The first full weekend of ECAC play is now over. Key discoveries:
It’s another full weekend of ECAC play — all the road teams last week are now at home, all those at home now on the road.
Series of the Week
Brown and Harvard at Clarkson and St. Lawrence
The two teams that started play the latest are making the most noise during these first few weeks. Road partners Brown and Harvard will hit the road for the North Country with three and two wins, respectively. After breaking into the national polls this week at number 15, the Bears carry a 3-0 record into their first road series, the best start for Brown since the 1994-95 season when it won its first five games.
Winning has become easier this year for Brown thanks in great part to Yann Danis, who has been nearly perfect in net. This past week, Danis picked up his second straight ECAC Goaltender of the Week Award after he posted back-to-back wins. On Friday night against Vermont, Danis stopped 29 shots en route to his fifth career shutout, a school record. The following evening, Danis swatted away 35 shots — 17 in the first period — to lead his team to the 4-2 win.
“He’s in a grove right now,” said Brown coach Roger Grillo. “He makes it look simple. The guys in front of him are also doing a great job limiting second-chance opportunities.”
Numbers just don’t lie as Danis leads the ECAC and the nation with a 0.67 goals against average and a .979 save percentage.
“In practice I always work on that,” Danis said. “I always try to follow the puck and keep myself squared to it. I feel like all that practice is paying off now.”
One of those three Brown victories came against Harvard two weeks ago. The Crimson has rebounded nicely since that loss at Meehan Auditorium by knocking off Dartmouth and Vermont last weekend at the Bright Center. Following that loss in Providence, coach Mark Mazzoleni mixed up his lineup and came out with an inspired group.
“We wore them down maybe a little bit and they were probably a little frustrated by the end of the game,” said senior captain Dominic Moore following Saturday night’s game. “There are a lot of skilled guys on our team right now. That’s why we have such high expectations of ourselves. Last week [at Brown] wasn’t ideal, but we learned our lesson. We have to compete every night to get a win despite our talent level.”
Moore is the leader of this year’s team. The senior hit a milestone on Friday night when he netted his 100th career point — a feat that was last accomplished in 2001 by his older brother Steve. The younger Moore finished the weekend with three goals and two assists.
Perhaps most telling in the Crimson’s victory, however, was the fact that they rocketed 56 shots at the Vermont net on Saturday. The Harvard offensive crew is clearly showing its strength and depth. Take one look at the talented players who rotate in and out of the lineup on a nightly basis and it becomes very clear that these wins are no fluke.
“I thought we did a lot of things that we needed to do [this weekend],” Mazzoleni said. “I thought we did good things mixing it up on our forecheck. We pressured at times [and] we jammed the neutral zone at times so we weren’t predictable. We pressured the puck well, got into their shot lanes and really kept things to the perimeter.”
The two teams from New England take on the North Country. No one knew what Clarkson was going to do with the Morris issue hanging in the air. All the Golden Knights did was take three points to get back into the ECAC race.
The Golden Knights held off a charging Rensselaer on Friday night for the 2-1 victory, then came back in the third to tie Union.
“We talked a lot about not bringing emotion into the hockey game,” said interim coach Fred Parker after Friday’s win. “You want a certain amount, but if it gets taken away from you then you don’t do too well. They were level-headed and they worked hard for 60 minutes and that’s what we wanted.
“They’re mature people and they’ve dealt with a difficult situation very well. We were due for a win and it just happened that it came tonight.”
Sometimes the second game is tougher to get over mentally, but the Knights bore down and came away with a tie on Saturday at Union.
“You have to be happy anytime you get a win and a tie on the road,” Parker said. “They’re exhausted right now. That showed tonight. We were pretty sloppy. Everything caught up to them.”
Meanwhile, St. Lawrence didn’t bring home any points, but coach Joe Marsh was more than pleased.
“It was the best game we played this year,” Marsh said. “We had some great chances and both goalies played extremely well. The big thing is that we were able to come out and skate and do some of the things we did against a good team.
“That’s the way the games are in this league. It doesn’t take that much; sometimes it’s just a fine line between losing one and winning one. We saw that tonight.”
It was another two one-goal losses for the Saints, but Marsh doesn’t think that it will affect the Saints.
“I think it’s tough sometimes, but we have a lot of young kids, and it’s up to the older guys not to let that mentality come in,” he said. “The complexion of our team is different. We’re a faster team and I think we have the ability to be a better team than we were a year ago.
“But we have a long, long way to go to where we want to be. The goal is to work hard and continue to have fun at it.”
It’s Early, But…
Yes they play 22 games within the league, but it’s important for some teams to get wins on the board so that a hole isn’t dug too soon.
For example, if Princeton, Vermont or Dartmouth lose two this weekend, they could conceivably be 10 points behind Brown.
If Brown, Cornell, Harvard, Clarkson or Union put four points up this weekend, they’ll already be in good position for a top spot in the league, even with so many games left.
We know it’s early, but these games could have huge implications the rest of the way.
The Best and Worst
We’re back with another edition of the best and the worst.
The Best – Clarkson
The Knights left behind their off-ice problems to come away with three points. A great job by the Knights and Fred Parker.
The Worst – Clarkson
Let’s get this investigation over with already. One way or another, let’s get a resolution and get back to hockey.
Thanks to Sean Peden and Tim MacDonald for their contributions this week.