2007-08 ECACHL Season Preview

Colgate head coach Don Vaughan may have put it best when he described his experiences last season:

“It was a crazy year.”

And as succinctly as that, you have the 2006-07 ECACHL season in a nutshell.

George Roll's Golden Knights are the pick in the ECACHL -- but nothing is certain in this topsy-turvy league.

George Roll’s Golden Knights are the pick in the ECACHL — but nothing is certain in this topsy-turvy league.

Last season was one of the most competitive ECAC Hockey League campaigns in recent memory … in fact, 1994-95 was the last time the bottom squad was fewer than 18 points behind the regular-season champion in the standings, which is where Union fell compared to St. Lawrence last March.

Furthermore, you may recall that Union was a scant two points short of home-ice at the final buzzer. Seventh-place Princeton fell a win shy of a first-round bye, while Cornell wrapped up that coveted privilege by virtue of winning the tiebreaker with Quinnipiac. And let’s not forget Yale winning the last change in the first round by beating out Colgate and Rensselaer in a three-way tiebreaker, each team holding 17 points as the river card hit the table.

Thus, it feels practically impossible to project where programs will end up come the spring thaw after such a tumultuous previous season. But they tell me I gotta, so I gotta.

12. Brown

Nickname: Bears
Head Coach: Roger Grillo (109-161-43, 10 years at Brown)
2006-2007 Record: 11-15-6 (6-12-4 ECACHL, 11th)
Departed: Sean Dersch, Antonin Roux, Brian Ihnacak, Brian McNary (Jr)
Back For More: Jeff Prough, Sean Hurley, Matt Vokes, Dan Rosen
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 11
2007-2008 Media Poll: 11
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 12
Why: It’s a shame, but given the parity of the league, it just looks as though Bruno is in for a long and uphill battle.

11. Rensselaer

Nickname: Engineers
Head Coach: Seth Appert (10-18-8, one year)
2006-2007 Record: 10-18-8 (6-11-5 ECACHL, t-8th)
Departed: Jake Luthi, Kirk MacDonald, Oren Eizenman, Kevin Broad
Back For More: Seth Klerer, Andrei Uryadov, Matt Angers-Gourlet, Mathias Lange, Jordan Alford
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 10
2007-2008 Media Poll: 9
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 11
Why: If it weren’t for losing such productive players, RPI might keep rising. If only, if only …

10. Yale

Nickname: Bulldogs
Head Coach: Keith Allain (11-17-3, one year)
2006-2007 Record: 11-17-3 (8-13-1 ECACHL, t-8th)
Departed: Bill LeClerc, Matt Cohen
Back For More: Sean Backman, Mark Arcobello, Alec Richards
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 9
2007-2008 Media Poll: 10
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 10
Why: The Eli are on the right track, no doubt about it, but three hotshot players aren’t enough to carry a season.

9. Dartmouth

Nickname: Big Green
Head Coach: Bob Gaudet (151-135-37, 10 years at Dartmouth; 244-277-68, 19 years overall)
2006-2007 Record: 18-12-3 (12-7-3 ECACHL, 3rd)
Departed: Tanner Glass, Ben Lovejoy, Grant Lewis, David Jones (Jr), T.J. Galiardi (Fr), Kevin Swallow (Soph)
Back For More: Nick Johnson, J.T. Wyman, Mike Devine
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 7
2007-2008 Media Poll: 6
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 9
Why: The Big Green were decimated by graduation and early departures alike. Mike Devine might be the difference between home ice and dead last.

8. Union

Nickname: Dutchmen
Head Coach: Nate Leaman (57-74-16, four years at Union)
2006-2007 Record: 14-19-3 (7-14-1 ECACHL, 12th)
Departed: Olivier Bouchard, Sean Streich, T.J. Fox (Soph)
Back For More: Josh Coyle, Jason Walters, Matt Cook, Lane Caffaro, Mario Valery-Trabucco, Mike Schreiber, Justin Mrazek
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 12
2007-2008 Media Poll: 12
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 8
Why: Last year be damned; just look at the studs returning to their Union sweaters this fall.

7. Princeton

Nickname: Tigers
Head Coach: Guy Gadowsky (33-54-9, three years at Princeton; 101-143-31, eight years overall
2006-2007 Record: 15-16-3 (10-10-2 ECACHL, t-6th)
Departed: Darroll Powe, Grant Goeckner-Zoeller, Kevin Westgarth, B.J. Slapsky
Back For More: Lee Jubinville, Mark Magnowski, Brett Wilson, Mike Moore, Zane Kalemba
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 8
2007-2008 Media Poll: 8
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 7
Why: The Tigers probably won’t garner much national attention just yet, but Princeton is slowly but surely on the rise.

Mark Dekanich and Colgate look to move up the ECACHL ladder this season.

Mark Dekanich and Colgate look to move up the ECACHL ladder this season.

6. Colgate

Nickname: Raiders
Head Coach: Don Vaughan (239-217-46, 15 years at Colgate)
2006-2007 Record: 15-21-4 (7-12-3 ECACHL, t-8th)
Departed: Marc Fulton, Mike Campaner
Back For More: Tyler Burton, Jesse Winchester, Tom Riley, David McIntyre, Mark Dekanich
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 6
2007-2008 Media Poll: 5
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 6
Why: The Raiders are still a hard-working team with a skilled and experienced core of players … not to mention with a chip on its shoulder from a lackluster finish last time out.

5. Cornell

Nickname: Big Red
Head Coach: Mike Schafer (235-125-42, 12 years at Cornell)
2006-2007 Record: 14-13-4 (10-8-4 ECACHL, t-4th)
Departed: Byron Bitz, Mark McCutcheon, Tony Romano (Fr)
Back For More: Topher Scott, Raymond Sawada, Colin Greening, Troy Davenport, Ben Scrivens
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 4
2007-2008 Media Poll: 4
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 5
Why: The Big Red might have this one year left to rebuild and reorganize before reclaiming their traditional spot among the nation’s elite.

4. Harvard

Nickname: Crimson
Head Coach: Ted Donato (56-39-7, three years at Harvard)
2006-2007 Record: 14-17-2 (10-10-2 ECACHL, t-6th)
Departed: Kevin Du, Ryan Maki, Dylan Reese, Justin Tobe
Back For More: Doug Rogers, Mike Taylor, Alex Meintel, Jon Pelle, Alex Biega, Kyle Richter
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 5
2007-2008 Media Poll: 7
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 4
Why: The Crimson have great speed and great shots, and under the proper conditions could return to glory this year.

3. St. Lawrence

Nickname: Saints
Head Coach: Joe Marsh (403-329-51, 22 years at St. Lawrence)
2006-2007 Record: 23-14-2 (16-5-1 ECACHL, 1st)
Departed: Kyle Rank, Max Taylor, Drew Bagnall
Back For More: Kevin DeVergilio, Mike McKenzie, Brock McBride, Alex Petizian
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 3
2007-2008 Media Poll: 3
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 3
Why: Marsh knows how to get every last drop of skill and effort out of his players. Good for him; he has some legit talent — with experience now — to squeeze again this year.

2. Quinnipiac

Nickname: Bobcats
Head Coach: Rand Pecknold (243-150-38, 13 years at Quinnipiac)
2006-2007 Record: 21-14-5 (10-8-4 ECACHL, t-4th)
Departed: Reid Cashman, Michael Bordieri
Back For More: Dan Travis (Redshirt Sr), Brandon Wong, Jamie Bates, Ben Nelson, Bryan Leitch, David Marshall, Bud Fisher
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 2
2007-2008 Media Poll: 2
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 2
Why: The only reason Quinnipiac isn’t all lined up to take the top spot in this projection is the George Roll’s big Ice Hockey Jackpot up at Clarkson.

1. Clarkson

Nickname: Golden Knights
Head Coach: George Roll (74-68-16, four years at Clarkson; 180-130-30, 10 years overall)
2006-2007 Record: 25-9-5 (13-5-4 ECACHL, 2nd)
Departed: Mike Sullivan, Michael Grenzy, Brodie Rutherglen, Matt Curley, Shawn Weller (Jr)
Back For More: Nick Dodge, David Cayer, Steve Zalewski, Shea Guthrie, Matt Beca, Chris D’Alvise, Grant Clitsome, David Leggio
2007-2008 Coaches’ Poll: 1
2007-2008 Media Poll: 1
2007-2008 Predicted Finish: 1
Why: Even the short list of returning players reads like a complete first- and second-team roster of All-Americans.