The conference tournament is back where it took place from 1993 to 2002, and the Olympic-sized sheet could make a difference.
Standing ovations: Quinnipiac, Union
The Bobcats continued their eye-opening, season-opening tear, reeling off consecutive wins no. seven and eight this weekend. The Q-Cats downed Colgate and Cornell on the road by a 10-2 aggregate, scoring five goals in the third period alone in Hamilton Friday night. (Funny enough, it hasn’t been so long since QU posted a five-spot in a period: The Bobcats pinned five on Cornell in the ECAC quarterfinals last year.) Freshman forward Sam Anas leads the stunningly successful team with seven goals and 13 points in his first nine collegiate games; he’s also tied for the national lead in game-winning goals (three) and is alone atop the rookie goal chart. Sophomore Michael Garteig holds an overall GAA of 1.56 and a .917 save rate, and the special teams are scoring nearly a quarter of the time on the power play and only allowing goals on 6.5 percent of penalty kills.
Union seems to have snapped out of its doldrums, if only for a weekend: The Dutchmen slammed Dartmouth 7-2 in Hanover, then handled Harvard, downing the Crimson 4-2 in Boston. Senior forward Kevin Sullivan leads the team with 11 points without a single goal; classmate and defenseman Mat Bodie has eight points, all on assists as well. Senior forwards Daniel Carr and Matt Hatch lead the team in goals with four apiece, but they share the podium with junior Daniel Ciampini and rookie Michael Pontarelli. Junior goaltender Colin Stevens is still finding his way, but he’s not getting a lot of help from his penalty kill, which is only muddling through with a .793 overall success rate.
Rotten tomatoes: Dartmouth, Princeton
The Big Green had a weekend to forget, surrendering seven goals in each game against Rensselaer and Union while only mustering three of their own. The team has only scored eight goals in four games (0-4), and none of coach Bob Gaudet’s three goalies have a save rate higher than .850. The power play is humming at 28 percent, but the PK is brutal, allowing nearly one goal for every two successful kills. This is a tremendous buzz-kill for a team picked high in the preseason polls, and the onus is now on the coaching staff and the captains to find the reset button in the Thompson locker room.
Princeton has also scored just eight times in four games (1-3), falling at Cornell and Colgate this weekend. The fault doesn’t lie with the special teams or goaltending; Princeton’s biggest problem is its five-on-five offense, which is being out-scored to the tune of 11-4. Having sophomore forward Mike Ambrosia back in the lineup will help, and it should only be a matter of time before Princeton is back to – or above – .500 again.
Fun with stats
- Brown sophomore Mark Naclerio leads the nation with 2.25 points per game, scoring three goals and nine points in four games.
- RPI junior Ryan Haggerty maintains his rocket-boosted pace, burying 10 goals in eight games to lead the country in that category.
- Union’s Sullivan, Brown’s Naclerio, and Cornell junior Mark McCarron are 1-2-3 in D-I in assists per game (1.57, 1.5, 1.5 respectively).
- St. Lawrence’s Gavin Bayreuther (3-5–8) leads the country in scoring by freshmen defensemen.
- And finally, since I love goalies, Harvard senior Raphael Girard has posted 120 minutes of shutout hockey in 120 minutes played this year. That’s good enough to lead the nation in GAA, as you may imagine. (QU’s Garteig and RPI’s Scott Diebold are fourth and fifth in that category, for your information.)
Rensselaer and Harvard started the ECAC’s league schedule with a 3-3 tie Tuesday in Troy. This weekend is the first full weekend of conference play, with two teams (St. Lawrence and Clarkson) traveling to the rinks where they ended their seasons last year, and two more (Cornell and Dartmouth) are hosting the teams that knocked them out of the league playoffs last season. All times are 7 p.m. unless noted.
Friday, Nov. 1
Clarkson at Brown
Clarkson went out rather quietly against the Bears in the opening round of the playoffs last year, but are off to their best start in seven years and are No. 17 in the USCHO.com poll. Brown won the inaugural Liberty Invitational last weekend, and got great production from their top line of Matt Lorito, Nick Lappin, and Mark Naclerio. Clarkson is deep in goal and on defense, and I think that should give them an edge. Clarkson wins
Quinnipiac at Colgate
The Bobcats are riding a six-game winning streak into league play, while Colgate is winless since beating RIT 4-1 on Oct. 10. Keep an eye on special teams – Colgate’s power-play has waned a bit in recent weeks, while Quinnipiac’s penalty kill is seventh nationally after blanking Holy Cross last weekend. There’s plenty of young offensive talent on both teams, but the Bobcats are on a roll and have the special teams edge. Quinnipiac wins
Princeton at Cornell
It’s way too small of a sample size, but the Tigers enter with the top penalty kill and second-best power play in the nation, while Cornell’s power play is first. The Big Red were 7-of-15 on the power play at Nebraska-Omaha last weekend, but were outshot 71-33 overall. The Tigers’ Andrew Calof is a talented player, but he’ll need some help if Princeton is going to get by what looks like a resurgent and deep Big Red team. Cornell wins
Union at Dartmouth
Ken Schott of the Schenectady Daily Gazette reported earlier this week that Union goalie Colin Stevens could ready to play this weekend. That would be a big boost to a Dutchmen team that is on a three-game winless streak. It won’t matter much who is in net for if the Dutchmen can’t start converting their chances; Union has put 97 shots on net the last two games, but only has four goals to show for it. The Big Green find themselves in a similar situation to Union. Dartmouth outshot it opponents 71-51 in two games at the Liberty Invitational last weekend, but went 0-2. If Stevens is back, the Dutchmen should have this one. Union wins
Rensselaer at Harvard
It’s strange to think that these teams won’t meet again in the regular season, but that’s the case, as Harvard traveled to Troy Tuesday to open ECAC league play. RPI led 3-0 after one period, but had to settle for a frustrating 3-3 tie. The Engineers should be a little more diligent the second time around. Rensselaer wins
St. Lawrence at Yale
Yale will raise its national championship banner prior to the game, with the festivities and the ensuing game against the Saints to be aired live on ESPN3. The Bulldogs bounced back from a loss to Brown in the opener, and should be charged up following the pregame ceremony. St. Lawrence has put up goals in bunches this season – but will they able to stop them from going in? The Saints have given up 15 goals the last three games. Expect a shootout in this one. Yale wins
Saturday, Nov. 2
Princeton at Colgate , 4 p.m.
Senior goalies Sean Bonar and Eric Mihalik have both been very good thus far for the Tigers and the Raiders, respectively. I think the difference will be scoring depth – where I think Colgate has a slight advantage. Colgate wins
St. Lawrence at Brown
The Bears carried their hot streak from the end of last season over into opening weekend. When things are going well, Brown is a tenacious defensive team that doesn’t give up much. As mentioned above, the Saints have given up a ton of goals lately, and Brown’s top line of Lorito, Lappin and Naclerio will make them pay for any lapses Saturday. Brown wins
Quinnipiac at Cornell
With a combined record of 8-1, there’s not a ton to nitpick about with either the Bobcats or the Big Red. Both could make a title push this season, and Saturday this should be one of the tighter games of the weekend. I’m picking Cornell simply because they’re at home. Cornell wins
Rensselaer at Dartmouth
Big Green goalies James Kruger and Cab Morris combined for a .843 save percentage in Dartmouth’s two games last weekend. That won’t do against an RPI team that has an impressive group of forward coming into their own, including junior Ryan Haggerty, who leads the country with nine goals. Still, the Engineers need to be better at playing with a lead, as the Big Green certainly have the firepower to come back. RPI wins
Union at Harvard
The Dutchmen have been playing better than their record indicates. Harvard has plenty of talented freshman and showed a lot by coming down from a 3-0 deficit at RPI earlier this weekend. If Union can dominate in shots as it has the last two games, the Dutchmen should come away with a win. Union wins
Clarkson at Yale
The Golden Knights have gotten off to a hot start thanks in part to their defense. But Clarkson will have its hands full with the Bulldogs, who return plenty from last year’s national title team. The Golden Knights will need to control the puck and keep Yale from transitioning off of turnovers. Still, I’m taking Yale. Yale wins
It was another solid weekend for the ECAC. Quinnipiac, Cornell and Clarkson each swept their opponents, while Rensselaer beat No. 13 New Hampshire at home. The ECAC has a 26-11-4 interconference record, by far the best of any league in the country.
Ivies in action: The remaining six teams yet to play in Division I finally got underway this weekend, including defending national champion Yale. The Bulldogs lost 4-1 to Brown Friday in the opening game of the Liberty Invitational at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. Defending champs or not, the Bears’ style of play has given Yale trouble over the last few seasons. Brown finished the weekend with a 5-3 win over Dartmouth, while Yale beat Princeton 3-2.
The Bears’ top line of Nick Lappin, Matt Lorito, and Mark Naclerio combined for 15 points in the two games. That looks to be a group to keep an eye on.
Ivies, part II: Cornell had an impressive sweep at Nebraska-Omaha this weekend, scoring four power-play goals Saturday for the first time in nearly four years. Cole Bardreau, back in action for the first time since fracturing his neck last January, had two goals and an assist in the sweep. Meanwhile, Harvard got 43 saves from Raphael Girard in a 3-0 home win over Bentley Saturday.
Quinnipiac, Clarkson keep rolling: Picked to finish last in both the coaches and media preseason polls, the Golden Knights are off to a rolling 6-1-1 start. Clarkson swept Colorado College at home after entering the weekend with an 0-11-3 all-time record against the Tigers. The Golden Knights didn’t get their sixth win of last year until Feb. 2.
Meanwhile, Quinnipiac has now won six in a row since dropping their season opener to Alaska. Freshman Sam Anas leads the Bobcats with six goals. QU will head to Colgate and Cornell to open conference play this weekend.
Three of Division 1′s four Huskies programs are in action against the ECAC this weekend. In related news, 6.7 percent of DI hockey programs are Huskies… while only 3.4 percent of DI are Bulldogs. We have a serious canine gap here. Oh hey, and ECAC Hockey is a national-best 17-8-3 against other leagues.
Friday, October 25
Brown vs. Yale 4:00 Liberty Hockey Invitational, Prudential Center; Newark, N.J.
Time to see what the Ivy League is made of. Brown has been a peripheral contender in recent years – tough to play, but rarely a favorite. Yale has been… oh. National champs. Ok. Both teams feature new faces, especially in goal, so it’s tough to predict how that battle-within-the-battle will end, but let’s take Yale and see how things fall from there. Bulldogs, 4-2.
Colorado College at Clarkson 7:00
CC is just 1-1 after a home split with Minnesota-Duluth. Clarkson is on a bit of a roll – 4-1-1 – but the nine points all came at the expense of Atlantic Hockey opponents Niagara, Mercyhurst, and RIT. With all due respect to the AHA, it’s time to see what the Knights can do against a member of one of the power conferences. Advantage to ‘Tech though; they’re at home… 3-2 Clarkson.
Quinnipiac at Holy Cross 7:00
Friday’s game will be HC’s fourth of the year (0-3), and first against an opponent from outside the Bay State. The Crusaders dropped decisions at BU and in a home-and-home with Northeastern; with the Bobcats’ sweep of UMass-Lowell last weekend, anything but a sweep this weekend will leave a sour taste. 4-1 QU in Round 1…
Northeastern at St. Lawrence 7:00
The Huskies are a perfect 4-0 after sweeping Alabama-Huntsville and Holy Cross; SLU is 3-1 after a split at Ferris State and a home sweep of Maine. Both teams are going to learn a lot about themselves this weekend, and I like the Saints in Appleton so far this year. This will likely be a split, but call me optimistic: 3-2 Saints on Friday…
Union at Connecticut 7:05
What would have looked like an easy pick in the preseason doesn’t look like such a no-doubter anymore, with Union struggling to contain opponent scoring and UConn returning home after a couple of battles in Mankato, Minn. One or two early goals for the Huskies could really mess with Union’s beleaguered psyche. All that said, Union is still a very talented team with a high ceiling, whereas Connecticut is 0-2 with two goals scored this year. Union on the road, 4-2.
Dartmouth vs. Princeton 7:05 Liberty Hockey Invitational, Prudential Center; Newark, N.J.
We hope – for the league’s sake – that it’s more than a friends-and-family crowd in Newark this weekend, but I’m not holding my breath. Still, it’s cool for the kids to take a twirl on NHL ice in a new venue. These two programs are each fighting to define themselves, as Dartmouth hopes to ditch last year’s injury bug and Princeton wants to make a run at a top-four finish. The Green come in with the more proven lineup, and has the early edge, but Princeton’s new talent has a great opportunity here to prove its value. 3-2 Dartmouth.
St. Cloud State at Colgate 7:30
A Frozen Four member last April, SCSU is 1-0-1 after last weekend’s home deuce with Bemidji State. Colgate is .500 (2-2-1), but is still a bit of an unknown quantity. A win over the Huskies would be a significant one for the Raiders, but I’m not sure they’re up for it yet… the ‘Gate has been a bit rusty in its own end, surrendering seven goals twice (along with two one-goal games and a shutout). 3-2 SCSU.
Cornell at Nebraska-Omaha 8:37
Not sure what to make of Cornell yet, but here’s UNO: Home split with Bentley, road split at Northern Michigan. Cornell is hungry for a bounce-back season, and you know Mike Schafer will have his boys ready from the first face-off. Sorry I can’t be more insightful, but that’s the way these early-season games go. 3-1 Cornell.
Saturday, October 26
Brown vs. Dartmouth 4:00 Liberty Hockey Invitational, Prudential Center; Newark, N.J.
Smart money takes Dartmouth, but I can’t shake the feeling that Brown will leave the Garden State with some points (even though these are non-conference games, so there are technically no points at stake). The Bears just have a way of stealing games at unpredictable times, in very predictable ways: Hard work, gritty hockey, exceptional goaltending. Will Saturday feature some larceny? Look for it… though I’m still picking Dartmouth, 4-2.
Holy Cross at Quinnipiac 4:00
Afternoon games can be brutal… poor attendance, quick turnaround, especially after a drive (even if it’s only a two-hour trip). Expectaction: Sloppy hockey, half-full rink, QU victory. 3-1 Q.
UPDATE: Call me lazy. Call me cynical. Call me sloppy, sarcastic, or snide… but mostly, call me wrong. Quinnipiac’s TD Bank Sports Center ticket office has confirmed that Saturday’s matinee is, in fact, completely sold out. Kudos to the Bobcats – and even more to their fans – for achieving what is often a steep challenge. While my analysis is flawed in part, the score prediction stands.
New Hampshire at Rensselaer 7:00
RPI takes on its third top-flight Hockey East opponent of the year, having dropped a stinker at Boston College, edged BU in Boston, now taking on UNH in Troy. The Wildcats are sub-.500 (1-2-1), but those losses have come at Minnesota and against Michigan. The visitors will not be happy with anything short of a win in the Capital District, which makes the game all that more meaningful for the Engineers. RPI has national aspirations; this is another big early-season litmus test. I’m picking frustrated UNH, however, 4-2.
St. Cloud State at Colgate 7:00
Colgate is still a good step or two behind the Huskies, for the time being. SCSU sweeps in Hamilton, 4-1.
Colorado College at Clarkson 7:00
CC bounces back and splits a competitive weekend pair, 4-3.
Northeastern at St. Lawrence 7:00
Call it a split: Wish I could be in the North Country this weekend, because this series is shaping up to be a doozy. 3-2 NU.
Princeton vs. Yale 7:05 Liberty Hockey Invitational, Prudential Center; Newark, N.J.
Yale will be getting all the picks until they prove they shouldn’t. 5-3 Yale.
Bentley at Harvard 7:30
Don’t count Bentley out too soon; the Falcons downed Nebraska-Omaha on the road to open the season, and played Quinnipiac tight in Hamden on Tuesday. That said, Harvard, 3-2.
Cornell at Nebraska-Omaha 8:07
Split? Or sweep? Tough call… I guess that’s why they pay me the big bucks . Coin flip says… Cornell. Anyone got a Magic 8 Ball? 4-3 Red.
Tuesday, October 29
Harvard at Rensselaer 7:00
RPI claims the first points of the ECAC Hockey regular season, and takes its first official step toward the crown… what, too soon? 4-2 RPI.
Bentley at Quinnipiac, 7 p.m.
Quinnipiac hasn’t missed a beat in the early going, and posted an impressive sweep of Massachusetts-Lowell this past weekend. The Falcons have lost three in a row, scoring only four goals over that span. Michael Garteig and the Bobcats’ defense should be too much for Bentley. The only thing that could change that is if QU head coach Rand Pecknold decides to give backups Jacob Meyers or Brady Rouleau a chance in net or rest some of his regular defensemen. Quinnipiac wins
Welp, there are no more perfect teams in the ECAC… it will be up to the Ivies to try to duplicate Dartmouth’s accomplishment last year of being the last unbeaten team in Division 1. That said, Union (!!) is the only active league member under .500, somehow, as ECAC Hockey is currently 16-8-3 in early non-conference play. On to the details!
Bobcats making a splash
Rensselaer (2-0-0), Quinnipiac (2-0-0) and Clarkson (1-0-1) finished the weekend unbeaten, though it was perhaps the Bobcats – stop me if you’ve heard this before – who notched the most impressive results, preseason No. 1 UMass-Lowell 3-1, 3-1 in a home-and-home series.
They did so without the services of highly regarded rookie defenseman Devon Toews (injured against Alaska-Anchorage), and in spite of 12 penalties over the two nights. Yet the Q-Cats did what they do best: Kill penalties (all 12), block shots (over three dozen, possibly four), and score timely goals (2 for 9 on the power play). Five different Bobcats scored, including two from senior Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who finished the weekend with four points. QU improved to 3-1 on the season, dropping ninth-ranked and fellow 2013 Frozen Four participant UML to 1-3.
RPI heating up
RPI notched a bounce-back 3-1 win at No. 15 Boston University on Friday, fresh off last Sunday’s 7-2 shellacking at Boston College. The Engineers returned home to snuff out Sacred Heart 7-1 on Saturday, but the real story of the weekend may be the play of junior winger Ryan Haggerty. The Stamford, Conn. sniper tallied a dozen goals and 26 points last season, but is well on his way to shattering those numbers with a nation-best seven goals in four games this fall. The undrafted National Development Team alumnus scored twice against BU on Friday and added a hat trick Saturday. Meanwhile, junior Scott Diebold – in for the injured Jason Kasdorf – is now 2-0 with a .948 save rate and a 1.31 goals-against average.
Dutchmen drop deuce to Lakers
Union stumbled at home against unbeaten handful Lake Superior State, 6-5 and 3-2. Each side had 11 power plays on the weekend, with Union converting on three of those chances, and LSSU, two. Union out-shot the Lakers by the immense margin of 82-40 as well, which means all signs point to hot goaltending in the visitors’ net. That goalie was… two goalies.
The senior battery of Kevin Murdock (five goals against, 29 saves on Friday) and Kevin Kapalka (two goals, 46 stops Saturday) kept the Dutchmen at bay just often enough to pull out a pair of unlikely road wins, dropping Union to 1-2-1… all at home. Union has out-shot its guests in all four games (138-87 in total), but is barely ahead in the goal aggregate, 15-14. That means the U is shooting at an 11 percent success rate, but surrendering goals on 16 percent of shots-against. That’s simply not going to get it done over the long haul: Who was the last team to win a title with a save percentage of .839?
Last week: 6-3-1
I had decent luck last week, which pulled my overall record up to .500. Let’s see how long I stay there. All games are 7 p.m. unless noted.
Friday, Oct. 18
RIT at Clarkson
RIT has scored a respectable five goals in their first two games, but has allowed a whopping 11 to their opponents. Clarkson is off to a 3-1 start, the program’s best in six years, and has gotten solid goaltending from freshman Steve Perry and sophomore Greg Lewis. The Golden Knights have an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) against the Tigers, and it’s the home opener at Cheel Arena. Clarkson wins
Lake Superior at Union
Injuries hit the Dutchmen hard last weekend. Starting goaltender Colin Stevens was hurt in the season opener, and didn’t play the subsequent night, while forwards Eli Lichtenwald, Max Novak and David Roy are also hurt. It will be an early test of Union’s depth. Fortunately for the Dutchmen, it comes at home, where they’ve been outstanding the last few years. Union wins
Colgate at Bowling Green, 7:07 p.m.
Bowling Green is 8-1-1 all-time against Colgate, but the Raiders picked up their first win of the series last season. The Falcons are fourth in the nation in penalty minutes, and I think Colgate’s power play, which is 4-for-14 on the year, will capitalize on that. Colgate wins
St. Lawrence at Ferris State, 7:07 p.m.
Saint Lawrence dominated Maine a sweep in Canton last weekend, while the Bulldogs piled up seven goals on Colgate before getting shutout the next game. If Saints forward Greg Carey can repeat his five-point weekend, look out, but give the slight edge to the home team. Ferris State wins
Quinnipiac at Massachusetts-Lowell, 7:15
The Bobcats and RiverHawks made up half of last year’s Frozen Four. UMass-Lowell brought a lot back, but opened some eyes with an opening-night loss to Sacred Heart. I think Quinnipiac should be competitive this year, but the Riverhawks are at home and still have a lot talent despite the season-opening loss. Massachusetts-Lowell wins
Rensselaer at Boston University, 7:30 p.m.
RPI announced that goalie Jason Kasdorf isn’t expected to play this weekend due to an injury. That leaves the goaltending duties to junior Scott Diebold, who has played well for stretches over the last few years. Still, taking down BU without Kasdorf is a lot to ask. Boston University wins
Saturday, Oct. 19
Massachusetts-Lowell at Quinnipiac
The Bobcats have never lost a home opener since moving to Division I, and they’ll be raising a Frozen Four banner before the game as well. Quinnipiac wins
Sacred Heart at Rensselaer
These teams meet for the second time in as many weekends, this time in Troy. The Pioneers have already matched their win total from a season ago and have gotten solid play from former Union commit Alex Vazzano in goal. Even minus Kasdorf, I think RPI has enough depth up front and on defense to get the win. Rensselaer wins
Lake Superior at Union
Part of Union’s shaky midseason stretch last season included a sweep by the Lakers. The Dutchmen should return the favor this season. Union wins
Colgate at Bowling Green, 7:07 p.m.
If senior goalie Eric Mihalik and the Colgatedefense can keep playing the way they have of late, the Raiders should complete the the sweep. Colgate wins
St. Lawrence at Ferris State, 7:07 p.m.
The Saints should bounce back with a win in Game 2 and head home with a split. St. Lawrence wins
RIT at Clarkson, 7:30 p.m.
I think the Golden Knights complete the sweep to push their record to 5-1 on the year. Not bad for a team that won nine games all of last season. Clarkson wins
Every team outside of the Ivy schools is now at least two games into its season. Here’s a look at some notables in the the early going:
Rookies make an impact: Several freshman made their presence felt immediately over the last two weekends. Clarkson goal Steve Perry stopped 54-of-55 shots in a pair of wins for the Golden Knights, including a 2-0 shutout of Niagara in his first collegiate game last weekend. Quinnipiac freshman Sam Anas, Connor Clifton and Derek Smith each had a goal in the Bobcats’ 4-1 win over Alaska Fairbanks Saturday, while Saint Lawerence defensemen Gavin Bayreuther had two goals and an assist in the Saints’ sweep of Maine. Union got its first win of the year with some help from forward Michael Pontarelli, who had two goals, and goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos, who got the start Saturday against Bowling Green after coming in Friday in relief of an injured Colin Stevens. And not to be left out, forward Andrew Black has two goals in his first three games for Colgate. It’s far, far too early to lock these players in for any end-of-the year awards, but they certainly got their collegiate careers off to a good start.
Engineers hand out a beating…and then take one: Whatever momentum Sacred Heart got from knocking off No.1 UMass-Lowell Friday night was quickly deadened by RPI, who scored three goals in the second period en route to a 6-0 win Saturday at Webster Bank Arena. But just like the Pioneers, RPI couldn’t carry any of that momentum over to their next game, as Boston College scored seven goals on 23 shots in a commanding 7-2 win. It wasn’t the best game for Jason Kasdorf, who was pulled after giving up six goals on 15 shots.
Different year, same result: For the second year in a row, St. Lawrence swept Hockey East opponent Maine in the season’s early going. Last year’s sweep took place in Orono, with these year’s wins coming in Canton against first-year head coach (and former Yale assistant) Red Gendron. Senior forward Greg Carey, who led the NCAA with 28 goals last season, added two goals Saturday and finished with five points on the weekend.
Time for my first picks of the year; all times Eastern. Wish me luck.
Thursday, October 10
Colgate at RIT
Ok, I’m cheating: It’s 1-1 in the first period as I type this. Sorry. It’s tough picking such early-season games, as there is practically no basis for comparison yet… that said, it’s a big opening weekend for the Tigers, and RIT has been a feisty competitor in recent years. 3-2 Tigers.
Nate: This is the one game I got right in my initial picks. Gotta start somewhere, right?
Friday, October 11
New Hampshire vs. Clarkson 5pm Ice Breaker Tournament; Minneapolis, Minn.
New Hampshire is a perennial NCAA contender. Clarkson is… well, aspiring to be. From what little we know so far, I’m leaning toward UNH, 4-2.
Nate: The Golden Knights are looking to start 3-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season. It’s the season opener for UNH, who lost two of their leading scorers to graduation but returns Casey DeSmith in net. Clarkson has played excellent defense in their two games, but they’ll need to generate some offense to keep pace with the Wildcats. This is the first meeting between the teams since 2004. New Hampshire wins
Maine at St. Lawrence 7pm
Time for SLU to reassert its dominance at home over a Maine program that has struggled significantly in the past few years. 3-1 Saints in Game 1.
Nate: St. Lawrence opened some eyes last season with a dominating sweep at Maine in the early going, the beginning of what was a rough season for the Black Bears, and the removal of Tim Whitehead as head coach. Whitehead was replaced by former Yale associate coach Red Gendron, who will make his college head coaching debut against a familiar opponent. Saints’ forward Greg Carey led the nation with 28 goals last year – or almost 60 percent of the returning goals on Maine’s roster. St. Lawrence wins
Bowling Green at Union 7:30pm
Union swept BGSU on the road early last season; I can’t think of any reason why the Dutchmen shouldn’t replicate that feat at home this year. 5-2 U.
Nate: I’m with Brian here. Union is breaking in a lot of new players in key spots in the lineup, but I think they have enough to get the win on opening night. Union wins
Quinnipiac at Alaska-Anchorage 12:07am Kendall Hockey Classic
This game technically starts Saturday morning for us East Coasters, what with Alaskan time zones and whatnot. What may not be much of a test for a more seasoned team, this looooong-distance road game is a significant challenge for this undefined Bobcats club. A win will mean a lot to QU, and I think they’re good enough to get it, 4-3.
Nate: Like Union, Quinnipiac is starting the year with a new faces in net and on defense. The Bobcats will have already been in Alaska for several days come game time, so that should help compensate for any jet lag. Quinnipiac wins
Saturday, October 12
Rensselaer at Sacred Heart 1pm
Really? RPI, 7-2. See last year, and you’ll know why.
Nate: The Engineers return nine of their top 10 scorers and goalie Jason Kasdorf from last year’s second-place team. That should be more than enough against a Sacred Heart team that ranked near the bottom of the country in both offense and defense. RPI wins
Clarkson vs. Mercyhurst 7pm Ice Breaker Tournament; Minneapolis, Minn.
If the Knights play Minnesota, furgedaboudit… Minny takes it. But should ‘Tech tangle with the Lakers, this may be a more manageable opponent for the ECAC representative. I confess, I don’t know much about Mercyhurst this year, but Clarkson should be a step better than last year’s edition. 3-2 Knights.
Nate: A win for Clarkson would push them to 3-1; not bad for a team that only won nine games last year and struggled mightily out of conference. I think they’ll do that against Mercyhurst. Clarkson wins
Maine at St. Lawrence 7pm
Anything fewer than three points should be considered disappointing for the Saints… from where we stand now, at least. Maine does not look like a national contender on paper. 3-2 Saints.
Nate: I’ll disagree with Brian here, as I think the Black Bears will come away with one on the road. Maine wins
Bowling Green at Union 7:30pm
Dutchmen, hoping to open 2-0? Why not? 4-3 Union.
Nate: Like Brian said earlier, it’s tough to gauge early season games, especially out of conference. But Union has made Messa a tough place to play the last few years, and I think they’ll continue that this season. Union wins
Quinnipiac vs. Alaska 8:07pm Kendall Hockey Classic
More than three points this weekend should be considered a success for the Bob-kittens, though coach Rand Pecknold would never admit to such modest ambitions of course. Calling for the split, with the loss coming against well-regarded Alaska on Saturday, 4-2.
Nate: Sweeps are never easy in college hockey, never mind on the longest road trip of the year. But I think that’s what the Bobcats will do in Alaska. Quinnipiac wins
Sunday, October 13
Rensselaer at Boston College 3pm
Big early-season test for what are expected to be two top teams in the East this year. BC at home? Hard to pick against that, though this BU grad is anything but neutral. What the heck? 4-3 Engineers in an upset. (Hopefully by February, it will look like an expected result in retrospect.)
Nate: I think the difference in this game will be in net. RPI has Jason Kasdorf, while the Eagles are relying on a pair of inexperienced players in Brian Billett andThatcher Demko, although Demko is highly regarded entering his freshman season at the heights. League-rival Union surprised the Eagles with their mobile defensemen in last year’s NCAA tournament. I’m not sure if the Engineers have the same offensive talent on the back end that Union did last season, but if they can jump into the play and support RPI’s deep group of forwards, it should bode well for the Engineers. RPI wins
Welcome back for another season of weekly picks. It hasn’t even been six months since Yale won the national title, but the ECAC is ready to go with Clarkson and Colgate each starting the regular season this weekend. Quinnipiac, RPI and St. Lawrence are all in preseason action as well.
Saturday, Oct. 5
Ferris State at Colgate, 7 p.m.
Colgate started off last season with a bang, as the Raiders piled on ten goals in a decisive win over Niagara. Don’t look for another season-opening romp, as Ferris State goalie CJ Motte was excellent last season despite a mediocre year as a team for the Bulldogs. One thing to watch is who will start in goal for Colgate. Holdovers Spencer Finney and Eric Mihalik split time last season, but are joined by freshman Charlie Finn. Ferris State wins
Clarkson at Niagara, 7:05 p.m.
The Golden Knights ended last season in an offensive slump, and won’t find it easy against what looks to be a strong Niagara team, even minus goalie Carsen Chubak, who went pro after leading the Purple Eagles to the NCAA tournament. Clarkson head coach Casey Jones said there would plenty of competition for spots in the lineup, so it will be interesting to see who’s out there for the opening weekend. Niagara wins
Sunday, Oct. 6
Clarkson at Niagara, 2:05 p.m.
I could see a Clarkson win Saturday carrying over into the series finale. But the Purple Eagles should finish the sweep. Niagara wins
Ferris State at Colgate, 4 p.m.
The teams conclude the Bulldogs’ first visit to Starr Rink since the 2003-04 with an afternoon game. I think the Raiders get a win against the 2012 national runner up. Colgate wins
Thursday, Oct. 10
Colgate at RIT, 7 p.m.
RIT’s team defense was near the bottom of the national leader board last year, while the Tigers’ penalty kill was in the middle of the pack. That’s bad news against a Colgate team that can score in bunches and has a potent power-play unit. The Raiders should get the win in rare Thursday night game. This is also the Raiders’ only matchup against an Atlantic Hockey team this season. Colgate wins