This Week in the ECAC: October 25, 1996

The past weekend kicked off action for three of the 12 ECAC teams; now the other nine take to the ice for the first time this season.

The ECAC started off the season with a 3-1 record in non-conference play. Clarkson swept a pair from Ohio State, and Vermont defeated New Hampshire. The lone blemish for the ECAC was a loss by Rensselaer to Boston University. The ECAC hopes to improve on its non-conference record this weekend.

(All times EDT)

ST. LAWRENCE (0-0-0) at ST. CLOUD (1-2-0) Fri-Sat, 7:00 PM, National Hockey Center, St. Cloud, MN

The Saints start without suspended goaltender Clint Owen, which leaves Jon Bracco in goal for the Saints. His numbers from last season are actually better than Owen’s (3.69 GAA, .886 SV%), and with the two splitting time last season, there might not be the problem that everyone is predicting for the Saints. Their forwards are first class. Paul DiFrancesco is one of the finest centers in the ECAC (16-39–55), and he should be centering Scott Stevens (13-14–27) and Derek McLaughlin (10-16–26).

The Huskies come off a split with the Badgers of Wisconsin last weekend in WCHA play. After generating only 18 shots on goal and getting shut out on Friday evening, they rebounded with a 3-2 win with the help of two goals from Socha Molin. Expect to see the two Huskie goaltenders split games once again this weekend. Brian Leitza was solid in allowing only two goals on Friday, and Tim Ledeen also allowed only two goals on Saturday.

Which St. Cloud team will show up? Will it be the one that could only generate a few shots on goal, or the one that produced 37 shots on Saturday night? How will St. Lawrence start? Looks to be a defensive effort from the home team as they try to stop the quick forwards of St. Lawrence.

PICK: A St. Lawrence sweep, 4-1 and 5-4.

NORTHEASTERN (0-0-0) at RENSSELAER (0-1-0) Friday, 7:30PM, Houston Fieldhouse, Troy, NY

Northeastern begins their season on the road with their brand-new head coach Bruce Crowder. They come into the season without their top three scorers from last year in Jordan Shields (12-31–43), Dan Lupo (17-22–39), and Danny McGillis (12-24–36). They also lose both goaltenders in Todd Reynolds and Mike Veisor. What is Crowder to do? Can freshmen Todd Barclay, Roger Holeczy, and Billy Newson make an immediate impact? Can Scott Campbell and Justin Kearns add to their numbers from last year (20-12–32 and 7-9–16 respect- ively)? Should be a test for the Huskies this Friday.

Rensselaer had almost the same questions going into last week’s game against Boston University. But the freshmen looked impressive, as did the returning players. Freshman Joel Laing got the start last week, and we should expect to see the other freshman goalie, Scott Prekaski, get his first start this Friday. Eric Healey (1-0-1) looks like he is going to pick up where he left off in the scoring department, and the defense returns experience. Watch out for freshman defenseman Brian Pothier (0-1-1), who looks like a potential star for the Engineers.

Northeastern is searching, but Bruce Crowder is a great coach. The young and inexperienced Engineers got a great test in Boston University last weekend and did an admirable job and gained confidence. Northeastern has a a great chance at winning this one if Marc Robitaille and Judd Brackett get off to strong starts in their rookie games.

PICK: This is going to be a close one. RPI 5, Northeastern 4.

UNION (0-0-0) at NEW HAMPSHIRE (0-1-0) Friday, 7:00PM, Whittemore Center, Durham, NH

The Dutchmen begin their 1996-97 campaign on the road, and the same questions surround them as last year. Who will score for this team, and if they do, can they outscore their opponents? The debut of new head coach Stan Moore should see him try to find more scoring from returnees like Brent Ozarowski (13-11–24), Chris Ford (8-17–25), and Russ Monteith (5-11–16). They are solid in net with either Leeor Shtrom (3.09 GAA, .902 SV%) or Trevor Koenig (3.13 GAA, .910 SV%). They allow three goals a game, but can they score more than three goals?

The Wildcats come off a loss to highly-ranked Vermont last weekend. They also took a huge hit, as Captain Tim Murray was lost for a few weeks with a knee injury. Eric Boguniecki got the lone goal for UNH in their loss. The Wildcats played UVM tough, but could not match the outbursts of the Fabulous Frenchmen. They should have an easier time against Union. Brian Larochelle will have an easier time as well against the Dutchmen. But then again — new coach, more shots for the boys from Schenectady, who knows?

UNH has had two games to get things settled, and Union is not UVM. Union is starting a new era with Stan Moore.

PICK: UNH 7, Union 1.

COLGATE (0-0-0) at MAINE (1-1-0) Friday, 7:00PM, Alfond Arena, Orono, ME

Colgate begins their campaign with a trip to the Far Northeast and the Maine Black Bears. Colgate begins with high expectations for their star center Mike Harder (23-31–54). He should spearhead the offense which includes such returnees as Tim Loftsgard (8-11–19), Dru Burgess (8-11–19), and Jack McIntosh (7-10–17). Dan Brenzavich returns as the third-year starter (3.11 GAA, .893 SV%), and McIntosh rules the blue line for this team. Don Vaughn faces high expectations this year, and his team looks to get off to a hot start against the power from Hockey East.

Maine split a pair in the state of Michigan last weekend, losing to defending NCAA champions Michigan and defeating Lake Superior State. The Black Bears only generated 17 shots on goal against Marty Turco on Friday, but put up seven goals against the Lakers. The heroes on Saturday were senior Dan Shermerhorn, who netted the hat trick, and junior Scott Parmentier, who added two goals. Freshman Alfie Michaud was solid in net, turning back 12 of 16 shots against the Lakers and 28 of 31 against Michigan.

This should be one wide-open game with the better defense prevailing. I think that’s Colgate. It’s a tight one.

PICK: Colgate 3, Maine 2.

BROWN (0-0-0) at YALE (0-0-0) exhibition Friday, 7:30PM, Ingalls Rink, New Haven, CT

Brown starts to answer the question this weekend at the Yale Whale: who will score for them? Mike Flynn (9-13–22) is the leading scorer and Marty Clapton (8-8–16) joins him, but other than that, there is not much. A strong defense is led by Bob Quinnell, and D.J. Harding and Jimmy Andersson also bring strength to this position. It will probably be Jeff Holowaty in the net (3.33 GAA, .901 SV%), and he hopes to continue his solid play.

Yale also starts to answer a question this weekend at home: can this team win a game this year? Their leading returning scorer is defenseman Ray Giroux (3-17–20), and their leading returning forward is Matt Cumming (8-6–14). The returnees must increase their offensive output or else this is just the start to a very long season for the Bulldogs, goalie Alex Westlund (4.95 GAA, .856 SV%) and head coach Tim Taylor.

This one should be a low-scoring affair as both teams struggle to put it in the net. Brown’s defense makes the difference.

PICK: Brown 3, Yale 1.

COLGATE (0-0-0) at NEW HAMPSHIRE (0-1-0) Saturday, 7:00PM, Whittemore Center, Durham, NH

Colgate’s next dance partner is New Hampshire. The Red Raiders should enjoy the larger ice surface more than the regulation one in Orono. The forwards should excel in this rink, being that they are the speedy playmaking type. Mike Harder should find some good skating room. The key here is the defense for Colgate. If they can cover the wider surface, then they can stop the UNH forwards.

New Hampshire gets a tougher opponent tonight. The defense will be tested sorely, and here’s where the loss of Tim Murray may severely hurt the WIldcats. If Brian Larochelle goes for a second consecutive evening, he will see one of the greatest shots in the ECAC in Harder. Scoring is a must for this game, as Colgate can put them up.

Wide-open end-to-end play at Towse Rink tonight. The hot goalie is the one that makes the difference.

PICK: UNH 5, Colgate 3.

VERMONT (1-0-0) at BOSTON UNIVERSITY (1-0-0) Saturday, 7:00PM, Walter Brown Arena, Boston, MA

The game of the week in many eyes. The number-two team in the nation against number three. "Wow" is an appropriate word for this one. Half of the Final Four participants from last year clash in what should be an exciting game.

Vermont comes off a 5-1 win over UNH last week. Five points from the Flying Frenchmen, Eric Perrin (2-1–3) and Martin St. Louis (0-2–2), helped spur the victory. But the real story was that there were contributions from others. Matt Stelljes (the captain), Jason Hamilton and Matt Sanders also scored, and that’s where Vermont sneaks up on you. Most teams concentrate on that first line, and the other lines then take advantage against their counterparts. Tim Thomas will be solid as usual in the net, and a superb defense led by Jan Kloboucek will try to contain the Terrier forwards.

Boston University played a less-than-stellar game against Rensselaer last Saturday, but has enough talent to win games in which they do not excel. Bill Pierce was the main man against RPI as he scored two goals, one short- handed and one on the power play. The Terriers are another team that has depth among lines. Their third- and fourth-line play from such contributors as John Hynes, Peter Donatelli, Albie O’Connell, and Bobby Hanson make things tough on competitors. Tom Noble should be back in net against the Catamounts after defeating Minnesota in an exhibition. A defense which is not spectacular, but consistent, is led by Shane Johnson and Jon Coleman.

This is a tough game to call. It will come down to stopping Chris Drury and Shawn Bates for Vermont, stopping St. Louis and Perrin for BU, third- and fourth-line play, and special teams. This should be a barnburner.

PICK: BU 4, Vermont 3.

TEAM POLAND at HARVARD (0-0-0) Saturday, 10/26, 7:00PM, Bright Hockey Center, Cambridge, MA

I am in the same quandry that Dave Hendrickson was in. I don’t know much more about the Polish team than he does, except for one thing – they lost 6-1 to UMass-Amherst last weekend, and got pounded by Clarkson on Wednesday night. I’ll take Dave’s offer one further: a dozen of the finest from Famous Lunch in Troy for more info.

Harvard starts the season, and Peter Zakowich and J.R. Prestifillipo can become the latest in the goalie tandems which have served the Crimson so well. Henry Higdon has his chance at becoming the latest and greatest center in Crimson history, and Ashlin Halfknight joins a long string of Crimson captains. But what is Harvard’s dilemma? Scoring. Craig Adams and Craig MacDonald have a year under them, and last year’s heralded freshman class are now sophomores. In comes another touted freshmen class. Can they contribute? Lots of questions for Ronn Tomasonni.

I’ll go out on a limb on this score.

PICK: Harvard 6, Team Poland 1.

TEAM POLAND at BROWN (0-0-0) Sunday, 2:00PM, Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI

Team Poland continues their tour in Providence. Let’s make that two dozen of Famous Lunch’s finest.

Here’s exactly what Bob Gaudet was looking for. A game situation to mix his lines, play the freshmen, and find good chemistry for his team. It also lets some of his players get the scoring touch.

That limb is getting shorter…

PICK: Brown 4, Team Poland 2.

OTTAWA at DARTMOUTH (0-0-0) exhibition Sunday, 3:00PM, Thompson Arena, Hanover, NH

Ottawa has played two Division I teams this year: Boston College, who pasted them 9-2, and UNH, which to the surprise of many tied the Wildcats 3-3. Goalie Joel Gagnon faced 76 shots on goal, and Head Coach Mickey Goulet saw goals from Mike Chelbus, Benoit Constantineau, and Andre Deschenes.

Dartmouth returns their six top scorers in David Whitworth (13-18–31), Bill Kelleher (11-16–27), Owen Hughes (4-14–18), Jon Sturgis (7-9–16), Brent Retter (5-8–13) and Alex Dumas (4-9–13). They also return two senior goalies in Ben Heller (4.98 GAA, .824 SV%) and Scott Baker (4.11 GAA, .870 SV%). This will hopefully be Roger Demment’s breakthrough year as head coach. This team has a lot of promise.

Should be another penalty-filled game, making the power play for Dartmouth very important.

PICK: Dartmouth 7, Ottawa 2.

TEAM POLAND at PRINCETON (0-0-0) Tuesday, 10/29, 7:30PM, Hobey Baker Rink, Princeton, NJ

As for Poland, we’d better make that three dozen Famous Lunch’s.

Princeton starts out the season. J.P. O’Connor returns after a one-season layoff and should be expected to bring his scoring. Others must help him, though. Sophomore Jason Given will be expected to score more than his six goals and 11 assists from last season. The defense will see a lot of new faces with Jason Smith, Barrington Miller and Dan Brown graduating. In between the pipes, James Konte is gone, and the Tigers turn to Erasmo Saltarelli.

Another limb?

PICK: Princeton 5, Poland 2.

TEAM POLAND at CORNELL (0-0-0) Wednesday, 10/30, 7:30PM, Lynah Rink, Ithaca, NY

More Poland in the United States. This one should hurt a lot as well. Make it four dozen.

Cornell begins play as the defending ECAC champions. It’s been a long time for the Big Red Faithful, and second-year head coach Mike Schafer looks for the repeat. Brad Chartrand is gone, but Matt Cooney (13-21–34), Kyle Knopp (11-19– 30), and Ryan Smart (8-19–27) return. Let’s hope Vinnie Auger (5-15–20) can be healthy for one full season. One of the best blue-line tandems in the nation includes Chad and Steve Wilson. Jason Elliot emerged as the starting goalie for the Big Red last season with a 2.35 GAA and a save percentage of .923.

Only one more game left for the Polish Nationals next week.

PICK: Cornell 9, Team Poland 0.


ECAC league action begins with the annual opener between Brown and Harvard; plus, non-conference action continues.

Friday, November 1 Lake Superior State @ St. Lawrence Miami (OH) @ Vermont Denver @ Clarkson Army @ Dartmouth Merrimack @ Colgate Air Force @ Princeton Providence @ Union

Saturday, November 2 HARVARD @ BROWN Denver @ Clarkson Miami (OH) @ St. Lawrence Lake Superior St. @ Vermont Merrimack @ Union Providence @ Colgate Air Force @ Princeton Army @ RPI Waterloo @ Cornell (exhibition) Team Poland @ Yale (exhibition)

Copyright 1996 Jayson Moy . All Rights Reserved.

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