This Week in the ECAC: January 8, 1999

It certainly was a Happy New Year for a few teams this past weekend. The ECAC got back to league action with all 12 teams playing two-game sets.

The big winners for the first weekend of 1999 were the Harvard Crimson and the Rensselaer Engineers. The Crimson got their first two ECAC wins, over Dartmouth and Vermont, while the Engineers defeated both defending regular-season champion Yale and the defending playoff champions and league-leading Princeton Tigers.

Other teams getting good results at the beginning of 1999 were the Brown Bears and the St. Lawrence Saints. Both teams went 1-0-1, Brown defeating Dartmouth and tying Vermont and St. Lawrence defeating Colgate and tied Cornell.

Clarkson picked up two points with a win over Cornell, and Colgate defeated Clarkson for their two points. Princeton and Yale also picked up two points each with wins over Union.

Cornell and Vermont each had a tie and a loss on the weekend, while the new year didn’t bring much to cheer to Dartmouth and Union — each got swept on the weekend.

There was some jostling in the standings after this past weekend. Harvard and Rensselaer moved up, but Princeton maintains the lead in the ECAC.

ECAC Standings

This weekend, there are ECAC games and non-conference games scattered in between. It’s an intense ECAC-Hockey East weekend as eight of those battles match the eight ECAC games on the schedule.

Last Week: 6-7 Season To Date: 66-47, .589

Rensselaer (10-5-1, 5-2-1 ECAC, T-3th) and Union (2-12-1, 1-6-0 ECAC, T-11th) at Harvard (6-8-1, 2-8-1 ECAC, 10th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7:00 pm, Bright Hockey Center, Boston, MA Union (2-12-1, 1-6-0 ECAC, T-11th) and Rensselaer (10-5-1, 52-1 ECAC, T-4th) at Brown (2-5-3, 2-5-3 ECAC, T-7th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7:00 pm, Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI

Rensselaer put itself into a nice position to make a move later on in the ECAC season with a sweep of Yale and Princeton this past weekend, 3-0 and 4-1.

For the Engineers, the story was two-fold. Joel Laing allowed one goal in the two games, making 60 saves on 61 shots, and was named the ECAC Goaltender of the Week for the second consecutive week. Laing has now saved 110 of the last 112 shots he has faced, winning three games in a row for the Engineers.

The other half of the story was Brad Tapper. With eight goals in his last four games, and five of the seven Engineer goals on the weekend, Tapper was named the ECAC Player of the Week.

"Things happen like that," said head coach Dan Fridgen about Tapper’s run. "He’s feeling great about his game. He’s going to the net and he’s getting open. He’s getting free and finding the space in the offensive zone. And people are finding him which is also important.

"We did a real good job from an offensive standpoint and we got some real timely goal scoring from Brad and some great goaltending from Joel. [Laing] played with confidence after the tournament, and that’s something goaltenders feed off of."

The story for the Engineers will have to be the ability to keep up their fine play from this past weekend. Another one of the questions is whether or not Laing continues to get the start in between the pipes or if Fridgen goes back to his platoon of Laing and Scott Prekaski. Throughout the last three season, neither goaltender has started three games in a row.

"I judge that through practice and I look to see if they are sharp," said Fridgen when asked if Laing would go again next Friday evening against Harvard. "I ask them about it and I think it’s important that you want to keep two goaltenders into the mix because we still have a good chunk of our schedule left. We’ll just have to see."

Union continues to slide with its two losses this past weekend. The Dutchmen have now lost six in a row, and are winless in their last seven games after the losses to Princeton, 3-1, and Yale, 5-1.

The loss to Yale on Sunday evening was frustrating to head coach Kevin Sneddon.

"They were only two points ahead of us coming into this game,” he said. "When you’re battling for playoff position, you’d like to win some of these games.”

The Dutchmen scored a power-play goal on Sunday night, breaking a string of 35 consecutive power-play opportunities without a goal. The Dutchmen were 3-for-51 on the power play before Mark Szucs’ goal in the first period against Yale tied the game and broke the string of futility.

"I thought we had a nice power-play goal and I was hoping that they could break the drought a little bit," Sneddon said. "But the bottom line is they won the game. The wanted it more and won the battles they needed to win. Five to one is not just a win, it’s a big win."

The game against Yale also saw the return to the nets of Leeor Shtrom. Shtrom had sat out four games with his double game diqualification penalties against Cornell early on in December. Shtrom let in four Yale goals in 35:26 of work. He was yanked for Brandon Snee at that point.

"I’m not going to blame him (Shtrom) or single anybody out," Sneddon said. "It was a team effort. We just didn’t play well."

To say that Harvard needed four points last weekend was perhaps the biggest understatement in the history of the program. For the first time in the 38 years of round-robin play in the ECAC, the Crimson found itself winless heading into the second half of the league schedule.

With its back against the wall, Harvard found a way to erase the zero from its win column and jump out of the ECAC cellar with critical victories over Dartmouth and Vermont last weekend.

"Obviously this weekend was very important because everyone knows that we have dug ourselves one huge hole," said Harvard head coach Ronn Tomassoni, whose team is currently on a four-game winning streak after a pair at Nebraska-Omaha before the holiday break. "We just need to continue to chip away. It was good for us to get the two games on the road, but we have a long way to go."

There is no doubt that two of the main reasons why the Crimson are exhibiting a newfound life in its past four games are sophomore forward Chris Bala and senior defenseman Ben Storey. Both reentered the lineup in Nebraska after both were sidelined for more than a month with a broken wrist and mononucleosis respectively.

Bala, who has five goals and four assists in 11 games, not only adds speed and creativity up front, but he also acts as an anchor for linemate Steve Moore, who leads the team with 17 points (11 goals, six assists). The pairing not only strengthens the Crimson’s first line, but it also allows Tomassoni to pair Craig Adams and Rob Millar with freshman Jeff Stonehouse for a viable second line attack.

Storey is perhaps the most integral cog in Harvard’s wheel at this point. The senior defensemen is the team’s most versatile blueliner with the ability and instinct to move forward and find the back of the net on a regular basis. In addition, fellow defenseman Matt Scorsune is bolstered by his teammate’s return as was evidenced by Scorsune’s three-goal performance in the team’s 7-6 win over Vermont in Burlington, Vt.

"Last year we had more offense come from our defense and up until just recently we haven’t gotten as much out of them," Tomassoni said. "It started in Nebraska when we got Storey back. By having him back it helps us both defensively and offensively, and it also helps Matt a great deal."

Harvard will look to continue its streak of late at home in Bright Hockey Center, but it first runs head into a surging RPI team, which is coming off an impressive sweep of Yale and Princeton.

"I think that right now we need to focus on our play away from the puck, which is an area in which we’ve made tremendous strides as of late," said Tomassoni, who will continue to use a two-man rotation in goal, alternating junior J,R. Prestifilippo and sophomore Oliver Jonas. "Right now we have two number-one goalies. I don’t know if it is giving confidence to the team because the team is confident, but it is making for a competitive situation for the two individuals."

Everyone knew that the first weekend back in action for Brown in the New Year would be an important one. After more than a month off from hockey and after struggling with the recent death of a teammate, the Bears quickly set the tone for 1999 by coming away from Vermont and Dartmouth with a much-needed three points.

"I don’t think what happened with Kevin [Pope] was any extra motivation for the guys. Right now, we are just trying to win some hockey games and move up the ladder into the playoff hunt," said Brown head coach Roger Grillo. "We have been playing good hockey, we just haven’t been able to get on the other side of the fence. For us, that was a critical weekend for us in getting the three points because we have been in a lot of close games. We just haven’t been able to take the next step."

On Saturday against Vermont, netminder Scott Stirling knocked away 36 Vermont shots and Mike Bent salvaged a 1-1 tie with a third-period goal, But the following night, Jon Zielinski led the offensive charge for the second straight weekend as he netted a hat trick, which brings his goal total to five this season.

"We need someone to step up for us because we lost our top four leading scorers [to graduation]. Damian Prescott alone was good for a goal a game and we certainly miss that right now," Grillo said. "For Jonny to step up with a hat trick this weekend was great for us."

Throughout the weekend, Stirling, considered to be one of the most talented netminders in the league behind St. Lawrence’s Eric Heffler, continued to keep the Bears in each contest, registering the 36 saves against Vermont and then following that performance up with 20 more in Hanover, N.H., on Sunday night.

"From the point when he started rolling last year to right now, he has played tremendous," Grillo said. "The last three games he has played with a lot of intensity and consistency so that we can get ourselves into a game. And that’s what he does for us, is keep us in every game. Now we need everyone else to step up and carry their own load."

This coming weekend, Brown will continue to be the only team in the league who has yet to venture outside its conference as it will host ECAC foes RPI and Union.

Picks: Rensselaer at Harvard — Both teams are on a roll, and the Crimson may have found the touch they need to dig themselves out of the cellar. Rensselaer will look to continue on its hot streak positioning themselves for the stretch run. The difference will be in goal for this night. Go with the Engineers in a close one. Rensselaer 4, Harvard 3. Union at Brown — The Dutchmen know that they need a win and they need it soon. Unfortunately, Brown is beginning a second half in the same way that it did last year. Brown 4, Union 1. Union at Harvard — Union and Harvard represent two teams struggling to find a winning formula in league action, but when it all boils down, the home team has more talent than the Skating Dutchmen from top to bottom. And with Bala and Storey showing no signs of relapse, the Crimson should have no problem knocking off Union and Harvard alum Kevin Sneddon, who will be making his head coaching debut in his old barn. Harvard 5, Union 1. Rensselaer at Brown — The Bears are never easy for Rensselaer, and it should be no different at Meehan this weekend. The Engineers will battle and battle, but it looks like there is tie on the horizon. Brown 3, Rensselaer 3.

Dartmouth (5-8-0, 1-5-0 ECAC, T-11th) and Vermont (9-5-1, 3-2-1 ECAC, T-7th) at Princeton (10-3-1, 6-1-1 ECAC, 1st) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7:00 pm, Baker Rink, Princeton, NJ Vermont (9-5-1, 3-2-1 ECAC, T-7th) and Dartmouth (5-8-0, 1-5-0 ECAC, T-11th) at Yale (4-8-0, 3-5-0 ECAC, 9th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7:00 pm, Ingalls Rink, New Haven, CT

They are a self-assessed young team that is learning more about Division I hockey with each passing game. Unfortunately, most of Dartmouth’s educational experiences this past season have ended with losses as the Big Green keep falling farther and farther into the ECAC cellar.

Dartmouth suffered two more defeats this past weekend, first against Harvard (2-4) on Saturday and then Brown (3-4) the following night. Now the team must gear up for this weekend as it comes face-to-face with two of the most talented offensive teams in the league in Princeton and Yale on the road.

"I think that our team skates quite well and that is a positive for us," said Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet. "I think that we match up OK [with Princeton] there. Obviously, Princeton is a premier team in our league and a nationally competitive team at this point. They have a very good and experienced hockey team. In contrast to us, three of their top four scorers are seniors.

"Yale won the league last year and has really good team speed and excellent goaltending. They are a good transition team and that is where they are going to get a lot of their opportunities."

In its two defeats last weekend, Dartmouth stayed within striking distance throughout each contest, mainly due to its ability to keep shots away its own net. After holding Harvard to 26 shots on Saturday, the Big Green allowed only 24 shots on net against Brown. The main problem for the home team, whose top three scorers are freshmen, however, manifested in its continuing inability to reap any benefits on the other end of the ice.

"Brown is veteran team with a group of young, big blueliners, but they have some forwards who have been around. [Jon] Zielinski had three goals against us and that was the difference," Gaudet said. "It was a question of them capitalizing and us not capitalizing on our opportunities. It was not from a lack of effort and possession time, we just didn’t get enough in the cage as we would have liked."

Five different Dartmouth players found the back of the net, including Jamie Herrington, who currently leads the team with three goals and three assists on the season.

"We need to keep chipping away because we tend to be up and down, and that is kind of what I expected from this team," Gaudet said. "Four of our top six scorers are freshmen and it is a good group of kids with a lot of potential, but we have holes to fill with recruiting in the future. We have a good attitude and we need to just keep plugging away.

Heading into last week’s ECAC action, the Vermont Catamounts appeared poised for a series sweep as it welcomed an emotionally-battered Brown team and a struggling Harvard squad into Gutterson Fieldhouse. Also giving the Burlington faithful confidence was the fact that Vermont was in the midst of a streak, winning five of its previous six contests and most recently coming off a championship run through the holiday Auld Lang Syne Classic.

Unfortunately for the Catamounts, when all was said and done, the performance fell well short of its billing as the team managed only one point from the weekend series.

"It has been a down time because the tie for us was a letdown and I think the kids felt the weekend was fairly depressing because it had been going OK for us after having won the tournament at Dartmouth," said Vermont head coach Mike Gilligan. "It brought us back to realize how balanced the ECAC is right now. The bottom teams are much better and the top teams aren’t as great as before."

On Saturday night, the host team found itself locked in a defensive battle with Brown for two and a half periods before Matt Sanders netted his seventh goal of the season past Scott Stirling. The Catamount lead was short-lived. Less than two minutes later with the teams playing four-a-side, Mike Bent took advantage of the open ice to score the equalizer. Neither team would find the back of the net throughout the remaining seven minutes of play and the five-minute overtime period.

"I thought on the first night there was excellent goaltending by both teams and Brown and Vermont know what each other is going to do and we have similar systems" said Gilligan, who worked with Brown head coach Roger Grillo for six years while Grillo was an assistant at Vermont. "I guess the boys here know the history and they play as hard as they can against them and it ended up being an even game."

The following night against Harvard, Vermont found itself in a game of opposite proportions as it scored six goals, but still fell to the visiting Crimson, 7-6. In what has become a modern-day tradition between the two teams, it was a wild game. Last year at Bright Hockey Center, Vermont netminder Andrew Allen became the first Division I goalie to tally a game-winner, while this time around Harvard added a bizarre twist to the game by scoring on itself after Vermont had been called for a penalty and Harvard goaltender Oliver Jonas had been lifted from the net.

Despite the loss, Sanders continued on an offensive tear by collecting a hat trick in the losing effort to extend his point-scoring streak to seven games. Currently, the junior forward has 10 goals and four assists and sits second on the team in scoring behind Jason Reid (6-9-15).

"[Sanders] has been probably the most consistent forwards for us all season long," Gilligan said. "His skating skill is unmatched in Division I in the East and he is the quickest skater in the East. Now, I think that he has finally figured out getting to the net and timing his speed properly. He has gotten a lot of pucks on the net and they are starting to fall for him."

The road does not get much easier for the Catamounts, who head south to take on Princeton and Yale.

"Yale is always tough at Yale and Princeton is probably the best team in the East," Gilligan said. "Our forwards have to make fewer unforced errors with the puck, we need better goaltending, and we have to stay out of the penalty box. We have been taking too many unnecessary penalties recently."

After waltzing well into the nation’s Top Ten and storming through the league to an undefeated 5-0-1 tune, you knew Princeton had to have an off weekend.

And like clockwork, the Tigers struggled this past weekend and Rensselaer proved the benefactors of the slide as the Engineers took advantage of a lackluster Tiger offense en route to a 4-1 victory at Houston Field House.

"It’s never good to get a loss out of the way. Hopefully you learn from the losses and minimize the loss," said Princeton head coach Don "Toot" Cahoon. "Better to learn and lose in this situation than when you get into really big, big, big games when everything is on the line and you make those big mistakes. That’s when you take the loss and move on."

The night before, Princeton — thanks to first-period power-play goals by Jeff Halpern and J.P. Acosta — held off Union, 3-1, and launched 38 shots at Brandon Snee along the way, but was hardly the performance Tiger fans became accustomed to over the holiday break when Princeton stormed to the championship podium at the Mariucci Classic in Minnesota.

Against the Engineers, who played arguably their best game of the season, it was much of the same offensive futility for Princeton as Brad Meredith scored the Tigers’ lone goal (off 41 total shots) in the first period.

Gone was the offensive explosiveness of the Tigers first line of Halpern, Scott Bertoli, and Kirk Lamb, who combined for no points on the weekend. Gone was the recent goal-scoring punch from the Mariucci Classic MVP, Syl Apps (zero points in the two games). Perhaps more important against RPI, gone were All-American defenseman Steve Shirreffs (game misconduct early in the first period) and senior Jackson Hegland (sore back).

"We made a couple of breakdowns and we gave up some goals," Cahoon said. "Most of the game I thought we played well, and we had our chances and opportunities. The puck bounced and we didn’t finished. You sit back and you take your lumps and you move on. Hopefully we’ve learned a few things."

The absence of Shirreffs and Hegland along the blueline proved to be the biggest blow to the Tigers — who surrendered the most goals (four) since its 4-3 loss to Northeastern on Dec. 20 — both in their own zone as well as on the power play, where Shirreffs normally controls play from the point.

"We had to feel our way through that so we could string a power play together so we could get a better idea of how to use our personnel in situations like that," Cahoon said of losing Shirreffs. "We had some moments but that didn’t translate into goals and it didn’t help us win the game. Hopefully we learn a little something from that and we move on."

With its hopes of an undefeated league season now foiled, Princeton returns home to Hobey Baker Rink to take on Dartmouth and Vermont — two teams who are on similar losing skids. The Tigers will need, now more than ever, its offensive attack to reemerge.

The same storyline unfolded for the Yale Bulldogs on Saturday evening at Rensselaer. The Bulldogs were unable to get on the board, and lost to the Engineers 3-0.

"Alex played great and he’s been the Rock of Gibraltar back there," said head coach Tim Taylor after Saturday’s game. "I wish we could do a little something in front of him. To ease the pressure on him, number one, and number two to give him a little cushion. It’s hard to play goal when you’re worried about the other team getting one or two goals.

"We’ve just been so anemic in scoring goals, and it’s been hard for us to get goals. We got four against Wisconsin and we thought we were going in the right direction. But we got one against Bowling Green and none tonight, so that’s 120 minutes with one goal."

The next evening the Bulldogs defeated Union 5-1 and put some goals on the board. The line of Jay Quenville-Jeff Hamilton-Jeff Brow accounted for three of the goals, but despite the win, Taylor still finds his team in ninth place with a lot of work to do.

"I want these kids to stay together," he said. "We are where we are [in the standings], and to quote Bill Parcells, ‘You can’t say we had a shot here or there — we’re losing.’ So we have to keep battling. My goal is to stay healthy and get a little condidence. We’re going into these games feeling that if we fall behind we’re not going to have a chance to win. We’re squeezing our sticks a little tight right now in all aspects of the game."

Picks: Dartmouth at Princeton — This Dartmouth team keeps showing signs of improvement and flashes of offensive life, but has yet to reach the level where it can compete game in and game out with the upper echelon teams in the league, especially a Princeton team that coming off a disappointing weekend stint on the road. Princeton 6, Dartmouth 2. Vermont at Yale — The toss-up game of the weekend designation has to go to the battle between Yale and Vermont at Ingalls Rink. In the wise words of Catamount coach Mike Gilligan, "Yale plays tough at Yale." Truer words could not have been spoken. Yale 6, Vermont 4. Vermont at Princeton — Mike Gilligan called the Tigers the best team in the East, and the home team is unlikely to disappoint on Saturday night. The full complement of defensemen back in the lineup will no doubt leave Vermont struggling offensively and barring an inspired performance by Andrew Allen in net, Princeton will have no problem lighting the lamp at home. Princeton 4, Vermont 1. Dartmouth at Yale — It will be an interesting battle at the Whale as the Big Green’s youth will pose a threat to Yale’s normally dominating play at home. Despite its current slide in league action, the home fans will give it a needed boost in the end. Yale 4, Dartmouth 2.

St. Lawrence (10-6-1, 5-1-1 ECAC, T-3rd) and Clarkson (7-7-1, 4-3-0 ECAC, 6th) at UMass-Lowell (8-9-0, 4-7-0 Hockey East, T-5th) Friday – Saturday, 7:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Tsongas Arena, Lowell, MA Clarkson (7-7-1, 4-3-0 ECAC, 6th) and St. Lawrence (10-6-1, 5-1-1 ECAC, T-3rd) at New Hampshire (13-4-1, 7-2-1 Hockey East, 1st) Friday – Sunday, 7:00 pm – 2:00 pm, Whittemore Center, Durham, NH

St. Lawrence added three points to its ECAC total this past weekend with a win over Colgate, 3-2, and a tie against Cornell, 3-3.

Brandon Dietrich was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week for his effore on the weekend. It included two goals against Colgate on Saturday evening — the second time he has scored two goals against the Red Raiders, the first coming at the Punch Imlach Classic in Buffalo — the second being the game-winner.

The three-point weekend was a relief to the Saints and their fans after a fourth place finish at the Syracuse Invitational. The weekend also brought good news as captain Bob Prier returned from a pinched nerve to play both games.

"We had a good week of practice and were able to work on the things we have to do to be a successful team," said Saint coach Joe Marsh after Saturday’s game. "We didn’t do a lot of the little things that are a big part of our game in the Syracuse tournament, but we did against Colgate and it made a big difference. It was also a big boost for us to get Bob Prier back, and he played a big role in two of our three goals."

The Saints jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first period and held off the hard charging Red Raiders. It was especially important to have a good start to the game after the Syracuse Invitational according to Marsh.

"The early lead was an important lift for us," he ssaid. "We have been creating some chances and not finishing them off, but we certainly did and it set the stage for a real good first period for us."

Clarkson is coming off a weekend in which it came close to sweeping. Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, after a convincing win over Cornell they dropped an overtime decision to Colgate the next afternoon.

The Knights started to on track offensively on Saturday evening against the Big Red. Most notably is the scoring of Erik Cole. Last year’s co-rookie of the year scored twice against Cornell and added an assist. Cole is coming out of the shell for the Knights.

Add Matt Reid’s performance from this past weekend (3-2–5) along with the possible emergence of freshman Matt Poapst (1-1–2) and the Knights are set to start their run in the ECAC with the offense which was inconsistent in the early parts of the season.

It also looks like head coach Mark Morris has settled on a number one goaltender for his team. Potsdam native Shawn Grant has been given the green light to play in goal and has steadily improved as the season has worn on. Before the overtime loss to Colgate, Grant had an unbeaten streak stretching back to mid-November. Grant made 35 saves against Cornell and 30 saves against Colgate on the weekend.

For more on Mass-Lowell and New Hampshire, please refer to Dave Hendrickson’s >Hockey East Preview

Picks: St. Lawrence at Mass-Lowell — The Saints will put few on the board, but Heffler will make the difference once again for the Saints. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? St. Lawrence 3, Mass-Lowell 1. Clarkson at New Hampshire — The Knights will want to make amends for the Colgate loss this past weekend, but unfortunately for them, New Hampshire proves why they are in the Top 6 in the nation. New Hampshire 5, Clarkson 2. Clarkson at Mass-Lowell — The Knights move back to the .500 mark when they start to fill the net against the Rivherhawks. Clarkson 6, Mass-Lowell 3. St. Lawrence at New Hampshire — This one will probably be Heffler vs. Ty Conklin, so don’t expect many goals in this one. New Hampshire 2.19, St. Lawrence 1.26.

Mayor’s Cup Providence (8-8-0, 4-4-0 Hockey East, T-5th) at Brown (2-5-3, 2-5-3 ECAC, T-7th) Tuesday, 7:00 pm, Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI

The annual Mayor’s Cup battle between the two Division I Providence schools renews itself once again. Last season the Bears won head coach Roger Grillo his first Mayor’s Cup in his first attempt, 6-3.

The Bears have won three straight Mayor’s Cups, and are 3-0-1 in the last four games between these city rivals.

For more on Providence, please refer to Dave Hendrickson’s Hockey East Preview.

Pick — The Bears will look to make it four in a row against the Friars, and this one should be a tight one, but the Bears will do it. Brown 4, Providence 3.

UMass-Lowell (8-9-0, 4-7-0 Hockey East, T-5th) at Union (2-12-1, 1-6-0 ECAC, T-11th) Tuesday, 7:30 pm, Achilles Rink, Schenectady, NY

Union will look for its first win over a Hockey East school this season when the Dutchmen entertain the Riverhawks in Schenectady. The Dutchmen have dropped Hockey East games to Maine, Merrimack (twice) and Mass-Amherst thus far in the season.

Not only will the Dutchmen be looking for more wins, but they will be looking for consistency as they head into the stretch run of the ECAC season, beginning with cross-town rival Rensselaer the following Saturday.

For more on Mass-Lowell, please refer to Dave Hendrickson’s Hockey East Preview.

Pick — The Dutchmen could surprise some, especially at home, as they pull one out in the upset. Union 3, Mass-Lowell 2.

Yale (4-8-0, 3-5-0 ECAC, 9th) vs. Maine (13-1-4, 5-1-2 Hockey East, 2nd) Wednesday, 7:00 pm, Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland, ME

Yale will face the big task of trying to stop Maine’s great attack in Portland on Wednesday. We’ll see two of the country’s greatest quick forwards when Jeff Hamilton takes on Steve Kariya.

For more on Maine, please refer to Dave Hendrickson’s >Hockey East Preview.

Pick — Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they will need more than just Jeff Hamilton to stop the high-powered attack of the Black Bears. Maine 5, Yale 1.

Boston College (11-5-2, 6-3-0 Hockey East, 3rd) at Harvard (6-8-1, 2-8-1 ECAC, 10th) Wednesday, 7:00 pm, Bright Hockey Center, Boston, MA

Harvard looks like it may be getting off the losing end of things with thier four game winning streak heading into this weekend’s action. It’s not exactly a time when the Crimson would like to stray out of the ECAC — except perhaps for a possible Beanpot opponent.

The Crimson and the Eagles may very well meet on the second night of the Beanpot, and this could be a preview of that game. Not only that, but the Crimson put their unblemished 4-0-0 non-conference record on the line in this one.

For more on Boston College, please refer to Dave Hendrickson’s Hockey East Preview.

Pick — If the two teams do meet in the Beanpot, maybe Harvard has a better result. Here, though, the Crimson drops its first non-conference game of the year. Boston College 5, Harvard 3.

Next Week In The ECAC (ECAC Games in bold):

Friday, January 15 St. Lawrence at Dartmouth Clarkson at Vermont UMass-Lowell at Yale Ohio State at Cornell Brown at Niagara

Saturday, January 16 St. Lawrence at Vermont Clarkson at Dartmouth Rensselaer at Union Brown at Niagara

Sunday, January 17 Ohio State at Colgate

Thanks to the USCHO game reporters for their contributions to this preview. All photographs used by permission of the appropriate Sports Information Departments. Any reproduction without authorization is prohibited. Becky Blaeser and Jayson Moy are ECAC Correspondents for U.S. College Hockey Online. Copyright 1999 Becky Blaeser and Jayson Moy. All rights reserved.