ECAC PREVIEW: Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 1996
ECAC Preview: Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 1996 by Jayson Moy
[Editor’s note: several ECAC teams play games Tuesday, Nov. 26. These matchups were featured in last week’s ECAC Preview, and are not reflected in the records shown below.]
Last season showed off the ECAC’s strength at the top. This year, parity has returned with a vengeance.
This past weekend, every team split its two games, while in New Hampshire, there was another big upset.
Cornell, ranked 9th in the new Around the Rinks/USCHO Poll, was knocked from the unbeaten ranks by upstart Yale on Friday, then rebounded with a win over Princeton. The Tigers were victorious over Colgate on Friday, but the Red Raiders followed up with an overtime victory over Yale on Saturday evening.
In New York’s Hudson Valley, RPI’s scoreless string reached three full games with Clarkson’s 4-0 win Friday, but the Engineers shot the lights out in a victory over St. Lawrence the next night. St. Lawrence had defeated Union on Friday, but the Dutchmen in turn came back and upset the Golden Knights on Saturday.
All this, combined with Dartmouth’s upset over No. 7 Vermont on Friday, left a huge logjam in the ECAC standings, with three points separating second-place Princeton from the four teams tied for eighth.
A handful of ECAC league games are sprinkled within the schedule this Thanksgiving weekend, and time will tell if the craziness continues:
Princeton (4-2-1, 3-2-1 ECAC) at Harvard (2-3-1, 2-3-1 ECAC) Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Bright Hockey Center, Cambridge, MA
Princeton has been an early surprise with seven points, good for second place. The success seems to be a result of good play from each part of the Tigers.
"We’ve been competitive," said head coach Don Cahoon. "Start with our goaltending. It was a question."
Nick Rankin has performed nicely in goal. He currently ranks third among the ECAC overall goaltending leaders with a .922 save percentage and a 2.41 GAA.
Cahoon has played five defensemen most games this season, and there is a reason.
"We’re not deep on defense, but we’ve got two sophomores (Steve Shirreffs and Mike Acosta) and two freshmen (Dominique Auger and Darren Yopyk)," said Cahoon.
"Our strength is up front. It gives me a chance to play an extra forward because that’s where our depth is."
Princeton has surprised so far, but Cahoon is wary of the early success of the Tigers.
"We’re a long ways away from being great," he said.
Harvard is having a tough start to the year. Sitting at 2-3-1, its only wins on the young season have come against Brown.
The Crimson are having trouble scoring, averaging 2.80 goals per game. Forward Rob Millar is the leading Crimson scorer with seven points; but in the nets, Harvard has only allowed 3.40 goals per game.
Combine the numbers and it is evident that Harvard has kept their games close so far in the season. This includes losses to Cornell and Colgate, 3-2 and 2-1 respectively, a 2-1 win over Brown, and a 2-2 tie with Yale.
Other offensive woes include the power play. The Crimson are 2-for-32 on the season, with both goals coming in the first game of the season.
PICK: Princeton is working on a lot of cylinders at the moment. They have already defeated Harvard 6-2 earlier this season. There is no reason why this result should not be the same. Princeton 6, Harvard 2
Yale (2-3-1, 2-3-1 ECAC) at Brown (1-6-1, 1-4-1 ECAC) Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI
Yale provided one of the many upsets in this young ECAC season with a 4-3 victory over previously-unbeaten Cornell. The next evening Yale lost a close one to Colgate, 4-3 in OT.
Yale has given notice: it is not the doormat a lot of people thought it would be this season.
"We’ve managed to have at least one stellar team performace per week," said Tim Taylor, Yale’s head coach. "We’re proving to be a team that’s capable of doing that."
With a young group, Taylor thinks his team is coming along on both ends of the rink.
"We’ve managed to play effectively defensively and offensively to the point where we’re spending a lot of time in the other team’s zone," he said. "Territorialy, we’re a much improved team.
"We’re getting it out with authority, getting it in with authority, and keeping it in with authority."
With ECAC Rookie of the Week Jeff Hamilton (2-2–4 last weekend) among his crop of young players, Taylor looks forward to the long road ahead.
"If we continue to play like this, people might not take us lightly anymore," he said, "which will make it tougher."
Brown continues to have trouble scoring enough goals to combat the inability to stop them. The Bears were swept by No. 1 Michigan this past weekend, 5-2 and 7-2, and have allowed 38 goals this season.
"We were scoring, and I thought that would be a problem with this team," said head coach Bob Gaudet, "We’re allowing too many goals."
On the offensive front, their top scorer is defenseman Jimmy Andersson (1-9–10) — it usually is not a good sign when a blueliner is your leading scorer. But the Bears’ forwards saw some life as junior Damian Prescott tallied three of the four goals scored against Michigan.
PICK: We have a team that is getting a lot of respect to begin the season with their impressive performance at Yale. There is also a team which needs a win very badly in Brown. In their first meeting, Brown won 5-4. The Bears get to go for the sweep at home this time, but don’t count on it. Yale 4, Brown 2
Colgate (6-3-0, 3-3-0 ECAC) at No. 9 Cornell (5-1-0, 5-1-0 ECAC) Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Lynah Rink, Ithaca, NY
The Red Raiders have five of the top 12 scorers in the ECAC going into this weekend’s action. Dave DeBusschere (10-12–22) and Mike Harder (8-12–20) top the ECAC charts, and Rob Mara (6-8–14), Tim Loftsgard (3-9–12) and Jack McIntosh (2-8–10) rank as well.
But even with this offensive power and impressive non-league record, the Red Raiders are only a .500 team in the ECAC so far.
The special teams had been playing well early in the year, but have sputtered lately. Against Princeton, Colgate was 0-for-5 on the power play while letting the Tigers go 2-for-7. Head coach Don Vaughn has been concerned about that fact.
"We continue to take bad penalties at times, and it continues to hurt us," he said.
Colgate lost to Princeton 4-3, and defeated Yale 4-3 in overtime. The win over Yale was freshman goalie Shep Harder’s first career start. The Minnesota native (no relation to teammate Mike Harder) made 39 saves for the win.
Defenseman Jack McIntosh scored the game winner with 38 seconds left in the overtime session.
The Big Red continue to lead the ECAC on the power play. They added two more power-play goals against Princeton on Saturday, and are now sitting at 29.7 percent efficiency.
"If you’re going to be successful in college hockey, you have to have good special teams," head coach Mike Schafer said.
Unfortunately for Schafer, he’ll be without senior forward Vinnie Auger for at least four games. According to assistant coach Scott Garrow, Auger has a broken thumb and will definitely miss the next two games against Miami (OH) and Colgate. He will probably miss the series against Union and RPI the following weekend as well.
The broken thumb came as a result of a slash by Princeton defenseman Dominique Auger in the second period last Saturday. No penalty was called on the play.
Cornell remains in first place by three points, and is off to a good start. But Schafer knows his team can’t get complacent.
"We’re pretty fortunate to be 5-1," he said, "I looked (Friday) night with the Colgate loss and Vermont losing to Dartmouth. … We have to be counting our blessings."
Colgate gets its first chance at revenge after being embarassed in two quarterfinal round playoff games last year. Cornell swept the series, 8-1 and 8-3, on its way to the ECAC Tournament championship.
PICK: Special teams were the key in last year’s playoff series and definitely will be again here. Both teams are deadly on the power play. This means that the defense and the goaltending will have to be at the top of their games. Cornell’s is presently stronger. Cornell 5, Colgate 3
In addition to the league games, there’s a bevy of non-conference action on this holiday weekend:
No. 2 Boston University (8-1-1) & Boston College (4-5-1) at St. Lawrence (2-7-0) Friday & Saturday, 7:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m., Appleton Arena, Canton, NY
Boston College (4-5-1) & No. 2 Boston University (8-1-1) at Clarkson (5-4-0) Friday & Saturday 7:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m., Cheel Arena, Potsdam, NY
Boston University has moved back up to number two in the ATR/USCHO Poll by virtue of a 7-0-1 record since its loss to Vermont early in the season.
Terrier forward Chris Drury is a leading Hobey Baker candidate with his 21 points (on 12 goals and nine assists) on the season. Shawn Bates follows closely in the scoring department with 15 points.
The goaltending tandem of Tom Noble and Michel Larocque are one-two in Hockey East. Noble is 4-0-0 with a 1.79 GAA and a .929 save percentage. His partner Larocque is 3-0-1 with a 2.94 GAA and an .888 save percentage.
Boston College is still struggling to find itself. The Eagles were swept by UNH this past weekend, 8-3 and 4-2.
"We played 40 minutes of excellent hockey," said head coach Jerry York of Saturday’s game, "But that’s not going to give us much success at this level. We have to play a full 60 minutes."
It gets tougher for York, with goaltender Greg Taylor still out of action with a broken hand.
St. Lawrence earned a much-needed win over Union on Friday, 4-3, but then let a ton of rubber fly at goalie Jon Bracco in a 6-3 loss to RPI.
Trailing 2-0 going into the second period Friday, the Saints scored three goals to Union’s one to end the period tied, 3-3. Bob Prier then tallied his seventh of the season 6:52 into the third to give St. Lawrence the win.
The Saints gave up 59 shots to RPI on Saturday, 27 in the third period. RPI scored four goals in the third and defeated the Saints, 6-3.
Clarkson’s Dan Murphy shutout RPI, 4-0, to gain his second career shutout on Friday. The Golden Knights then lost a close one to Union 2-1.
"They outworked us for the first two periods," said head coach Mark Morris. "Union played exceptionally well early on."
Clarkson had the upper hand in the third period, with Guillaume Beese scoring 11 seconds into the period to pull the Golden Knights to within one. Clarkson could not get the tying goal, though.
BU at SLU: Lack of goaltending has hurt SLU so far with the loss of Clint Owen. Too much offense for SLU. BU 8, SLU 2
BC at Clarkson: Two teams looking for some consistency. BC is looking for people to break out, and Clarkson is trying to solve some of its offensive problems. Clarkson in a close one. Clarkson 5, BC 3
BC at SLU: Here’s a tough one. Rochester, N.Y. native Marty Reasoner should have a ton of folks watching him play here. He shines in this one. BC 6, SLU 2
BU at Clarkson: A rematch of last year’s second round NCAA tournament game. BU seems stronger now than they were then. Clarkson does not. BU 6, Clarkson 3
No. 8 Miami (OH) (9-3-0) at Colgate (6-3-0) & No. 9 Cornell (5-1-0) Friday & Saturday, 7:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m., Starr Rink & Lynah Rink, Hamilton, NY & Ithaca, NY
Miami lost a big game against Michigan State on Friday, but bounced right back with a 4-3 win over Notre Dame the following evening.
That win came with 40 seconds left in the game as freshman Dustin Whitecotton tallied his first career goal.
The story for the Redskins is in net, where juniors Trevor Prior and Adam Lord are one-two in the CCHA in goaltending.
Prior has an amazing 1.42 GAA and a .934 save percentage. In league play, his GAA is 1.51 and his save percentage is .920. In the CCHA, Lord’s GAA is 2.00 and his save percentage is .922 to go along with a 4-0-0 record.
Junior Randy Robitaille (9-11–20) leads the offensive attack for the Redskins.
Cornell and Colgate are previewed above.
Miami at Colgate: This is the Redskins’ second venture to New York State this season. In one earlier NYS appearance they defeated St. Lawrence, 4-2. This should be a battle as the outstanding forwards of Colgate battle the outstanding goaltending of Miami. Miami 5, Colgate 4
Miami(OH) at Cornell: Miami’s penalty kill is 86 percent. Cornell’s power play is 29.7 percent. Something has to give. The tight checking of the Big Red will give Miami fits, as it did to another team that likes to skate, Princeton. Cornell 4, Miami 2
RPI (5-4-0) at Northeastern (2-7-1) & Merrimack (3-6-1) Friday & Saturday 7:00 p.m., Matthews Arena & Volpe Center, Boston, MA & North Andover, MA
RPI finally saw its scoreless streak of 203:04 end with a first-period goal by Alain St-Hilaire in the 6-3 win over St. Lawrence on Saturday
"When that first goal went in, there was a big sigh of relief from everybody," said head coach Dan Fridgen. "Our guys deserve a lot of credit, because they didn’t quit."
Even though they were shut out by UMass-Lowell, Union and Clarkson in their three previous games, Fridgen sees things turning back around for his team.
"We’re back," he said. "We haven’t changed anything in three games. We’ve just worked hard. Sooner or later, the bounces would come. Our work ethic was there."
It started to show Friday against Clarkson. RPI had numerous chances, but Dan Murphy made 36 saves in his shutout. Saturday, Eric Healey alone had 16 shots alone and scored a goal. Freshman Pete Gardiner added two goals in the effort.
Northeastern and head coach Bruce Crowder continue to limp through the season following a sweep at the hands of Providence over the weekend, 4-3 and 8-0.
The last time the the Huskies faced RPI was earlier this season, and they fell, 4-3. Freshman Marc Robitaille had a good game in goal with 39 saves in the losing effort.
Eric Kaminski, Justin Kearns, Roger Holeczy, and Todd Barclay figured in some of the scoring in the first game.
Crowder is looking for more consistency from his club. After gaining three Hockey East points in Maine, they were swept by two of the tougher Hockey East clubs in Boston University and Providence.
Merrimack is also a team looking for consistency. After getting shackled by Boston University on Friday 9-1, the Warriors earned a hard-fought Hockey East point with a 3-3 tie at home.
Merrimack will be at home for the game againt RPI — a plus for the Warriors. They are 3-1-1 at the Volpe Center thus far in the season.
At home on Saturday, Eric Thibeault made 49 saves in the tie against the Terrers. He was chased after one period on Friday after giving up five goals.
Led by forward Rejean Stringer, the Warriors look to add more offense this weekend.
RPI at Northeastern: RPI got out of the gate fast in their first meeting, but the Huskies came back to tie it after one period. Good goaltending by Joel Laing and Robitaille allowed only one more goal, as RPI won it 4-3. RPI is back on the scoring front, and starting to put it together. Matt Garver is also scheduled to return for RPI, adding more offense. RPI 6, Northeastern 2
RPI at Merrimack: These two teams have played close ones at the Volpe in recent years, 3-3 in 1992, and a 2-1 RPI win in 1994. Merrimack is tough at home, and this is no different. RPI’s offense is the key here, and, as always, special teams. RPI 4, Merrimack 3
Merrimack (3-6-1) at Dartmouth (3-3-0) Friday, 7:30 p.m., Thompson Arena, Hanover, NH
Merrimack is previewed above.
Dartmouth pulled off one of last weekend’s shockers in the ECAC with a 4-1 victory over Vermont.
"Our team played very well," said Big Green head coach Roger Demment. "Close to perfection sometimes. Overall it was a total team effort."
A surprise for the Big Green has been goaltender Jason Wong. The freshman from Richmond, BC is second in the ECAC goaltender rankings with a .913 save percentage, and 2.25 GAA. Wong held the Catamounts scoreless in the last 56:52 of the upset.
"He (Wong) was especially strong in the third period," said Demment. "With the goalie pulled, he made some strong saves."
The season is starting to come together for Demment’s team.
"We got off to a disappointing start that first weekend," he said, "We played below our potential. ..We’re beginning to start to do the things we wanted."
PICK: It looks like the Big Green might have found their goaltender in Wong. He will continue his strong play. Dartmouth 5, Merrimack 3
Ottawa at Union (4-4-0) Saturday, 7:00 p.m., Achilles Rink, Schenectady, NY
Ottawa is, at last look, in last place of the Far East Division in the Ontario Universities Athletic Association with a 2-5-0 record.
In its previous jaunts to the United States, Ottawa has not won a game. The team lost to Boston College, 9-2 and to Dartmouth, 5-3. Ottawa did tie UNH 3-3 in another game.
If there is any trend that can be gotten from these three games, it’s that that Ottawa will take a lot of penalties and give up a lot of shots on goal. Both tendencies were evident in these three games.
Once again it was Trevor Koenig in goal for Union, making the difference for the Dutchmen on Saturday. He made 37 saves, including 21 in the third period, and continues to lead the ECAC with a 1.89 GAA.
Scoring is a concern for the Dutchmen, who have just 20 goals in eight games for an average of 2.50 goals per game. These are not good numbers, but when you have Koenig in goal, it is enough.
PICK: Union should get some offense going, and should get plenty of power play work. Union 7, Ottawa 2
Northeastern (2-7-1) at Harvard (2-3-1) Sunday, 7:00 p.m., Bright Hockey Center, Cambridge, MA
Northeastern and Harvard have been previewed above.
PICK: Two struggling teams looking for a way to win. These two will meet again in February … in the consolation game of the Beanpot. This time it will be Harvard and J.R. Prestifillippo. Harvard 3, Northeastern 2
No. 7 Vermont (7-3-0) at Providence (5-5-1) Tuesday, 7:00 p.m., Schneider Arena, Providence, RI
Since reaching number one in the ATR/USCHO Poll, the Catamounts have gone 3-3-0 (2-3-0 ECAC). Teams have begun to realize how to play the Catamounts. Tight checking on the French Connection, and launching shots at Tim Thomas, has been the formula in their three losses.
You can also throw a hot goaltender at them as well. Joel Laing, Jason Elliot, and Jason Wong have all defeated the Cats.
In five league games, none of the Connection (Martin St. Louis, Eric Perrin, and J.C. Ruid) are even in the top 15 in league scoring. Tim Thomas is not in the top five in goaltending in league play, which is virtually unheard of after leading the league the past two years.
On the other hand, the Cats have eaten up non-league competition. Overall, St. Louis is 5-13-18, Perrin is 6-9-15, and Ruid is 5-8-13. Thomas has a GAA of 2.51, and a save percentage of .926.
Providence blasted Northeastern 8-0 on Saturday after defeating the Huskies 4-3 the night before.
For a team that was little unsure of itself, the 8-0 win did them some good. Before the games this past weekend, head coach Paul Pooley was worried about his personnel.
"It’s time to evaluate some players and maybe get some new ones into the lineup," he said.
A good offensive showing by the Friars, and it should help going into this weekend.
PICK: Vermont has been a terror against non-league opponents, and it should not change this weekend. Vermont 6, Providence 2
And finally, the only tournament featuring an ECAC team this weekend — The Governor’s Cup:
No. 7 Vermont (7-3-0) vs. No. 4 New Hampshire (9-2-0) Friday, 8:00 p.m., Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, VT
Vermont has been previewed above.
UNH is on a roll. Since starting the season 1-2-0, it has reeled off eight straight wins, including a sweep of Boston College, 8-3 and 4-2, last weekend.
UNH also has its anticipated goaltending tandem in place, Brian Larochelle and Sean Matile. Matile had been ineligible for the first part of the season because he played in some major junior games before coming to UNH. He made 31 saves in his debut with the 4-2 win.
A combination of good offense and decent defense has made head coach Dick Umile a very happy man as his team moves up to number four in the ATR/USCHO poll, though the teams only two losses are to ECAC foes Vermont and Colgate.
PICK: UNH is on a tear, and UVM is not so sure of themselves. In the first meeting between the two teams, UVM was the victor 5-1 at UNH. This time they are in Vermont. The two teams are different right now though, and the hotter team gets the nod. UNH 4, UVM 3
The ECAC action gets hot once again next weekend with 10 league games on the docket.
Friday, December 6 Saturday, December 7 Clarkson at Brown Clarkson at Harvard St. Lawrence at Harvard St. Lawrence at Brown Union at Colgate Union at Cornell RPI at Cornell RPI at Colgate Boston University at Yale Princeton at Yale Princeton at Army
Wednesday, December 11 Harvard at Union
Where will the upsets come next week?
(Many thanks to Adam Wodon and Dave Hendrickson for their contributions to this preview)
Jayson Moy is the ECAC Correspondent for US College Hockey Online.
Copyright 1996 Jayson Moy . All Rights Reserved.
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