This Week in the ECAC: November 8, 1996

The 1980 Olympic Ice Arena seems a long ways away at this point in time, but this weekend, the first massive action takes place on the ECAC stage.

Cornell begins defense of their ECAC Championship on the road in Providence and Cambridge, and Vermont looks for a second straight regular season title with home games against RPI and Union.

Let’s get the party started.

RENSSELAER (2-1-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) & UNION (1-2-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) at No. 1 VERMONT (4-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) Friday, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, VT

UNION (1-2-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) & RENSSELAER (2-1-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) at DARTMOUTH (1-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) Friday, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Thompson Arena, Hanover, NH

RPI trounced Army on Saturday 6-2 and in turn their players proved that they can be a cohesive unit and play sound defense as well. The first line of Eric Healey-Alain St. Hilaire-Matt Garver has proven to be a force, and Mark Murphy has turned his disappointing freshman season around with three goals in his first three games. Joel Laing played the first two periods against Army and was strong allowing only one goal. Scott Prekaski played the third period and was also strong in his time. One of these two will face the number one team in the country on Friday. RPI’s defense has been steady led by a much improved Chris Aldous.

Union went 1-1 on the past weekend with a shutout by Trevor Koenig against Providence and Koenig also made 41 saves in a 3-2 loss to Merrimack. Koenig has proved his worth and he looks to be the number one guy for Stan Moore. There has to be more from other members of the Dutchmen, especially on the scoring front. John Sicinski has been sizzling playing on the first line with Brent Ozarowski and Ryan Donovan. He has four of the Dutchmen’s seven goals on the season. If Union is to continue to grow, there must be points put up by others. The defense of Union has been strong so far, allowing only six goals. Led by Andrew Will and Scott Boyd, they will try to shut down Vermont and Dartmouth.

Vermont has proved their worth so far this season with victories over BU, UNH, LSSU, and early season surprise Miami. The line of Eric Perrin-Martin St. Louis-J.C. Ruid are back and as strong as ever. The surprise line for the Cats have been their second line of Stephane Piche-Matt Saunders-B.J. Kilbourne. Saunders has pitched in early in his freshman campaign. He has four goals, two of them coming on Saturday in the Cats victory over Lake State. The six above comprise the six leading scorers for UVM.

Don’t forget goalie Tim Thomas either. He is one of the best in the country, and should see both games again this weekend.

Dartmouth played a strong game against Ottawa two weeks ago, and then last Friday they shut out Army 3-0. A three goal second period and 26 saves by Scott Baker led to the win. There should be balanced scoring for the Big Green this year as Alex Dumas, David Whitworth, and Charlie Retter scored on Friday. Watch out for guys like Darren Wercinski, Jon Sturgis, and Bill Kelleher. If the Big Green can get sustained defense from Dumas, Owen Hughes and others, they have Baker as well as Ben Heller in net. The balanced scoring should keep Dartmouth in it for many games.

PICKS: RPI at Vermont: RPI is a young team that is playing with a lot of confidence. Vermont is the number team in the nation playing with a lot of confidence. This one is going to be a barn burner as both teams like speed, but the more experienced forwards of UVM give them an edge. Vermont 6 RPI 4

Union at Dartmouth: Dartmouth has balanced scoring. Union also has unbalanced scoring so far this season. Both teams have a good defense. Trevor Koenig is on a roll in net, as is Scott Baker. A defensive struggle, but the balanced scoring of Dartmouth does it. Dartmouth 3 Union 2

RPI at Dartmouth: Dartmouth will look to pick up the pace after a tight game against Union. RPI will continue the run and gun after a night in the Cathouse. There is more offensive power in RPI than in Dartmouth. RPI 5 Dartmouth 2

Union at Vermont: Can Union’s defense hold up the Catamounts? As good as they are, Union’s defense will have it rough. A match-up of two stellar goalies in the ECAC, but the offense of UVM is too tough. Vermont 5 Union 1

CORNELL (0-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC)/COLGATE (3-1-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) at BROWN (0-1-0, 0-1-0 ECAC) Friday, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI

COLGATE (3-1-0, 0-0-0 ECAC)/CORNELL (0-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) at HARVARD (1-0-0, 1-0-0 ECAC) Friday, 7:30, Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Bright Hockey Center, Cambridge, MA

Cornell opens defense of their ECAC crown on the road in Providence. Cornell has not played an official game yet, but exhibition shutouts against Team Poland and Waterloo show that this team has great defensive power. Yet to allow a goal this season, Jason Elliot and Jean-Marc Pelletier prove to be a great tandem in goal, though you would expect to see Elliot get the lion’s share of the time. Balanced scoring throughout for the Big Red. Vinnie Auger is now healthy, he has two goals already, and ECAC Rookie of the Year Kyle Knopp is back. Levi Clegg, Greg Dailey, Tony Bergin are also among the scorers so far. This edition of the Big Red is ready to go.

Colgate has played four Hockey East teams so far, and has come away with three victories over Merrimack, Providence, and UNH. They put on an offensive show this weekend with seven and six goals respectively against Merrimack and Providence. The two guys on fire offensively are Mike Harder and Dave Debusschere, who each have five goals and six assists. Rob Mara has four goals on the season, and Scott Steeves has three goals. On defense Jack McIntosh has seven assists on the young season already. Dan Brenzavich has been the goalie, he comes in with a .869 save percentage, and a 3.60 GAA. This Red Raider team already has 11 power play goals this season.

Brown played a tight game against the Crimson of Harvard on Saturday in the ECAC league opener, but wound up on the losing end of a 5-3 score. Robert Merrill opened up the ECAC scoring for the Bears, but they found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 score at the end of one period. Brian Audette got the start for the Bears but gave up five goals on 11 shots, and was yanked in favor of Jeff Holowaty who shutout the Crimson the rest of the way. Mike Flynn’s two assists and goals by Brent Hoiness and Ryan Longfield were the offense for Brown. They must find scoring or else it will be a long season in Providence.

Harvard opened up with a 5-3 win over Brown, and freshman Brent Chodorow continued to impress with a goal. Rob Millar added two goals as well, and he looks for a huge season. Harvard seems to be getting the balanced attack going, and they are going to need it, as there is not one huge scoring threat as in previous years. J.R. Prestifilippo made 21 saves in his ECAC debut in net. The defense continues to be led by Ashlin Halfnight and Jeremiah McCarthy. They had one and three assists respectively on Saturday night.

PICKS: Cornell at Brown: Jason Elliot is a huge goalie, Brian Audette started out shaky, and Jeff Holowaty came to the rescue to stop the bleeding. Cornell has a healthy and dangerous Vinnie Auger, plus balanced scoring. Brown needs to find the scoring. Cornell 5 Brown 2

Colgate at Harvard: Colgate has been deadly on the power play. Therefore, Harvard must stay out of the penalty box. One game under the belt for J.R. Prestifilippo, can he match Dan Brenzavich in net? The offense of Colgate and Mike Harder take over. Colgate 6 Harvard 4

Colgate at Brown: A game which seems like an offensive mismatch. It will be up to the Brown defense and goalie (most likely Holowaty) to stop the firepower. It’s a tough task. Colgate 7 Brown 2

Cornell at Harvard: An early rematch of last years ECAC Championship Game. There will be a lot of offensive chances in this game. I’ve got a feeling on this one – revenge. Harvard 4 Cornell 3

PRINCETON (1-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC)/YALE (0-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) at CLARKSON (2-2-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) Friday, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m., Cheel Arena, Potsdam, NY

YALE (0-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC)/PRINCETON (1-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) at ST. LAWRENCE (0-4-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) Friday, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m., Appleton Arena, Canton, NY

Princeton had a tough time in their last three games, two against Air Force and one against Team Poland, but they won both games. Their tough time was getting the puck in the net. With 5-2 and 3-1 victories over Air Force, all three Princeton goalies saw action. Erasmo Saltarelli allowed two goals on 18 shots, Nick Rankin made 13 saves and allowed no goals, and Craig Bradley allowed one goal on 13 shots. Who gets the time in the net this weekend? That is the question that Don Cahoon must answer. There seems to be offense coming from a lot of areas. Matt Brush, Jean Verdon, Steve Shirreffs, Mike Bois, Tony Ranaldi and Casson Masters all scored on the weekend.

Yale got a huge offensive burst and defeated Team Poland 8-1 this past Saturday at Ingalls Rink. Two goals by junior Geoff Kufta and freshman Jeff Brow helped propel the win. Yale was wondering who was going to score this season. If Saturday was any indication, then scoring might be the least of their problems. Dan Peraza, Yvan Champagne, and Matt Cumming also added goals. In goal there will be a potential battle brewing between Alex Westlund and Dan Choquette for the starting job. If one, or both, of these goalies can improve on their GAA’s of over four, then Yale has a bright future. They start in a tough place though.

Clarkson was swept at home this past weekend by Denver 3-0 and 4-2 even though they outshot the Pioneers both nights. Dan Murphy stopped almost everything that was thrown his way, but the Golden Knights found it hard to find the net. Todd White was held to only one assist this weekend. Jean-Francois Houle tacked on one goal and one assist Saturday. Clarkson must continue to shoot the puck, and capitalize on their chances. Clarkson will face two talented goalies this weekend, but a lot of shots should help them put some wins on the board.

St. Lawrence is now 0-4-0 after high expectations to start the season. Part of the problem could lie in goal. Jon Bracco and Eric Heffler were not on their game getting swept by St. Cloud, and Bracco had a bad night against Lake State on Friday, giving up four goals on 22 shots. Eric Heffler came in for Bracco and made 11 saves, and the following night against Miami he made 40 saves in a 4-2 losing effort. Clint Owen will be gone until January, and Heffler and Bracco must step up their play if St. Lawrence does not want to start the season 0-6 and get off to a bad start in ECAC play.

PICKS: Princeton at Clarkson: The Golden Knights are looking to destroy someone after losing a pair at home to Denver. Princeton is the sacrificial lamb. Wait a moment though, the Tigers will make it tough, but Clarkson will overwhelm them. Clarkson 7 Princeton 2

Yale at St. Lawrence: St. Lawrence is looking to get off skid row. Yale put on an offensive outburst against Team Poland. The key here is in goal. Will Heffler be the starter or does Bracco get another chance for the Saints? And who will get the nod for the Eli? Will it be Westlund or Choquette? The Saints have problems to solve, and Yale is the beginning of the answer. St. Lawrence 5 Yale 3

Yale at Clarkson: Oh boy, another tasty morsel for the Golden Knights. Clarkson 8 Yale 3

Princeton at St. Lawrence: Balance on scoring for the Tigers will keep the Saints confounded. The boys in Canton are looking for things to go their way. After a win over Yale, they lose again. Princeton 4 St. Lawrence 2

RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE (2-1-0) at UMASS-LOWELL (2-2-0) Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., Tully Forum, Billerica, MA

In the past four years, RPI has won two, and Lowell has won two. It just so happens that Lowell has won the last two. Will they make it three in a row?

Last year a quick start for Lowell at the Fieldhouse took the opening night crowd out of it as Lowell took the 5-3 victory. Two years ago at Tully, RPI held a one goal lead late in the third, and two goals by the Riverhawks gave them the win.

Lowell has been a little inconsistent this year. After defeating BC on the road 6-4, they came back home and lost to BC 8-4. Scott Fankhouser was pulled from the nets after one period on Saturday. Martin Fillion should get a least one start against Merrimack this weekend, and should see the time against RPI on Wednesday.

RPI was previewed above against Vermont and Dartmouth.

PICK: There should be two battles at Tully: the game and Dave Hendrickson taking me on. Dave should have the advantage as his son can chop block me. He will win that battle, but RPI will win the war. RPI 5 Lowell 3

There’s a lot more ECAC next weekend, as all games revolve around ECAC teams. There’s also a non-conference game involving two ECAC teams. On the docket for next weekend:

Friday, November 15:

Dartmouth @ Colgate Vermont @ Cornell Brown @ Princeton Harvard @ Yale

Saturday, November 16:

Vermont @ Colgate Dartmouth @ Cornell Harvard @ Princeton Brown @ Yale Clarkson @ St. Lawrence RPI vs Union (at Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY, "The Capital Skate Classic", non-conference)

Tuesday, November 19:

Brown at Harvard

Jayson Moy is the ECAC Correspondent for US College Hockey Online.

Copyright 1996 Jayson Moy . All Rights Reserved.

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