This Week In The ECAC: Jan. 25, 2001

We continue with the light schedule around the ECAC. There are two big sets of games this weekend, though, featuring all six New York teams and the two Mountain teams. All eyes will be peeled on Central New York and the Green and White Mountains.

Starting To Fly

Cornell took three points from Colgate last weekend to vault into first place in the ECAC standings (we’re looking at winning percentage here). Though the Big Red trail Harvard by three points, the Red have three games in hand on the Crimson.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position, with 12 games to go, to get the job done,” coach Mike Schafer said.

With those games in hand and dates at home against surging Clarkson and St. Lawrence this weekend, the potential is huge, as is this weekend.

“We’re happy with the way we’re playing right now,” Schafer said. “But there’s a lot of hockey left to play. We’ve got to continue to push that, and play well from here on in.”

Colgate doesn’t seem to be able to get itself going. The Red Raiders tried to follow up a good effort in a 2-2 tie against Cornell on Thursday with a home date against the Red, but fell. The Red Raiders are tied for tenth place in the standings (both ways — points and win percentage) with Union, and are trying to dig out.

“It’s still there for us, but we have to start thinking about making a move at this point,” said coach Don Vaughan. “We still have to go out playing loose with no fear. It’s been our focus to secure a home-ice spot, and we are still within sight of that goal.”

It doesn’t get easier as St. Lawrence and Clarkson come to town.

“We are playing two teams that are perennially at the top of the league,” said Vaughan. “But, we still need to focus on getting our house in order, and despite a tough loss to Cornell, we are playing better.”

Clarkson is also flying. The Golden Knights are on a five-game winning streak and have entered the poll at number 15 this week. Things are certainly firing for the Knights.

“Our upperclassmen have really stepped up and we have scattered our scoring around,” said coach Mark Morris on the streak. “Kent [Huskins] and Donnie [Smith] have been stellar. Both guys have been involved in quite a bit of our scoring and they have been solid defensively … We have settled on some line combinations that really seem to be working well, and steady goaltending from Mike Walsh has been a big factor for us.”

The Knights face three games in the next five days, which could determine a lot as the season progresses.

“We face some real difficult competition in Cornell, Colgate and St. Lawrence over the next three games,” said Morris. “This will be great test for our kids to see where we are at. We want to make the most of our remaining games and continue to be successful. I think our early-season woes served as a proving ground for us. I think our guys have gained a considerable amount of confidence with our recent success.”

St. Lawrence is also starting to rise. The Saints were at home (a home game for the Saints?!?) last weekend and picked up three points from Vermont and Dartmouth, meaning that they are sitting in the middle of the pack, fourth in win percentage.

“We have a chance to make a move in the standings, but it won’t be easy,” said coach Joe Marsh. “We had a good weekend at home. The Vermont game was an outstanding one, and we played a solid defensive game against Dartmouth to earn a big point with a couple of key contributors out of the lineup.

“Starr Rink at Colgate and Lynah Rink at Cornell are two of the toughest places in the league to play, but we are just going to try to take it one thing at a time and keep moving forward.”

And don’t forget that on Tuesday, the North Country rivalry heads to Potsdam for Round 2. Clarkson dominated St. Lawrence in Canton, 7-2, back in November.

Hoping To Stop Being Grounded

It wasn’t talked about a lot — in fact, people were getting sick of the talk — but the truth is that the Union Skating Dutchmen had not won a game since November. The Dutchmen were 0-9-2 dating back to a win at UMass-Lowell in November; two ties in December were all the Dutchmen could muster.

Until Saturday night, when Connecticut was the cure. The Dutchmen won 5-1 to snap that streak, and are hoping that starts them flying again.

“I thought the boys played hard,” said coach Kevin Sneddon. “At some points, I thought we were a little selfish in the second period. But overall, I thought we did a good job.

“I was happy for them. They had a smile on their face again. It looked like they were having fun out there, which is nice for our guys, considering how things have gone.”

The Dutchmen head to Dartmouth and Vermont to try to fly again in the ECAC, where they were once in first place.

“We’re starting a new season,” Sneddon said. “We’re 1-0. We’ll carry that into next weekend.”

Rensselaer was grounded in Bowling Green, Ohio, last weekend, suffering 4-0 and 4-3 defeats — something coach Dan Fridgen was not pleased with.

“The one period we play out of six, we win 2-1, and you’re not going to win hockey games by playing one period,” he said. “We played smart and disciplined [that period], and I thought we played five periods where we didn’t play smart and disciplined. Bottom line — we caused a lot of the problems ourselves.”

Another weekend on the road to play what are very important games in the ECAC against Vermont and Dartmouth, will require more, according to Fridgen.

“That depends on how mentally soft we are — if we are then it will be difficult,” he said. “It’s all about confidence and taking care of business and focusing. Being able to feed off of something that’s negative in another building and turn that around.”

Being grounded is exactly what Vermont is experiencing. After starting the ECAC season at 5-0-0, the Cats have stumbled in 2001, going 0-5-1 in the new year, all within the ECAC. A third straight overtime loss on Friday, 5-4 to St. Lawrence, was followed by a 5-2 loss to Clarkson the next night.

“This is like the third or fourth game in a row where we didn’t score timely goals when we had the opportunity,” Vermont coach Mike Gilligan told the Burlington Free Press.

“We’re a better team than what we’ve been playing like,” captain Jerry Gernander said. “It’s time that we turn it around, and we came in thinking tonight was going to be the night and it didn’t turn out that way.

“I think we’re upset, or we better be upset. This is just not acceptable.”

Dartmouth is 3-1-2 in the new year, and on the rise, but gaining only one point this weekend put the Big Green at .500 in the league, slowing the move. The Big Green are hoping to get back off the ground at home this weekend.

Despite only one point, head coach Bob Gaudet was happy with the weekend.

“This is a big point for us,” he said after Saturday’s game. “St. Lawrence is a good team and they had a lot of emotion tonight with the 50th anniversary [of Appleton Arena].

“This is a difficult road trip because Clarkson and St. Lawrence play a similar type of game. There are a lot of teams who are going to come up here and come away with nothing.”

Flying As Well

In the only non-league action of the weekend, Yale hosts Notre Dame for two games in two different arenas.

For the first time in 17 years, the Bulldogs will play at the New Haven Coliseum, as they host the Irish at 4 p.m. The next afternoon, the Elis return to Ingalls for the back end of the set.

If Yale takes two wins this weekend, that would move Tim Taylor into first place all-time as the winningest coach in Yale history. His 277 wins in 22 years are one behind Murray Murdoch (1938-65).

Last weekend, the Bulldogs ran their streak to three wins with a 6-1 win over Holy Cross and Jeff Hamilton speared the victory with a hat trick and one assist.

“Most of his goals have been coming from in close, so it was nice to see him get some rocket shots off,” Taylor said. “It was vintage Hamilton tonight. He hasn’t been having the multi-point games so much lately, so it was good to loosen him up a bit in the offensive zone.”

And an in-tune Hamilton is a dangerous thing for the Irish and everyone else in the ECAC.

If It’s So Easy, You Try It

Amazingly enough, the Iron Columnists are still undefeated. But we did suffer our first non-win as Julian Saltman tied us last week.

The contest thus far:

Becky and Jayson d. Vic Brzozowski – (10-2-2) – (8-5-1)
Becky and Jayson d. Tayt Brooks – (7-7-1) – (5-9-1)
Becky and Jayson d. Michele Kelley – (5-4-3) – (2-7-3)
Becky and Jayson d. C.J. Poux – (9-4-2) – (6-7-2)
Becky and Jayson d. Shawn Natole – (5-8-0) – (3-10-0)
Becky and Jayson t. Julian Saltman – (7-4-2) – (7-4-2)

If memory serves us right, last week was a tight battle. It ended deadlocked and this week Julian Saltman returns to show us what the Dartmouth fans will bring into USCHO Stadium to try and defeat the Iron Columnists. Can he get over the hump to win? Whose picks will reign supreme?

The Picks

Friday, January 26
Clarkson at Cornell
Julian’s Pick – The Golden Knights are just too good. Clarkson 3, Cornell 1
Becky and JaysonCornell 3, Clarkson 2

St. Lawrence at Colgate
Julian’s Pick – St. Lawrence should be able to pull off the upset. St. Lawrence 4, Colgate 3
Becky and JaysonSt. Lawrence 5, Colgate 2

Union at Dartmouth
Julian’s Pick – Dutchmen have nothing on the Green. Dartmouth 4, Union 2
Becky and JaysonDartmouth 5, Union 2

Rensselaer at Vermont
Julian’s Pick – I like the Cats to turn it around here. Vermont 2, Rensselaer 1
Becky and JaysonRensselaer 3, Vermont 1

Saturday, January 27
Clarkson at Colgate
Julian’s Pick – No upset here. Clarkson 4, Colgate 2
Becky and JaysonClarkson 4, Colgate 3

St. Lawrence at Cornell
Julian’s Pick – Big Red goes 1 for 2 on the weekend. Cornell 5, St. Lawrence 3
Becky and JaysonCornell 4, St. Lawrence 2

Union at Vermont
Julian’s Pick – Cats roll. Vermont 5, Union 2
Becky and JaysonVermont 4, Union 2

Rensselaer at Dartmouth
Julian’s Pick – Thompson Arena gives the Green the lift they need. Dartmouth 3, Rensselaer 2, ot
Becky and JaysonDartmouth 4, Rensselaer 2

Notre Dame at Yale
Julian’s Pick – Elis overpower the Irish. Yale 5, Notre Dame 1
Becky and JaysonYale 4, Notre Dame 2

Sunday, January 28
Notre Dame at Yale
Julian’s Pick – Fighting Irish are no match. Yale 4, Notre Dame 2
Becky and JaysonYale 5, Notre Dame 1

Tuesday, January 31
St. Lawrence at Clarkson
Julian’s Pick – Golden Knights continue to dominate. Clarkson 6, St. Lawrence 4
Becky and JaysonSt. Lawrence 4, Clarkson 3

And remember that if you are interested in putting your money where your mouth is, drop us an email to be eligible to be chosen when Julian bites the dust.

Thanks to Shiva Nagaraj, Ken Schott, Dan Fleschner and David Sherzer for their contributions this week