Remembering the First Half
We like talking about the past here, so here are out best moments for each team this season thus far, from our perspective. If you have a different one, feel free to email us and let us know.
It would be easy to say that the whole season has been a good moment for Brown, a team that collected a mere two league points all of last season. But there are two games that have provided highlights for this team.
The first was a league-opening 4-2 victory against road partner Harvard back in November. The one win provided head coach Roger Grillo with the ammunition to go back to his team and proclaim that the hard work during the offseason did indeed pay off. The upperclassmen felt a sense of redemption, while the youngsters had visions of ECAC greatness in a Bear uniform.
Then there was the big 2-1 win against Wisconsin at the Badger Showdown. Forgot for one moment about the championship debacle, and focus on the fact that the win over the Badgers put the Bears in the national spotlight for the first time in years. The buzz around the nation that night was about the ECAC team from Providence. It may have been a short-lived moment of greatness, but those types of experiences are what create a foundation for a program moving forward.
The Knights have had two moments that stand out this season. One was the big 8-5 victory over New Hampshire in December, but the one that we’ll pick is the ECAC season opener at home against North Country rival St. Lawrence.
Clarkson led the Saints 3-0 and then 4-1 to end the first period of play. Then the Saints stormed back to tie the game at four heading into the third period. In the third, the Knights took a 6-4 lead before the Saints came back with two goals to answer and tie the game at six goals apiece.
In the overtime, captain Kerry Ellis-Toddington put home the game-winner to start the Knights off with a win in the ECAC, 7-6. The Knights are still undefeated in the league.
The Raiders have not had a great start to the season, but they seem to be picking up steam with a three-game winning streak: an overtime win against Iona, 3-2, and last weekend, a sweep in the ECAC.
The Raiders were down 2-0 to Dartmouth, but then stormed back to take out the Big Green, 3-2. The next night the Raiders finished off the sweep with a convincing 4-1 win over Vermont. The Raiders may well be ready for the playoff drive.
The Big Red renewed their storied rivalry with Boston University this season, and in game one of the series in Boston, controversy ensued as the Big Red dropped a 5-3 game to the Terriers.
The next afternoon, the Big Red were down 2-0 after one period of play, but the Big Red never gave up and a pair of goals from Matt McCrae tied the game up for the Red. In the third period Doug Murray’s power-play goal gave the Red the lead, and an empty-net goal by Krzysztof Wieckowski gave the Red the 4-2 win to gain the split and put a good restart on the rivalry.
Having Nick Boucher make a return to the Big Green starting lineup and posting 33 saves en route to a road 5-3 win over Cornell last weekend — that is hands down the best moment this team has experienced all season long.
The weekend sweep against Yale and Princeton back in November was key in terms of maintaining a foothold in the ECAC race, but it pales in comparison to the impact of possibly having a confident Boucher in net. The only way that this team will come close to living up to expectations this season is by having strength in the back.
The fact that the Crimson is sitting comfortably in first place heading into exam break is a good moment in and of itself. But the real turning point was the weekend sweep of Union and Rensselaer.
A 5-2 win over Rensselaer and a 3-2 win over Union in early January was a series assured the team of its strong standing heading into January and it also pushed the envelope in terms of the team’s ability to maintain focus and battle back from deficits. The ability to stand strong in the face of adversity is something that the players will most likely encounter quite a bit throughout the rest of its extremely challenging last half of the season which includes road trips to Cornell/Colgate, St. Lawrence/Clarkson and Princeton/Yale.
With the odds firmly stacked against them, the Tigers entered Harvard’s barn last weekend and stole two points away from the league-leading Crimson with a 2-1 win.
It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t certainly wasn’t overpowering, but Princeton fought and scrapped until the final moment and earned every bit of that victory. Two points alone is important to this team, but the win showed head coach Len Quesnelle that his team can grit it out and pull out some key games. Although the team couldn’t complete its first weekend sweep in two years, the players walked away with some much-needed confidence heading into the second half of the league season.
The best moment came in the second week of the season as the Engineers opened up their home schedule against Hockey East powerhouse and current No. 3 team in the nation, New Hampshire.
The Engineers got two goals and an assist from Marc Cavosie and Kevin Kurk made 31 saves as the Engineers outgunned the Wildcats, 6-4.
Against Providence, the Saints were down 3-2 with nine seconds left. A timeout was called and Charlie Daniels scored with just six seconds left on the clock to tie the game for the Saints.
In the overtime, Rich Peverly sent a puck towards the net and it deflected off of a Friar skate for the overtime win.
It gave the Saints two wins in a row, the only time this year that the Saints have done that. They have another chance this Friday at Vermont.
The Dutchmen opened the season with a sweep of Notre Dame, but just last Wednesday, the Dutchmen beat Rensselaer, 5-4, and took the season series from their Capital District rival.
The senior class for the Dutchmen becomes the first class to have a winning record against the Engineers, with a 4-3-1 mark.
It’s been one long disappointing season for the Catamounts. Following last year’s Lake Placid berth, the team was hoping for another huge year. Unfortunately, the Catamounts have only two big wins this year — 5-1 over Harvard and 3-2 over Dartmouth.
Those unfortunately are the two biggest, and only, moments of the season.
The Bulldogs have been cruising along the first half of the season, making some noise but not too much. The moment that defined this team early, however, came at home against Cornell and Colgate. The first night, freshman phenom Chris Higgins proved that he can be a big-time scorer by netting the game-tying tally and helping his team escape with a 1-1 tie over the then nationally ranked Big Red.
The following night witnessed the breakout of another Yale player — goaltender Dan Lombard. In what Tim Taylor called a “zone-like state,” Lombard shut the door on Colgate, posting 34 saves en route to the 5-0 shutout victory. The emergence of both Higgins and Lombard this season has helped this developing Yale team prove itself as a legitimate contender for home ice come playoffs.
Some have said that players never come back the same after playing for the U.S. World Junior team. So when Yale’s Chris Higgins took off for his adventure in the Czech Republic, many waited with bated breath until his return.
And what a return it was. The freshman collected six points in two games against Harvard and Brown. To show you just how much of an impact he has been, take a look at his game-by-game statistics:
11/09/01 @ St. Lawrence 1-0–1
11/10/01 @ Clarkson 0-1–1
11/13/01 Boston University 0-1–1
11/17/01 Dartmouth 0-2–2
11/18/01 Vermont 1-0–1
11/20/01 @ Princeton 0-0–0
11/24/01 Princeton 1-1–2
11/30/01 Cornell 1-0–1
12/01/01 Colgate 2-0–2
12/07/01 @ Rensselaer 0-0–0
12/08/01 @ Union 0-0–0
01/11/02 @ Brown 2-2–4
01/12/02 @ Harvard 1-1–2
“Chris Higgins coming back makes all our lines more functional,” said Yale head coach Tim Taylor. “It gives us four capable lines that can skate against pretty much anyone.”
Clarkson was getting healthy. With injuries starting to heal, the Knights were poised to make it interesting in the stretch run of the ECAC.
At the beginning of the season, the Knights had plenty of guys out, including last season’s Rookie of the Year, Rob McFeeters.
McFeeters came back and was playing well, but then went down once again last weekend against Rensselaer.
“It looks like we may have lost Robbie for a long time,” said Clarkson head coach Mark Morris after Friday’s game. “He got kneed at the blue line and we’re fearful that it’s going to be a long time.”
Not only is McFeeters likely out for the season, impressive freshman Jay Latulippe is still out with a sore back against Mercyhurst at the beginning of January.
“Latulippe is still out,” said Morris. “He’s still out because of the sore back from a hit from behind, and he and McFeeters are two valuable guys for us. The injury bug hasn’t been kind to Clarkson in the first half and we’re afraid there’s a couple of more we’ve had in the last two weekends.”
Oh yes, the Knights face Vermont on Saturday for the first time since last March. It should be interesting.
If It’s So Easy, You Try It
Hmm. Another challenger has tied us. This is getting weary. We are invincible! This should not be happening. At least Vic did not beat us — a tie, yes, but not a win. So, once again, John Beaber and Lisa McGill, bring your skills to the chopping block!
The competition thus far:
Vic Brzozowksi t. The Iron Columnists — 7-2-1
The Iron Columnists d. Vic Brzozowksi — 8-3-1 to 7-4-1
Ben Flickinger d. The Iron Columnists — 11-4-2 to 10-5-2
The Iron Columnists d. Ben Flickinger — 5-1-4 to 4-2-4
John Beaber and Lisa McGill t. The Iron Columnists — 6-7-0
John and Lisa, bring your finest prognostication skills to USCHO Stadium and let’s see what you have once again. How will the Iron Columnists defend? Whose picks will reign supreme?
(Standard Disclaimer — All comments are made by the challengers and do not reflect anything the Iron Columnists think.)
Friday, Jan. 18
St. Lawrence at Vermont
John and Lisa’s Pick — Watashi no kiyoku ga tashika naraba, SLU mo Vermont mo dame desu yo. Kyoo no loo-saa wa, kore desu: Vermont 3, St. Lawrence 2
Becky and Jayson — St. Lawrence 5, Vermont 3
Clarkson at Dartmouth
John and Lisa’s Pick — Dartmouth’s on a roll and Clarkson’s due to lose. Dartmouth 4, Clarkson 3
Becky and Jayson — Clarkson 3, Dartmouth 2
Colgate at Cornell
John and Lisa’s Pick — Two losses at home, not gonna happen. Cornell 5, Colgate 3
Becky and Jayson — Cornell 5, Colgate 1
Bowling Green at Rensselaer
John and Lisa’s Pick — RPI continues to slide. Bowling Green 3, Rensselaer 1
Becky and Jayson — Rensselaer 4, Bowling Green 2
Findlay at Union
John and Lisa’s Pick — Findlay? Who’s Findlay? Union 4, Findlay 3
Becky and Jayson — Union 5, Findlay 2
Yale at Ohio State
John and Lisa’s Pick — OSU doesn’t care what an Eli is… Ohio State 4, Yale 1
Becky and Jayson — Ohio State 3, Yale 2
St. Cloud at Brown
John and Lisa’s Pick — Ummm, yeah… St. Cloud 9, Brown 2
Becky and Jayson — St. Cloud 5, Brown 3
Saturday, Jan. 19
St. Lawrence at Dartmouth
John and Lisa’s Pick — Dartmouth keeps moving up the standings. Dartmouth 5, St. Lawrence 2
Becky and Jayson — Dartmouth 4, St. Lawrence 3
Clarkson at Vermont
John and Lisa’s Pick — With Clarkson on their heels. Clarkson 5, Vermont 3
Becky and Jayson — Clarkson 6, Vermont 2
Colgate at Cornell
John and Lisa’s Pick — The Big Red are back with a shutout on the road. Cornell 3, Colgate 0
Becky and Jayson — Cornell 3, Colgate 1
Bowling Green at Rensselaer
John and Lisa’s Pick — RPI no longer RIPs. Rensselaer 4, Bowling Green 2
Becky and Jayson — Rensselaer 5, Bowling Green 3
Findlay at Union
John and Lisa’s Pick — Ohio ranks 18th in oil production, better than Findlay in the CHA. Fundlay 3, Union 3, ot
Becky and Jayson — Union 6, Findlay 1
Connecticut at Brown
John and Lisa’s Pick — Enough of this nonconference stuff, we need Harvard to kick around… Brown 3, Connecticut 1
Becky and Jayson — Brown 7, Connecticut 2
Sunday, Jan. 20
Yale at Ohio State
John and Lisa’s Pick — But maybe they should… Yale 5, Ohio State 3
Becky and Jayson — Ohio State 3, Yale 2
Tuesday, Jan. 22
Brown at Providence
John and Lisa’s Pick — The Rhode Island Subway Series? Does Rhode Island have subways? Providence 5, Brown 2
Becky and Jayson — Brown 4, Providence 2
And remember that if you are interested in putting your money where your mouth is, drop us an email to be eligible when John and Lisa bite the dust.
Sean Peden contributed to this column this week.