This Week in the ECAC: January 29, 1999

How about some good old-fashioned ECAC hockey?

That’s what we’re going to get for the next six weekends. There are only five non-conference games remaining for ECAC teams, and aside from that it’s a battle to see who gets in, who stays home and who will take home the Scotty M. Whitelaw Trophy this season at Lake Placid.

A scant few ECAC games were played last weekend, but some teams made statements.

Clarkson blitzed North Country rival St. Lawrence in the second period, showing the ECAC that the Knights will be a major factor in the six weeks ahead.

Cornell made the same statement against its travel partner Colgate, taking three points in the home-and-home series.

And Dartmouth is refusing to be left at home during the second week of March, defeating travel partner Vermont.

On the nonconference side, Rensselaer continued its hot streak with a sweep of Western Michigan. Union got a monkey off of its back with a win over Army, as did Yale and Princeton. And Brown tied Northeastern on Sunday.

Still, there was a little movement in the standings last week.

ECAC Standings

The weekly honors went to:

ECAC Player of the Week — Ryan Chaytors, Dartmouth ECAC Rookie of the Week — Denis Ladouceur, Cornell ECAC Goaltender of the Week — Matt Underhill, Cornell

This week the fun heats up. Everyone will be even-up on league games after this weekend, with the exceptions of Rensselaer and Harvard, and it should be a real dogfight. And did we mention a little thing called the Beanpot on Monday?

Last Week: 6-4 Season To Date: 79-54, .594

St. Lawrence (12-9-1, 7-2-1 ECAC, T-2nd) and Clarkson (10-9- 1, 7-3-0 ECAC, 4th) at No. 8 Rensselaer (15-5-1, 8-2-1 ECAC, 1st) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7:00 pm, Houston Fieldhouse, Troy, NY Clarkson (10-9-1, 7-3-0 ECAC, 4th) and St. Lawrence (12-9-1, 7-2-1 ECAC, T-2nd) at Union (3-15-2, 1-8-1 ECAC, 12th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7:00 pm, Achilles Rink, Schenectady, NY

With apologies to Coolio and "Weird Al" Yankovic, this weekend should be a "Goaltender’s Paradise" in the Capital District. You have Joel Laing of Rensselaer, leading the league in GAA with a 1.48 mark and sporting a .951 save percentage.

Then there’s Eric Heffler of St. Lawrence, with a 1.99 GAA and .934 save percentage. Don’t forget Golden Knight Shawn Grant’s 2.01 GAA and .928 save percentage, or Brandon Snee of Union, who earned his first collegiate win — a shutout — last weekend.

This is shaping up to be weekend of spectacular ECAC play: three of the four aforementioned teams are in the top four of the conference. A pivotal weekend, eh?

The back end of the annual battle of the North Country saw St. Lawrence come out on the wrong end when the Golden Knights of Clarkson exploded for five goals in the second period to win 5-4.

"From a fan standpoint, it had to be an exciting game, but from our side of things, it was a frustrating experience," said Saint coach Joe Marsh. "You can look back and see some chances and some plays which might have made for a different outcome, but you have to give Clarkson credit, they didn’t panic when we went up 3-0 and then really got it rolling in the second period.

"We contributed to our own demise in that second-period stretch, but Clarkson really fed off the crowd’s emotion and took their game up a notch or two."

The Saints were up 3-0 in the game, but penalties and an unusual breakdown by Heffler helped contribute to the loss.

"The important thing for us is to come back strong in our road games this weekend and it certainly isn’t going to be any easy task playing at Rensselaer on Friday night," said Marsh.

"There is a lot of hockey to go and we are going to try to take things one game at a time. We let a couple of points slip away on Saturday night, but there are a lot of points left to get."

Those points that the Saints let slip went to Clarkson. The Golden Knights took advantage of the Saints in the second period with goals by five different players — two on the power play. The home crowd at Cheel Arena, a sold-out bunch of 3,865, also helped the Knights.

"The crowd was awesome — they made the hair on the back of my neck stand up," said Clarkson coach Mark Morris. "I’ve never had that feeling [in Cheel]…ever. I remember what it was like in Walker [Arena] and this was the closest this place has ever gotten to that.

"I was very pleased with our effort, we showed a lot of grit."

It was a good experience for the youthful Golden Knights. The youth on the team has led to some moments that have made fans anxious, but a game like that can do wonders for your team.

"Consistency is always the factor when you have the youth that we do," said Morris. "We have a small group of seniors so we’ve had to rely on the underclassmen to come along very quickly."

Willie Mitchell is one of the young Golden Knights. He returned to action last weekend and promptly scored the game-winning goal in the second period. Another is freshman goaltender Shawn Grant, who has put up some impressive numbers thus far.

"He’s won the spot from the onset of the season," said Morris. "It took a little time for him to adjust because most freshman goaltenders just have to experience the pace of Division I hockey."

The last eight games for Rensselaer must seem like déjà vu each time out. With a sweep of Western Michigan, the Engineers have run their winning streak to nine straight games. In the last eight, they have allowed just five goals, including four shutouts by goaltender Laing.

"Not at all," said head coach Dan Fridgen when asked if dominance was getting old. "Again, we’re building our offense off of our defensive situations. At times there are breakdowns but our goaltenders are there to make the saves for us. They’re playing real well, real well. I think we’re playing solid defensively, everyone’s committed to it and we’re getting timely scoring from the offense.

"We’re not getting too excited, we’re not getting too flat, we’re just keeping an even keel, which you have to do."

Defense is the key, something that wasn’t present too much in the first 12 games of Rensselaer’s season. But it looks like the Engineers have bought into playing the defensive game.

"I think defense is an attitude," said Fridgen. "You can go over your defensive coverage in practice until you are blue in the face. Everybody knows how to play defense and it’s just a matter of attitude. Right now that attitude has spread throughout the team, everyone’s on the same page with it. You preach it as a coach but that’s not the way it always funnels through and that’s where your leaders come in. The captains are doing a good job of reiterating what I am saying and when you have success it’s not a hard sell."

With a nine-game winning streak on the line this weekend against two big North Country rivals and a 11-1-1 record in the last 13 games, the Capital District is abuzz for the eighth-ranked Engineers.

"The guys in there are not paying a lot of attention to the streak," said Fridgen. "They are taking it game by game. We’ve been concentrating on our game and playing our game, playing our systems and sticking to it. We’ve been doing a good job on the forecheck and forcing turnovers and getting success on our transition."

Talk about monkeys on backs — in Union’s case it was King Kong. The Dutchmen got the big beast away last weekend with a 2-0 victory over Army, snapping a winless streak that dated back to Nov. 20 and covered 12 games. The win was only the third of the season for the Dutchmen.

"I’m happy for our players," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "They’ve played well for the last few games and it was satisfying to see some end results.

"This game is all about confidence and hopefully we got some of that back."

Another King Kong that went back to Monster Island was the location of the win. The Dutchmen captured their first victory of the season at Achilles against Army and starting with the North Country duo this weekend, eight of the last 12 games are at Achilles. Needless to say, the Dutchmen are glad to have that off of their backs.

"It was a well-timed and much need win," said Sneddon. "With so many games coming up at home it’s important for us to get that. As a coach, it’s not that I was satisfied with how hard we played, but I was satisfied with the progress that we made. Things are clicking right now.

"The guys needed a win to feel good about themselves and a win at home too."

The final demon exorcised last weekend came in the form of freshman goaltender Brandon Snee’s first collegiate victory. Pushed into full-time action first because of Leeor Shtrom’s game disqualification situation and then because of a broken collarbone to Shtrom, Snee has been waiting for that first one.

"For him to come up with a shutout in his first win is real big," said Sneddon. "He’s been playing well and he needed to get that win."

"It’s huge," Snee told Ken Schott of the Schenectady Gazette. "It has been really frustrating as of late. A lot of things haven’t gone my way. I felt that I wasn’t playing up to my ability.

"I have a feeling next weekend, we’ll win at least one."

Picks: St. Lawrence at Rensselaer — Perhaps the marquee matchup of the weekend. This one will go a long way in determining how things shake out in the ECAC. The Engineers are on a roll and the Saints are a little rattled after the Clarkson game. The Engineers shake this one out. Rensselaer 3, St. Lawrence 2 Clarkson at Union — The Golden Knights put some simian back on the Dutchmen. Clarkson 4, Union 1 St. Lawrence at Union — That monkey gets larger. St. Lawrence 6, Union 1 Clarkson at Rensselaer — The Golden Knights are getting it together and they are in the midst of their move. They break Rensselaer’s winning streak. Clarkson 3, Rensselaer 2

Cornell (8-6-3, 5-2-3 ECAC, T-5th) and Colgate (11-6-3, 6-3-1 ECAC, T-5th) at No. 9 Princeton (12-4-1, 7-2-1 ECAC, T-2nd) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7:00 pm, Baker Rink, Princeton, NJ Colgate (11-6-3, 6-3-1 ECAC, T-5th) and Cornell (8-6-3, 5-2-3 ECAC, T- 5th) at Yale (6-10-1, 4-5-1 ECAC, 7th) Friday – Saturday, 7:30 pm – 7:00 pm, Ingalls Rink, New Haven, CT

It was not a good weekend for the Colgate Red Raiders. The Red Raiders got one point out of a home-and-home weekend with their travel partners Cornell. A 2-0 loss on Friday was followed up with a 1-1 tie on Saturday evening.

"We had our chances early and we didn’t capitalize," said head coach Don Vaughan. "Against a team like Cornell, your not going to get many chances to begin with. They are a real good defensive team."

Compounding the issue is the recent slide of Colgate’s offense. The Red Raiders have scored eleven goals in their last 6 games, 3 in the last 3 games, and have gone 1-3-2 in those last six games.

"Some of it has to do with injuries," said Vaughan about the offensive slump. "When you take guys like Sean Nolan (9-7–16) and Mike O’Malley (2-4–6) out of the lineup, you’re bound to experience some difficulty. It has also been our competition."

The one thing that has gone well is the goaltending. In those same 6 games, the Red Raider goaltending duo of Shep Harder and Jason LeFevre have allowed 14 goals. And according to Vaughan, they should continue to platoon in the nets this weekend.

"Both of them are playing very well," he said. "We see no reason to change what we’ve been doing in that respect."

The harder task will be going on the road and because of a scheduling quirk, the pair of Colgate and Cornell will face the pair of Princeton and Yale for two consecutive weekends.

"It’s always difficult on the road, especially when we’ll be facing a goaltender we haven’t had much success against (Yale’s Alex Westlund) and playing in Princeton where we’ve struggled," Vaughan said. "But that serves as motivation for us. We have to do a lot of the same things, but probably throw the puck at the net a little bit more and try to generate more speed through the middle."

The other side of the ledger was that Cornell took the other three points in that home-and-home with Colgate. Something that head coach Mike Schafer thought was very important with only ECAC games left on the schedule.

"We knew how important it was to come out solid," he said after Saturday’s game. "We knew Colgate would come back strong on their home ice, but our guys played really well. This is a tough place to play on the road.

"Both teams had chances to win it and we’re happy we got three points. That kick starts us for the second half. We’ve got 12 straight [in the ECAC] from here on in."

The Big Red got spectacular goaltending on both nights from their freshman goaltender Matt Underhill. He was named the ECAC Goaltender of the Week for his stellar play.

"The key of the game was Underhill’s saves on the power play, in the first period," Schafer said about Saturday’s game. "That was a big difference, he made those big saves for us. The turning point is right there. They were on a power play and he made those two big saves for us."

With most of the injuries on the Big Red bench healed, the only exception may be Shaun Peet, the Big Red are ready for the second half of the season.

If Princeton is going to legitimize itself as a Top 10 team and the best in the ECAC, this weekend represents its defining moment.

Three months into the season, the Tigers — aside from a slight hiccup against Dartmouth and if you’re being picky, one against Boston University in the first game of the season — have done nothing but prove that their talent and depth are slowly coming together to form a potent hockey team capable of not only competing, but beating the best teams in the country.

With that said, the team has yet to come close to its potential as it continues to work with its line combinations and consistency on the offensive end of the ice. After almost three weeks off for exam break, Princeton made the smooth transition back into its schedule with a perfunctory 4-1 win against Army.

"I thought we moved the puck okay, but I don’t think we were in transition in this game," said Princeton head coach Don "Toot" Cahoon. "I was real happy with the timing and the puck movement than I usually am coming off of a break.

"On the other hand we didn’t generate a lot of forecheck and then the other things that really come to mind are the little nuances of the game. The turnovers on the blueline, little things that will create problems against teams that are very disciplined or teams that have a good transition game."

Jeff Halpern, who along with Scott Bertoli were reunited with linemate Benoit Morin, netted his 12th goal of the year to put the Tigers on the scoreboard first. Shane Campbell followed suit as did a composed Kirk Lamb, who lit the lamp for the first time in his collegiate career.

"The pressure was building. I expected myself to go out in the first game and get one and it didn’t happen and I hung on after eight games and it finally happened," Lamb said. " I put a lot of pressure on myself that I shouldn’t have put on myself, but I think every hockey player does that.

"I was more relieved than anything. I was happy but I didn’t jump up and down because I was thinking more to myself, ‘Phew’. I just wanted to sit down and relax for once."

Cornell and Colgate, who visit Hobey Baker Rink this weekend, will not be as forgiving as Army was on Tuesday with the exam-kinks that are no doubt still lingering throughout Princeton’s play. Sloppiness and mental breakdowns — the downfall of the Tigers this season — will come back to haunt them against the Big Red and Red Raiders.

"Hopefully we can take [the Army game] and use it as a tool," Cahoon said. "Cornell and Colgate are clearly more experienced teams and higher profile. Both give us different types of problems, but at least this is a stepping stone whereas had we not had this game we would have went into this weekend trying to find a starting point."

For a brief moment, Yale finally realized what offensive explosiveness felt like. Two goals by Jeff Hamilton and solo efforts by Jeff Brow, Mark Turco, and Joe Dart lifted the Bulldogs past Army, 5-1, on Saturday night, ending the their two-game losing streak.

"The Lowell and Army games were both strong defensive efforts," said Yale head coach Tim Taylor. "We did an excellent job limiting shots on our goal in both games, and we continue to get strong and consistent goaltending. The big challenge for us is to somehow get a more balanced 5-on-5 offensive production, and more sustained pressure in the offensive zone.

"The bulk of our scoring continues to be generated by one line. We need to create more chances by driving to the net, creating traffic in front of the opponent’s goaltender, and get second and third effort goals."

This weekend will be a huge challenge for Yale as it opens its doors to Cornell and Colgate. On Friday night, the Bulldogs will look to extend its three-game winning streak against the Red Raiders, which includes two at Hamilton, N.Y. The matchup will be broadcast on NESN and although Colgate has been slipping as of late, it still presents a talented goaltending duo which could cause problems for the struggling Bulldogs offense.

A physical Cornell team may also pose problems for Yale as the Big Red look for redemption after an 11-0 embarrassment last February in New Haven. At this point of the season, however, the Bulldogs are sitting in sixth place in the ECAC standings, a precarious position as the four teams below them are within two points. "The current standings point out just how close the league is and just how important each weekend will be," Taylor said. "We have six league weekends left, three at home and three on the road, so the schedule will be balanced from that perspective. Our first two weekends are against Colgate and Cornell, and those four games (eight potential points) will be very pivotal in determining just what direction this Yale team is heading."

Picks: Cornell at Princeton — The Tigers haven’t been playing great hockey the past month and a half, but the Army game should have served as a good enough kick start. It will be close, but in the end the Tiger will prevail. Princeton 3, Cornell 2. Colgate at Yale — Both teams seem to be struggling right now in terms of offensive production. That, combined with the goaltending of both teams will lead to a very low scoring affair for the ECAC Game of the Week. Colgate 2, Yale 1. Colgate at Princeton — Before Colgate started its slide, this matchup was to be the premier one of the season. Although it may no longer be No. 1 vs. No. 2, it will still be entertaining as one the league’s best offense takes on one of the best goaltending tandems. Best bet? Place your money on Halpern and Apps. Princeton 4, Colgate 1. Cornell at Yale — Look here, it’s another matchup between two teams that don’t score a lot. The defense of Cornell is better at this point in time. Cornell 3, Yale 1.

Dartmouth (7-10-1, 3-7-1 T-9th) at Vermont (9-10-1, 3-7-1 ECAC, T-9th) Saturday, 7:00 pm, Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, VT

Dartmouth has now moved into a tie with Harvard and Vermont for the last playoff spots in the ECAC with six weeks to go in the season after a 3-1 defeat of Vermont last Saturday afternoon at home. One of the main stories was Ryan Chaytors who was named the ECAC Player of the Week for his efforts against Vermont.

Chaytors scored the first goal against Vermont to tie the game at one. He then scored the winning goal against the Cats with less than five minutes left in the game.

"It was a huge goal by Ryan Chaytors, to find a way," head coach Bob Gaudet said. "It was such an important goal because I don’t think there was any question about it — the next goal was going to win."

The Big Green have also gotten some stellar goaltending from Eric Almon this season. Almon, the junior, has received the bulk of the playing time this season because fellow junior Jason Wong had left the team due to medical reasons.

"What’s happened in goal is that Eric and Jason had such a connection," said Gaudet. "We went from two veteran goalies that fed off of each other to a veteran and a young guy, and it affected Eric to not have the support. Now he’s starting to come out of it.

"Eric’s our veteran and it’s just so hard to pick those spots to get Robert (Delwo, Dartmouth’s freshman goaltender) experience because all the games now are so critical."

This week it is another affair with Vermont in the close of the home- and-home series between the two clubs.

"Vermont was in striking distance of us going into last weekend," said Gaudet. "It’s back-to-back games against one of the top teams and a couple of good weekends and we’re back in it as could be the case with the other lower echelon ECAC teams.

"We’ve played all the teams now and what I am looking for is out young guys to play like veterans here in the stretch run. I know it’s a tall order."

For the third time this season, Vermont will face off against its travel partner for bragging rights in the "the other" North Country. And appropriately enough, the victor come Saturday night will finish the season with the season-series lead as the two teams split their previous two meetings.

"This game is the biggest one for us because it is the beginning of the second half of the season," said Vermont head coach Mike Gilligan. " We have to make a move real soon if we want to make a run for the playoffs."

The most depressing element of the matchup — at least for fans from Hanover and Burlington — revolves around the question as to which team needs the win more. Both are stumbling through the season with sub-.500 records, suffering from ailments stemming from shaky goaltending, suspect defense, and inconsistent offensive production to name just a few.

The Big Green can at least take solace in the fact that three weeks ago they managed to capture three points from a road trip to Princeton and Yale. Vermont can’t enjoy such a luxury as it has seen its losing streak extend to six games heading into this weekend’s home game.

"I think we played pretty good hockey at Yale and Princeton but didn’t come up with much and same happened last weekend," Gilligan said. "We just have to capitalize on our scoring opportunities."

The loss of Jason Reid created a hole, both physically — and perhaps more importantly — emotionally in the Vermont roster the past few weeks. And although his return against Dartmouth last weekend did not miraculously cure the wounded, wearied Catamounts, it did offer some hope for the remaining part of the season.

"He came back last weekend with a cast on and had a very strong game," Gilligan said. "We expect that he will pick up where he left off. The guys were mentally ready. He is an important player for us because he gives us the leadership we need out there."

Vermont will need Reid along the blueline this Saturday night because Dartmouth brings a young, unproven, but potentially damaging offensive attack to the ice each night.

"I think that we played probably better in the second game, but Dartmouth was just more opportunistic than we were," Gilligan said. "I think that we are pretty evenly matched teams this year. It was just a matter of which team made the fewest mistakes won on both nights."

Pick — Dartmouth seemed to have found Vermont’s number last weekend despite Reid’s return, but it was only for a night. Amidst one its worst losing streaks in recent memory, Vermont will finally bring an end to its misery on Saturday night. Vermont 5, Dartmouth 2.

Merrimack (9-13-1, 5-8-1 Hockey East, 6th) at Brown (3-8-5, 2- 6-4 ECAC, 8th) Thursday, 7:00 pm, Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI Brown (3-8-5, 2-6-4 ECAC, 8th) at Minnesota State – Mankato (10-10- 4, 9-10-3 vs. Division I) Saturday – Sunday, 8:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Mankato Civic Center, Mankato, MN

The string of consecutive non-league contests will finally come to an end for Brown as it caps off the month of January with a game against Merrimack and a set of games at Minnesota State-Mankato.

The four-game stretch has seen the Bears post a 1-2-1 record, with their lone win coming against Niagara. Most recently, the team stormed back from a 5-1 deficit to salvage a 5-5 tie against Northeastern at Meehan Auditorium.

"It was definitely a wild one, there’s no doubt about that," said Brown head coach Roger Grillo. "I was obviously upset as I know they were [after two periods]. It was a situation where we weren’t playing that well, especially in the first period. I give them a lot of credit for not giving up and packing it in and for battling back to give us an opportunity to tie the game."

The Huskies tallied three unanswered goals in the third period before Jade Kersey catalyzed the Brown comeback at the 9:10 mark of the final stanza. Freshman Gianni Cantini, who finished with four points that night, struck for the Bears’ third goal three minutes later before Mike Bent lit the lamp twice in the final four minutes of action.

"I have seen some of the younger guys step up. We had [Cantini] have a four point night against Northeastern which is nice to see," Grillo said. "We have also had some guys get bigger and stronger and our special teams have gotten better which is good because that was an area of concern for us. We are playing good hockey, we’re just not playing great hockey."

Scott Stirling was once again absent from the Brown net as Brian Eklund got the start. Eklund had troubles of his own against the Huskies, however, as he lasted only two periods before freshman Graham McNally took over in shutout relief for the final 25 minutes of play.

"The other guy is playing well and it is a matter of whomever I feel is going to win us a game will be in the net," said Grillo, who decided on Stirling as the starter against Merrimack on Thursday night. "Scott has shown that he is capable of that, but he had a few rough outings in a row so I went with Brian."

The Bears are currently in lone possession of eighth place with eight points, only one point ahead of Harvard, Dartmouth, and Vermont, who are in a three-way tie for ninth place. Following the MSU-Mankato series, Brown will embark on 10 straight ECAC contests looming in the near future.

"I think that the Mankato series is one that is important in that it’s the last couple of games before we get back into the league," Grillo said. "It is a situation for us that we’ve got to establish a game plan and style of hockey and get better at it. They are a quality team and it will be a challenge for us to win a couple of game."

For information on the Merrimack Warriors, please refer to Dave Hendrickson’s Hockey East Preview

Picks: Merrimack at Brown — Grillo said himself that his team has been playing only well enough to pull out a tie or a one-goal loss. Expect a deadlock at Meehan. Brown 3, Merrimack 3. Brown at MSU-Mankato –Mankato is coming off a weekend sweep of Wisconsin and will continue to roll past a Brown team that seems capable of only 20 minutes of good hockey per game. Stirling will continue to struggle. MSU-Mankato 6, Brown 2. This non-league stretch for the Bears has not been kind and such will continue to be the case on the second night of this series in Minnesota. MSU-Mankato 4, Brown 3.

New Brunswick (10-9-1, 1st McAdam Div., AUAA) at Harvard (8-9-1, 3-9-1 ECAC, T-9th) Friday, 7:30 pm, Bright Hockey Center, Boston, MA The Beanpot Harvard (8-9-1, 3-9-1 ECAC, T-9th) vs. Northeastern (8-12-3, 4-9-2 Hockey East, 7th) Monday, 6:00 pm, Fleet Center, Boston, MA

Last year at this time, the rally cry for the Harvard hockey team heading into the 46th Beanpot Tournament was that it had not won a game in six tries. For three straight years, the Crimson had been shutout in Beanpot action, but the streak was not meant to hit four. In dramatic fashion, Harvard upset nationally ranked Boston College in the first game before dropping a 2-1 overtime thriller to Boston University in the championship game.

This season, the motivation heading into Beanpot No. 47 is a bit different.

After beginning its league season at an unprecedented 0-8-1 clip, Harvard has recently been in the midst of a long climb out of the ECAC cellar. Two victories over Nebraska-Omaha in mid-December began a positive run for the Crimson, who are 6-1 since that time. Most recently, the team surprised the then – No. 6 Eagles at Bright Hockey Center. Following the Beanpot, the team will face eight straight ECAC contests that will effectively decide the team’s playoff fate.

"Anyone who’s been around here for even a year knows the kind of hype and prestige that surrounds the Beanpot," said Harvard captain Craig Adams. "In the long run, it’s not going to help us make the playoffs, but to win would be a huge confidence builder."

The past month has seen the return of a solid Crimson defensive game that has allowed more than three goals just once in the past seven contests, and the reemergence of J.R. Prestifilippo, who has flourished behind the stingy defense. Prestifilippo, remember, brings with him one of the most stirring stories from last year’s Beanpot. In just his second game back from a month-long bout of mononucleosis, the Harvard netminder was phenomenal as he stopped 34 shots against the Terriers.

Presto will need to relive that Beanpot glory from 1998 as he will be challenged by a Northeastern team that has scored 36 times in the last eight games.

Offensively, Harvard has been resuscitated as of late thanks to the second line production of Adams, senior Rob Miller, who leads the team in scoring with eight goals and 11 assists, and freshman Jeff Stonehouse. And now that Presto, as well as defenseman Ben Storey and forward Chris Bala are back in the lineup and appear healthy, this year represents the Crimson’s best chance to recapture the Beanpot title which it last won in 1993.

"We’re encouraged by the way we’ve played in our last seven games," Adams said. "There’s still room for improvement, but we’re starting to live up to our potential and that’s a nice thing. If we come out and play the way we can, I don’t see any reason why we can’t win this thing."

For information on the Northeastern Huskies, please refer to Dave Hendrickson’s Hockey East Preview

Picks: New Brunswick at Harvard — This will be a tune-up game for the Crimson as they return from the break. While the going may be a bit rough in the beginning, they will survive and win to have momentum going into the Beanpot. Harvard 5, New Brunswick 2 Beanpot — Harvard vs. Northeastern — It has been the longest Beanpot drought for this program, and call it a gut feeling, but this could be the year for Harvard. All three Hockey East powers are struggling in their own right and believe it or not, the 8-9-1 Crimson is 5-0 against non- conference teams this season and are playing the best hockey of the quartet. Harvard 6, Northeastern 3.

Next week in the ECAC: Friday, February 5: Dartmouth at Clarkson Vermont at St Lawrence Princeton at Colgate Yale at Cornell Brown at Rensselaer Harvard at Union

Saturday, February 6: Vermont at Clarkson Dartmouth at St. Lawrence Yale at Colgate Princeton at Cornell Brown at Union

Monday, February 8: Beanpot Harvard vs. Boston College/Boston University

Thanks to Jay Wang, Steve Marsi, Juan Martinez and Dave Scherzer 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.