Can we get your digits?

Players of the Week

Player of the Week: Harry Zolnierczyk, Brown

Brown’s one-man wrecking crew potted two goals, added two assists and finished +3 in the home-and-home split with No. 1 Yale. The Antagonizer scored a short-handed equalizer on Saturday evening in a game Bruno ultimately lost, but he earned first-assists on each of Brown’s first two goals Sunday, then sealed the historic upset with a last-minute breakaway goal. The senior captain ranks third in the league in overall points per game, with 1.44.

Honorable mention: Greg Miller, Cornell (0-4-4, +1 vs. RPI and Union); Aaron Bogosian, St. Lawrence (3-2-5 in two at Michigan Tech); Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence (2-3-5)

Rookie of the Week: Greg Carey, St. Lawrence

Mr. Carey makes another appearance in this space, scoring two goals and adding four assists in a win and tie at Michigan Tech. He opened the weekend with two first assists in a 4-4 draw, but then really brought it home with two goals, two helpers and a +3 rating in SLU’s 6-0 blowout win on Saturday. Carey leads the league in overall points per game (1.14), and is tied with Union rookie Daniel Carr for the conference lead in overall goals with 14.

Honorable mention: Kevin Sullivan, Union (1-2-3, +2 at Cornell); Daniel Carr, Union (2-0-2, 2 PPG at Cornell)

Goalie of the Week: Mike Garman, Cornell

The Cornell junior made the most of a platoon-split weekend, stopping 23 of 24 Engineers shots on Friday in what ultimately ended up a runaway victory. He upped his save rate to .915 in 10 appearances this season, and shrank his goals-against mean to 2.46.

Honorable mention: Keith Kinkaid, Union (2 goals against, 40 saves at Colgate and Cornell); Matt Weninger, St. Lawrence (4 goals against, 61 saves; 2nd career/season shutout); Mike Clemente, Brown (6 goals against, 62 saves against Yale)

Players like numbers, too

Through most levels of youth hockey, in most parts of the world, players only get to choose sweater numbers between 1 and about 35, give or take. Most youth teams don’t make custom jerseys, so they only order as many numbers as they might have players on the roster.

Then you get to juniors or college, with equipment managers and name-plates and custom sizes, and the options open up. But athletes being athletes, most either don’t care what number they get, or are tied to the digits they wore throughout their youth. (Only 18 ECAC Hockey players don digits above 39; 13 of them play in the North Country, for some reason.) So when you see Bobby Farnham’s 46, Allan McPherson’s 93 or Chad Ziegler’s 59, you can’t help but wonder what the stories are behind them.

I did. So here are a few of them.

  • Brown junior Bobby Farnham takes the whole “legacy” thing to a whole new level: His #46 is the natural continuation of a family tradition. Father Bob, uncles Mark and Paul, and cousin Buddy all wore 46 for Bruno; Bobby (Jr.) broke free a little bit from the family business, however, as his family members all sported their 46’s on the gridiron.
  • Clarkson’s no slave to convention, with seven players sporting numbers in the 40’s or beyond. Here are a few of the explanations: Mike Garlasco (91) used to wear 19, but Louke Oakley already had it, so he reversed it. Bryan Rufenach (89) dons his birth year. Freshman Ben Sexton (74) actually chose it in honor of junior teammate and fellow Kanata, Ontario product Mark Borowiecki (55), who used to wear #74 in juniors. Borowiecki’s double-five is in honor of his father, a ’55 birth. Rookie David Pratt (44) was #4 all his life, but it was already taken (by senior Dan Reed), so – like Gretzky had to do with hero Gordie Howe’s #9 when he joined the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – he doubled it. Goalie Paul Karpowich (33) honors one of the greatest ‘tenders in history, Patrick Roy. And for the capper, via Sport Information Director Gary Mikel, #37 Will Frederick “threw a dart at a board.”
  • Cornell is notable for having no notable numbers: coach Mike Schafer likes to keep things traditional, and apart from numbers 1, 13, and 25 (Ken Dryden wore 1, Joe Nieuwendyk, 25), players are assigned numbers more or less randomly, and within the conventional range. As for #13, Sports Information guru Kevin Zeise could only speculate:

    “Cornell’s not had a #13 on the men’s side since the 1965-66 season – I don’t know if superstition has deemed that number unlucky within the program, that the first year someone didn’t wear it we won a national title, or what.

    “I do know that [goalies] Mike Garman (35) and Andy Iles (33) are the first players in program history to wear their respective numbers, and rumor has it that when Shane Hynes played here [last year at Cornell: 2004-05], he wanted to wear #57 (Heinz/Hynes 57? – get it?), but as the story goes, that was denied.”

    Zeise also edified me on a very cool Big Red tradition: When a player is assigned his number, he is also responsible for researching the history of that number in the context of Cornell Hockey. Schafer thereby instills within his charges a sense of responsibility with each of their jerseys… a duty to honor the legacy of every Big Red to ever wear those digits before. That strikes me as a very inspiring concept.

    Unfortunately, no one had any insight on why one of the Devins (twins Mike and Joe) got #2, and the other 22. Oh well.

  • Union’s Kelly Zajac (19) wears the same number as NHL brother Travis.
  • Yale’s Chad Ziegler wears #59, in the memory of his late father, who was born in 1959. As I understand it, Ziegler’s father passed away just before the junior forward enrolled at Yale.
  • My top 20

    1. Yale
    2. North Dakota
    3. Boston College
    4. Minnesota Duluth
    5. Denver
    6. Union
    7. New Hampshire
    8. Nebraska-Omaha
    9. Wisconsin
    10. Notre Dame
    11. Miami
    12. Michigan
    13. Merrimack
    14. Maine
    15. Alaska
    16. Colorado College
    17. Rensselaer
    18. Western Michigan
    19. Boston University
    20. Dartmouth