Preview: Sheraton/TD Banknorth Classic

Sheraton/TD Banknorth Classic
Burlington, Vt., Friday-Saturday, Dec. 30-31, 2005

Game 1: No. 15 Clarkson vs. Bemidji State, 4 p.m. ET

Clarkson Golden Knights (10-5-1, 5-2-1 ECACHL)
Head coach: George Roll
Leading scorers: So. F Nick Dodge (7-12–19), Fr. F Shea Guthrie (6-11–17), Sr. F Jeff Genovy (6-11–17)
Leading netminders: Jr. Kyle McNulty (6-3-0, 2.36, .913), So. David Leggio (4-2-1, 3.24, .895)

Bemidji State Beavers (9-6-1, 4-2-0 CHA)
Head coach: Tom Serratore
Leading scorers: Jr. F Luke Erickson (9-8–17), Jr. F Rob Sirianni (6-7–13), Sr. D Andrew Martens (3-10–13)
Leading netminder: So. Matt Climie (3-5-0, 3.02, .899), Jr. Layne Sedevie (6-1-1, 2.10, .925)

Game 2: Dartmouth at No. 5 Vermont, 7:05 p.m. ET

Dartmouth Big Green (5-7-0, 5-5-0 ECACHL)
Head coach: Bob Gaudet
Leading scorers: Sr. F Eric Przepiorka (7-8–15), Sr. F Mike Ouellette (7-7–14), So. F David Jones (6-5–11)
Leading netminder: So. Mike Devine (4-3-0, 2.51, .904)

Vermont Catamounts (11-4-1, 5-3-1 Hockey East)
Head coach: Kevin Sneddon
Leading scorers: So. F Torrey Mitchell (6-16–22), Sr. F Brady Leisenring (8-11–19), Sr. F Jeff Corey (6-11–17)
Leading netminder: So. Joe Fallon (9-4-1, 1.85, .902)

Tournament outlook: Two current (Dartmouth and Clarkson) and one former ECACHL member (host Vermont) are among the Classic’s four participants, with CHA power Bemidji State present for good measure. Game 1 presents an intriguing matchup between resurgent and ranked Clarkson and BSU, a team that spent much of the first half in the national rankings. The Golden Knights look to be back on track after a difficult 2004-05 season, thanks to an offense that might just be the most evenhanded in the nation. No fewer than 10 Clarkson skaters have double-digit point totals, with none more than Nick Dodge’s total of 19. The result is the nation’s No. 4 scoring offense, with its ninth-ranked power play. On the opposite side of the ice, Bemidji State has flitted at the edge of the national consciousness all season, though a current four-game winless streak has taken some of the luster off the Beavers’ first half. Preseason CHA Player of the Year Matt Climie has split time in net with Layne Sedevie.

The second game Friday pits former leaguemates. Dartmouth, the coaches’ preseason pick for second in the ECACHL, got off to a disastrous start, losing four straight games (all in-conference) to open the season, but has since recovered, including wins over Cornell and Harvard, to even its league record. Dartmouth may not have a single individual player with eye-popping numbers on offense, but teamwork seems to be doing the job for Bob Gaudet’s charges, who have the nation’s sixth-ranked scoring offense and its No. 4 power play. Vermont, meanwhile, has been among the season’s biggest stories in its first year in Hockey East. The Catamounts have rolled up 11 first-half wins en route to a No. 5 national ranking, and can point to superlative special-teams play and team defense as key reasons why. Joe Fallon has followed up his impressive freshman season with a scintillating first half — it doesn’t hurt, of course, that the Vermont blue line doesn’t allow many decent shots to reach him in the first place. Brady Leisenring’s hot start paced the Cats’ offense, and Torrey Mitchell has been there as well to keep the pressure on opposing netminders.