This Week in the ECAC: October 18, 1996

The ECAC teams finally get into action this weekend with four games, including a renewal of the Hockey East-ECAC rivalry with two games on Saturday October 19.

Boston University (0-0-0) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (0-0-0) Saturday, 7 p.m., Houston Field House, Troy, NY

The Detroit Red Wing scrimmage game renews its rivalry this season after taking one season off (both teams uniforms look like the Red Wings). Both Boston University and RPI have a lot of questions to be answered offensively and defensively.

BU: BU took a huge stride in confirming the fact that they "reload" rather than rebuild last weekend with a 4-3 exhibition win over Minnesota. They played a tight physical game and their forwards had a great game with Matt Wright getting two goals and Chris Drury getting one. The defense is still solid, and will try to contain RPI’s fast forwards.

RPI: RPI had a down season last year, and look to rebound. They lost a lot of scoring up front with four of their top 5 scorers gone to graduation, but the real question is in goal for RPI as two freshmen will compete for the starting job. Scott Prekaski and Joel Laing will duke it out. It’s possible that they two netminders might split duty in Saturday’s game.

Keys to the game:

1) Special Teams. BU killed Minnesota on special teams last week, but also allowed a shorthanded goal. RPI is totally untested on the power play as only three players from last year’s power play unit return. The team that stays out of the box will benefit the greatest.

2) Depth. It will be between the third and fourth lines for both teams. Whomever controls on the later lines will be the winning team.

3) Goaltending. Tom Noble is solid for BU, RPI is untested.

It should be a game in which BU will experiment with forward lines and get tuned up. RPI is looking to see how their new freshmen will fit in, and as soon as depth gets into the game it should be an easy win for BU.

Pick: BU 7 RPI 2

Vermont (0-0-0) at New Hampshire (0-0-0) Saturday, 7 p.m., Whittemore Center, Durham, NH

The two New England rivals face each other again in another renewal of this classic confrontation. Vermont is looking to get to the Final Four again while a lot of questions surround UNH.

UVM: Everyone knows about Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin. They will once again be the keys for UVM. Sound backup lines will continue and the scoring should enhance the Catamounts chances. Sound goaltending from Tim Thomas should again bolster UVM this season.

UNH: Dick Umile wonders where his club will be this season. As Dave Hendrickson pointed out, UNH lacked goaltending, scoring, and depth last season. The Wildcat faithful hope that has been solved. This will be the starting point for this season, and this is where the lines will be worked out.

Keys to the Game:

1) Goaltending – Tim Thomas is solid, and nothing less is expected. For UNH who will be in goal? Larochelle should get the start but is he the answer for this game?

2) Speed – The first line of St. Louis-Perrin-Ruid is fast. In the spacious confines of Towse Rink at the Whittemore Center they will have a field day. It is up to UNH to stop it. Can UNH’s speed go up against UVM’s?

3) Defense in front of the goaltender – This is critical for UNH. They must protect the net because all 4 lines for UVM seem to find the slots and spaces in the box in front of the crease. You won’t beat Thomas with long shots, you can beat him in front though.

UVM is clearly one of the top teams in the nation. UNH wants to be there. Not yet though Wildcats.

Pick: UVM 6 UNH 2

Clarkson (0-0-0) at Ohio State (0-1-0) Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m., OSU Ice Rink, Columbus, OH

A powerful team against one which people predict will be powerful in the future. Looks like a rout on paper, but then that’s why they play them.

CU: Clarkson always seems to get it done. When they lose their top scorers, someone else steps up. Last year it was Todd White, and he is back this year to wreak havoc again. The defense is extremely solid once again, and goaltender Dan Murphy will be also strong once again.

OSU: A 7-2 loss to Bowling Green last week answered some questions, but there are still many to be answered for John Markell. The goaltending situation still needs to be addressed, as well as the scoring. Though four of the top five return, they seemed non- existent last week.

Keys to the games:

1) Goaltending – When all is said and done, OSU has an untested freshmen in the net, Clarkson has a veteran that is solid and amazing.

2) Special Teams – The Golden Knights can be deadly on the power play, as well as on the penalty kill. Jean-Francois Houle is a great two-way player. OSU is still finding their special team combinations.

3) Defense – Clarkson’s defense is strong. They return many players and have a great offensive talent on the blue line in Mikko Ollila. OSU has not yet proven their blue line crew can take care of business.

Clarkson is so much stronger on paper than the Buckeyes. But the games have to be played. It will not be pretty.

Pick: Clarkson with the sweep. 8-1 and 4-2.

Copyright 1996 Jayson Moy . All Rights Reserved.

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