One Out Of Two
The Engineers of Rensselaer went 1-1 on the weekend, but it was still a successful weekend. On the opening night of the Ice Breaker, the Engineers took it to their hosts, dominating Wisconsin in all areas of the game except shots.
“A nice win, but it’s just the first one (of the season),” Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen said. “We did the little things and kept it simple. We had a lot of people stepping up and contributing, which is something we have to do.”
The next night the Engineers lost to Boston University, but it was a good weekend nonetheless.
“I’m still working guys in and out of the lineup; it was encouraging to see that [Friday night] some guys stepped up and [Saturday night] others guys tried to step up,” said Fridgen. “We got some pretty solid performances overall from a lot of people this weekend. So there’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s not something that’s out of the reach of this team. They realize they have to get better and they know it’s a lot of hard work.”
It certainly was a bright weekend for the Engineers. They are the only ECAC team to defeat the host school in the Ice Breaker, and only the second ECAC team to get a win in the semifinal round.
The Raiders Stampede
The Raiders of Colgate went to the Maverick Stampede and in a strange turn of events lost 6-5 in the second overtime to Nebraska-Omaha. The weirdness was that the first OT was only five minutes long — a violation of NCAA rules governing tournament play. Strange, and the NCAA didn’t find it funny. It didn’t affect the outcome of the game, which was still recorded as a loss for Colgate.
Forgotten in the whole overtime mess was the fact that Colgate was down 5-1 only 27 minutes into the game, but by the time 40 minutes had expired, the Raiders had tied it with four straight goals in the second period.
The Raiders came back the next afternoon and lost a close 2-1 game to Michigan State. Two one-goal losses, but still encouraging for head coach Don Vaughan.
“The team competed hard both nights,” he said. “It was tough for our young team to have to do the quick turnaround for the 5 p.m. game on Saturday, but they handled it well.
“Perhaps the biggest thing I will take from the weekend is the come back on Friday night. I really think that speaks to the character of our team. I don’t feel we could have done that last year. As for Michigan State … I felt we had the better of the play in the second period and could have put them away, but their goalie came up big. We had numerous chances in the third to tie it up. He was the difference in the game.
“Of course as a coach you are never satisfied with a loss, but we saw a lot of good things from our team this past weekend.”
The Raiders open at home against UConn this weekend and have to feel confident.
“It is very important for any young team to understand what it takes to win against ranked teams and to be able to compete and play hard under difficult situations,” said Vaughan. “I really feel we went a long way in accomplishing that in Omaha last weekend.”
The Saints Get Going
St. Lawrence came out of the first weekend with a split in its series with Miami. After a nervous first effort, the Saints picked it up and took game two with help from ECAC Rookie of the Week John Zeiler and a team effort.
“It was a much better effort in a lot of areas [Saturday],” said Saint coach Joe Marsh after the game. “I thought we really go outworked last night, but tonight we did a much better job. I can’t say enough about our goaltending in both games, Mike McKenna was outstanding last night and Kevin kept coming up with the big plays tonight.
“We were able to give him a little more help and we came through with some big plays from the younger guys again. Zeiler’s goal was a big one, both in terms of the situation in the game and the way he got it — just hustling as he crashed the net. I think we made some very positive strides against a good hockey team.”
The Saints will continue to get things going with three homes games this weekend, which in recent years seems like all the home games in a span of half a season — two against Michigan Tech and an exhibition with the US National Under-18 Team.
Dutchmen Coming Of Age
Union went into the opening weekend with some optimism as a young team opened against Providence on the road. The Dutchmen were outplayed, but there was some good.
“I really did see some positives out of our team,” said head coach Kevin Sneddon. “We know it’s going to take some time and we need to learn from our mistakes, especially tightening up in our own zone.”
The next night the Dutchmen clawed their way back to a 4-4 tie with Merrimack, scoring with just 50 seconds left in the third period.
“I don’t think you’ll see this team ever quit,” said Sneddon. “They really showed a lot of character tonight to pull off a tough comeback like that after spotting a team a field-goal lead. We just kept chipping away.”
The Dutchmen host Niagara this weekend in their home opener. Union fans should be excited as the Dutchmen bring this edition home for the season.
The Catamounts of Vermont were blown out of their own building this past weekend as No. 3 New Hampshire pounded them 10-0.
“That’s a pretty good team,” head coach Mike Gilligan said. “I don’t think they’re nearly as good as we made them tonight. We came out of the locker room beaten. Our guys didn’t feel like they were good enough to beat this team.”
That attitude is going to have to change as the Cats travel to take on No. 4 Boston University and No. 7 Boston College this weekend, not an easy task at all. If the Cats are going to succeed, they will have to use last Saturday’s whupping as a motivator.
Out of the Gates — Finally
While many of the ECAC teams have been on the ice for nearly a month and have (in some instances) several games under their belts already, the rest of the league finally laced up the skates for the first time this past week.
Adhering to league requirements, the six Ivy schools — Harvard, Brown, Cornell, Yale, Dartmouth, and Princeton — were allowed to begin formal practices on October 15.
Before the league season kicks off in November, however, these Ivy teams will take part in exhibition contests, beginning next week against such warmup squads as Guelph (out of Ontario) and the US Under-18 Team.
Ups And Downs
As a new feature to our weekly column, we’re going to shine a spotlight on the league each week and select a “best” and “worst” of the weekend. This week, one choice was easy, one was tough.
The Best – The Rensselaer Engineers
The Engineers were one of only two teams to win a regular-season game this weekend, but in defeating the Wisconsin Badgers, the Engineers got a huge win over the hosts, showed the world that the ECAC teams are a presence and got the league and themselves some respect.
The Worst – The Maverick Stampede
It was tough not to pick Vermont’s 10-0 loss to New Hampshire, but due to an absolutely shameful oversight, the Raiders had a tie turn into a loss, and that’s our choice this week. It may only be a shame now, but the bigger shame would be if that tie matters in terms of an NCAA tournament berth.