This Week in the ECAC: November 28, 1997

Clarkson gained three points this past weekend, with a tie against Union and a shellacking of Rensselaer. Rensselaer and Princeton were the big losers on the weekend, both getting swept on the road. Union, Vermont, and Dartmouth each gained one point on the weekend.

Most teams will take Thanksgiving and play outside the ECAC, but the focus in the ECAC is the 100th anniversary of the first meeting between Harvard and Brown.

Last weeks predictions: 6-8 (Tuesday night saved me from further embarrassment) Year to date: 43-27

Harvard (1-4-1, 1-2-1 ECAC, T-8th) at Brown (1-5-0, 1-3-0 ECAC, T-11th) Saturday, 4 pm, Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI

This is the 100th annivesary of the first Harvard-Brown game, and it also kicks off the ECAC NESN television package. On January 19, 1898, the first Harvard-Brown game was played at Franklin Field in Boston. The Bears won the game 6-0 outshooting Harvard 21-2.

This year the teams are each struggling to get their seasons underway. The Crimson and the Bears each have one win, and both teams lost to Boston University this past week. The Bears lost a 8-1 decision on Friday, and the Crimson lost 5-3 on Tuesday.

The Bears have had John DiRenzo lead them in scoring this season, and currently he is the fifth-ranked scorer in the ECAC with three goals and five assists.

The Crimson on the other hand do not have a player in the leading scoring column in the ECAC or overall. The Crimson do have something that was hard to come by last year at this point in the season — power play goals. Trevor Allman and Brett Chodorow each have two power play goals.

PICK: Brown won in 1898 and the Bears will win Saturday. Brown 3 Harvard 2

Clarkson (4-3-2, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-5th) and St. Lawrence (3-5-1, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-5th) at Boston University (7-1-0, 4-2-0 Hockey East, T-6th) Friday – Saturday, 7 pm, Walter Brown Arena, Boston, Mass.

St. Lawrence (3-5-1, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-5th) and Clarkson (4-3-2, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-5th) at Boston College (9-3-0, 5-3-0 Hockey East, 1st) Friday – Saturday, 7 pm, Kelley Rink, Chesnut Hill, Mass.

St. Lawrence was one of the stories this past weekend. Actually, Eric Heffler was the story this past weekend. Heffler posted two shutouts, 1-0 against Rensselaer, and 7-0 against Union. The last time this happened in the ECAC was last season when the goaltender that he beat Saturday, Trevor Koenig, did it against Vermont and Dartmouth.

The two wins were the Saints’ first against Division I opponents this season, and the Saints are beginning to get towards their goal.

"We have come a long way since the opening weekend and we’ve been getting better each time out," said head coach Joe Marsh. "Heff was outstanding, the whole defensive unit played well both nights and the forwards were helping out as well. That’s just what we’re looking for, and to top things off we broke out offensively on Saturday and got it rolling a bit.

"We’ve got something we can build on and get some momentum going in the league," Marsh added. "We have two huge tests coming up this weekend at Boston College and Boston University, but I think we can learn something from them too. Playing the kind of teams we’ve played so far has helped us improve and mature and the upcoming weekend will be more of the same."

Clarkson broke out in a big way Saturday with a 11-0 shutout of Rensselaer, the fifth of goaltender Dan Murphy’s career. This came on the heels of a 3-3 tie against Union — a game in which the Golden Knights led 3-1 with 1:30 to go in the game.

"We outplayed Union for 58 minutes and to get a tie was a travesty," said head coach Mark Morris. "It was pretty darn close to the perfect game (against Rensselaer). (Dan) Murphy has been struggling big time. This was a huge confidence builder for him. Now that he’s got that out of his system, he can build on that."

Goals have been scarce for the Knights, and Morris is glad to have seen his team come through on Saturday evening.

"We knew we were going to explode at some point because goals were hard to come by," Morris said. "It was just a matter of time, and it’s been like passing kidney stones. We’ve hit posts, come up against hot goaltenders, and tonight we got bounces. We just kept rolling from there.

"You don’t ever want to run up the score on anybody, but we haven’t had any ourselves, and when you have it going you just don’t want to shut it off either because it’s very important for our team to know what it’s like to fill the net," added Morris. "We’ve gone through hell and to have a night like (Saturday) it’s a breath of fresh air."

The Boston duo of University and College have been impressive this season. The two teams are a combined 16-4-0, and both are ranked in the top ten.

For more on Boston College and Boston University, please refer to the Hockey East Preview.

PICKS: Clarkson at Boston University: The Knights got goals this past weekend, but they will be outscored by the Terriers. Boston University 5 Clarkson 3 St. Lawrence at Boston College: Heffler gets scored on this weekend. Boston College 4 St. Lawrence 2 St. Lawrence at Boston University: The Saints will try, but the Terriers get by. Boston University 4 St. Lawrence 3 Clarkson at Boston College: The North Country duo comes home winless. Boston College 3 Clarkson 2

Princeton (5-2-2, 2-2-2 ECAC, 4th) at Merrimack (5-6-0, 2-5-0 Hockey East, 8th) Friday, 7 pm, Volpe Center, North Andowver, Mass. Providence (7-3-0, 3-3-0 Hockey East, T-6th) at Princeton (5-2-2, 2-2-2 ECAC, 4th) Sunday, 5 pm, Hobey Baker Rink, Princeton, NJ Yale (6-1-0, 5-1-0 ECAC, 1st) at Providence (7-3-0, 3-3-0 Hockey East, T-6th) Friday, 7 pm, Schneider Arena, Providence, RI Merrimack (5-6-0, 2-5-0, Hockey East, 8th) at Yale (6-1-0, 5-1-0 ECAC, 1st) Saturday, 7 pm, Ingalls Rink, New Haven, Conn.

Princeton was hoping to get off to a strong start in the ECAC just as it did last year, but a sweep at the hands of Cornell and Colgate set them back a little bit. The Tigers are still in fourth place in the ECAC, and will take this opportunity to play games that don’t count in the conference.

"We really didn’t show up to play (this weekend) the way you have to in order to compete in this league," Princeton coach Don Cahoon said after the weekend’s games. "We’re not the first team to do this, nor [will we be] the last. Hopefully, these guys will learn from this. We just weren’t in it from the drop of the puck."

Yale is the surprise of the ECAC thus far in the young season, moving into first place in the league with a weekend sweep of Colgate and Cornell. The Bulldogs have five ECAC wins, just one shy of their total wins in the league last season.

Alex Westlund has been on fire for the Bulldogs. He has allowed just eight goals in seven games this season, posting a 1.16 GAA, and a .963 save percentage.

"The 1-0 win last season (in the ECAC playoffs against Colgate) really built some character and morale amongst our guys," Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. "These kids are playing some great hockey. Westlund is playing well, but you have to give a lot of credit to the senior defensemen, [Daryl] Jones and [Ray] Giroux. I try to keep those two defensemen out there as much as possible; that trio is doing a nice job.

"We had some good offensive opportunities (this weekend)," Taylor added. "But most importantly, we’re getting the puck to the right guys at the right time. That’s what the game is all about."

Merrimack got off to a hot start this season, but the Warriors have not started the Hockey East season like they started the non-conference schedule. Kris Porter has a nation leading 16 goals, and his partner Rejean Stringer is also pacing the Merrimack scoring.

Providence is surprising people with its start, and a lot of it has to do with strong balanced play. The Friars had a six game winning streak broken on Tuesday night with a loss to Northeastern.

For more information on Providence and Merrimack, please refer to the Hockey East Preview.

PICKS: Princeton at Merrimack: The tough Princeton defense gives it a close win. Princeton 3 Merrimack 2 Yale at Providence: The Bulldogs continue their hot play. Yale 4 Providence 1 Merrimack at Yale: Yale in a close one. Yale 3 Merrimack 2 Providence at Princeton: Another close game. Princeton 2 Providence 1

Union (1-7-1, 1-2-1 ECAC, T-8th) at Nebraska-Omaha (4-7-0, 4-6-0 vs. Major Division I) Friday – Saturday, 8:05 pm, Omaha Civic Auditorium, Omaha, Neb.

The Dutchmen were outplayed for the first 58 minutes of Friday’s game against Clarkson, and then they turned it on, scoring twice in the last 1:30 to tie the Golden Knights. The Dutchmen hoped to carry the momentum into Saturday’s game against St. Lawrence. Unfortunately for the Dutchmen, they were shutout 7-0.

"I’m not sure how (Saturday’s loss) will affect them," said head coach Stan Moore about his team. "But if ever there was a time to convince them that they had to play every second of every shift, and play every minute of every period, they can look at the game film and realize that this is one of those games that you can’t be off your game."

Consistency has been a word used all season long, and by every coach in the nation, and it certainly applies to the Dutchmen.

Nebraska-Omaha has been quite impressive in some of its outings, and unimpressive in its other outings. A sweep of Denver and wins against Air Force and UMass-Amherst have been sandwiched with sweeps by Princeton and Army, and losses to Air Force and UMass-Amherst.

The Mavericks like it at home, where they have scored 21 goals, as opposed to five goals on the road. They are led by Billy Pugliese, Derek Reynolds, Andrew Tortorella, Jason Cupp, and Vic Sharma offensively.

PICKS: This is a hostile environment, and Union is still very young. Look for a split. Union 4-2 and Nebraska-Omaha 4-1

Governor’s Cup Vermont (2-6-2, 0-3-2 ECAC, T-11th) vs. Maine (6-4-1, 4-3-0 Hockey East, T-3rd) Friday, 5 pm, Whittemore Center, Durham, NH Consolation/Championship Saturday, 4pm/7pm, Whittemore Center, Durham, NH

The going continues to be tough for the Catamounts, and after this tournament, the Cats will have to wait until after Christmas before they get a chance to hit the ice again.

If one scans the scoring leaders in the ECAC, not one single Catamount is listed. The only names to appear among the scoring leaders are freshmen Andreas Moborg and Jerry Gernander. Moborg leads the team in power play points with five (1-4), and Gernander leads the team with three power play goals.

Vermont is last in the league in scoring (15 goals in nine games, 1.67 goals per game), and has allowed the most goals in the league (35 goals in nine games, 3.89 goals per game).

Andrew Allen has taken a center role in between the pipes for the Cats, and has a save percentage of .894 (.892 ECAC), and a GAA of 3.25 (3.07 ECAC).

Maine is having an off-again, on-again time of it lately. A split with Merrimack and then a split with Boston College over the last two weeks has meant uneven play for the Black Bears. The 12-5 win over BC Saturday
was good news for Scott Parmentier and Cory Larose, each netting two goals,
and Shawn Wansborough had a hat trick.

The special teams for Maine were in top form on Saturday, scoring five power play goals on nine chances, and adding a short handed goal as well.

For more information on Maine, please refer to the
Hockey East Preview.

PICKS: Maine will get by Vermont, unless Vermont can put a few on the board. Maine 5 Vermont 1 Vermont will drop the consolation game to UMass-Lowell. UMass-Lowell 4 Vermont 2

Punch Imlach Memorial College Hockey Showcase Colgate (7-3-0, 4-2-0 ECAC, 3rd) vs. York (7-3-0, OUAA, 1st Far West Division) Sunday, 4 pm, Marine Midland Arena, Buffalo, NY Cornell (5-1-1, 4-1-1 ECAC, 2nd) vs. Niagara (3-1-0, 0-1-0 vs. Major Division I) Sunday, 7 pm, Marine Midland Arena, Buffalo, NY

The Red Raiders lost to Yale on Friday night 5-1, but responded with a 8-4 victory over Princeton on Saturday evening.

"I think the best part about (Saturday’s) win was the way our guys responded after the difficult loss last night," Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said. "I give a lot of that credit to the captains and the upperclassmen. They really led by example tonight. That’s all you can ask of them."

Rob Mara had a hat trick and Tim Loftsgard had two goals in Saturday’s win. Jed Whitchurch, the ECAC’s leading scorer, continued his run, and now has 17 assists. His assists are the only points that he has on the season.

Cornell got the power play going on Friday, scoring two power play goals in its win over Princeton. The next evening, the Big Red lost a squeaker in overtime to Yale 2-1. The lone Big Red goal was also on the power play.

"I think we’re far, far away from our capabilities. We’re just scratching the surface, but so are a lot of other teams," head coach Mike Schafer said. "God, we’re far from a dynasty or anything. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us."

The Big Red continued to use four defensemen this past weekend, and fatigue is beginning to set in, but no one on the Big Red is using it as an excuse. Hopefully, the Big Red will get some of those injured defensemen back soon.

Niagara is getting set to play its second game against a major Division I opponent this weekend. In the Purple Eagles first game, against Rensselaer, they played the Engineers tough, but couldn’t come back from a three goal deficit.

Niagara is led by the line of Peter DeSantis, Mikko Sivonen, and Mike Isherwood. This combination is speedy, and has scoring capabilities. Goaltender Greg Gardner will probably get the start for head coach Blaise MacDonald.

The York Yeomen, ranked tenth in the CIAU, have outscored their opponents 54-32 in ten games this season. The Yeomen defeated Waterloo 3-0 on Saturday, and lost to Wilfred Laurier 5-2 on Thursday.

The leading scorers for the Yeomen are Johnny Brdarovic (8-17-25), Sasha Cucuz (10-14-24), and Mike Williams (9-15-24). In net, the Yeomen rely on Bobby DaCosta. DaCosta has played all ten games for the Yeomen, and has a GAA of 2.97.

PICKS: Colgate vs. York: The Red Raiders show their scoring. Colgate 7 York 2 Cornell vs. Niagara: A much closer game, but still a Big Red victory. Cornell 4 Niagara 2

The action in the ECAC dies down a bit because finals and the holidays are almost upon us. Next week in the ECAC, all games are within the league:

Friday, December 5: Brown at St. Lawrence Harvard at Clarkson Colgate at Rensselaer Cornell at Union

Saturday, December 6: Harvard at St. Lawrence Brown at Clarkson Cornell at Rensselaer Colgate at Union Yale at Princeton

Tuesday, December 9: Brown at Harvard