Preview: Florida College Classic

Site: Germain Arena, Estero, Fla.
Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 27-28, 2008
Participants: Colgate, Maine, St. Cloud State, Cornell

Game 1: Colgate vs. Maine, 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday

Colgate Raiders (4-7-3, 1-4-3 ECAC Hockey)
Head coach: Don Vaughan
Leading scorers: Jr. David McIntyre (5-7–12), So. Brian Day (9-2-11), Fr. Austin Smith (5-6–11)
Leading netminder: Jr. Charles Long (3-5-3, 2.30 GAA, .910 SV%)

Maine Black Bears (10-5-1, 5-4-1 Hockey East)
Head coach: Tim Whitehead
Leading scorers: Fr. Gustav Nyquist (9-7–16), Fr. Brian Flynn (5-6–11)
Leading netminder: Fr. Scott Darling (8-3-1, 1.41 GAA, .944 SV%)

Game 2: St. Cloud State vs. Cornell, 7:35 p.m. ET Saturday

St. Cloud State Huskies (10-8-0, 5-7-0 WCHA)
Head coach: Bob Motzko
Leading scorers: So. Garrett Roe (9-16–25), Sr. John Swanson (8-9–17), Jr. Garrett Raboin (6-11–17)
Leading netminder: Jr. Jase Weslosky (8-6-0, 2.62 GAA, .920 SV%)

Cornell Big Red (7-1-2, 6-0-2 ECAC Hockey)
Head coach: Mike Schafer
Leading scorers: Jr. Colin Greening (6-3–9), So. Riley Nash (3-4–7)
Leading netminder: Jr. Ben Scrivens (7-1-2, 1.21 GAA, .954 SV%)

Tournament Outlook

The holiday tournament that began life as the Everblades Classic enters its ninth edition with two founding teams still in action. One of those teams, Cornell, plays St. Cloud State late Saturday, while the other, Maine, takes on Colgate in the tourney opener. Last year’s champion, Massachusetts-Lowell, isn’t back this time around, meaning that the Ned Harkness Cup — named in honor of the late, legendary Cornell and Rensselaer head coach — will change hands.

Cornell will be playing its first game in three weeks Saturday, but is riding a three-game winning streak out of an impressive first half. No. 10 Cornell has lost just one game, none in ECAC Hockey play where the Big Red is tied with Princeton atop the standings. A good deal of that success can be laid at the feet of junior netminder Ben Scrivens, who started the season with a preposterous shutout streak before settling down to “just” a .954 save percentage and 1.21 goals against average, both still best in the nation.

The Big Red will take on SCSU, out of the WCHA. The Huskies will be hoping to erase memories of poor recent play, having gone 2-4-0 down the stretch to fall below .500 in the league standings. Offense, led by sophomore Garrett Roe, hasn’t been a problem for St. Cloud, which is fourth in the nation in scoring and has notched at least four goals 10 times already. However, the defense has occasionally let head coach Bob Motzko down, as it did in SCSU’s last outing, a 7-4 loss to North Dakota in which goalie Jase Weslosky was pulled after giving up four first-period goals.

Maine is the second of this tournament’s two founding teams, and its most successful; the Black Bears won the tourney title in 2000, 2002 and 2006. Maine is 9-6-1 in this event overall, and has played in the championship game a total of five times, including last season. Picked to finish in the basement in what was perceived to be a rebuilding year, Maine has instead been a pleasant surprise in Hockey East. The Black Bears are above .500 in the league, with a win over Boston College to their credit, and are 10-5-1 overall. As with Cornell, the most striking stats are in net, where freshman Scott Darling has the nation’s fourth-best GAA and third-best SV% to take away the sting of Ben Bishop’s abrupt departure. Meanwhile, team scoring leader Gustav Nyquist is tied for third nationally in scoring among freshmen.

Taking on the Black Bears Saturday is Colgate, which needs a springboard into a better second half. The Raiders, who enter the weekend on a nine-game winless streak, have just one ECAC Hockey win and four overall this season. Perhaps fortunately for them, this season’s schedule permits the Raiders to play in not one, but two holiday tournaments: next weekend, Colgate takes part in Vermont’s Catamount Cup. For now, though, the Raiders have one overwhelming need: scoring. Colgate is 51st nationally in goals per game with an average of exactly two, and has scored just 14 during its current nine-game skid.


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