This Week in the ECAC: November 1, 1996

While the ECAC nonconference schedule continues, the regular season starts this weekend as teams begin the road to Lake Placid.

The ECAC went 3-2 against the Hockey East and 0-2 against the WCHA, as St. Cloud swept a pair from St. Lawrence. There’s interaction with the other three leagues this weekend, as well as with independents. Let’s get it rolling with the annual ECAC opener, Brown vs. Harvard.

HARVARD (0-0-0) at BROWN (0-0-0) Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI

The annual league opener takes place this year in Rhode Island. The two teams are travel partners, Ivy League rivals, and finished in sixth and seventh place last season respectively. This is the 123rd meeting between the two teams, with Harvard leading America’s oldest rivalry 85-30-7.

Both Harvard and Brown have only had one exhibition game, each of them disposing of Team Poland. The only thing that really came out of these exhibitions was that freshmen got their first game experience, and the returners, skated again.

For the Crimson, it will be the first Division I test for some of the freshmen, who once again were named one of the strongest recruiting classes in college hockey. Freshmen Brett Chodorow and Jamin Kernar got their first goals against the Poles. Matt Scorsune also tallied an assist. In goal, J.R. Prestifilippo saw his first action. You have to wonder which goalie Harvard coach Ronn Tomassoni will start on Saturday, Prestifilippo or sophomore Peter Zakowich. The key in this game will be the offense generated by the forwards of Harvard. They face a tough Brown defense, and folks like Henry Higdon and Craig Adams must get on the board. If Craig MacDonald can continue his stellar play centering the two freshmen, Chodorow and Kernar, then they will score on the Bears.

Taking a look at the Brown Bears, their returnees got the scoring done. Senior Marty Clapton notched four points (two goals and two assists) as he was centered by Jade Kersey, who picked up four assists himself. The other member of that line, junior Damien Prescott, also picked up two goals and an assist to boot. Mike Flynn must get on the board as well. The key for the Bears is that they score early, and score often. Their defense will hold them. Bill McKay, D.J. Harding, and Jimmy Andersson are the blue line anchors.

A close defensive struggle seems to be on tap here. The offense from the front lines gives Harvard the nod.

PICK: Harvard 4 Brown 2

LAKE SUPERIOR STATE (1-4-1), and MIAMI (OH) (6-1-0) at ST. LAWRENCE (0-2-0) Friday, 7:30 p.m. vs. LSSU, Saturday 7 p.m. vs. Miami, Appleton Arena, Canton, NY

MIAMI (OH) (6-1-0), and LAKE SUPERIOR STATE (1-4-1) at VERMONT (2-0-0) Friday, 7:30 p.m. vs. Miami, Saturday 7 p.m. vs. LSSU, Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, VT

Two CCHA teams make the trip to the northern reaches of the ECAC to play two of the top four teams in the league. Should be an interesting weekend for all four teams.

Lake Superior State comes in a disappointing 1-4-1. They were swept by Bowling Green this past weekend 6-4 and 4-2 as they opened CCHA league play.

There have been few bright spots for the Lakers this season. Junior Joe Blaznek tallied a hat trick last Friday in the loss, and is surprising 4-4-8. Other than that new head coach Scott Borek has seen some disappointment from his returners. In goal John Grahame is 1-4-0, with a 4.02 GAA, and an .859 save percentage. Junior Bates Battaglia has only tallied one goal this season, that coming last Saturday, to go along with his three assists, all of which came October 20 against Maine.

Some stiff competition again this weekend for the Lakers, can they break the funk against Vermont and St. Lawrence?

Miami on the other hand has been a pleasant surprise. Third year coach Mark Mazzoleini has two goaltenders working for him this year. Junior Trevor Prior has helped Miami to their 6-1-0 start by going 3-0-0, with a 0.80 GAA, and a .957 save percentage. Amazing numbers for the youngster. The other half of the goaltending duo is University of Illinois-Chicago junior transfer, Adam Lord. Lord has gone 3-1-0, with a 2.51 GAA, and an .892 save percentage.

On offense, sophomore Randy Robitaille leads the CCHA in scoring with six goals and four assists, and if you count the two games against Windsor, he has six goals and nine assists. Junior Adam Copeland has also gotten off to a hot start with three goals and six assists.

St. Lawrence got a rude awakening to the 1996-97 season, being swept by St. Cloud in Minnesota. Their offense was shut down pretty well, only scoring two goals on each evening. Paul DiFrancesco only got on the board once, an assist on a power play goal in game two.

On the other hand, some freshmen showed a lot of promise. Jason Windle had two assists, and Alex Gordon scored a goal. St. Lawrence must have more offense this weekend. Jon Bracco and Eric Heffler split time this weekend in both games. With Clint Owen still suspended indefinitely, they get the call again this weekend. Bracco was not spectacular allowing all nine goals on the weekend on 43 shots.

Vermont played powerhouse Boston University on Saturday and came out of Walter Brown with a 4-2 victory. It is safe to say that Vermont can now be labeled a powerhouse as well. The line of J.C. Ruid, Eric Perrin and Martin St. Louis clicked again as they combined for a total of eight points (St. Louis 0-3-3, Ruid 1-1-2 Perrin 1-2-3). Depth for the Catamounts continued to show as B.J. Kilbourne scored the fourth UVM goal. Tim Thomas withstood a third period burst from the Terriers to help the win. UVM is a team to be reckoned with.

PICKS: LSSU at SLU: Both teams are looking to get on track. You usually see some low-scoring affairs at Appleton. With both teams looking to get going, this should be a real tight and well-played game. SLU 3, LSSU 3

MIA at UVM: Can Miami sustain their start? They run into a tough team, UVM, the number two team in the Around the Rinks/USCHO Poll this week. UVM continues near the top challenging for number one. UVM 6, MIAMI 4

LSSU at UVM: UVM stays unbeaten on the season behind scoring and magnificent goaltending from Tim Thomas. UVM 6, LSSU 3

MIA at SLU: Miami continues to win the close ones. They do it again at Appleton and leave the Saints winless. MIA 4, SLU 3

DENVER (1-3-0) at CLARKSON (2-0-0) Friday, 7 p.m., Saturday 7:30 p.m., Cheel Arena, Potsdam, NY

The two teams meet again, this time in Potsdam, NY. Last year in Denver, the Pioneers swept the two games, 4-2 and 4-3 in overtime. Can the Golden Knights take revenge from last year?

The Pioneers start the season 1-3-0, getting thier first win of the season last Saturday at home against Wisconsin 3-2. But two losses to North Dakota and a trouncing by Wisconsin on Friday lead Pioneer fans to wonder what has happened. Goaltending seems to be a problem as Jim Mullin was pulled on Friday. While Anti Laaksonen and Anders Bjork have contributed, folks such as Erik Ansersson and Petri Gunther must start to score.

Clarkson has been idle since trouncing Team Poland last Wednesday. They should be ready for this rematch. Todd White was solid against Ohio State, as was Dan Murphy. J.F. Houle, Mikko Olilla, Nicholas Windsor, and Guillaume Beese started to contribute early as well. Clarkson may be the only team that can go toe to toe with Vermont this year, and they are out to prove that they are a powerhouse as well.

PICK: A Clarkson sweep. 5-2 and 6-3

ARMY (3-2-0) at DARTMOUTH (0-0-0) Friday, 7:30 p.m., Thompson Arena, Hanover, NH ARMY (3-2-0) at RENSSELEAR POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE (1-1-0) Saturday, 7 p.m., Houston Fieldhouse, Troy, NY

Army travels to take on a pair of ECAC teams, and hope to continue thier winning streak. Army sits at 3-2-0, and swept a pair of games from Mount Allison this past weekend, 5-4 and 5-2.

Daryl Chamberlin is as good as they get in goal, as he notched nine shutouts last season. He also led them to a 6-4 victory over Minnesota-Duluth, the ninth ranked team in the latest Around the Rinks/USCHO Poll. Scoring should come from Joe Sharrock and Bill Morrison. Morrison had a career game against RPI two years ago with a hat trick.

Dartmouth defeated Ottawa last Sunday, generating 68 shots on goal. Jon Sturgis provided the dramatic flair as he brought Dartmouth back in the third with two goals. All four Big Green goalies played in the game, but expect Scott Baker to get the nod over Ben Heller against the Cadets. Curtis Wilgosh, Darren Wercinski, and David Whitworth should provide more scoring.

RPI comes off a win over Northeastern last weekend, as Eric Healey, Mark Murphy and Alain St. Hilaire had a spectacular game. Scott Prekaski got his first career start, and after a shaky first period settled down and shutout the Huskies the rest of the way. The question for RPI coach Dan Fridgen is who gets the start in goal against the Cadets? Most likely it will be Joel Laing who had a strong performance against Boston University.

PICKS: ARMY at DARTMOUTH: There’s potential for a lot of firepower with the Big Green. Army also has that potential, and don’t forget about Chamberlin in the nets for the Cadets. Dartmouth 5, Army 4

ARMY at RPI: RPI looks for revenge after Army has taken them twice in the last two years. They will get it this year. RPI 6, Army 3

MERRIMACK (0-2-0) and PROVIDENCE (3-0-0) at COLGATE (1-1-0)

Friday, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 7 p.m., Starr Rink, Hamilton, NY

PROVIDENCE (3-0-0) and MERRIMACK (0-2-0) at UNION (0-1-0) Friday, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 7 p.m., Achilles Rink, Schenectady, NY

Some more ECAC-Hockey East matchups in New York State this week.

Merrimack opened their season this past weekend with a pair of Hockey East games against Providence, and were promptly swept by Dan Dennis and the Friars. The scoring was not there, but the tough defense and goaltending can be held accountable. They face two more tough goalies this weekend.

Providence has been impressive. Goalie Dan Dennis shutout Merrimack and also allowed only two goals against the Warriors in game one. Providence is now ranked 10th in the Around The Rinks/USCHO Poll, and second year coach Paul Pooley is primed for another strong season. Team play is where the Friars find their strength and it should be there this weekend.

Union played a tough game against UNH in Durham last weekend, and surprised many despite the loss. Their defense was especially strong, most notably Trevor Koenig in goal. Union still has to improve their offensive capabilities to make a move, but that will come. Their defense will hope to hold them in games this season, and it was evident that they were up to the challenge at UNH.

Colgate lost a heartbreaker to Maine, and then came back and beat UNH in overtime. All-American candidate Mike Harder is off to a good start with two goals and two assists. Tim Loftsgard also had two goals on the weekend. Dan Brenzavich made 28 and 23 saves respectively against Maine and New Hampshire.

PICKS:

MERRIMACK at COLGATE: Expect Shep Harder to start against the Warriors. The Red Raiders have mighty offensive talent, and the Warriors hope to stop them. One advantage that Merrimack might have playing on the road: Starr Rink is almost as cold as the Volpe. Colgate 6, Merrimack 2

PROVIDENCE at UNION: You might see a backup goalie start for the Friars. Bob Kane perhaps? Leeor Shtrom should see the start after Koenig started the first game. Union’s defense must be strong for all four of Providence’s lines. If not, it’s a long night. Providence 4, Union 2

MERRIMACK at UNION: This should be a battle of who gets the best chances and capitalizes. Union must play defense again, and Merrimack must continue to get 30+ shots on goal. This is a close one. Merrimack 3, Union 2

PROVIDENCE at COLGATE: This should be a good one. Dan Brenzavich needs to be solid, and the Red Raider defense must not show thier inexperience. The Friars must rotate lines, and continually attack. Colgate 5, Providence 3

AIR FORCE (0-2-0) at PRINCETON (0-0-0) Friday, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 7 p.m., Hobey Baker Rink, Princeton, NY

What can you say about the Falcons? They are arguably the worst Division I team in the NCAA. Last season they were, and this season started with the Academy getting swept by Division III Wisconsin-River Falls. In fact they were shutout 3-0 in game one, and lost 6-4 in game two. Can they beat a Division I opponent this year?

Princeton lost a lot of players who were the heart and soul of their team. James Konte has graduated, and one expects to see Erasmo Saltarelli in the nets. J.P. O’Connor returns after a year off, but leading scorer Jonathan Kelley is gone. Defense is also at a huge loss as Barrington Miller, Jason Smith, and Dan Brown are gone. At least Princeton has an easy start to the season.

PICK: Princeton in a sweep, 6-1, 5-0

WATERLOO at CORNELL (0-0-0) Saturday, 7 p.m., Lynah Rink, Ithaca, NY

Cornell starts it rolling with exhibition number two. They beat up on Team Poland, and hope to do the same to Waterloo. Vinnie Auger looks healthy for the first time since his freshman year. If he is, watch out. Matt Cooney will be the guts of this team. Jason Elliot will get it going, but expect others to rotate in goal.

Not much of a chance for the visitors from Canada.

PICK: Cornell 8 Waterloo 1

TEAM POLAND (winless in North America) at YALE (0-0-0) Saturday, 7 p.m., Ingalls Rink, New Haven, CT

Team Poland is a mystery. They get the last place team in the ECAC. This should mean that they have a chance right? Wrong.

Yale will start to figure out who will score for them. Who will it be? It is still a puzzle. Rotation of goalies between Alex Westlund and Dan Choquette to start of the season for the Bulldogs.

This should be the closest game for the Poles. Or maybe not.

PICK: Yale 4 Poland 2

ECAC League action full force next weekend as all 12 teams get underway with action. Next week we preview:

RPI/Union at Vermont/Dartmouth Cornell/Colgate at Brown/Harvard Princeton/Yale at Clarkson/St. Lawrence

All teams switch partners from Friday night on Saturday night.

Plus we take a look at RPI at UMass-Lowell on November 13.

Copyright 1996 Jayson Moy . All Rights Reserved.

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