2008-09 ECAC Hockey Season Preview

Whereas 2006-07 was a season of unparalleled parity, last season was a year of surprises.

Princeton finished six points better than it had since the spring of ’99, and finished a tight second to Clarkson in the regular season — the Tigers’ best-ever league finish.

Clarkson may have lived up to its preseason poll position, but the Knights found themselves unceremoniously dismissed from the ECAC Hockey playoffs with a three-game quarterfinal home loss to Colgate.

Zane Kalemba is back to steady ECAC Hockey favorite Princeton between the pipes (photo: Tim Brule).

Zane Kalemba is back to steady ECAC Hockey favorite Princeton between the pipes (photo: Tim Brule).

Union earned its first playoff bye week and its best finish in its history, despite allowing more league goals than it scored. Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence fell unexpectedly flat after wildly successful ’06-07 campaigns, and — last but not least — the ECAC reinforced its claim as the smartest league in the nation on the laurels of, among others, Tigers forward Landis Stankievech, 2008 Rhodes Scholar (and seven-goal scorer).

So what’s in store for this year? Oh, just more of the same in the wild and woolly ECAC Hockey League.

Below are individual previews for each team, listed in reverse order of predicted finish. Each individual preview can be accessed by clicking on a given school’s name.

12. Brown

Nickname: Bears
Head Coach: Roger Grillo (115-182-47, 11 years at Brown)
2007-2008 Record: 6-21-4 (6-13-3 ECAC Hockey, t-10th)
Departed: F Jeff Prough, D Sean Hurley, F Chris Poli
Back For More: Sr F Ryan Garbutt, Jr F Devin Timberlake, Jr G Dan Rosen
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 12
2008-2009 Media Poll: 12
Why: There’s a saying that dictates that a goalie can’t win games, he can only not lose them. Rosen will have a lot of chances to not lose.

11. Dartmouth

Nickname: Big Green
Head Coach: Bob Gaudet (163-151-41, 11 years at Dartmouth; 256-293-72, 20 years overall)
2007-2008 Record: 12-16-4 (6-13-3 ECAC Hockey, t-10th)
Departed: F Nick Johnson, F J.T. Wyman, F Jon Grecu, G Mike Devine
Back For More: So D Evan Stephens, So F Kyle Reeds
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 11
2008-2009 Media Poll: 11
Why: When your leading returning scorer is a defenseman and you don’t know who your goalie’s going to be, you might be in for a long season.

10. Colgate

Nickname: Raiders
Head Coach: Don Vaughan (257-235-52, 16 years at Colgate)
2007-2008 Record: 18-18-6 (8-9-5 ECAC Hockey, 8th)
Departed: F Tyler Burton, F Jesse Winchester, G Mark Dekanich
Back For More: Jr F David McIntyre, Sr F Tom Riley, So F Brian Day, So D Kevin McNamara
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 9
2008-2009 Media Poll: 10
Why: It’s going to take some serious work to recover from the loss of such a talented class.

9. Rensselaer

Nickname: Engineers
Head Coach: Seth Appert (21-41-12, two years at Rensselaer)
2007-2008 Record: 11-23-4 (6-13-3 ECAC Hockey, t-10th)
Departed: F Jonathan Ornelas, F Andrew Lord, G Jordan Alford
Back For More: So F Tyler Helfrich, So F Chase Polacek, Jr D Peter Merth, Sr G Mathias Lange
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 10
2008-2009 Media Poll: 9
Why: I sustain that Appert’s aggressive style is the right idea … now if only he could find a way to share it with his forwards …

8. St.Lawrence

Nickname: Saints
Head Coach: Joe Marsh (416-349-55, 23 years at St. Lawrence)
2007-2008 Record: 13-20-4 (7-13-2 ECAC Hockey, 9th)
Departed: F Charlie Giffin, G John Hallas, G Justin Pesony
Back For More: Sr F Brock McBride, Sr F Kevin DeVergilio, Sr D Zach Miskovic, Jr G Kain Tisi, Jr G Alex Petizian
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 8
2008-2009 Media Poll: 8
Why: The Saints are looking to redefine themselves after two bipolar seasons.

7. Quinnipiac

Nickname: Bobcats
Head Coach: Rand Pecknold (263-165-42, 14 years at Quinnipiac)
2007-2008 Record: 20-15-4 (9-9-4 ECAC Hockey, t-6th)
Departed: F Ben Nelson, F Jamie Bates, F Dan Travis
Back For More: Sr F Matt Sorteberg, Jr F Brandon Wong, Sr F Bryan Leitch, Sr D Dan Henningson, Sr G Bud Fisher
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 6
2008-2009 Media Poll: 5
Why: QU has most of the pieces in place, but the pieces are still fuzzy when it comes to understanding the big picture.

6. Union

Nickname: Dutchmen
Head Coach: Nate Leaman (72-88-22, five years at Union)
2007-2008 Record: 15-14-6 (10-7-5 ECAC Hockey, t-4th)
Departed: F Josh Coyle, G Justin Mrazek
Back For More: So F Adam Presizniuk, So F Stephane Boileau, Jr D Mike Schreiber, Sr D Lane Caffaro, So G Corey Milan
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 5
2008-2009 Media Poll: 6
Why: The Dutchmen return a solid representation of last year’s fourth-place team, but the offense was unimpressive for such a high finish.

5. Harvard

Nickname: Crimson
Head Coach: Ted Donato (73-52-11, four years at Harvard)
2007-2008 Record: 17-13-4 (12-7-3 ECAC Hockey, 3rd)
Departed: F Mike Taylor, F Jon Pelle, D Dave MacDonald, Jr G Kyle Richter, Sr D Jack Christian
Back For More: Jr F Doug Rogers, Jr D Alex Biega, Sr D Brian McCafferty, So F Michael Biega
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 2
2008-2009 Media Poll: 2
Why: Richter’s loss will be felt first, but the offensive departures may end up hurting the most.

4. Clarkson

Nickname: Golden Knights
Head Coach: George Roll (96-81-20, five years at Clarkson; 202-143-34, 11 years overall)
2007-2008 Record: 22-13-4 (15-4-3 ECAC Hockey, 1st)
Departed: F Steve Zalewski, F Nick Dodge, F David Cayer, D Grant Clitsome, G David Leggio
Back For More: Jr F Matt Beca, Sr F Chris D’Alvise, Sr F Shea Guthrie
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 4
2008-2009 Media Poll: 4
Why: Just when you thought the Knights were doomed for a “rebuilding period,” here comes Roll with another monstrously talented class.

3. Yale

Nickname: Bulldogs
Head Coach: Keith Allain (27-31-7, two years at Yale)
2007-2008 Record: 16-14-4 (9-9-4 ECAC Hockey, t-6th)
Departed: F Will Engasser, F Matthew Thomey, D Robert Page
Back For More: Jr F Sean Backman, So F Broc Little, So F Denny Kearney, Jr F Mark Arcobello, Jr D Thomas Dignard, Sr G Alec Richards, Jr G Billy Blase
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 7
2008-2009 Media Poll: 7
Why: Look at their returning production. Why third? Why not?

2. Cornell

Nickname: Big Red
Head Coach: Mike Schafer (254-139-45, 13 years at Cornell)
2007-2008 Record: 19-14-3 (12-9-1 ECAC Hockey, t-4th)
Departed: F Topher Scott, F Raymond Sawada, D Doug Krantz
Back For More: Jr F Colin Greening, So F Riley Nash, Jr D Brendon Nash, Jr G Ben Scrivens
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 3
2008-2009 Media Poll: 3
Why: From goal line to goal line, the Red are back and feeling feisty.

1. Princeton

Nickname: Tigers
Head Coach: Guy Gadowsky (54-68-9, four years at Princeton; 122-157-31, nine years overall)
2007-2008 Record: 21-14-0 (14-8-0 ECAC Hockey, 2nd)
Departed: D Mike Moore, F Landis Stankievech
Back For More: Sr F Lee Jubinville, Sr F Brett Wilson, Jr F Cam McIntyre, Jr G Zane Kalemba
2008-2009 Coaches’ Poll: 1
2008-2009 Media Poll: 1
Why: There is no question that Princeton holds the highest hand as the players hit the river.