This Week in the ECAC: December 27, 1996

ECAC PREVIEW: Dec. 13-14, 1996 ECAC Preview: Dec. 27-31, 1996 by Jayson Moy

There are things that go hand in hand with the holiday season: presents, family, laughs, tradition, shopping, and college hockey.

Yes, college hockey is a huge part of the holidays. There are a total of nine tournaments involving a total of 32 of the 44 Division I teams. Nothing goes with the holidays like some great college hockey holiday tournaments.

Nine of the twelve ECAC teams are involved in seven of the tournaments this year. The nine ECAC teams play in tournaments involving eight Hockey East, five CCHA, and four WCHA teams.

The holiday tournaments are also a chance for leagues to assert themselves in the so-called "Who’s the Better Conference" debate.

In this young season, the ECAC has been blasting Hockey East, 19-9-2, but have not fared as well against its western counterparts. The ECAC is 4-6-0 against the CCHA, and 0-6-0 against the WCHA.

There are five ECAC-HE determined matchups, with the possibility of 13 games between the two leagues. There are four ECAC-CCHA matchups, with one more possibly occurring, and two ECAC-WCHA matchups, with two more possible meetings.

The following tournament previews were a collaborative effort on the parts of USCHO’s correspondents. The proceeding information could not have been accomplished without the help of Dave Hendrickson and Paula Weston.

Syracuse Invitational Merrimack (3-10-1, 2-7-1 HE, T-7th) vs. Colgate (7-6-1, 4-4-1 ECAC, T-4th), Providence (6-9-1, 4-5-1 HE, T-4th) vs. Cornell (6-3-1, 6-2-1 ECAC, T-1st), Friday, 5:15 p.m., 8:15 p.m., Onondaga War Memorial, Syracuse, NY Consolation/Championship, Saturday, 5:15 p.m., 8:15 p.m., Onondaga War Memorial, Syracuse, NY

The Warriors of Merrimack are off to a 3-11-1 record after dropping a 5-2 contest to Dartmouth. This marks Merrimack’s worst start since entering Division I in 1989.

Merrimack will be without freshman Jayson Philbin for this tournament. Philbin, who had just returned from a one-game suspension for running a goalie in a 9-0 loss to UNH, flew off the handle in the third period. His actions earned him two five-minute majors and another game disqualification. Since a second game DQ results in a two-game suspension, he will be ineligible for the entire Syracuse tournament.

Merrimack will open against Colgate, which beat the Warriors earlier 7-3. Captain Rob Beck scored two first period goals in the previous matchup.

Warrior head coach Ron Anderson expects to split Legault and Eric Thibeault in the tournament, and they will expect to see more of Mike Harder, Dave DeBusschere, and Rob Mara. Each had two goals in the previous game.

In its previous six games, the Red Raiders of Colgate were 1-5-0. Colgate turned things around with the last two games that they played. The team earned three hard points in ECAC action with a 4-1 defeat of Union, and a last minute 3-3 tie against RPI.

The star for the Red Raiders that weekend was senior Rob Mara. He tallied three goals on the weekend, two against Union, and the game tying goal with 32 seconds left against RPI. His efforts earned him ECAC Player of the Week honors.

Mike Harder is back in the goal-scoring department with two in his last three games. He is tied for third in the ECAC in scoring with nine goals and fourteen assists. His linemate Dave DeBusschere also has 23 points (10-13).

Providence comes back to action after suffering a 5-3 and 3-1 sweep at the hands of Mass.-Amherst.

Each game ended with an empty net goal. That means that the Friars have had three one-goal losses, and two one-goal deficits that were extended because of empty net goals.

Those one goal games have made a difference.

"I always tell our guys that there’s a fine line between winning and losing," said head coach Paul Pooley. "Right now we’re just below that line. Last year we were just over. The difference is that we won the close games last year."

There is optimism with Pooley, though.

"Hey, I’m excited about the second half because instead of being 6-9-1 we could be 10-5-1 if things would have bounced our way. But they haven’t, so we just have to find a way to win. We have to make sure that we’re consistent throughout the game and get back to what we’re all about as a hockey team."

Cornell heads into the break tied for first in the league. Cornell did not fare too well in its last two outings. The Big Red were upset by RPI 4-2, and tied Union 3-3.

Jason Elliot is among the ECAC goaltending leaders with a .917 save percentage and a 2.50 GAA. He has continued to give the Big Red a solid person to turn to in the nets.

For the second straight year, the Cornell power play is the best in the league, hitting at 28.8 percent. The Big Red have only had 52 power play attempts, second lowest in the league, but have converted 15 times.

Cornell uses a balanced attack in its game. With an ECAC-leading 34 goals in league action, not one member of the Big Red is in the Top 10 in league scoring. Sophomore Kyle Knopp is tied for 11th in the league with nine points (2-7). Knopp does not even make the Top 16 overall in the league.

PICKS: Here is a chance for the ECAC to flex its muscle once again against Hockey East.

Merrimack vs. Colgate: Colgate will once again roll over Merrimack with the scoring power that it has. Merrimack does not seem to have it together at all. Colgate 8 Merrimack 2

Providence vs. Cornell: Mike Schafer’s club has had a long time to think about its one-point weekend its last time out. The Big Red should be ready for this matchup. Providence needs to get some bounces going its way. The Big Red do not give many extra bounces. Cornell 5 Providence 2

(Projected matchups) Merrimack vs. Providence: Merrimack continues its disappointing season, and Providence rebounds. Providence 6 Merrimack 3

Colgate vs. Cornell: In a rematch of a game earlier this month, Colgate should be back in the groove of it on offense. Cornell wants badly to beat its rival. Cornell makes it another defensive game and wins the crown. Cornell 5 Colgate 3

Pepsi College Hockey Tournament Ferris St. (8-11-1, 5-9-0 CCHA, T-5th) vs. Ohio St. (4-13-0, 4-8-0 CCHA, T-9th), St. Lawrence (4-8-1, 3-3-1 ECAC, T-7th) vs. Western Michigan (7-7-2, 4-6-2 CCHA, T-5th), Friday, 5 p.m., 8 p.m., Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI Consolation/Championship, Saturday, 5 p.m., 8 p.m., Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

The Ferris State Bulldogs come into the tournament with some newly found confidence and very little pressure after taking a weekend series from Notre Dame the last weekend in November, beat Ohio State a week later, and lost to Michigan their last game before the break.

The Bulldogs are relying on a lot of youngsters to carry them, and have been pleased by the effort.

"Our young kids have started to play well," said assistant coach Drew Famulak, "and we’d like to keep building on the success we had in the past few games."

Freshman goaltender Mike Szkodzinski has caught some eyes, but the Bulldog goaltending has been inconsistent. Szkodzinski has a goals against average of 3.53, with a save percentage of 88.3. Veteran goaltender Jeff Blashill has improved his GAA to 3.78. His save percentage is 86.8.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are somewhat of a mystery this season. The Buckeyes have twice as many wins at this point in the season than they did last year at this time.

The mystery lies in the fact that the Buckeyes are inconsistent. The team has won two out of three from Ferris State, and started December by beating Bowling Green. By the same token, a loss to Ferris State one week after beating Bowling Green, and only one win out of three games from Alaska-Fairbanks is indicative of how the Buckeye season is going.

While some freshman goaltending tandems have had success (most notably RPI), the freshman goaltending duo of Ray Aho and Tom Connerty anchors the bottom of the CCHA. Aho has a save percentage of .851, and a GAA of 4.59. Connerty’s save percentage is a dismal .823, and he’s allowed an average of 5.65 goals per game.

Another area of weakness if overall defense. Just one Buckeye, team captain Steve Brent, is on the plus side for OSU with a rating of +3.

St. Lawrence was another team that picked up three points in its last ECAC weekend with a 3-3 tie at Harvard, and a 5-4 overtime win at Brown.

Scott Stevens netted the overtime winner against Brown and Paul DiFrancesco scored two goals against Harvard, and another against Brown. The junior is second in the league in scoring with five goals and seven assists. Stevens is also among the league leaders with nine points (3-6).

One of the strong points for the Saints is the power play (27.3%). But even though the power play is doing well, shorthanded goals are a problem. The Saints have allowed four shorthanders in its 33 opportunities on the power play.

Joining Ferris State as co-host of the tournament is Western Michigan University. The departure of star sophomore goaltender Marc Magliarditi for the major junior ranks has had the Broncos adjusted its expectations for the season.

The Bronco record of 7-7-2 overall, seems to indicate that this team seems to be poised to move upward. The Broncos started December by losing to Michigan, then split a series with Miami. Western Michigan tied with Bowling Green to end the month.

Replacing a star is very hard to do, but stepping into the net for the Broncos this season, Matt Barnes is a respectable fifth in CCHA goaltending, with a GAA of 3.32 and a .880 save percentage.

On the offensive side of the ledger, two Broncos, Justin Cardwell and Mike Melas, have 21 points in 16 games.

PICKS: This is the inaugural tournament and the first large college hockey games in the site of this year’s NCAA West Regional.

Ferris St. vs. Ohio St.: Ferris is on a roll, and Ohio St. can’t seem to get off its inconsistency. Ferris is the hotter team, you have to go with them. Ferris St. 6 Ohio St. 5

St. Lawrence vs. Western Michigan: St. Lawrence has turned things around after starting the season without a win for six games. Western is still in the inconsistent phase. St. Lawrence 5 WMU 3

(projected matchups) Ohio St. vs. Western Michigan: Western gets the win. Western Michigan 4 Ohio St. 1

St. Lawrence vs. Ferris St.: A title for the Saints. St. Lawrence 4 Ferris St. 2

Bank One Badger Showdown Colorado College (10-5-1, 10-5-1 WCHA, 2nd) vs. Vermont (9-4-0, 2-3-0 ECAC, T-10th), New Hampshire (13-2-0, 10-0-0 HE, 1st) vs. Wisconsin (7-8-1, 7-6-1 WCHA, 6th), Friday, 6 p.m., 9 p.m., Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI Consolation/Championship, Saturday, 6 p.m., 9 p.m., Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

Colorado College comes into this rematch of the NCAA semi-final from last year on a two-game winning streak. The Tigers swept Northern Michigan, 7-2 and 7-3, in a Saturday-Sunday series two weeks ago.

Freshman center Toby Petersen and sophomore center Brian Swanson each scored twice and collected an assist in Sunday’s 7-3 victory. Freshman left wing Cam Kryway notched a pair of goals to fuel Saturday’s 7-2 triumph when Petersen kicked off a five-point weekend with a goal and an assist.

Including a pair of power-play tallies early in the third frame, CC scored five times in a span of 4:34, a school record against league competition.

CC will be without Toby Petersen and defenseman Dan Peters, who will be in the World Junior Tournament.

Senior goalie Judd Lambert backstopped both victories, making 16 saves on Saturday and a season-high 35 on Sunday.

Fourth-year coach Don Lucia needs one victory to reach the 200-win plateau as a collegiate head coach. Lucia is 199-130-21 (.599) in 10 seasons overall, including a 96-33-11 (.725) mark in 140 games behind the Colorado College bench. His previous six campaigns were at Alaska-Fairbanks.

One looks at Vermont and one wonders how the Catamounts could be in tenth place in the ECAC. There is definitely one answer: It has only played five league games, the least amount of games in the league along with its travel partner Dartmouth.

That would also explain the absence of a single Catamount in the Top 16 of scoring in the league and reports of the death of the French Connection have been greatly exaggerated.

Martin St. Louis leads the league overall in scoring (10-18-28), and his linemate Eric Perrin is tied for third (10-13-23). The other member J.C. Ruid is no slouch either, he is eighth in the league (6-12-18).

What is surprising though is the absence of goaltender Tim Thomas on the goaltender charts. Thomas earned the Dryden Award for the best goaltender in the ECAC last season with a 2.34 GAA and a .924 save percentage. This season his numbers are slightly higher. His GAA is 3.11 and his save percentage is .909. Not to shabby, but not Thomas-like.

Here is another telling stat for the Catamounts: Overall in the ECAC, the Cats rank 11th on the power play with a 14.8 percent efficiency. The Cats only have 12 power play goals on 81 attempts, and have allowed four shorthanded goals. The Cats allowed only four shorthanded goals in 38 games last season.

The second-ranked New Hampshire Wildcats are riding a twelve-game win streak, and are still undefeated in Hockey East play. During the streak, the Wildcats have averaged over six goals a game while giving up a mere 2.75.

There are six Wildcats are among Hockey East’s top ten scorers. Last year’s three All-America candidates Eric Boguniecki, Mark Mowers, and Eric Nickulas have been joined by Tom Nolan, Derek Bekar, and Jason Krog to power the most explosive offense in the east. Nolan and third-liner Greg Dumont return after missing the last month with injuries.

Head coach Dick Umile knows that despite a twelve game winning streak and a number two ranking, any team can win at any given time.

"We know that we have a good team but that you have to earn it each week. You’re only as good as your last game."

Wisconsin picked up three WCHA points against Alaska-Anchorage with a 6-2 victory and a 5-5 tie.

The Badgers have three juniors leading the scoring charts. Brad Englehart has 18 points (10-8), Rick Enrico has 16 points (4-12), and Joe Bianchi has 14 points (6-8).

Senior Kirk Daubenspeck is the main Badger goaltender, but he is having a subpar season thus far with a record of 6-8-1, 3.71 GAA and .876 save percentage. There is one shutout on his resume, though.

PICKS: In perhaps the best matchups that are on paper, we should see action to match those numbers.

Colorado College vs. Vermont: In a rematch of last year’s national semi-final, we should see another close game. The loss of Peters and Petersen will be felt by CC as the ECAC gets its first win versus the WCHA. Vermont 5 Colorado 4

UNH vs. Wisconsin: The winning streak of UNH will continue if Daubenspeck can not stop the high scoring forwards of UNH. He will not. UNH 7 Wisconsin 3

(projected matchups) Wisconsin vs. Colorado College: Colorado 5 Wisconsin 1

Vermont vs. UNH: Game number three between these two with the series tied at one. After this one the next matchup could be in the NCAA tournament. In the last matchup at Gutterson Fieldhouse for the Governor’s Cup Tournament, the goaltending was shaky on each side, and UNH matched Vermont’s top lines by throwing swarms of four lines at the Catamounts. Better defense from the lower-production secondary forward lines will be the key for Vermont, while New Hampshire may want to be careful about letting St. Louis and Perrin freewheel like last game and hope they can just be outscored. Vermont gets revenge and takes the series with the win in an offensive shootout. Vermont 8 UNH 6

RPI Marine Midland Holiday Hockey Tournament Brown (1-9-1, 1-7-1 ECAC 12th) vs. Bowling Green (8-8-2, 4-8-2 CCHA, T-5th), RPI (7-4-2, 4-1-1 ECAC, T-4th) vs. UMass-Amherst (7-9-0, 4-6-0 HE, 6th), Friday, 5:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., RPI Fieldhouse, Troy, NY Consolation/Championship, Saturday, 5:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., RPI Fieldhouse, Troy, NY

The Bears can not seem to get many things going for them. The team is suffering through a six game losing streak and is in last place in the ECAC.

Brown is in last place in total defense in the ECAC, giving up an average of 5.00 goals per game, and eighth in total offense, averaging 3.27 goals per game. The Bears also lead the league in penalty minutes once again, amassing a whopping 282 in nine games.

During the slump, there have been three one-goal losses, two of them in overtime. There might be signs that the Bears are close to turning the season around.

Little by little the Bears have seen the offense start to come around. Adrian Smith and Jade Kersey each recently had two goal games, and defenseman Jimmy Andersson is the team’s leading scorer (1-12-13).

The power play unit is also second in the league, hitting at 25.4 percent. The 16 power play goals that have been amassed are third highest in the league.

The last time Bowling Green and Brown met was at this same tournament, December 30, 1982. BGSU won 7-4. Much has changed since then.

In fact, much has changed this season. Bowling Green is a team in pain. The Falcons were supposed to be a top-ten team this season, according to preseason polls. Instead, Bowling Green has struggled defensively, especially with goaltending, and is tied for fifth place in the CCHA with Western Michigan and Ferris State.

After starting the season 6-0-0, the Falcons have tumbled in a dramatic fashion. Losers of eight of its last twelve, the Falcons only have two wins and two ties to show for its efforts. Ohio State and Alaska-Fairbanks were its victims, and Michigan and Western Michigan tied the Falcons.

As stated earlier, the problem for Bowling Green isn’t offense. Curtis Fry has 19 points in 14 games. Mike Johnson has 18 points in 14 games, but the Falcons haven’t been able to lift themselves out of the quagmire of middle CCHA ground.

Goaltending is the Achilles heel thus far for the Falcons. In CCHA play, goaltenders Mike Savard and Bob Petrie have not fared well at all. In league competition, Savard has a GAA of 3.84 and a save percentage of .860. Petrie’s numbers are worse: a GAA of 4.42 and a save percentage of .843.

UMass-Amherst opened the month with a sweep of Providence and hoped to use that to catapult into the right direction, but they dropped two games, losing 7-2 to Princeton and 6-5 to Dartmouth.

The Big Green used a 10-3 superiority in man-advantage opportunities to score three power-play goals. The Minutemen need to stay out of the penalty box.

Goaltender Brian Regan will return for this tournament after sitting out a game because of a slight groin pull, but forward Tom Perry is still out with a broken wrist.

Head coach Joe Mallen hopes that being off for just one week will pay off in better timing and perhaps a tournament win. The Minutemen are the only one of the four teams involved to have played two weeks ago.

RPI is also another of the league’s pleasant surprises early in this season. The Engineers are fourth in the league, but hold the highest winning percentage.

Freshman goaltender Joel Laing is second in the ECAC with a .938 save percentage (first in the league), and a 2.33 GAA. He has been splitting time with another freshman, Scott Prekaski. Prekaski has a 2.92 GAA, and a .917 save percentage. The duo were named ECAC Co-Rookies of the Week two weeks ago. Prekaski and Laing are ranked 3rd and 4th in the nation in save percentage respectively.

Eric Healey leads the scoring barrage of RPI with 17 points (7-10). Centering him is Alain St. Hilaire (6-6-12) and the other winger on the line is Matt Garver (3-9-12). This high scoring line is one of the reasons RPI has been a surprise. When Garver was out with a separated shoulder, RPI was shut out in three consecutive games.

PICKS: Once the prohibitive favorites in the tournament, Bowling Green now has come back to the pack in this tournament. There should be close games, and a tight finish for the crown.

Brown vs. Bowling Green: Buddy Powers returns to the Fieldhouse against an old nemesis, the Brown Bears. Can the Bears put together offense in groups, or do the Falcons continue its climb out of its slump are questions to be answered. Bowling Green in a close one. Bowling Green 5 Brown 3

UMass-Amherst vs. RPI: The defense of the Minutemen must play like it did against Providence. If UMass can do so, then it can stop the skating Engineers. RPI must continue to play its defense as well. RPI is in good form, and will win this one. RPI 6 UMass-Amherst 2

(projected matchups) Brown vs. UMass-Amherst: Brown gets off the losing skid in a tight defensive game. Brown 3 UMass-Amherst 2

Bowling Green vs. RPI: The Engineers almost had the Falcons number last year before a third period comeback defeated RPI. This year’s RPI team has shown itself to be better, and this years Falcon team has shown itself to be weaker. RPI reclaims its own tournament crown. RPI 7 Bowling Green 4

Denver Cup Maine (9-7-1, 2-5-1 HE, T-7th) vs. Denver (8-6-2, 6-6-2 WCHA, 7th), Yale (3-5-2, 3-5-1 ECAC, T-7th) vs. United States Air Force Academy (4-7-1, 2-4-0 Div I), Friday, 6 p.m., 9 p.m., Denver Arena, Denver, CO Consolation/Championship, Saturday, 6 p.m., 9 p.m., Denver Arena, Denver, CO

The Falcons have been inactive since two games against Mass.-Amherst the last weekend of November. Air Force dropped two games, 4-1 and 10-2.

In 12 games this season, senior team co-captain Todd Lafortune leads the team with 12 points and nine goals. He leads the team with three power play goals and has scored at least one point in each series this season and has at least one goal in all but one series (Massachusetts).

Freshman Aaron Ratfield started the Friday game against Massachusetts. He went the distance and allowed four goals with 33 saves. He has played in six games this season, starting in four. He has a 2.20 goals-against average and has a .926 saves percentage in 299 minutes.

A significant event may happen if Air Force gets a win in the Denver Cup. Head Coach Chuck Delich is on the verge of becoming the Academy’s winningest coach. With 154 wins, Delich is tied with the current record holder John Matchefts. Matchefts did it in 11 seasons, while Delich is in the middle of his 12th season.

Teams tumble in a hurry in the ECAC standings with a loss. This is due mainly to the narrow margin between places in the standings. The Bulldogs of Yale are a great example.

Before ECAC play two weekends ago, they were a surprising third in the ECAC. After a loss to Princeton, 4-3, and nine other ECAC games, the Bulldogs are now in a tie for seventh.

Alex Westlund was named to the honorable mention role for his performance in a 1-1 tie versus Boston University. Westlund is second among ECAC goalies overall with a .912 save percentage and he has kept his GAA to 2.66. He is allowing two plus goals less per game than last year when his GAA was 4.95. His save percentage last year was .856.

The Bulldogs may have found a future star in freshman Jeff Hamilton. Currently tied for sixth in the league in scoring (4-7-11), he was named ECAC Rookie of the Week a few weeks ago.

Yale also has John Chyz and Keith McCullough, both of whom are tied for eleventh in the league in scoring with nine points, three goals and six assists each.

Maine dominated both Dalhousie 10-2 and ECAC-leader Princeton 6-1 to win the J.C. Penny Classic in their own back yard. Winning that tournament could serve as a launching pad for the second half of the season.

Another potential for launching the Black Bears into the second half of the season is the return of head coach Shawn Walsh. There could be one problem for Walsh though – he hasn’t seen his team.

"Other than reading the newspaper, I haven’t done anything," said Walsh, whose suspension forbade any contact with the team. "I haven’t seen them play. I’ve listened to a few of the games on the radio, but I’m going in blind. Not totally blind, but I don’t really have too many impressions formed about this particular team. I’m looking forward to using the Denver tournament to get an idea about our personnel. It’ll be my training camp."

Javier Gorriti started both J.C. Penney tournament games, making it four straight starts, while Alfie Michaud mopped up, after playing in all of Maine’s previous games.

There is an odd aura surrounding this tournament for Maine. The Black Bears will play the early game on Saturday, win or lose, since their NCAA restrictions prohibit them from appearing on TV this year. In what is truly an oddity, the afternoon contest could be an untelevised championship game while the cameras broadcast an evening consolation match across the state.

The Pioneers of Denver last played two weekends ago, and swept Minnesota-Duluth 6-3 and 5-1.

In those two games, the Pioneers had six different scorers on Friday, and five different scorers on Saturday. Of the eleven goals, there were nine different Pioneers scoring.

Of those that scored, Anti Laaksonen and Mike Dairon had two goals each. Others putting goals on the scoreboard were Warren Smith, Paul Comrie, Jon Newman, Charlie Host, Gavin Morgan, Garnett Buzan, and Joe Murphy.

In goal the Pioneers have used a pair of freshmen. Jim Mullin and Stephen Wagner.Mullin recorded 27 saves in Saturday’s win and Wagner made 26 saves on Friday.

Wagner currently has a record of 4-2-0, his GAA of 2.82 is the lowest in the WCHA, and he has a save percentage of .906.

PICKS: The Cup moves to the DU Arena this year from the McNichols Arena. The smaller venue might help some of the teams.

Maine vs. Denver: After Maine won its own Cup, it seems back on track. Shawn Walsh is back, and that could be the difference, even though Denver enjoys the home crowd. Maine 4 Denver 2

Yale vs. Air Force: Yale picks up the offense it needs, and the freshmen play a large role. Yale 6 Air Force 1

(projected matchups) Denver vs. Air Force: Denver picks up the consolation win. Denver 7 Air Force 1

Maine vs. Yale: Chalk up another win for Shawn Walsh. Maine 4 Yale 2

Dodge Mariucci Classic Clarkson (8-5-0, 4-3-0 ECAC, 6th) vs. Miami (OH) (14-4-0, 10-2-0 CCHA, 1st), Boston College (7-8-1, 4-5-1 HE, T-4th) vs. Minnesota (10-6-0, 9-5-0 WCHA, T-3rd), Friday, 5 p.m., 8 p.m., Mariucci Arena, Minneapolis, MN Consolation/Championship, Saturday, 5:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., Mariucci Arena, Minneapolis, MN

Two weeks ago it was mentioned that the Golden Knights of Clarkson started to see the balanced scoring that it possessed. Nine different Knights that scored ten goals against Boston College and Boston University.

In its last two games, an 8-4 victory over Brown and a 5-4 loss to Harvard, nine different players scored the 13 goals.

Most notably it was senior captain Todd White tallying points. He scored four times, twice each evening. White leads all ECAC scorers with 16 points (10-16), and is second in the league in overall scoring (13-13-26).

Joining him in scoring, each getting one goal, were Matt Pagnutti, Dana Mulvihill, JF Houle, Mike Bushaw, Karl Drakensjo, Guillaume Beese, Jordan Grant, and Buddy Wallace.

Miami University is off to its best hockey start ever, and there may be little to stop this Miami team. At first, the key to Miami’s success was defense. Junior goaltenders Trevor Prior and Adam Lord were the stingiest duo in the CCHA.

Miami leads the CCHA in goaltending. Prior has an 89.6 save percentage, with a goals against average of 2.25. Lord’s save percentage is 90.3, and he gives up 2.48 goals per game on average.

Leading the team in scoring is sophomore forward Randy Robitaille, who has 11 goals and 11 assists in 22 CCHA games. His +/- ratio is 9; in fact, there are only two players on the team in the minus, and those players have played just a few games each.

Boston College lost to Boston University 6-4 in a midweek contest in its last outing.

Even though this is an Eagle preview, one has to mention Chris Drury’s performance against BC on the penalty kill. Drury’s first short-handed goal developed on a two-on-none while BC held a five-on-three man advantage. And when a five-minute major assessed to BU gave the Eagles a chance to get back into the game, Drury scored his second back-breaking short-handed goal. This is obviously an area which has head coach Jerry York concerned.

Another area of concern for York will be that he is missing three-fifths of their top power-play unit for this tournament. That unit consists of four 18-year old freshmen and an 19-year old sophomore. Unfortunately for the Eagles, freshmen Jeff Farkas, Blake Bellefeuille, and sophomore Marty Reasoner will instead be skating for the U.S. team in the upcoming world junior tournament.

On the plus side, Greg Taylor’s broken glove hand is expected to be much closer to 100 per cent after the extra time off. Taylor, one of the top goalies in Hockey East, missed five games before coming back and playing through pain and a lack of dexterity.

Minnesota split a home and home with St. Cloud. Both teams won on the road. The loss to St. Cloud at Mariucci was the Gophers first ever loss to the Huskies at home.

NHL first round draft pick (Buffalo) Erik Rasmussen leads the Gophers in scoring. He has eleven goals and five assists. He also leads the team in penalty minutes with 60. But he, along with Ben Clymer and Wyatt Smith will be gone with the US World Junior team, as well.

Senior defenseman Brian LaFleur and junior forward Casey Hankinson are the next leading scorers for the Gophers. They both have 15 points, LaFleur has six goals and nine assists and Hankinson has seven goals and eight assists.

In goal, Steve DeBus has seen the majority of the action. With a 7-5-0 record, he has a 3.08 GAA and a .892 save percentage. Erik Day has also impressed in his four games. With a record of 3-1-0, a 1.00 GAA and a .956 save percentage, he went into the record books as a freshman gaining his first career shutout in his first start, and followed it up with another the next night.

PICKS: This is another tournament with some strong matchups, and some potential heavyweight games.

Clarkson vs. Miami(OH): Miami is proving that its the real thing. Clarkson has started to assert itself. Clarkson is traditionally a second-half team. It’s tough to go against Miami with its success so far, but I will. It’s a close one though. Clarkson 3 Miami 2

Boston College vs. Minnesota: BC is without Reasoner, Farkas, and Bellefeuille. Minnesota is missing Rasmussen, Smith and Clymer. Who does it hurt worse? Boston College. Minnesota 4 BC 2

(projected matchups) Miami(OH) vs. Boston College: Miami 7 BC 3

Clarkson vs. Minnesota: Another chance for the ECAC to get a win over the WCHA. This is where the ECAC gets the WCHA. Clarkson takes home its second holiday tourney title in two years. Clarkson 5 Minnesota 4(OT)

Auld Lang Syne Tournament Northeastern (2-11-2, 1-9-1 HE, 9th) vs. St. Lawrence (4-8-1, 3-3-1 ECAC, T-7th), UMass-Lowell (8-6-0, 6-4-0 HE, 3rd) vs. Dartmouth (6-3-0, 2-3-0 ECAC, T-10th), Monday, 5 p.m., 8 p.m., Thompson Arena, Hanover, NH Consolation/Championship, Tuesday, 5:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., Thompson Arena, Hanover, NH

Northeastern has gone 0-8-1 in their last nine games. However, during that discouraging stretch, they’ve lost three one-goal games and two two-goal games, including 5-3 and 2-1 losses to UMass-Lowell before a two-week break.

Similar to Paul Pooley at Providence, head coach Bruce Crowder believes that the close games are a concern for his Husky squad.

On offense, Scott Campbell, Eric Petersen, and Todd Barclay will provide continued spark as the Huskies hope to start the second half on a good offensive note.

Goaltender Marc Robitaille continues to give Huskie fans reason to hope for the future. The freshman may not be submitting league-leading statistics because of the weakness of his team, but he remains one of the league’s better rookies.

St. Lawrence is previewed above.

Mass.-Lowell ranks as one of the top surprises in Hockey East. Picked for last in the league’s preseason poll, the River Hawks remain two games above .500 and sit in third place in the league standings.

Two major icebergs lurk in the Lowell waters, however. The River Hawks have not yet faced BU or UNH, the two Hockey East teams nationally ranked. This could indicate that, although UML may be the over-achievers of the league, they may not be long for third place.

Before the break, Lowell swept two close ones from Northeastern 5-3 and 2-1.

Leading the River Hawks are goaltender Martin Fillion (3.29 goals GAA and a .910 save percentage) and forward Neil Donovan (16 points in 10 league games, 23 points overall). Greg Koehler has proven to be one of the top rookies in the league. He is one of nine or 10 freshmen that see action in the lineup.

Dartmouth is riding a wave of success as well. The Big Green are on a four-game winning streak (victories over Merrimack (2), Vermont, and Mass.-Amherst), and have won five of its last six. Dartmouth won its first game over Army, and then dropped three of he next four.

Dartmouth’s streak is due in large part to the success of freshmen goaltenders. Since freshman Jason Wong took over in the nets, Dartmouth has started its streak. Wong leads the ECAC in GAA with a 1.88 mark in the ECAC. He holds a .926 save percentage, and has only allowed five goals in three league games.

The other freshman goaltender, Eric Almon, received his first varsity start last Saturday and stopped 42 of 44 shots in a 5-2 victory over Merrimack in North Andover. The Falmouth, MA native was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week for his efforts.

PICKS: The Auld Lang Syne is without some of its familiar participants in Vermont and New Hampshire. Dartmouth is the lone remaining participant of the usual three.

Northeastern vs. St. Lawrence: There could be a major fatigue factor with the Saints as they will play four games in five nights. This is game three, and Northeastern can take advantage of the situation. St. Lawrence is a stronger team. St. Lawrence 4 Northeastern 2

Mass.-Lowell vs. Dartmouth: The freshmen goaltending seems to be doing just fine for head coach Roger Demment, and he will use them in the tournament. Lowell is a surprising third in HE, and they are getting scoring from different places. This should be a well played game, and a squeaker. Dartmouth 4 Lowell 3

(projected matchups) UMass-Lowell vs. Northeastern: Lowell again. Lowell 5 Northeastern 3

St. Lawrence vs. Dartmouth: Here is where the fatigue really sets in for the Saints. Dartmouth 5 St. Lawrence 2

There are also two other ECAC teams in action against non-conference foes.

Mankato St. (6-7-2, 4-4-1 Div I) at Union (6-7-1, 2-4-1 ECAC, 9th), Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m., Achilles Rink, Schenectady, NY

Mankato State is doing just fine against Division I teams in its first year of play at the level. A 4-4-1 record is nothing to sneeze at for a first-year Division I program.

The Mavericks are 2-1-1 against Ferris State, 0-2-0 against Michigan Tech, 1-1-0 against Army, and 1-0 against Notre Dame.

This is the very first meeting that the Mavericks have ever had versus an ECAC opponent.

On offense the Mavericks are led by returning high scorers junior Ryan Rintoul and sophomore Tyler Deis. Juniors Mark Zacharias and Jason Krug are also leading offensive returners.

Don Brose leads the Maverick team as it continues its first year of Division I play.

Union placed third in the J.C. Penney Classic this past weekend, defeating Dalhousie in the consolation game.

After starting 11 of the first 12 games Union played, goalie Trevor Koenig did not receive a starting nod last weekend, giving way to Leeor Shtrom. Maybe taking a two-minute slash and 10-minute misconduct during Friday’s pre-game skate had something to do with head coach Stan Moore’s decision. Princeton scored on the resulting power play to start Friday’s game.

Koenig has moved to first place in ECAC goaltending overall (2.18), despite not playing. That’s because Princeton’s Nick Rankin allowed six goals to Maine.

Sophomore Brent Ozarowski was named to the All-Tournament team during the tourney. He tallied two goals against Princeton, and added an assist against Dalhousie. On the season Ozarowski, a member of last year’s ECAC All-Rookie Team, has four goals and seven assists for eleven points.

His linemates are also among Union’s scoring leaders. Sophomore Mark Szucs had three assists this weekend to run his total to six assists and three goals. Freshman Ryan Campbell had two assists on Friday, and has six points on the season (2-4).

Senior John Sicinski is tied for Union’s scoring lead with Ozarowski. Sicinski scored two against Dalhousie, and now has 10 goals on the season.

PICK: Union in a sweep, but close games will be played. 4-2 and 4-1

Notre Dame (5-10-1, 4-8-1 CCHA, 8th) at Princeton (9-3-2, 6-2-1 ECAC, T-1st), Saturday-Sunday, 4 p.m.-2 p.m., Baker Rink, Princeton, NJ

The Fighting Irish have lost eight of its last ten games. Notre Dame comes into the break on a winning note though, a 3-1 victory over Alaska-Fairbanks.

Offense is a problem for the Irish. There are only five players over 10 points on the entire team. Brian Urick (8-6-14), Joe Dusbabek (7-6-13), Lyle Andrusiak (4-9-13), Aniket Dhadphale (3-10-13), and Benoit Cotnoir (4-7-11) have provided much of the offense this season.

The goaltending department has mainly fallen into Matt Eisler’s hands. Eisler has a 3.43 GAA and a .887 save percentage. The Irish goaltenders (Eisler and Forrest Karr) have given up more then half a goal more than the Irish have scored.

Princeton finished second in the J.C. Penney Classic. After defeating Union, the Tigers dropped a 6-1 decision to Maine.

Dominique Auger, the freshman defenseman from Levis, Quebec, earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team. He went 3-2-5 in the two games, picking two goals and an assist against Union, and the lone goal against Maine in the second period.

Senior Jean Verdon was another bright spot for the Tigers. He had two goals against the Dutchmen and assisted on Auger’s power play goal against the Black Bears.

Another peak performer for the Tiger’s this past weekend was sophomore Jason Given. Given posted three assists against Union, and is now tied for 15th in the ECAC for scoring.

Sophomore goalie Nick Rankin was leading the nation in goals against average until allowed six goals in the loss to Maine. Rankin has been playing every other games, but has played more of the league games than fellow goalie Erasmo Saltarelli.

PICK: Princeton sweeps, 4-1 and 5-3

After the holidays are over, the first action of the New Year sees a full slate of ECAC league action.

Friday, January 3 Saturday, January 4

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

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

Copyright 1996 Jayson Moy . All Rights Reserved.

Return to Feature Articles Return to News and Recaps Return to US College Hockey Online