This Week in ECAC Hockey: Oct. 22, 2009

Annual “Fear the North Country” Warning

This is your official public service announcement: The North Country trip will never be “just another road game.”

Clarkson and St. Lawrence swept last weekend against fellow upstaters Niagara and RIT, and now sit at a combined 5-3-0 despite widespread preseason dismissals from the ECAC Hockey community.

But before hopes get too high, let’s take a closer look: Clarkson allowed its foes to put a combined 82 shots on sophomores Paul Karpowich and Richie LaVeau. RIT peppered Saints’ netminder Robby Moss with 43 (23 in the third period alone, all saved), to only 20 taken by SLU.

However, while the Knights’ power play was a subpar one for seven, the penalty-killing unit was successful on seven of eight attempts. St. Lawrence held the opposition scoreless in a half-dozen power-play opportunities, while converting on a hot 3-for-8.

These are young teams with a lot of self-definition to do. The defenses will have to be bailed out early, but if these Border Boys can keep an even keel in both attitude and record as the fall fades into winter, well … look out. Again.

MOMA: Museum Of Mask Artwork

There’s no question that goaltenders are a different breed of hockey player. They wear different equipment, play within a modified set of rules, and serve a unique function: While their teammates all aspire to keep the puck moving at a snappy pace, the goalie loves nothing more than finding that 6-ounce piece of vulcanized rubber and stopping it cold.

In part because they are such individuals in an otherwise team sport — and in part because the rules themselves encourage such individuality — netminders most conspicuously express themselves through art.

But like medieval knights, the goaltender’s canvas is also one of his most important pieces of equipment: his mask.

Every hockey fan should recognize this mask, who it belongs to, and what it represents. Same with this one (though he updated to this amended design recently). This gallery is a bit outdated now, but it’s a good time-killer, if nothing else. Pretty colors.

Not only are the designs personally expressive and often remarkable to the point of jaw-dropping, but clearly some artwork transcends mere game-day novelty … it becomes part of hockey lore.

I’m not saying that ECAC Hockey’s goalies-du-jour are in line to challenge Cheevers (did you get that one?), Brodeur (or that one, I hope) or Roy (either the Montreal or Colorado edition) … but that doesn’t mean they can’t have some truly sharp paint-jobs on their lids.

Four of this league’s more stimulating masks are worn by Cornell’s Ben Scrivens, Quinnipiac’s Dan Clarke, Allen York at Rensselaer, and Princeton’s Zane Kalemba.

Scrivens’ and Kalemba’s masks fall into the “homage” category, but in different ways. Ithaca’s super-stellar senior gives a tip of the hat — or helmet, in this case — back to his ardent supporters, with Daily Sun-studying students on the right side of the mask, and the mighty Big Red Pep Band adorning the left.

Record-setting Princeton senior Kalemba, on the other hand, sports Princeton alumnus Albert Einstein and former U.S. Capitol Building Nassau Hall on the left side of his bucket, while the right is decorated with the likeness of none other than the Princeton hockey man himself, Hobey Baker. Also on there is the school’s emblem and motto, which translates to “Under God’s Light she Flourishes”. There’s also some variety of vine and a couple fully extended striped cats of some sort. Can’t make heads or tails of those things. (Thanks to SID Yariv Amir for the explanations and photos, though!)

Out at RPI, sophomore Allen York has played all four games so far and clearly demands attention with his authoritarian artwork, as Uncle Sam demands the start from the vicinity of York’s right ear. I wish I could tell you more about the mask, apart from the fact that the background is a brick wall, and that American and Canadian flags are stitched together at the chin. (And that only begs the question, if Uncle Sam is on the right/American side, and there’s a Canadian flag on the left, who’s on the other ear? Don Cherry?) Thanks to Joe Yerdon at GrossMisconductHockey for the photo.

Last but not least, second-year Bobcat Dan Clarke is in a three-way tangle for Quinnipiac’s starting spot, but his mask art has already secured a top position. While Clarke doesn’t reference historical characters (real or imagined) or pay his respects to Hamden’s growing legion of fans, it’s got blue lightning. And that’s just cool.

An honorable mention to Harvard’s Ryan Carroll: while his mask is relatively plain in front, it’s making the list here for being very … well, Harvard, in the back. Yep, that’s latin: “In fide et in bello fortes.” Strong in faith and war. Fitting … so very fitting.

(For what it’s worth, my all-time favorite mask may be that of former Carolina Hurricane Jean-Marc Pelletier. Combining shine with lightning … pure, unadulterated awesome.)

New Feature: Readers’ Poll

It’s a light week, schedule-wise, so let’s liven it up a little bit with a new idea and see how well it’s received. For those with the short-term memories of goldfish, it’s a Readers’ Poll. Starting nice and easy, follow me to the Fan Forum and place your votes; you have until Oct. 27 to do so.

If the response is strong, I hope to devise some more intriguing and controversial questions down the line. For now though, let’s just see exactly how hard I should be pandering, and to whom.


The other day I played a lunch-time pickup at Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center. Taking the ice early, I realized that we didn’t have any pucks, so I rumbled down to the Crimson locker room — in full goalie gear and what may, in retrospect, have been a poor choice in jerseys — to see if there was any extra rubber lying around.

First I encountered assistant coach (and UNH alumnus) Pat Foley, who warned me that my proudly displayed Boston University top might not be such a good idea. (I can’t remember his precise words, but it was something to that effect.) I, of course, reminded him that he must have some Wildcats paraphernalia squirreled away somewhere in his hockey bag, and that we must all remain true to our alma maters.

What I had not planned for when selecting sweaters for the skate was running into the entire Crimson squad, arriving for a preseason interview with the New England Sports Network (NESN). I was consequently teased, harassed and threatened (someone asked if I wanted to get beat up; my money’s on a freshman) for my misstep, which I took in stride whilst I hastily returned to the other side of the rink.

The point of the story is that it was both entertaining and a bit frightening to see that Harvard does, indeed, take its Beanpot rivalries seriously … even in mid-October, before the season even starts. Just for the record, boys: Should you take the Beanpot at BU’s expense this year, I think I’ll be all right with that.

Just try not to make a habit of it, OK?