This Week in the ECAC: December 13, 1996

ECAC PREVIEW: Dec. 13-14, 1996 ECAC Preview: Dec. 13-14, 1996 by Jayson Moy

The holiday season is upon us, and as usual, that means a light schedule of games. There are only two on the ECAC docket this week, and both involve a Hockey East foe — UMass-Amherst.

The ECAC is currently overwhelming HEA opponents, posting a 16-8-2 record thus far. The ECAC has never had a winning record against Hockey East, dating back to the conferences’ split in 1984.

The ECAC had its best chance in 1994-95. That year, the record stood at 23-23 (excluding ties) going into the Beanpot, but Harvard lost both games and Hockey East won the series again.

Of the teams in action this weekend, Princeton has yet to face Hockey East, while Dartmouth was a winner in its only game, 6-4 over Merrimack. UMass-Amherst is 0-1-1 against the ECAC, including a 4-1 loss to Vermont.

The battle for the Whitelaw Trophy intensified this past weekend as well, in nine conference games. Not one team gained four points, but several earned three, including Rensselaer, Colgate, St. Lawrence, and Harvard.

The Engineers pulled off a last-minute win against ECAC leader Cornell, and then settled for a tie with Colgate when the Red Raiders scored a late goal to tie the game. The Red Raiders had defeated Union the night before.

St. Lawrence (3-3-1) and Harvard (3-4-2) tied on Friday night and then beat Brown and Clarkson, respectively, in one-goal games.

Princeton (6-2-1) moved into a tie for first place with Cornell with its win over Yale. The Tigers were also tied for first going into the holidays in 1990, but finished 11-10-1, their only over-.500 ECAC season.

The Big Red (6-2-1) was one of the teams on the wrong end of the weekend; they took only one point from two home games. Ahead this week:

Princeton (7-2-2, 6-2-1 ECAC) at UMass-Amherst (7-7-0, 4-6-0 Hockey East) Friday, 7:00 p.m., Mullins Center, Amherst, MA

The Tigers are in first place in the ECAC, along with Cornell. They played a tough game against Yale on Saturday, and despite Princeton’s lofty standing, head coach Don Cahoon senses that work still has to be done.

"To get off to the start we’ve gotten off to, we shouldn’t be unappreciative of that," he said. "But obviously we’re going to have to play a whole lot better than that if we’re going to stay in the fray here."

The experiment with Mike Bois on defense should continue in this game for the Tigers. The non-league game provides Princeton a chance to get some rest for its short-staffed defensive unit, though the young group has performed admirably so far.

The Minutemen come off of a weekend sweep of Providence, 5-3 and 3-1. Those wins moved UMass-Amherst into sixth place in Hockey East. Warren Norris and Rob Bonneau scored two goals apiece in Friday’s win over the Friars.

Head coach Joe Mallen just received a three-year extension on his contract; he has brought the program respectability in just its fourth year.

PICK: Princeton is flying high, and UMass-Amherst is finding themselves. This one will be a struggle, but the Minutemen use the home ice to their advantage. UMass-Amherst 4, Princeton 3

UMass-Amherst (7-7-0, 4-6-0 Hockey East) at Dartmouth (4-3-0, 2-3-0 ECAC) Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Thompson Arena, Hanover, NH

UMass-Amherst is previewed above.

The Big Green are winners of two straight, including a 4-1 upset of Vermont. Additionally, Dartmouth is 3-1-0 in its last four games.

"We got off to a disappointing start," said head coach Roger Demmet. "We played below our potential."

It doesn’t hurt that the Big Green have turned to freshman goaltender Jason Wong. He currently possesses a 3-1-0 record, 2.73 GAA, and .895 save percentage, and is the early favorite for ECAC Rookie of the Year.

PICK: After a two-week layoff, one has to wonder how ready Dartmouth is, but the advantage might be in the rest. UMass-Amherst will have played the night before against a relentless Princeton team — fatigue does play a factor, but not that much. UMass-Amherst 5, Dartmouth 3

Also as usual during the holidays, many ECAC teams are involved in tournament action. There’s another light schedule next week, as the first of the holiday tournaments hits.

Friday and Saturday, December 20 & 21 Harvard at Minnesota-Duluth

Friday and Saturday, December 20 & 21 J.C. Penney Classic: Princeton vs. Union Dalhousie vs. Maine

Saturday, December 21 Dartmouth at Merrimack

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

Copyright 1996 Jayson Moy . All Rights Reserved.

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