Knights struggled at times early last season, Neumann started to figure things out down the stretch, and that experience placed them at the top of the coach’s preseason poll.
This is a season of change in the ECAC West amongst the teams and rosters, as the teams will all strive to prove that they are still in the ranks of the elite of college hockey.
Stay tuned for the regular season ECAC West column to cover all the action beginning the week of November 8.
Click on any team name at the top of a section below to view its individual season preview.
2010 ECAC West League Champions
2009-10 overall record: 20-6-1
2009-10 ECAC West record: 10-4-1
2009-10 ECAC West finish: Second
2010-11 Coach’s Poll: Second
2010-11 USCHO predicted finish: First
A solid corps of returning defensemen and goaltenders provide a foundation for Manhattanville to build on, but can the Valiants replace all of the scoring lost since last season?
2009-10 overall record: 15-9-3
2009-10 ECAC West record: 7-5-3
2009-10 ECAC West finish: Fourth
2010-11 Coach’s Poll: First
2010-11 USCHO predicted finish: Second
Neumann is the only team in the ECAC West not in rebuilding mode this season. But can the Knights turn experience into wins?
2009-10 overall record: 19-9-1
2009-10 ECAC West record: 11-4
2009-10 ECAC West finish: First
2010-11 Coach’s Poll: Third
2010-11 USCHO predicted finish: Third
Adding depth was the key objective for Elmira during the off season, but perhaps the most important question mark is in net following the graduation of Casey Tuttle.
2009-10 overall record: 13-10-3
2009-10 ECAC West record: 9-4-2
2009-10 ECAC West finish: Third
2010-11 Coach’s Poll: Fourth
2010-11 USCHO predicted finish: Fourth
Hobart lost half a team of role players to graduation, but returns much of its scoring. However, the Statesmen open up right into league play without the luxury of any warmup games.
2009-10 overall record: 8-14-4
2009-10 ECAC West record: 4-9-2
2009-10 ECAC West finish: Fifth
2010-11 Coach’s Poll: Fifth
2010-11 USCHO predicted finish: Fifth
Utica welcomes its largest freshman class since the program started 10 years ago. The Pioneers will try to take advantage of the new blood to return to the brand of hockey that has rocked the Aud in the past.