This Week in the ECACHL: Jan. 4, 2007

Cliché New Year’s Resolution throwaway line: this year, I’ll pay better attention to the calendar.

I made a rookie mistake, not realizing that my previous column was to be the last before the break. Hence, I lost the opportunity to make up valuable ground in my season’s predictions, which, to be fair, no one but me really cares about anyhow.

But on to the comforting dependability of the Hosts-Visitors standings! Last we checked, Visitors enjoyed a comfortable 23-14-5 lead a little less than a third of the way through the ECACHL schedule.

But wait, what’s going on here!?

In the league contests played between December 8 and 16, the last such games played before this upcoming weekend, Visitors were winless! I’m serious; look it up: 0-5-1.

Princeton took four points from Union and Rensselaer, while travel partner Quinnipiac took three from the same duo. Brown beat Yale in the bus-buddy tilt, while Harvard bested Dartmouth at Bright in the same situational matchup.

Overall standings: 23-19-6; Hosts making a charge early in the season’s second period!

Tourney time

Nine of the league’s dozen members participated in winter-break tournaments played on December 29 and 30, with mixed results.

Colgate hopes to have culled some much-needed momentum from its championship run at the UConn Hockey Classic, defeating Northeastern on Friday and host Connecticut on Saturday. (By the way, the title game concluded the Raiders’ series of four consecutive games against Huskies: two at St. Cloud State, followed by this pair. It’s a real shame that Colgate doesn’t meet Michigan Tech this season.)

It was the ‘Gate’s fourth tournament of the season, and its first championship. The sweep improves on an 0-2 performance at the Ice Breaker to start the year, a title-tilt loss at the Governor’s Cup, and another championship-game loss at the Rensselaer/B of A Holiday Tournament held over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Clarkson Golden Knights have another plaque for their trophy case as well, knocking off host Wisconsin and Lake Superior State in the Badger Showdown.

Captain Nick Dodge notched a hat trick to upend the defending national champs 6-2 on their home ice, and the offense was sufficient in a 3-2 win over the Lakers the following night. After four straight losses in mid-November, the Knights now have seven consecutive victories, and a first-place finish in the only in-season tournament they’ve participated in this year.

Cornell and St. Lawrence each earned spots in their respective tourneys’ title games, but came up short against non-con powerhouses.

The Big Red orchestrated what can be called a “statement win” in the opener of the Florida College Classic, pulling away from then-No. 2 New Hampshire with a late second-period goal and two more in the third.

The 5-2 victory was highlighted, in retrospect, by the game-winner scored by junior Raymond Sawada in the middle frame. Sawada’s seventh goal of the season came at 19:25 of the period, and only 23 seconds after UNH had tied the game at two. Sawada finished the game with two goals and an assist. The result ended UNH’s nine-game win streak and 12-game unbeaten streak.

The next night was the same song in reverse, however, as a high-flying Maine Black Bears team beat the Red in pretty much the same fashion that Cornell had won the previous night.

After feasting on Western Michigan on opening night, 8-4, Maine rolled into the title game and held three one-goal leads over the Big Red early into the second period. Maine’s Teddy Purcell struck home the game-winning goal at 9:34 of the second, little more than a minute after the Ivy’s Doug Krantz had tied the game at three. The Bears added two more in the third in the 6-3 final.

St. Lawrence carried the banner for the ECACHL in Dartmouth’s holiday tournament. After the Green were bounced on the first night by North Dakota, SLU earned its shot at the Sioux with an exhilarating 4-3 overtime win over Boston University.

The Saints twice came back from one-goal deficits against the Terriers, and freshman forward — and leading scorer — Mike McKenzie buried a penalty shot for the win after BU’s Matt Gilroy was whistled for deliberately knocking his team’s net off its moorings. The son of Canadian TSN analyst Bob McKenzie has seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in 19 games for the Saints, leading the team in all three categories.

In the final, the Sioux converted a third-period five-on-three and added an empty-netter to down SLU.

Dartmouth can’t help but feel disappointed by the results, losing the consolation game as well, 3-0 to the Terriers. True, both opponents are ranked in the top 20, but a 1-7 aggregate score is not particularly heartening.

Brown’s freshman phenomenon Dan Rosen still had the hot hand at the Wells Fargo Denver Cup, playing Massachusetts-Lowell to a 1-1 draw (losing the shootout) with a ridiculous 47 stops along the way. His play wasn’t quite as outstanding in the consolation round, stopping “only” 22 in a 3-2 overtime win over Mercyhurst, but a win’s a win. (‘Hurst’s Jordan Wakefield must have stolen Rosen’s mojo for that game, as he made 54 saves in the losing effort.)

Union and Rensselaer each got tipped in the first round of the Sheraton/TD Banknorth tournament in Burlington, Vt. St. Cloud State continued its domination of the ECACHL with a 4-2 win over the Dutch in the first game, while the host Catamounts of UVM stymied the Engineers 3-0 in the second matchup. The familiar foes butted heads in the third-place game, with Union taking home the W in a 5-1 decision.

Finally, Harvard rebounded from a 5-2 loss to Michigan State in the first round of the Great Lakes Invitational with a 3-2 win over Michigan Tech. The Crimson chased Huskies starter Michael-Lee Teslak with three goals on ten shots through 24 minutes, and then held on for the win despite two Tech goals in the third.

Movers and shakers

Cornell is shaping up to be the real deal yet again. Win over New Hampshire, third-period loss — quite possibly due to fatigue — against Maine in Florida. Seven double-digit scorers through 14 games. Troy Davenport isn’t Ken Dryden, David LeNeveu or David McKee just yet, but this strikes me as a team that can bash your brains in on offense now as well as defensively.

Clarkson! Yeow. Seven straight wins will brighten anyone’s holiday. The Knights have won games with six goals (Wisconsin), with two (Brown) and everything in between. What they haven’t done in that stretch is win an offensive shootout … they haven’t had to. Only nine goals allowed in those seven games, and no more than two in any one contest.

Nick Dodge (1.21), David Cayer (1.11) and Steve Zalewski (1.00) are all averaging a point a game or better, and Shea Guthrie (0.94) is close. David Leggio has a stranglehold on the starting job in net, with a .924 save percentage that would be the envy of anyone this side of Dan Rosen.

Dartmouth, however, has some work to do. The Green are going in the wrong direction, and from a very superficial and specious analysis, they’re only accelerating. Following a win over Brown on November 18, Dartmouth eschewed Ws with two ties, then three losses. Three tough games — on the road at Union and RPI, then home versus UNH — loom. Time for the Granite Staters to test their mettle.

Don’t look now, but Princeton has six wins out of seven, and has taken points in seven of eight. Guy Gadowsky’s offense is well-balanced, despite being short on primetime players. Seven players have ten or more points, and the Tigers feature 17 different goal-scorers on the year. Frosh keeper Zane Kalemba is performing admirably with a save percentage tickling .900 and a goals-against of 2.50.

Rosen Watch: the Brown Bear has a 6-2-1 record with a 1.44 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage. He still leads the nation in both GAA and SvP. The next Yann Danis? Sounds like a good wager, personally, so long as his offense doesn’t give him a nervous breakdown.

Colgate appears poised to make a run, and the single game against Niagara this weekend could aid in that regard. The non-conference game hopes to give the Raiders a boost and help them shake off the winter-break rust before diving back into the league schedule. As mentioned in the sidebar, the ‘Gate has six wins in its last seven, not including two losses at St. Cloud State in early December. Mark Dekanich’s GAA is around the respectable 2.50 mark again, and his save percentage is comfortably above 90% (.917, to be exact). Tyler Burton’s 15 assists and Marc Fulton’s 13 goals look nice side by side too, don’t they?

Yale, which started the season with such strength and promise, now finds itself winless since November 18 against Harvard. Scoring 15 goals in seven games will slump ya, to be sure, and allowing 25 won’t help either. But the Bulldog wagon isn’t falling to pieces, either: two of those games were ties, and two others went to extra time.

Union has won three of four, with two league home games ahead. This has the potential to be a big, big weekend for the Dutch, who scored 18 goals in those four games.

Mailbag!

Remind me how awful I am for not writing more things about your school’s inspirational team manager’s sister’s neighbor’s crippled puppy. [email protected].

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