This Week in ECAC Hockey: Oct. 25, 2007

There’s a shocker; Clarkson is on top of the standings.

But for a real surprise, Quinnipiac scored twice as many goals — 10 — in its shutout exhibition win than it has in three games of NCAA competition since. The Big Red hope the same affliction doesn’t hit their squad, after an 8-0 win over Ottawa last weekend.

But that’s enough from me. Let’s hear some news from those who are really in the know.

O Canada

Many ECAC Hockey players got to ditch their practice jerseys for the first time in customary fashion, by taking on a visiting Canadian varsity side. And, in keeping with tradition, the northern guests took a beating.

The maple-leafers went 0-6-2 against the league this year, with two more tilts to go (both involving Ontario Institute of Technology, in the upcoming Shootout at Ingalls). Trois-Rivieres (les Patriotes, in case you missed them) may have proven themselves to be more trouble than they’re worth, scoring ties with Cornell (0-0) and Union (2-2), sandwiching a 5-3 loss to Princeton.

The Tigers and the Big Red are the only teams to play two games with the Canadians this season; the Red took out their residual frustration on Ottawa the evening following the scoreless draw, as previously noted.

Cornell Feeling Feisty

Answer: Mike Schafer and Olivia Newton-John.

Question: Who really wants to get physical?

For the sake of the children, please refrain from cueing that abomination up on your iPod.

The Big Red bench-master is emphasizing a return to strong, aggressive, physical play this season, after what he assessed as a far-too-passive campaign last season.

“Our kids understand what kind of team we need to be,” Schafer said. “I want our team to make sure that the other team is uncomfortable as the game goes on: taking the body, playing hard at all times.” Last year’s team failed to do that, and seemed to soften as the clock ticked down, he said.

So far, his charges seem to be getting the message.

“We were more physical last weekend than in any game last season,” he stated affirmatively.

While the process of building an aggressive, high-pressure team begins with recruiting, it’s also borne of energy and momentum within each individual game.

“Hitting is contagious,” the coach said.

But don’t you fear, Ithaca. Bring all the cowbell you like … it won’t cure the physical fever that doesn’t want healing.

One-Hour Weekends

Cornell, Dartmouth and Quinnipiac each play only one game this weekend — a situation that is common early in the season, but becomes less and less likely as the fall fades into winter. St. Lawrence and Clarkson have each had two of those 60-minute weekends already … both consisting of single games against each other, ironically. Is there a discernable difference in how teams gear up and engage in two-point weekends, from how they play with a pair to look forward to?

The answer is emphatically yes.

Coaches pointed out how a one-game week allows for total preparation for a single opponent. While most practices involve working for the upcoming game, two-game sets mean that — as one coach put it — “in the back of your mind, you’re always trying to throw things in anticipation of the second game.”

Joe Marsh at St. Lawrence believes that he uses all four lines more often than most other coaches, but with a meager two points at stake in a week, such a coach feels more confident in rolling a top-heavy lineup.

Dartmouth’s Bob Gaudet doesn’t think that players should play any more recklessly or passionately if they’re only playing once that weekend — “coaches always want top-energy every game,” he said — but he also allowed that the reassurance of a full week of rest after the contest might lead some players to play with that extra edge.

Looking at current schedules, teams that are only playing once over a weekend are more often than not taking on another one-game-weekend opponent. From a purely theoretical point of view, it’s a bit of a shame; the chance to see little American International warm up all week for one game against a heavily-favored North Dakota, for example, might result in more excitement than you’d otherwise expect.

Ah well, maybe some day. But ’til then, at least we have this game.

Cup Crazy

The Governor’s Cup is back again, just as the participants are beginning to gel. The Empire State quartet of Rensselaer, Colgate, Union, and St. Lawrence descend on Albany in what each hopes will be some early-season success in a late-season venue.

“It’s a chance to play some different guys, but it’s also about saying to them, ‘hey guys, it’s Albany; take a good look,'” and maybe you’ll reacquaint yourself in March, said SLU’s Marsh.

For Union coach Nate Leaman, it’s about “playing our rival in a big venue. It gets the blood boiling, gets the hair up on the back of your neck,” as the Dutch gear up for RPI in round one.

The ‘Tute took home the title last season, while Union brought up the rear. The Saints subbed in for last year’s third-place finisher, Quinnipiac, and Colgate attempts to prove that it’s once again a force to be reckoned with in the ECAC.

And as if you need any further encouragement to check out this four-way battle royale … the forecast shows not a trace of the blustery weather that diminished attendance last fall.

Wherefore Art Thou, Goon?

In pro hockey — notably the NHL — there are players who exist solely to get under the skin of the opposition. Chris Neil in Ottawa. Sean Avery with the Rangers. Donald Brashear, George Parros (former Princeton Tiger), Colton Orr, Shawn Thornton. There are whole lines of them, called “enforcer lines” … or at least, that’s what they’re called in all the video games.

Is there such a thing as an “enforcer” or a “goon” in college hockey?

The general consensus is that we won’t see such things at Mariucci, Yost, Lynah or Agganis, but there are collegiate counterparts.

“There are no ‘enforcer’ lines,” said Union’s Leaman, “but you have lines that can create energy.”

Leaman cited the recently departed Jake Schwan as an “energy player,” along with former player Glen Sanders (“really a fourth-line center, but he had outstanding speed,”) and current charges Justin Pallos, Sam Bowles and Jason Shaffer

Guy Gadowsky said “there is no physical intimidation [factor] in college hockey,” but agreed that “lines can have different roles. Sometimes lines will develop their own roles” apart from those expected of them by the coaching staff, added the Princeton head coach.


• Don’t expect to see Schafer force-feed his team the one-goalie system. He said that he’s not afraid to roll two goaltenders for as long as the arrangement is achieving results.

• Sophomore forward Travis Vermeulen is still out for the Saints, after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last week. Described by his coach as a “very dependable player,” Vermeulen is questionable for next week.

• Matt Generous is likewise dressing in civvies this weekend after re-aggravating a shoulder injury. Marsh said the third-year blueliner would likely be out for “a couple weeks”.

• Sophomore forward Peter Boldt is a scratch for Dartmouth this weekend for an undisclosed injury. Gaudet expects him to be available sometime next month. John Gibson, however, is sidelined “until post-Christmas,” said the coach, with the dreaded Lower Body Injury. The junior defenseman played in 54 games for the Big Green in his first two seasons.

• Leaman confirmed that senior sniper Josh Coyle is still hurt, and is bordering on doubtful for the Gov’s Cup.

• Gadowsky initially indicated that sophomore goalie Zane Kalemba would start Friday’s game at Yale’s Shootout at Ingalls, but later stated that he’d “like to see all goalies get some action.”