Florida College Classic Preview

Site: Germain Arena, Estero, Fla.

Friday-Saturday, Dec. 28-29, 2007

Participants: Mass.-Lowell, Cornell, Clarkson, Maine

Game 1: Mass.-Lowell vs. Cornell, 4:00 p.m. ET

Mass.-Lowell River Hawks (7-4-4, 4-4-4 Hockey East)

Head coach: Blaise MacDonald

Leading scorers: Jr. Mark Roebothan (8-5 — 13), Jr. Mike Potacco (5-7 — 12)

Leading netminders: So. Carter Hutton (2-1-2, 1.36 GAA, .945 SV%), So. Nevin Hamilton (4-3-2, 2.63 GAA, .913 SV%)

Cornell Big Red (4-4-1, 4-2-0 ECAC)

Head coach: Mike Schafer

Leading scorers: So. Colin Greening (3-6 — 9), Fr. Riley Nash (3-6 — 9)

Leading netminder: So. Ben Scrivens (4-3-1, 2.00 GAA, 9.36 SV%)

Clarkson vs. Maine, 7:30 p.m. ET

Clarkson Golden Knights (10-5-0, 6-2-0 ECAC)

Head coach: George Roll

Leading scorers: Jr. Chris D’Alvise (5-8 — 13), Sr. Nick Dodge (5-8 — 13)

Leading netminder: Sr. David Leggio (10-4-0, 2.00 GAA, .924 SV%)

Maine Black Bears (5-7-2, 3-5-2 Hockey East)

Head coach: Tim Whitehead

Leading scorers: Sr. Wes Clark (2-7 — 9), Sr. Bret Tyler (4-4 — 8)

Leading netminder: Jr. Ben Bishop (5-7-2, 2.67 GAA, .923 SV%)

Tournament Outlook

Two teams from Hockey East and two from the ECAC make up the field of this southern-most midseason tournament. Two of these teams are ranked nationally, and the two that are not are unaccustomed to their lack of national exposure. The first game pairs No. 20 Mass.-Lowell against Cornell. The River Hawks carry a three-game win streak into this tourney, having split a home-and-home series with New Hampshire Nov. 30-Dec. 1 before wins over Boston University (Dec. 7) and Bentley (Dec. 8) to end the first half; Mass.-Lowell is 5-1-0 in its last six. This team is paced by the play of sophomore goaltender Carter Hutton, whose 1.36 goals-against average and .945 save percentage lead the nation. The River Hawks have the 20th-best scoring offense in the nation and are tied for 11th nationally for defense with another team from this field, Clarkson. Not surprisingly, the Mass.-Lowell penalty kill is effective, 11th-best in the nation (88.3). This is the first meeting between the River Hawks and the Big Red.

Cornell is one of this tournament’s two remaining founding teams. The Big Red haven’t played a game yet in December; their last outing was a 0-0 tie Nov. 30 against Massachusetts and they’re 1-2-1 in their last four. In that game against the Minutemen, sophomore goaltender Ben Scrivens made a career-high 45 saves in his second shutout of the season. Scrivens’ goals-against average is 12th-best in the nation, his save percentage good enough for eighth. The Big Red are 6-7-1 all-time in this tournament, having captured the title in 2003 and 2005. Last year, Cornell upset No. 2 New Hampshire, 5-2, but lost the title game to Maine, 6-3. The tournament champ is presented with the Ned Harkness Cup, named in honor of the legendary Cornell head coach (1963-1970).

No. 8 Clarkson finished the first half of the season with a 4-2 road loss to St. Lawrence Dec. 1, but the Golden Knights were 4-2-0 in their last six before the break. This is Clarkson’s second trip to the Florida College Classic and its first since 2000. In fact, Clarkson and Maine last faced each other in this very tournament (then called the Everblades College Classic) Dec. 27, 2000, a game that Maine won 4-2. Senior goaltender David Leggio has the 14th-best goals-against average in the country and the 19th-best save percentage. Senior Nick Dodge is tied for fifth among shorthanded goalscorers, and the Clarkson penalty kill is tied for 28th nationally. The Knights are 2-4-0 on the road this season.

Maine is the second of this tournament’s two founding teams, and the Black Bears won the tourney title in 2000, 2002 and 2006. Maine is 8-5-1 in this event overall, and has played in the championship game a total of four times. The Black Bears have one win in their last nine games, having gone 1-5-2 in D-I play to end the first half of the season. Maine was officially 1-1-0 in December, losing the last game of the first half to New Hampshire, 2-0, Dec. 16, but the Black Bears also lost in exhibition to New Brunswick, 2-1, Dec. 1. Junior Christopher Hahn is among several players tied for second nationally in shorthanded goals (two). His classmate, goaltender Ben Bishop, is 24th in the nation for goals-against average, 20th for save percentage. The Black Bears, who lost to eventual national champion Michigan State in last year’s Frozen Four, are 55th in the nation in scoring and 27th defensively. The Maine power play is the second-worst in the nation and one of only three in the country converting at less than 10 percent (6.1).