2006-07 ECACHL Season Preview

So much has changed since I last was in this spot.

It used to be the ECAC; now it’s the ECACHL.

There are seven new head coaches in the ECACHL since then.

Mark Dekanich is the reigning ECACHL Goaltender of the Year (photo: Melissa Wade).

Mark Dekanich is the reigning ECACHL Goaltender of the Year (photo: Melissa Wade).

There is a new team in the ECACHL.

There is a new league office.

There is a Swan, a Pearl, an Arrow, a Staff and now a Hydra.

So here I am again, along with change.

Plenty more has changed from last season to the new one. Most notably, there are two new additions to the league at the head coaching position, in Seth Appert at Rensselaer and Keith Allain at Yale.

But what hasn’t changed is that for another year, no one knows what to expect from the ECACHL. The league remains as competitive as ever, and expectations can turn on a dime. Teams can, and will, jump and down in the standings. That will probably never change.

So what does this season look like? There are so many questions to be answered, and an equal number to be asked.

If you ask most anyone around the league, they will tend to say the same things. It’s called coach-speak.

“It’s a great league, anyone can win on any given night, that’s what makes the league so great, we’re so competitive, everyone here has a chance to win this thing.” And so on.

So what I’m here to do is break it down for you. So here goes, each team with my quick take and where I think each will finish, ranked from 12 through number one.

Click on any team name below for its individual season preview.

Road Teams in Round One

12. Brown

Nickname: Bears
Head Coach: Roger Grillo (98-146-37, nine years at Brown)
2005-2006 Record: 5-20-7 (3-14-5 ECACHL, 12th)
Departed: Adam D’Alba
Back For More: Jeff Prough, Brian McNary
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: t-11th
2006-2007 Media Poll: 12th
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 12th
Why: The Bears have too many questions on all sides of the table. I don’t think those issues will be solved before it’s too late.

11. Yale

Nickname: Bulldogs
Head Coach: Keith Allain (first year)
2005-2006 Record: 10-20-3 (6-14-2 ECACHL, 11th)
Departed: Joe Zappala, Jeff Hristovski, Nate Jackson, Tim Taylor
Back For More: Alec Richards, Jean-Francois Boucher, Bill Leclerc, Michael Karwoski
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: t-11th
2006-2007 Media Poll: 11th
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 11th
Why: There are lot of things which Keith Allain needs to attend to. The only area that is not a worry will probably be in goal.

10. Rensselaer

Nickname: Engineers
Head Coach: Seth Appert (first year)
2005-2006 Record: 14-17-6 (8-8-6 ECACHL, t-6th)
Departed: Kevin Croxton, Keith MCWilliams, Brad Farynuk, Dan Fridgen
Back For More: Kirk MacDonald, Oren Eizenman, Jonathan Ornelas, Mathias Lange, Kevin Broad
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: 9th
2006-2007 Media Poll: 9th
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 10th
Why: Defense. With only three returners on the blueline (two seniors and one sophomore), Appert is going to have some frustrating moments with his new team.

9. Princeton

Nickname: Tigers
Head Coach: Guy Gadowsky (18-38-6, two years at Princeton; 86-127-28, seven years overall
2005-2006 Record:10-18-3 (7-12-3 ECACHL, t-9th)
Departed: Eric Leroux, Seamus Young, Brian Carthas
Back For More: Grant Goeckner-Zoeller, Kevin Westgarth, Darroll Powe, Brett Westgarth
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: 10th
2006-2007 Media Poll: 10th
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 9th
Why: A good nucleus up front will score some goals, but goaltending needs to be addressed. How soon that can happen will determine how high the Tigers will go.

Home Teams in Round One

8. Union

Nickname: Dutchmen
Head Coach: Nate Leaman (43-55-13, three years at Union)
2005-2006 Record: 16-16-6 (9-9-4 ECACHL, t-6th)
Departed: Kris Mayotte, Scott Seney
Back For More: Olivier Bouchard, Augie DiMarzo, Sean Streich, Lane Caffaro
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: 8th
2006-2007 Media Poll: 8th
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 8th
Why: The offense must find a way to score some goals in order to succeed, especially on the power play. And can Justin Mrazek get back to form? Or will another goalie step in?

7. St. Lawrence

Nickname: Saints
Head Coach: Joe Marsh (379-315-49, 21 years at St. Lawrence)
2005-2006 Record: 21-17-2 (12-9-1 ECACHL, 5th)
Departed: T.J. Trevelyan, Mike Madill, Mike Zbriger, John Zeiler
Back For More: Justin Pesony, Kyle Rank, Kevin DeVergilio, Zach Miskovic
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: 6th
2006-2007 Media Poll: 7th
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 7th
Why: Offense needs to be found and a young defense will need to continue to learn to form the nucleus that St. Lawrence needs. The Saints started strong last year and need to keep it going through the season this time.

Topher Scott is among the returning offensive threats for Cornell (photo: Melissa Wade).

Topher Scott is among the returning offensive threats for Cornell (photo: Melissa Wade).

6. Cornell

Nickname: Big Red
Head Coach: Mike Schafer (221-112-38, 11 years at Cornell)
2005-2006 Record: 22-9-4 (13-6-3 ECACHL, 3rd)
Departed: Matt Moulson, Daniel Pegoraro, Cam Abbott, David McKee, Ryan O’Byrne, Sasha Pokulok
Back For More: Byron Bitz, Topher Scott, Ray Sawada, Mark McCutcheon
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: t-4th
2006-2007 Media Poll: 4th
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 6th
Why: Who will replace David McKee? Replacing goaltenders in the past has gone great for the Red in the past, but it will have to continue. And can the Big Red really score some goals?

5. Harvard

Nickname: Crimson
Head Coach: Ted Donato (42-22-5, two years at Harvard)
2005-2006 Record: 21-12-2 (13-8-1 ECACHL, 4th)
Departed: John Daigneau, Dan Murphy, Tom Walsh
Back For More: Kevin Du, Jon Pelle, Paul Dufault, Ryan Maki, Dylan Reese
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: t-2nd
2006-2007 Media Poll: 2nd
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 5th
Why: Who will replace John Daigneau? Harvard will score goals on paper, but the defense and goaltending need to hold up as well for the Crimson to succeed.

A Good Bye

4. Quinnipiac

Nickname: Bobcats
Head Coach: Rand Pecknold (222-136-33, 12 years at Quinnipiac)
2005-2006 Record: 20-18-1 (8-13-1 ECACHL, t-9th)
Departed: Joe Dumais
Back For More: Reid Cashman, Matt Sorteberg, Bryan Leitch, Ben Nelson, Jamie Bates, Bud Fisher
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: 7th
2006-2007 Media Poll: 6th
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 4th
Why: Offense will lead the Bobcats, but a consistent season will be needed not only from the offense, but defense and goaltending as well.

Clarkson's Nick Dodge (right) is a potential contender for ECACHL Player of the Year (photo: Lowell K. Chow).

Clarkson’s Nick Dodge (right) is a potential contender for ECACHL Player of the Year (photo: Lowell K. Chow).

3. Clarkson

Nickname: Golden Knights
Head Coach: George Roll (49-58-11, three years at Clarkson; 155-120-25, nine years overall)
2005-2006 Record: 18-17-3 (9-11-2 ECACHL, 8th)
Departed: Jeff Genovy, Chris Brekelmans
Back For More: Nick Dodge, David Cayer, Grant Clitsome, Michael Grenzy, David Leggio, Kyle McNulty
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: t-2nd
2006-2007 Media Poll: 5th
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 3rd
Why: With so many returning on offense, the only real thing holding Clarkson back will be discipline.

2. Dartmouth

Nickname: Big Green
Head Coach: Bob Gaudet (136-123-34, nine years at Dartmouth; 226-265-65, 18 years overall)
2005-2006 Record: 19-12-2 (14-6-2 ECACHL, t-1st)
Departed: Mike Ouellette, Eric Przepiorka
Back For More: Grant Lewis, David Jones, Tanner Glass, Nick Johnson, Mike Devine
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: t-4th
2006-2007 Media Poll: 3rd
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 2nd
Why: Goaltending, defense and offense. It’s all there. But just not as there as …

1. Colgate

Nickname: Raiders
Head Coach: Don Vaughan (224-196-42, 14 years at Colgate)
2005-2006 Record: 20-13-6 (14-6-2 ECACHL, t-1st)
Departed: Kyle Wilson, Jon Smyth, Ryan Smyth
Back For More: Mark Dekanich, Tyler Burton, Marc Fulton, Jesse Winchester, Mike Campaner
2006-2007 Coaches’ Poll: 1st
2006-2007 Media Poll: 1st
2006-2007 Predicted Finish: 1st
Why: Goaltending, defense and offense. It’s all there.

Thanks to Mike Volonnino for his contributions.