This Week in the ECAC: February 6, 1998

Pearl Jam. A perfect score. The number of fingers and toes most people have. Bo Derek. The number of ECAC games left.

Now we get down to the root of the number ten. There are ten ECAC games left, ten games to decide who plays on the road the weekend of Mar. 13-15, who plays at home that weekend, and who plays golf early on.

Ten, such a nice and even number.

The ECAC, such a nice and jumbled picture.

There are seven points separating sixth place from first, six points between second and seventh, seven points separating fourth and twelfth. It’s tight.

You think?

ECAC Standings

Last week’s predictions: 1-8 (Thank you, Dartmouth) Year to date: 75-66, .531, 3rd

Colgate (14-6-2, 8-3-1 ECAC, 2nd) and Cornell (10-7-2, 6-5-1 ECAC, T-4th) at Princeton (10-5-4, 4-5-3 ECAC, 7th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7 pm, Hobey Baker Rink, Princeton, NJ Cornell (10-7-2, 6-5-1 ECAC, T-4th) and Colgate (14-6-2, 8-3-1 ECAC, 2nd) at Yale (15-4-0, 10-2-0 ECAC, 1st) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7 pm, Ingalls Rink, New Haven, Conn Previous Meetings Nov. 21: Yale 5, Colgate 1 Nov. 21: Cornell 2, Princeton 1 Nov. 22: Colgate 8, Princeton 4 Nov. 22: Yale 2, Cornell 1 (OT)

At the start of the season, the Colgate Red Raiders thought they would have a goaltending controversy. But Dan Brenzavich took care of that, and has been the main netminder all season long. Shep Harder has only played in seven games this season, though one was a win over St. Lawrence Friday evening.

"I am really proud of [Harder]," said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. "It hasn’t been easy for him all season. We haven’t played well in front of him all season, and Danny [Brenzavich] has been playing really well this year. Shep worked really hard all week in practice. He prepared, performed and produced for us.

"Shep’s saves really turned the game for us," Vaughan added. "You don’t ask your goaltenders to make every save, just the right ones."

Brenzavich was sitting out due to a game disqualification he received in his last game. He returned to the pipes the next night and tied Clarkson 3-3.

As Colgate looks to maintain its second-place standing, the schedule seems to favor the Red Raiders; they are 7-2-1 against the ten remaining teams on their schedule.

Cornell played with great intensity last Friday, and Jason Elliott made the difference in net as the Big Red knocked off Clarkson, 2-1. The next evening, the Big Red dropped one to St. Lawrence.

"Our team didn’t come ready to match [Friday] night’s performance," Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. "I’m grasping for straws to find out what motivates our team to put back-to-back wins together, and that search is going to continue."

It has been a while since Cornell has done that. In fact, it hasn’t happened since November, when the Big Red started out the ECAC season with a 3-0-0 record. Since then they are 3-5-1 in league play and 6-7-1 overall.

Ryan Moynihan has been shooting the big guns lately for the Big Red. The previous week’s ECAC Player of the Week scored in each game this past weekend, and is on a five-game scoring streak.

Princeton dropped a 3-2 decision to Yale last Saturday. The Tigers held a two-goal lead at 2-0 during the period on goals from Robbie Sinclair and Steve Shirreffs, but the Bulldogs came back with three unanswered goals by Matt Cumming, Mark Sproule and Ben Stafford to seal the victory.

Defense is the key for the Bulldogs. They have given up an average of just 1.92 goals per game in ECAC play, and a large part of that is due to Alex Westlund and Ray Giroux. Westlund leads goaltenders in the ECAC with a 1.91 goals-against average while Giroux anchors the defense in front of him.

The power play is another key for the ‘Dogs, who are tied with Rensselaer for the lead in league play with a 22.6 percent conversion rate (12 of 53). Giroux leads the league with 14 power play points (1-13–14).

Likewise, the Tigers are also strong on the power play. They have a 17.9 percent conversion rate, with 12 goals in 67 attempts.

Interestingly, the Tigers have gone the wrong way in goal differential, one of their strong points last season. Coming into the weekend, Princeton had scored 37 goals in ECAC play and given up 41.

PICKS: Colgate at Princeton: Princeton, 4-2 Cornell at Yale: Cornell, 3-2 Cornell at Princeton: Princeton, 3-1 Colgate at Yale: Yale, 5-2

Vermont (6-14-2, 3-7-2 ECAC, 11th) and Dartmouth (8-8-3, 4-7-1 ECAC, T-8th) at Clarkson (11-6-3, 7-3-2 ECAC, 3rd) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 3 pm, Cheel Arena, Potsdam, NY Dartmouth (8-8-3, 4-7-1 ECAC, T-8th) and Vermont (6-14-2, 3-7-2 ECAC, 11th) at St. Lawrence (5-14-1, 4-7-1 ECAC, T-8th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7 pm, Appleton Arena, Canton, NY Previous Meetings Jan. 16: St. Lawrence 3, Vermont 2 Jan. 16: Clarkson 4, Dartmouth 3 Jan. 17: Clarkson 5, Vermont 3 Jan. 17: Dartmouth 4, St. Lawrence 1

Vermont and Dartmouth met last Saturday and it was no contest as the Big Green skated away with a 6-1 victory, bolstered by a pair of Charlie Retter goals and 40 shots on goal. Jon Sturgis also added two goals in the game, which — along with his overtime goal against UMass-Lowell last Tuesday — earned him honors as the ECAC Player of the Week.

The Catamounts were outshot 40-17 in that game as their only goal came off Kevin Karlander’s stick. The Cats continue to struggle offensively with just 51 goals in 22 games on the season. Within the league, the Cats have scored just 28 goals.

The Big Green have turned themselves around, dropping their goals against per game by over one goal a game since last year, and have scored an average of 3.32 goals per game. The Cats, on the other hand, give up over a goal per game more than they are scoring.

St. Lawrence lost to Colgate on Friday evening, but rebounded with a win in tough Lynah Rink against Cornell.

"We got a huge lift out of the Cornell game," said Saint head coach Joe Marsh. "Our confidence was pretty battered after playing well, but not being able to cash in our chances at Colgate. We came back and played well in a very tough environment on Saturday night, and we were able to break out a little bit offensively.

"Not only did we score some goals, but we created a lot of chances in their end against a very good defensive team," he added. "It was a very physical game, and I am very pleased with the way the guys responded."

Marsh hopes that the Saints can carry that momentum through to this weekend as the Saints are fighting for a playoff spot.

"We’ve got another big weekend coming up, but we can head into it coming off a big win," he said. "We’re going to try to take things one period at a time and see if we can get some momentum going."

Clarkson dropped a game to Cornell and then tied Colgate to salvage a point on the weekend.

The game of musical goaltenders returned to the Golden Knights, as Dan Murphy made 13 saves in the 2-1 loss to Cornell and the next evening Chris Bernard got the start and made 25 saves as he moved his overall record to 5-0-1.

Murphy’s GAA is 1.99 in the league, Bernard’s 2.46. Bernard’s ECAC save percentage is .907, Murphy’s is .916. Murphy is 4-3-1 in ECAC play, and Bernard is 3-0-1. Tough decisions in Potsdam.

On another front, the man advantage for the Golden Knights hasn’t really been much of an advantage at all. In 55 ECAC attempts, the Knights have seven power-play goals — a 12.7 percent success rate which puts them 11th in the league.

PICKS: Vermont at Clarkson: Clarkson, 6-2 Dartmouth at St.Lawrence: St. Lawrence, 3-2 Dartmouth at Clarkson: Clarkson, 5-2 Vermont at St. Lawrence: St. Lawrence, 4-1

Union (4-15-3, 2-8-2 ECAC, 12th) and Rensselaer (11-9-2, 5-4-3 ECAC, T-4th) at Harvard (7-9-2, 6-5-1 ECAC, T-4th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 3 pm NESN, Bright Hockey Center, Cambridge, Mass Rensselaer (11-9-2, 5-4-3 ECAC, T-4th) and Union (4-15-3, 2-8-2 ECAC, 12th) at Brown (5-12-1, 4-7-1 ECAC, T-8th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7 pm, Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI Previous Meetings Jan. 9: Brown 3, Union 2 Jan. 9: Rensselaer 6, Harvard 4 Jan. 10: Rensselaer 4, Brown 4 Jan. 10: Harvard 3, Union 2 (OT)

Union fought a hard battle against Rensselaer, tying the Engineers 3-3. The Dutchmen now have a modest two-game unbeaten streak — only the second time that has happened this season: Union defeated Nebraska-Omaha and Cornell back in late November and early December.

"After we went ahead in the second period, we went right into the hopper — the kids were scared, petrified," said Union head coach Stan Moore. "I called them out on it. I said, `I want those guys that were here in the first period to come back out here,’ if you’re going to go down I wanted them to go down on their toes.

Rensselaer held 1-0 and 3-2 leads in the game, but could not quite get over the hump after the Dutchmen went ahead 2-1.

"I thought we played well for a period and a half, but we didn’t get going until the second period," said Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen. "We had a lot of opportunities throughout the game, and in order to win these kinds of games you have to capitalize on them."

The last time the Engineers faced the Bears and the Crimson, they got three points. That tie and win, respectively, are part of Rensselaer’s 3-1-3 record over their last seven games.

The Engineers are also clicking on the power play, having scored 12 times on their last 35 attempts, a conversion rate of 34.3 percent. The streak has brought the Engineers to first in the league in that category.

The Dutchmen, meanwhile, lost to Brown and Harvard when the two teams met four weeks ago.

"You like to think that the point that we got [over Rensselaer] will help us get into the right direction," said Moore. "We’re playing two teams that I thought we played real well against in our barn.

"I don’t want to address it with [the team]," he added. "I want to let them stew on it a little bit as to how those games turned out."

Union was tied in the third period against Brown, and the Bears scored the lone goal of the period for the win. Union then lost in overtime to the Crimson.

Brown hasn’t played a league game since Jan. 10, when the Bears tied the Engineers 4-4 in Troy. Since then, the Bears have lost to Northeastern, had a game cancelled with New Hampshire and took the Mayor’s Cup from Providence for the third consecutive year.

Damian Prescott continued his torrid streak with a hat trick and Brent Hoiness scored two goals in the 6-3 victory over the Friars.

"I think that long goal that Brent Hoiness scored turned the whole thing around for us," said Brown coach Roger Grillo. "I thought that territorially, [Providence] outplayed us. They did a real good job of working the puck down low in our zone. We were running around and panicking. But we got a couple lucky breaks.

"We killed off two penalties in a row and they had us pinned in our zone for about six minutes, but then we got a breakaway and scored," he added. "Certainly, I’m not pleased with our overall play, but it was nice to be on the other end of some lucky breaks for once – that was the difference."

The Bears will try to continue their climb towards a playoff spot against the same two teams they last saw in league action.

Harvard had three weeks off between games before the Crimson played in the Beanpot last Monday. After falling behind 3-0 and 4-2, the Crimson won the game with an overtime goal by Chris Bala.

"We looked like we hadn’t played in 22 days but we got stronger as the game went along," said Harvard head coach Ronn Tomassoni. "I have to take my hat off to my guys because we don’t know the word quit."

Henry Higdon, Trevor Allman, and Bala scored to bring it to a 4-3 deficit before Ben Storey scored with an extra attacker on the ice for the Crimson with only 26 seconds left in the third period.

The last time Harvard played, the result was also an overtime victory. The Crimson rebounded after a loss to Rensselaer to defeat Union 3-2 in overtime, after falling behind 2-0. Rob Millar provided the winner in that one.

PICKS: Union at Harvard: Union, 3-1 Rensselaer at Brown: Rensselaer, 5-2 Rensselaer at Harvard: Rensselaer, 4-2 Union at Brown: Brown, 4-2

Beanpot Championship Harvard (7-9-2, 6-5-1 ECAC, T-4th) vs. Boston University (18-4-2, 10-3-2 Hockey East, T-1st) Monday, 9 pm, Fleet Center, Boston, Mass

Harvard is looking to break Boston University’s three-year Beanpot streak, having already ended its own string of three consecutive fourth-place finishes with a 5-4 overtime victory over Boston College.

For a look at Boston University please refer to the Hockey East preview.

PICK: Harvard, 4-3

There’s a full slate again next week in the ECAC, with only four more weekends to go until the playoffs.

Friday, February 13: Harvard at Princeton Brown at Yale Clarkson at Rensselaer St. Lawrence at Union Vermont at Cornell Dartmouth at Colgate

Saturday, February 14: Harvard at Yale Brown at Princeton Clarkson at Union St. Lawrence at Rensselaer (Empire Sports) Vermont at Colgate Dartmouth at Cornell

Some information gathered from ECAC game reporters.