This Week in the ECAC: December 5, 1997

After only one league game last week, this week there are 10 league contests on tap which could very well set the tone for what happens when 1998 rolls around.

Last week’s predictions: 8-7 Year to date: 51-34, .600, 3rd place

Colgate (7-3-0, 4-2-0 ECAC, 3rd) and Cornell (6-1-1, 4-1-1 ECAC, 2nd) at Rensselaer (6-4-0, 2-2-0 ECAC, 8th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 p.m. – 7 p.m., Houston Fieldhouse, Troy, NY Cornell (6-1-1, 4-1-1 ECAC, 2nd) and Colgate (7-3-0, 4-2-0 ECAC, 3rd) at Union (2-8-1, 1-2-1 ECAC, T-9th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 p.m. – 7 p.m., Achilles Rink, Schenectady, NY

Colgate was lackluster in its exhibition against York at the Punch Imlach College Hockey Showcase on Sunday afternoon, squeaking out a 3-2 win over the Yeomen.

Tim Loftsgard’s late goal in the third period gave the Red Raiders a 3-1 lead, and Colgate held off the Yeomen late in the game to seal the victory.

The Red Raiders continue to get scoring from different players, but one player is really going — Jed Whitchurch. It really doesn’t matter, though, because Whitchurch has 19 assists on the season (17 of them coming in ECAC play, helping to make him the league leader in points).

The Big Red of Cornell defeated Niagara 2-0 in the same tourney, with Jason Elliott notching another shutout to add to his already-impressive resume.

Cornell finally had six healthy defensemen for this game, but Rick Sacchetti went down with an injury in the first period and did not return. Only time will tell if the Big Red will have a full complement of defensemen healthy for this weekend’s series with Union and Rensselaer.

But even if the Big Red do not have six, Cornell seems to be able to make do, as was evidenced in several games before this weekend, when the Big Red dressed only four blueliners. Translation: the Red win with or without their full allotment of warm bodies.

Union is coming off of a split with Nebraska-Omaha. The Dutchmen put six on the board in Saturday’s win, including a goal and two assists from freshman Daniel Pugen.

A good sign for the Dutchmen is the number of goalscorers on the weekend. The Dutchmen got goals from seven different individuals — Jeff Sproat, Bryan Yackel, Bryant Westerman (two), Brent Ozarowski (two), Charlie Moxham, Pugen and Mark Szucs. For the Dutchmen, it’s a must that scoring continue to come from a variety of sources.

One might suggest that this is deja vu for the Rensselaer Engineers. At this point of the season last year, the Engineers were shut out in three consecutive games, suffering a scoreless streak of 192:04. This season Rensselaer has been shut out in two consecutive games, and the Engineers’ scoreless streak has reached 161:05.

The Engineers had the week off, and will be returning to the ice this weekend with a lot on their minds.

PICKS: Colgate at Rensselaer: It will take a while for Rensselaer to score, but Colgate won’t wait that long. Colgate 4, Rensselaer 1 Cornell at Union: Union has gotten Cornell’s goat lately, but not here. Cornell 3, Union 1 Colgate at Union: Sometimes, you just have a feeling. Union 5, Colgate 1 Cornell at Rensselaer: The Big Red play their first game against a high-powered offense. Rensselaer 4, Cornell 2

Brown (1-6-0, 1-4-0 ECAC, T-11th) and Harvard (2-4-1, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-5th) at St. Lawrence (3-7-1, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-5th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 p.m. – 4 p.m., Appleton Arena, Canton, NY Harvard (2-4-1, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-5th) and Brown (1-6-0, 1-4-0 ECAC, T-11th) at Clarkson (5-4-2, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-5th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 p.m. – 7 p.m., Cheel Arena, Potsdam, NY Brown (1-6-0, 1-4-0 ECAC, T-11th) at Harvard (2-4-1, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-5th) Tuesday, 7 p.m., Bright Hockey Center, Cambridge, Mass

Brown continues to struggle on the young season, as the Bears are still looking for that dreaded word — consistency. They were down early to Harvard before coming back to within 3-2. But the Bears couldn’t complete the break, losing 5-3.

John DiRenzo and Damian Prescott lead the charge offensively for the Bears. DiRenzo had one goal against the Crimson and Prescott two. On the season, DiRenzo is tied for third in the league in scoring with four goals and five assists for nine points. Prescott has three goals and three assists for six points.

In five league games, the Bears have been outscored by four goals, suggesting that they need to get over the hump — to learn to win the close ones with a new coach and a young team. That will almost certainly take some time.

The Crimson have gotten scoring from a number of players this season, but have not outscored their opponents many times — yet.

Steve Moore tallied his first two career goals and was named ECAC Rookie of the Week for that effort, against Brown. Henry Higdon, Matt Scorsune, Harry Schwefel, Craig Adams and Scott Turco also had goals this past week for the Crimson.

J.R. Prestifilippo continued his strong play, with 34 and 24 saves against Boston University and Brown.

Meanwhile, St. Lawrence went into the weekend flying high after Eric Heffler shut out Rensselaer 1-0 and Union 7-0. The Saints came out of feeling grounded after getting a taste of their own medicine on Friday — shut out by Boston College 6-0 — and then dropping a 6-3 decision to Boston University.

Among the bad news: Heffler reaggravated a hip injury during the weekend’s play, a sight sure to be difficult for the Saints and their fans alike. Injuries will continue to be the focus for this weekend, as defenseman John Poapst is out until January with a broken foot, and Matt Oikawa has also missed action, with a shoulder injury.

The good news on the injury front is that Heffler and Oikawa should be back this weekend, and Bob Prier has already returned from a knee injury.

Clarkson also got a little tit-for-tat on Friday, getting shut out by Boston University 4-0. Nevertheless, the Knights rebounded the next night with a 4-3 victory over Boston College.

In that game, Chris Bernard made his first ever start in goal, making 24 saves in the victory over the Eagles. As a senior, Bernard had only played 12:33 total in his previous three seasons, backing up Dan Murphy.

PICKS: Brown at St. Lawrence: St. Lawrence, at home, keeps Brown frustrated. St. Lawrence 4, Brown 3 Harvard at Clarkson: Here’s that feeling again… Harvard 4, Clarkson 2 Brown at Clarkson: Clarkson rebounds, but not without a fight. Clarkson 3, Brown 2 Harvard at St. Lawrence: A St. Lawrence sweep. St. Lawrence 3, Harvard 1 Brown at Harvard: Brown gets revenge for its loss on Saturday. Brown 4, Harvard 2

Yale (7-2-0, 5-1-0 ECAC, 1st) at Princeton (6-2-3, 2-2-2 ECAC, 4th) Saturday, 7 p.m., Hobey Baker Rink, Princeton, NJ

Yale and Princeton played the same Hockey East opponents this past weekend, and neither came away with two victories. The Bulldogs lost to Providence and then defeated Merrimack, while Princeton topped Merrimack but tied Providence.

Alex Westlund finally allowed some goals in the Bulldogs’ loss to the Friars. The next night it was Trevor Hanger who got the start, and he made 30 saves for the win.

The Bulldogs are off to their best start since the 1991-92 season, when they were undefeated going into the holiday break before losing to Wisconsin in the Badger Showdown.

At the other end, Princeton got a big effort from Erasmo Saltarelli on Friday, as he shut out Merrimack 2-0. Saltarelli returned to the nets on Sunday against Providence, but he and the Tigers could not hold a 4-1 lead against the Friars, ending up with the draw.

Jeff Halpern earned Player of the Week honors with his hat trick against the Friars on Sunday. Halpern and his linemates, Casson Masters and Scott Bertoli — the "Orange Line" — have a combined eight goals and nine assists in their last three games.

PICK: Princeton wins it in a close one as the Tigers are helped by the home crowd. Princeton 3, Yale 2

The schedule certainly gets light after this weekend. There are no league games until the new year, and only a few sparse games of any kind between now and tournament time. The upcoming schedule:

Friday, Dec. 12 UMass-Amherst at Princeton Sunday, Dec. 14 Dartmouth at UMass-Amherst Thursday, Dec. 18 Harvard at Northeastern Saturday, Dec. 20 Merrimack at Dartmouth