This Week in the ECACHL: Jan. 11, 2007

Pattern recognition. It’s a good thing.

Hosts went 2-5-0 this week. Back in the habit, I suppose. Rensselaer dropped its pair to Harvard and Dartmouth, while Princeton and Quinnipiac each went 0-1-0 on home ice. Union (beat Dartmouth, fell to Harvard) and Yale (gritty victory over Brown) represented the Hosts adequately. Harvard led the Visitors at 2-0.

Overall standings: 28-21-6. Hosts slipping up… but with a chance to make a move in the ten games this weekend.

Goalie Watch

I can’t justify a weekly Dan Rosen Watch, so I’ll just slide it in here.

He only played one game this weekend, stumbling a bit from his previously ethereal play, allowing four goals on 26 shots at Yale. Now second to Vermont’s Joe Fallon in overall goals-against average (1.68 to Fallon’s 1.65), the Brown frosh is still tops in the country in save percentage, his .950 mark a thousandth of a point above Lake State’s Jeff Jakaitis.

Am I personally applying too much pressure to the young netminder? Doubtful, considering his performance has exceeded everyone’s expectations by barge-loads already.

The ‘tender who bested Rosen at Ingalls was the Elis’ Alec Richards. No stranger to the rarified air atop statistical leaderboards, the sophomore held Bruno to three goals on 44 shots. His save percentage is ten points lower than last year’s final .912, but his goals-against is 20 points better at 2.82.

Also on a hot streak is Union’s Justin Mrazek, in allowing only 11 goals in his last five starts, with a save percentage of .924 in that period.

Mark Dekanich hasn’t had a sub-90% game since November 11. Despite carrying a modest 6-5-0 record since then, his goals-against was only about 2.20 in that period, and his save percentage was .935.

Alex Petizian has been hot virtually all season, with only two four-goal games and a shutout to his name. First-year Crimson Kyle Richter has only allowed five goals in his last 206:00 of action, Clarkson’s David Leggio backstopped every game of the Knights’ current seven-game win streak, and even the inconspicuous Zane Kalemba has won six of his last eight at Princeton.

While he may not be streaking, it is most certainly worth noting that Big Green’s Mike Devine is the only ‘tender in the league to have played every goalie minute for his team. (Bud Fisher at Quinnipiac is close, but freshman Zach Kleiman saw 15 minutes of ice time so far this season. Tough break, Bud.)

Brown biding its time

After a slow start, Bruno has run off a string of 11 games with only three losses in the mix. Rosen has certainly played a large part in some of those wins, but coach Roger Grillo is pleased with his offense’s production as well.

“We’ve played some great hockey,” he said. “The Yale game was disappointing… part of the issue is that we’ve run into some hot goalies.”

Indeed, Mercyhurst’s Jordan Wakefield stopped 54 shots in a 3-2 Brown overtime win at the Denver Cup, and as aforementioned, Yale’s Richards frustrated the Bears as well. Grillo’s team only managed one goal against Clarkson’s Leggio on 29 shots early in December.

“It’s a combination of that, and the need to be sharper around the net. We’re getting quality scoring chances… I don’t really have much to complain about. Things will even out.”

Grillo also pointed out that five road games in a row, beginning at Yale and culminating with a match at Lynah on January 20, are a kind of blessing in disguise for his squad.

“We don’t have classes ’til the 24th… these games help us get out, get away from campus a bit… change things up,” he explained.

On a brief down note, sophomore defenseman Mike Stuart will be out for the season after suffering a torn ACL. He is scheduled for surgery next week.

Saints winning when it counts

Despite a lackluster 4-7-1 record in non-conference games, the Saints are on a roll in the point games.

At 5-2-0 in ECACHL play, St. Lawrence can truly wrest momentum this weekend with home games against Cornell and Colgate.

“This weekend is huge,” said assistant coach Bob Prier. “At this point — with only seven games played — it’s still anyone’s league. We still understand the importance of regular games…we can certainly learn from our losses… but we definitely stress the league games a little more.”

Prier stated that the team is going into this weekend treating both games as must-wins.

One of the brightest spots for the Saints is freshman forward Mike McKenzie. The son of Canadian TSN hockey broadcaster Bob McKenzie, St. Lawrence was actually the only school to offer the younger Mac a scholarship.

“His skating in the last three and a half months has improved drastically,” said Prier.

“He already had great hands, he’s great around the net, he has great vision… we’ve been watching him since he was 16. We got to know him a bit better [than other schools], and he really wanted to come here.”

McKenzie leads the team in scoring with seven goals and ten assists in 19 games, including an astounding four game-winners. One of these was the overtime penalty shot that beat Boston University goalkeeper John Curry to advance SLU to the finals of Dartmouth’s Ledyard Classic.

The assistant coach also advised that Kevin DeVergilio and Brock McBride bear watching in the second half. DeVergilio is finally feeling healthy again after enduring chronic shoulder pain in the first half of the year, according to his junior hockey coach, David McCauley of the Eastern Junior Hockey League’s Bay State Breakers.

As the Saints march ahead into 2007, they will have to do so without the services of third-year forward Charlie Giffen. The six-goal, six-assist Ontario native suffered relatively serious concussion symptoms against BU, and has been away from campus of late.

Bobcats in transition

Rand Pecknold and the Q-Cats are dealing with your Aunt Martha’s water-jug-full-of-pennies amount of change these days.

Senior d-man John Doherty jumped ship to play pro with Columbia of the ECHL. The former New Hampshire transfer logged two goals and four assists in 16 games this season.

Fellow senior Dan Travis is sidelined for the remainder of the season, after sustaining a major injury last Saturday against Princeton. The team’s fifth-leading scorer, with four goals and 10 assists, was also a one-time New Hampshire Wildcat.

Those losses compound the preexisting roster issues caused by freshman Chris Meyers and senior Michael Bordieri’s early season-ending injuries. Three of the four lost team members are forwards.

On the brighter side, Quinnipiac’s new TD Banknorth sports complex nears completion. The Q successfully requested that the ECACHL split the Yale-Brown weekends as to allow for a crosstown rivalry game as part of the facility’s opening festivities; Yale at Quinnipiac is on the books for February 2.

Between two games against Princeton’s suddenly hot Kalemba and upcoming games against the en fuego Rosen, Richards and Niagara’s Juliano Pagliero, how does a team stay cool and collected in the face of such imposing goaltending?

“We have to go into a game thinking we’re gonna be lucky to get one or two goals, and play well defensively,” said Pecknold. As goalies acclimate to the league and to the flow of the season, “goals are just harder to get as the season wears on,” he allowed.

Fortunately for Pecknold, he has 12- and 10-goal scorers Brandon Wong and David Marshall, respectively, along with power-play specialists Jamie Bates (five PP goals) and Bryan Leitch (four), all backed by All-American offensive defenseman Reid Cashman.

Third-years leading Clarkson to glory

It might slip the notice of the casual observer, but Clarkson’s top four scorers and starting goaltender are all juniors. What accounts for such a talent-laden group?

It’s actually very simple, and an overwhelming testament to the appeal, effort, and eye of George Roll and his staff.

Nick Dodge, David Cayer, Steve Zalewski, Shawn Weller and David Leggio — along with Grant Clitsome and Mike Arciero — were Roll & Co.’s first full recruiting class.

“Every one of them has a chance to have a career in hockey,” praised Roll of his most familiar charges.

Dodge leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and 13 assists, followed closely by Cayer (nine and 12), Zalewsky (11, eight) and Weller (eight, nine). It is by far the most prolific class, combining for 89 points as a group, and Cayer leads the team with six power-play goals. Dodge and Zalewski each have five, while Weller has four of his own.

Leggio has been spectacular in net, holding a .929 save percentage with a remarkable 2.24 goals-against average. Leggio has only allowed more than three goals in a game twice: a 5-1 loss to Lake Superior State, and a 6-4 loss to Quinnipiac. In his nine games since QU, he has allowed a paltry 13 goals on 256 shots: a .950 save rate.

Not too shabby for a guy who is “his own goalie coach,” according to Roll… the team doesn’t carry a netminding instructor on staff.

Snapshots

Union’s roster is another man short these days, as freshman defender Dustin DeGagne has elected to transfer to a D-III program. Further details are as of yet unavailable. The 21-year-old Winnipeg native played in only two games for the Dutchmen this season.

Yale will skate without David Germain this weekend. The junior forward is sidelined with an undisclosed injury; all the hockey offices would say is that he will be out for this weekend’s tilts at Princeton, and home against Quinnipiac.

Colgate didn’t duck the injury bug either, as second-year winger Peter Bogdanich and soph defender Mark Anderson will be in the bleachers for the team’s trip to the North Country. Bogdanich is out with a knee problem, while Anderson is dealing with a high-ankle sprain. Freshman forward Ethan Cox is questionable with a hip-flexor. Fortunately for the Raiders, senior defenseman Mike Campaner is back and healthy.

While Dartmouth is just about back to full strength, the Green will still be without freshman forward Peter Boldt. Boldt broke his ankle against Yale back on November 17, but head coach Bob Gaudet is hoping that Boldt will suit up again in early February.

The Golden Knights will be playing shorthanded against Colgate, so to speak, as top scorer Dodge is forced to sit with a game disqualification. The penalty was assessed when he followed through a bit too eagerly while trying to control a puck in the exhibition game against McGill. Roll said he understood the call, but was also perturbed by the fact that, in his opinion, had McGill players worn full masks, a la NCAA regulations, the play could’ve resulted in nothing worse than a two-minute minor.

Mailbag!

Here’s a question that should scare up some responses: who is the most underappreciated figure in the league today? Coach, player, administrator or otherwise. Let’s hear all about it! Email me at [email protected]. I even check it sometimes.

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