This Week in the ECAC: December 27, 1999

First off, we hope that everyone out there had a great holiday, and we look forward to wishing everyone a Happy 2000!

Now on to our show.

The Controversy In Cat Country

We’re sure that everyone is well aware by now of what is happening up in Burlington with the University of Vermont.

Matters are very much up in the air. Recently the Burlington Free Press won a decision by a judge to open the University’s notes regarding the investigation, but that decision is under appeal at the moment, so no one knows for sure what is contained within those notes — yet.

In the meantime, the team carries on as it hosts the UVM Hockey Classic this week.

The Answer To Our Question

A few weeks ago, we asked whether Yale’s Jeff Hamilton would have to re-serve his five-game NCAA suspension in light of his option to take a medical-hardship waiver this season, the answer is: we still don’t know.

According to Yale official Colleen Lim, the University does not comment on specifics regarding such matters, so the answer is still a mystery to us.

We’re Almost There. Well, Not Really.

Most teams have played nearly half of their schedules, and the Christmas break is perhaps the traditional end of the first half of the season. In that spirit, we’ll take a look at the teams and give you our progress reports.

Ahem. Professors Blaeser and Moy are in the house. Some of you will graduate early, while others stay for detention.

Harvard (6-5-1, 5-3-1 ECAC, 1st) A one-point lead on the rest of the conference isn’t necessarily a bad way to start the season for first-year head coach Mark Mazzoleni. Harvard took advantage of its relatively easy early league schedule by capturing 11 quick points, including victories in four of its first five ECAC contests.

The new system appeared to be the saving grace for the Crimson, but the team has since cooled off. Following its 4-1 start, Harvard has gone 2-4-1, including a 4-2 loss to Brown and a 1-1 tie with Dartmouth. Offense — Freshmen Dominic Moore (6-4–10) and Brett Nowak (4-6–10) have quickly become staples of the Crimson offense as they currently stand second and third in team scoring behind junior Steve Moore (3-8–11). Seniors Brett Chodorow (4-4–8), Scott Turco (3-3–6) and Trevor Allman (2-1–3) aren’t flashy, but they aren’t afraid to crash the net and have given Mazzoleni quality ice time.

After attempting to install a shortened-shift, four-line offense, Mazzoleni now appears content with skating only his top three lines and spotting the fourth. In addition, Harvard has shown a new look by adopting an all-forward second-string power-play unit — a first for Harvard in recent memory.

Defense — The corps of blueliners was questionable heading into the season. Thus far, the defense has held its own, allowing only 2.5 goals per game. Matt Scorsune has done his part to shoulder the offensive burden (left behind by Ben Storey) by notching two goals and four assists this year, including one game-winner. Freshman Aaron Kim has also turned in a solid performance thus far, as have Peter Capouch and Mark Moore. Goaltending — Everyone keeps waiting for J.R. Prestifilippo to wow the league, but it has yet to happen. The senior netminder raised everyone’s expectations with a phenomenal rookie season, and has been solid for the most part this season — who could gripe about a respectable 2.26 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage? Still, Oliver Jonas (2.99 GAA, .893 save percentage) has received time between the pipes and has shown that he is not only capable, but ready and able to relieve Presto at moment’s notice.

What’s Ahead? — The Crimson head to the Mariucci Classic to take on host Minnesota and either Northern Michigan or UMass-Amherst. A home series against Yale and Princeton and then a road trip to upstate New York following the New Year will usher out a 14-day exam break.

Overall — When a new coach takes over at the helm, you always have to be wary of a quick start. Harvard was lucky enough to break in its new Mazzoleni system with a relatively easy first half, but with the Browns and Dartmouths of the league out of the way, things will get increasingly difficult for the Crimson after the New Year.

Yale (6-4-2, 4-2-2 ECAC, T-2nd) When Jeff Hamilton was suspended for five games, Yale fans were nervous about how their team would get through that stretch. When they found out weeks later that he would be gone for the rest of the season, panic should have set in immediately, but for some reason, the loss of Hamilton is less of a catastrophe following a pretty respectable start to the season.

Despite losing their top scorer, the Eli have held their own and are currently sitting in second place, including an early-season 5-1 upset of current No. 1 New Hampshire.

Offense — Scoring was a major concern for head coach Tim Taylor — especially without Jeff Hamilton on the ice. Prior to Hamilton’s season-ending injury, Taylor called his returning First-Team All-ECAC forward "the only one we know who can score." Although there is no way to replace Hamilton, who entered the season as one of the most talented forwards in the nation, the Eli have done their best to get through the first half of the season.

Aside from Ben Stafford, who has already collected 16 points in 12 games, the offensive production has been evenly distributed as 13 different players have contributed at least one goal. The power play has been the sustainable force, accounting for 10 of the team’s 30 total goals. If there is a "Hamilton factor," it would be most obvious in the fact that Yale has only scored 30 goals in 12 games, which translates into a 2.50 goals-per-game average.

Defense — So what’s keeping this Yale team alive and placing it among the best in the league thus far? The defense has more than made up for the struggling offense. Averaging 2.50 goals a game doesn’t normally win a team too many games, but having your defense allow only 1.83 per game does. And if you take away a 5-5 shootout at Hobey Baker Rink, that statistic would be even lower, say to the tune to 1.09.

This includes holding current No. 1 New Hampshire to one goal and posting shutout performances against Dartmouth and most recently Colgate, a team which has scored 52 goals this year (second in the ECAC, behind Rensselaer). Goaltending — It’s hard to give the team defense such accolades without mentioning the strength in net. Dating back to the days of Mike O’Neill, Yale has produced a steady stream of great netminders. The loss of Alex Westlund produced some doubt, but the tandem of Trevor Hanger and Dan Lombard have since silenced those concerns.

The numbers don’t lie. Both goalies have been in six games, with Hanger playing a grand total of 2:26 more than Lombard. Hanger has a bit more going for him since he claims a 4-1-1 record, 1.65 goals against -average and a .940 save percentage, but Lombard (2-3-1 record, 1.82 GAA, .938 save percentage) isn’t such a slouch: he holds the team lead in saves with 166 — eight more than Hanger.

What’s Ahead? — Yale will get a heavy dose of non-conference action throughout the next month. Aside from trips to Harvard and then Brown, the Eli will see an assortment of styles from three different leagues as a pair of exhibitions at the Valour Cup in Vancouver are followed by stints against Boston College, Boston University and Army.

Overall — Yale has done nothing but impress so far, though offensively the team needs to improve in order to secure a bid for post-season action. As the season continues and the road trips get longer, it’s hard to imagine that the defense can continue to hold teams under two scores a game.

Colgate (10-5-0, 5-3-0 ECAC, T-2nd) The Red Raiders were on a roll. They had put together a seven-game winning streak, five within the ECAC, and a Syracuse Invitational crown. Then December hit.

The Red Raiders dropped their next two, both ECAC games, to fall out of the USCHO top 10, then split against Ferris State and enter the second half 1-3-0 in their last four.

Now, this Red Raider squad is strong, but you can hear those rumblings among ECAC fans.

Offense — As mentioned above, Colgate’s 52 goals Raiders have scored is second in the ECAC behind Rensselaer, and the Red Raiders have senior captain and Hobey Baker candidate Andy McDonald to thank. McDonald has garnered seven goals and 16 assists in the Raiders’ first 15 games (tied for first among ECAC players) and has an ECAC-best 16 points in eight league games.

There is no doubt that the Red Raiders can bring it offensively. Darryl Campbell (7-10–17), Chad MacDonald (5-8–13) and Sean Nolan (7- 5–12) are among the best forwards in the ECAC. But the Red Raiders have had a tendency to just outscore their opponents.

Defense — Which brings us here. The Red Raiders have six one-goal wins, a two-goal win, and three by three or more goals. The Raiders have lost by one goal once, but by two goals twice, and three times by three or more.

The defense is one of the places where the Red Raiders have strength, especially in the depth category, and offensively. They have held up in the close games.

Mike Marostega (5-8–13) and Cory Murphy (4-6–10) have led the charge, but their offense comes mainly on the power play. Note that Marostega’s five goals all come on the power play.

Goaltending — Shep Harder has look unbeatable on certain nights and on some nights he has not fared as well. He has taken over the number-one position for the Red Raiders and his 2.56 GAA and .909 save percentage has helped Colgate win those one goal games mentioned above.

What’s Ahead? — Only three nonconference games remain for the Red Raiders before they hit the conference schedule in full force, and those come against Mercyhurst, Army and Ohio State.

Overall — If the Red Raiders continue as they do in the league and win those nonconference games, the Red Raiders should be knocking on the doorstep to a bid to the NCAAs.

St. Lawrence (9-4-1, 4-2-1 ECAC, T-4th) The Saints had picked up right where they left off last season. An 8-0-0 start in 1999 had people talking that the Saints would be the team to beat, especially after a great win over Rensselaer in Canton. Then the hard times hit.

The Saints went winless in five games before closing out the first half with a win over Mass-Lowell. All of a sudden the Saints were not looking like contenders at all.

Offense — The Achilles Heel for the Saints thus far in the season. In 14 games, the Saints have put 35 goals on the board — an average of 2.50 goals per game. The Saints have scored four or more goals just twice this season and have scored three goals five times. In half of their games, the Saints have scored one or less goals.

Al Fyfe’s five goals leads the team, and Eric Anderson, Matt Desrosiers and Jason Windle each have four each. But not one single Saint has more than 10 points on the season — something that must change in the second half.

Defense – The flip side of the offense is the defense. The Saints have only allowed 30 goals this season in those 14 games, ranking among the best in the league and the nation.

The Saint defense will continue to be strong with experience and toughness. Also note that Desrosiers (4-6–10), Dale Clarke (3-6–9) and Justin Harney (1-8–9) are three of the top seven scorers on the Saint club.

Goaltending – The Saint went with the Triple Threat for most of the first half, in order, but in the last three games, freshman Derek Gustafson received two straight starts, against Clarkson and New Hampshire, leading some to believe that Gustafson will win that number on position.

Gustafson has a .951 save percentage and a 1.58 GAA. The best of the three, but the other two don’t fall far behind. Jeremy Symington has a .921 save percentage and a 2.40 GAA while Sean Coakley has a .930 save percentage and a 2.25 GAA.

What’s Ahead? — A big series at Wisconsin looms for St. Lawrence. That will be one that folks look forward too. Also looming is the start of the ECAC television package at Appleton when the Saints host Clarkson on January 21.

Overall — The Saints are getting it done with defense. But the defense can only do so much. The Saints need to get the offense going and put goals on the board. The Saints look like a team that could be NCAA-bound, but a lot of that will depend on who steps to the scoring plate.

Princeton (5-6-3, 3-2-3 ECAC, T-4th) Aside from Yale, and on the other end of the spectrum Clarkson, Princeton has to be the surprise team of the first half. Here is a team that lost arguably the best senior class to ever play for the orange and black, and that was relying on a bunch of sophomore and freshman lines to lead the way this season.

Even the head coach didn’t know what to expect, although it couldn’t have been very much. So far, however, the Tigers are having the last laugh. From the scraps of the 1998-99 team, they have managed to carve out a potential contender, only one point out of second place in the standings. Not only did they manage to capture at least one point in each league series, the Tigers pulled off an impressive sweep of Cornell and Colgate at the beginning of the month. A string of four straight nonconference contests has also given this team time to get used to its new look and prepare itself for the all-important second half of the season.

Offense — Stepping up has been the name of the game for the Tigers, starting at the top with junior forward Chris Corrinet. After 14 games, Corrinet leads the team in scoring (7-8–15), including five power-play goals. Corrinet’s 15-point offensive output is even more impressive if you consider that he finished the 1998-99 season with only 16 points.

Kirk Lamb (2-12–14) and Benoit Morin (3-11–14) have also shouldered their part of the offensive burden this season, but contributions by the likes of Shane Campbell (4-6-10) and Brad Parsons (5-5–10) have been key. Parsons has especially asserted himself on the ice this season, skating with noticeable confidence and poise.

Defense – What was supposed to be an Achilles’ heel, hasn’t proven that bad … so far. David Schneider (3-8–11) has helped assuage the loss of high-scoring Steve Shirreffs, while Darren Yopyk (4-4–8) and Dave Bennett (2-4–6) have helped control and patrol the blueline.

This isn’t to say that there hasn’t been many a scary moment back there, because there have, as evidenced by the Bemidji State sweep, the six goals given up to Vermont, the five to Dartmouth …

Goaltending — … but stability in net will surely help the blueliners out a bit down the stretch. What has been a notoriously rocky position for the Tigers continued down the same path at the start of the season. The dizzying rotation of Craig Bradley and Dave Stathos seemed never-ending until recently.

Bradley recently hasn’t dressed while freshman Nate Nomeland has, and started his first career game. Stathos has strung together some solid performances and his numbers (2.63 goals-against average, .920 save percentage) aren’t bad at all. His record of 4-3-0 is perhaps the reason why Princeton may have found a go-to guy in net come the second half of the season.

What’s Ahead? — The Tigers will hit the road after the New Year, taking on Brown and Harvard before settling in for a 15-day exam break. A nonconference tuneup against UMass Lowell at the end of the month will set the stage for Princeton’s final 12 straight league contests.

Overall — Considering the challenges this team faced heading into the season, it’s hard not to be impressed with the first half of the season. Granted, the defense has shown too many holes and the team as a whole has been erratic, but they have weathered the rebuilding storm well. Saving their best for league games, the Tigers have a relatively forgiving second half of their ECAC schedule, and should be poised for a decent playoff spot in March.

Rensselaer (11-3-1, 4-2-0 ECAC, T-6th) The Engineers hold the distinction of being the highest-ranked team in the ECAC at the moment, despite a deceptive sixth-place showing in the conference. But then again, the Engineers have only played six games in the conference. They have the ECAC’s best won-loss percentage, and if one projects the standings, the Engineers would wind up in first place after all 22 games are played.

It’s been quite a start for Rensselaer. Head coach Dan Fridgen picked up career win number 100 and the Engineers have three losses by a total of four goals, none to a team under .500. They also have beaten the current number-one team in the country, New Hampshire, in the Wildcats’ rink and another top-10 team in Boston University.

Offense — The man people keep mentioning is Brad Tapper. After all, how many other players in the country have 18 goals in 14 games? Everyone knew that Tapper could score, but this pace has people talking.

But let’s not forget the other big gun, Matt Murley. He hasn’t made a lot of noise, but he is quietly up there with 15 points (3-12–15). Freshman Marc Cavosie has wound up centering Murley and Tapper, and he’s put up numbers as well (4-10–14).

Overall, 15 different Engineers have put up goals, the power play has 13 goals and the team is averaging 4.2 goals per game. That will win you some games.

Defense — Perhaps the most-improved area on the Engineer squad. Captain Brian Pothier is second in scoring with 16 points (4-12–16) and the Engineer defense has only allowed 32 goals this season, an average of 2.28 goals per game. That will win you some games as well.

Goaltending — It seems that the Engineers have leaned towards a number-one goaltender this season after three years of platooning Joel Laing and Scott Prekaski, and it looks like Laing has come out as that number-one goaltender. And who can blame Fridgen for going with Laing? Take a look at his numbers — 7-2-0, a 1.89 GAA and a .951 save percentage.

That’s not to say that Prekaski can’t do the job. His numbers are also outstanding, with a 4-1-0 mark, 2.85 GAA and .892 save percentage.

What’s Ahead? — The Engineers have almost 75 percent of their ECAC schedule left and their fate for the postseason will depend on it. But many are also looking forward to the matchup between the Engineers and Michigan State in East Lansing in the middle of January.

Overall — The Engineers are having a magnificent season thus far and are deserving of their top-10 ranking. It seems that the Engineers have the offense, an improved defense and stellar goaltending to make it to the NCAA tournament this year.

Cornell (4-7-0, 4-4-0 ECAC, T-6th) The Big Red certainly started out strong. A loss in overtime to Rensselaer to open the season was followed with an overtime win over Union. After a win against Brown and a heartbreaking loss to Harvard at home, the Crimson took the North Country duo by storm, outscoring the Saints and Knights 14-4.

But the floor may have fallen out. The Big Red are in the midst of a five-game losing streak in which they have scored only nine goals and giving up 17. In the first six games of the season the Big Red scored 29 times while only allowing 13 goals.

Cause to be concerned? Will the scoring drought continue? These are some of the questions for the second half for the Big Red.

Offense — We mentioned it before: the Big Red went from outscoring their opponents by a 2-1 margin to being outscored by a 2-1 margin. The most consistent scorer for the Big Red has been Doug Stienstra (8-6–14). Even during the losing streak, Stienstra has scored three times and assisted twice.

Beyond Stienstra, the best performers have been Denis Ladouceur (4-9–13), Mike Rutter (5-7–12) and Matt McRae (4-7–11). But Ladouceur has only two assists in the last five, while Rutter has one goals and three assists and McRae has one goal and an assist.

Where do the Big Red go from here on offense? It’s hard to tell, but the Big Red need scoring in order to win those close games — something they haven’t done in the last five.

Defense — Let’s go back to the scoring differentials.

Offensively, the Big Red defensemen started out strong, but have petered in the last five games. The Big Red defensemen have scored seven points in the last five games, while in the first six, they tallied 15. One of the keys that head coach Mike Schafer mentioned at the beginning of the season was that the defensemen had to contribute offense as well. The last five games have not seen that.

Goaltending — Both Ian Burt and Matt Underhill have split time between the pipes this season, carrying almost identical numbers: low .900s save percentages and GAAs hovering below three. Excellent numbers, but when the average offensive output is two goals per game, it’s tough to win.

What’s Ahead? — Cornell will look to break the slump against Maine, then aside from conference action, there’s a tilt at Ohio State and two at home against a tough Western Michigan team.

Overall — Looking at the numbers it’s clear that offense is needed, particularly from the blue line, in order for the Big Red to start posting wins again. They are tougher, more physical and can get the job done. They just to put the points on the board.

Union (5-9-0, 3-3-0 ECAC, 8th) The Dutchmen have certainly improved over last season. They already have five wins, three in the ECAC, marks that surpass last year’s totals. But the Dutchmen aren’t content. They are playing well and looking to continue to move forward.

Offense — Jason Ralph (6-7–13) could be Union’s first 10-goal scorer in more than two years. Jeff Sproat, Clark Jones, Drew Taylor, Jeff Hutchins, Doug Christiansen and Frederic Cyr have all equaled or surpassed last year’s goal totals.

Freshmen Kris Goodjohn (3-4–7) and Jason Kean (3-0–3) have made an immediate impact as well as the Dutchmen are starting to score goals. Last season they averaged 1.61 goals per game; this season it’s 2.64.

Defense — The Dutchmen defense is still young, but at the same time they have gotten better. They allowed 56 goals in the first 14 games last season and have allowed 54 this year.

Goaltending — Brandon Snee (3.67 GAA, .898 save percentage) has stolen a few games for the Dutchmen and they are going to need that. The job is Snee’s and how he goes will determine what chance the Dutchmen have the rest of the way.

What’s Ahead? — After two games in the Rensselaer tournament, the Dutchmen go within the ECAC until the season is over. A strong start to the second half of the season will be what the Dutchmen are looking for.

Overall — The Dutchmen are much improved, enough to fight for a playoff spot in the waning weeks of the season. We expect to see the Dutchmen on the road for the quarterfinals.

Vermont (4-7-2, 2-2-1 ECAC, T-9th) To say that it has been a rocky first half of the season for the Catamounts would be a colossal understatement. The recent hazing allegations and subsequent legal actions have overshadowed the team’s first 13 games. Yet give the players and coaching staff their due, it hasn’t been such a terrible first half. Bumpy, for sure, but it could have been a lot worse.

Sprinkled amidst the North Dakota and Notre Dame shellackings — where the Catamounts were outscored by a 13-1 margin — Vermont has pulled out some key victories which have allowed them to stay within striking distance of the ECAC leaders. Offense — It was no mystery as to the golden key to the Vermont offensive attack. The top line of J.F. Caudron, Kevin Karlander and Jerry Gernander had to pull more than their weight to make up for the relatively young corps of forwards. Thus far, the trio has held its own, accounting for 51 points, almost half of the team’s overall total.

Caudron was especially hot earlier this season and can boast seven multiple-point performances and a team-high two game-winners. Following a four-point explosion against Princeton on November 13, however, Caudron has quieted down, notching only four points in the last five games. Still, with a little help from Karlander (4-13–17), Gernander (6-8–14) and the dishing from the point of Andreas Moborg (0-10–10), the Catamounts are in possession of a 3.08 goals-per-game scoring average. That statistic isn’t too shabby, except for when …

Defense — … the opposition is lighting the lamp nearly five times a game. Being outshot by their opponents in all three periods and allowing 4.69 goals per, the Catamounts would be better served to play a more disciplined style of hockey since they are allowing teams to score at a 33 percent clip on the power play. Through 13 games, Vermont has averaged more than 12 penalty minutes per game and opponents have made them pay by scoring 23 goals with the man advantage.

Goaltending — Andrew Allen was given the starting position as his to lose. Although he collected 173 saves in seven games, he also opened the door to backups Tim Peters and Shawn Conschafter by posting a disturbing 5.09 goals-against average and an .852 save percentage. Understandably, head coach Mike Gilligan hasn’t been overly impressed with any of the netminders and has been quick to replace one with another.

What’s Ahead? — A very, very long road. Once the Catamounts make it through a challenging UVM Hockey Classic against Ohio State and Boston College, they will then face 17 straight league games — eight on the road against such teams as St. Lawrence, Cornell, RPI and Yale. And that’s just the hockey part of it all.

Overall — Vermont has held up incredibly well considering the off-ice turmoil which has been brewing throughout the past few weeks. Offensively, the team has shown its potential and just needs to exert some discipline on the other end to form a balanced attack. Unfortunately, the determining variable for this squad may prove to have nothing to do with hockey.

Dartmouth (2-5-3, 1-2-3 ECAC, T-9th) There is no denying that Dartmouth is getting better each and every year. They are still young, but are getting older and more experienced. They are still losing, but are starting to win a few big games here and there.

For instance, the Big Green managed to shut down the Harvard offense right before the holiday break to come away with a very important point. You see, that 1-1 tie was a major improvement from the 7-2 loss that the team suffered earlier in the season at Bright Hockey Center. The same occurred against Western Michigan. A frustrating 7-3 loss on Friday night was followed by an inspired 4-3 victory the next night. Inconsistent? Perhaps. Dangerous. Absolutely.

Offense — One of the unique characteristics of the Big Green attack is that there is no real flashy guy up front — from a numbers point of view, at least. Mike Maturo is the leader on offense, but his seven points in 10 games aren’t exactly eye-catching. Dan Casella (3-1-4) and Ryan Poulton (1-3-4) are chipping in some token points, but the diluted offensive statistics across the board make it very clear as to why Dartmouth is averaging a mere 2.10 goals per game.

Defense — The most interesting statistic for the Big Green thus far has to be the five points by early Rookie of the Year candidate Trevor Byrne. The freshman blueliner has turned some heads, and seems to know when a contribution is most needed.

In the Big Green’s impressive 5-5 tie against Princeton, Byrne deposited two goals and two assists. He then added the crucial first-period tally when the team skated to a 1-1 tie with Vermont just two games later.

Goaltending — The freshman class is no doubt a favorite of head coach Bob Gaudet. Senior Eric Almon (3.93 GAA, .849 save percentage) has struggled this season, leaving the door wide open for another newcomer, Nick Boucher. In seven games, Boucher has collected 189 saves, a .922 save percentage and a 2.43 goals against average, a changing of the guards may have already occurred. Ever since Boucher replaced Almon with five minutes remaining in the second period against Western Michigan, the freshman netminder has started every contest, including a 35-save performance in the 1-1 tie with Harvard.

What’s Ahead? — Dartmouth will follow its travel partner to Burlington in order to partake in the UVM Hockey Classic against Boston College and Ohio State. The Big Green will then face its biggest challenge to date by taking on the current No. 1 team in the country, New Hampshire.

Overall — From an overall league standpoint, it’s hard not to overlook the Big Green. It’s an entirely different story on an individual basis. Dartmouth has the potential to be either blown out or deliver an upset on any given night. They may not have the talent of the top teams, but they are starting to get the most out of what they do have. With youngsters like Byrne and Maturo leading the way, expect the Big Green to pull out some upsets down the stretch.

Clarkson (4-8-3, 0-4-3 ECAC, 11th) Did you ever think that you would see the Golden Knights winless in the ECAC after the first half of the season? I doubt many thought that could happen — least of all us — but there it is in black and white.

Offense — Everyone looked towards Erik Cole to carry the team offensively. Cole leads the team with seven goals, but only has three assists and is third in scoring behind freshman defenseman Chris Bahen (5-8–13) and Matt Poapst (5-6–11).

Everyone knew there could be offensive troubles for the Golden Knights this season. Of last year’s top scorers only Cole, who led the team, is back, but head coach Mark Morris hoped the offense might come from Don Smith (9-13–22 last year), Phillipe Roy (9-13–22 last year), Carl Drakensjo (7-13–20 last year) and David Evans (6-10–16 last year).

But Smith (1-3–4), Roy (2-6–8), Drakensjo (4-0–4) and Evans (2-6–8)are simply not putting up the numbers of their departed counterparts, and as a result, the Knights are averaging 2.73 goals per game.

Defense — The Knights have not had anyone step into Willie Mitchell’s role, though that’s a hard act to follow and no one expects anyone to be like Mitchell. Bahen has put up the offensive numbers, but the Knights lack the quarterbacking that Mitchell provided on the power play.

Ian Manzano was hurt for most of the first half of the season and now that he’s healthy, the Knight defense should pick up and Kent Huskins is still one of the best in the league back on the blue line.

Goaltending — To say the least Clarkson fans and coaches have not shown much pleasure at the Knight goaltending this season. Shawn Grant led the Knights to the ECAC championship last season, but clearly has been the target of wrath for fans and coaches. Grant’s 3.01 GAA and .888 save percentage are well behind last season’s 2.71 GAA and .901 save percentage.

What’s Ahead? — The Knights will have one more week to prepare to get back into the ECAC season, hosting MSU-Mankato for two at home as the new year starts. That perhaps could be the turning point in the team’s season.

Overall — We won’t believe it until we see it. So many times over past years, everyone has counted out Clarkson and then the Knights rip off wins left and right and steamroll into the playoffs. There’s no reason to believe that it won’t happen this year, but if it doesn’t, I think more people will be surprised than not.

Brown (1-8-0, 1-7-0 ECAC, 12th) Had it not been for a 4-2 victory over Harvard, the Brown players and coaching staff would have probably left Providence for the holiday break hoping to come back when there was a new hockey season. That’s just the way things went for the Bears.

Even when they outplayed teams like Rensselaer , they couldn’t find a way to reap the benefits. Instead, they left Troy after a 5-2 loss to the Engineers on December 3 wondering how they were already 1-7-0 with their backs up against the wall in league play.

Offense — Anemic is perhaps a good word for the Brown offense. Jeff Lawler leads the way with six points in nine games, while Matt Kohansky (2-2–4), Mike Bent (2-1–3) and James Duval (1-2–3) fall in behind the senior forward. As a unit, the team is averaging 2.11 goals per game — a mere .01 better than Dartmouth, who maintains its stronghold on last place in scoring offense. Giving the Bears an extra man hasn’t really helped matters either, considering the team is successful on the power play only 9.8 percent of the time.

Defense — With the offense struggling, the onus has been upon the blueliners to keep the Bears in most games. One upside is that freshmen Paul Esdale and Owen Walter are starting to feel comfortable.

Goaltending — Having Scott Stirling sit out the better of five games to start off the season did not help matters. The senior netminder has the ability to control games and has proven time after time that he can propel his team to a win; his return to the lineup against Harvard was one of the reasons for the 4-2 victory. In four games between the pipes, Stirling has posted a .908 save percentage and 2.77 goals against average. What’s Ahead? — On paper, Brown had the benefit of getting a good portion of its league schedule out of the way before holiday break. The free pass turned into a heavy weight. Instead of having a leg up on the rest of the teams, the Bears now find themselves strapped with a dismal 1-7-0 ECAC record, with fewer league games left on the schedule than most of their ECAC foes.

Overall — It’s a tired phrase, but Brown really has no where to go but up. The team showed some life offensively against Colgate earlier in the year and then again against Harvard, and most recently Rensselaer. Still, there are a lot of missing elements to this team which will keep it from making another dramatic trip into the ECAC quarterfinals.

All photographs used by permission of the appropriate Sports Information Departments. Any reproduction without authorization is prohibited.