Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, Vt., Dec. 27-28
Massachusetts vs. Dartmouth, 4 ET Saturday
Minnesota State at Vermont, 7 ET Saturday
Minnesota State vs. Dartmouth, 4 ET Sunday
Massachusetts at Vermont, 7 ET Sunday
No. 14 Dartmouth (4-2-4)
Players to Watch: F Hugh Jessiman, Soph. (6-5–11); F Lee Stempniak, Jr. (7-2–9).
Notable: This tournament switches off with Dartmouth’s own Auld Lang Syne tournament. Dartmouth and Vermont, ECAC travel partners (at least, for now) always participate in each other’s tournament. … Dartmouth scored 15 of its goals in one weekend sweep of Yale and Princeton, but has just 14 goals otherwise. … The Big Green is coming off an 0-2-1 stretch against three Hockey East teams, tying Boston University and losing to Boston College and Maine. Dartmouth had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds against Maine, but the goal was disallowed. … Hugh Jessiman, a first-round NHL Draft pick last June by the New York Rangers, scored four of his six goals this season in a game against Yale. … Dan Yacey has played every minute in net this season for the Big Green.
No. 9 Massachusetts (9-4-3)
Players to Watch: D Thomas Pock, Sr. (10-10–20); F Greg Mauldin, Jr. (4-9–13).
Notable: Defensemen have scored 17 of the 46 Massachusetts goals and 25 of the 76 assists. Leading the way is Thomas Pock, a converted forward who is a leading Hobey Baker Award candidate. … The Minutemen saw a seven-game winning streak against ECAC opponents snapped in last week’s 5-3 loss to Harvard. UMass allowed a season-high 36 shots in that game.
Minnesota State (3-9-3)
Players to Watch: F Shane Joseph, Sr. (5-9–14); F Jeff Marler, Soph. (8-3–11); F David Backes, Fr. (8-3–11).
Notable: The Mavericks are coming off their first-ever Division I NCAA appearance a year ago, but are struggling this season. Junior-to-be Grant Stevenson scored 27 goals last season, but left early for the pros. … Minnesota State is coming off a nice 4-4 tie against No. 5 Denver on Friday night. … Senior forward Shane Joseph added two assists Friday, and is now 1-8–9 in the last six games. … Freshman David Backes has six goals and one assist for seven points in the last five games and his 8-3–11 leads all MSU newcomers and ranks second on team scoring charts. … Freshman defenseman Kyle Peto has 0-5–5 in the last five games and his seven assists this year ranks second on the team.
Players to Watch: F Brady Leisenring, Jr. (3-11–14); F Jeff Miles, Sr. (3-6–9); D Jaime Sifers, Soph. (0-4–4).
Notable: Vermont recently announced its intentions to seek membership into Hockey East. The Catamounts are operating in their first season under a new coach, Kevin Sneddon, new athletic director and new school president. … Vermont is the last winless team in the nation. … Sophomore forward Joey Gasparini is the son of one-time North Dakota coach Gino Gasparini, who is now commissioner of the United States (Junior) Hockey League. … Freshman defenseman Art Femenella is listed as 6-foot-7, 248 pounds. … Jeff Miles recently relinquished his captaincy.
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet: “Because of our exam schedule and relatively late start to our season, we are used to trying to prepare a team to play with very little practice time. You can never tell how the guys will react. Hopefully everyone will stay in good shape over the break and will be ready to play when they return.”
Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting: “I think it’s an opportunity to play against teams that we never see. In that respect, I love it because you get to go out and see another part of the country playing hockey. It’s also a time for our kids to get an educational experience … it’s someplace new and different for them. I think that’s valuable in itself. I really like them [holiday tournaments]. Some people, around Christmas time, would rather have their kids at home. I really like them because I think it does give you a chance to build some team unity and it is a good educational opportunity for the kids as well.”
Gaudet: “We will not do any real pre-scouting before we play so the challenge will be to have the guys ready to play and make adjustments as they are needed. These games are important in helping us to prepare for the New Year and the bulk of our league schedule. I hope to continue to learn a bit more about our team and hope to try a few new combinations to help us with preparing for the remainder of the season.”
Analysis: This tournament has two games for each team with set opponents. The two ECAC schools will play the two others, and then switch. This would certainly be an excellent time for Vermont to awaken. They do have some good players, and a solid goaltender, but it’s been a struggle. Same can be said for Minnesota State, which would like nothing more than to get back on the right track with a pair of wins. But the big battle should came down between Dartmouth and Massachusetts, which open this tournament Saturday afternoon. Bob Gaudet and Don Cahoon waged some fierce battles when they led Brown and Princeton, respectively, in the mid-’90s. Now both teams are in the national rankings, unfamiliar territory for both programs lately. Both teams are trying to punctuate good starts, though Dartmouth has more to gain from a win.