Welcome to the blackout edition of This Week in ECAC Hockey. Not because of Rensselaer’s Black Friday — that was a few weeks back. Nor is it because of last week’s capitalist post-Thanksgiving orgy.
Instead, it’s because my block was left as powerless as a Dartmouth advantage for a solid 13 hours Monday night and Tuesday morning … right in my compositional sweet spot. So here comes some improvisational journalism!
Didn’t see that coming
One month ago, who would’ve predicted Cornell, Colgate and Harvard to lead the ECAC in offense? The Big Red lost a lot of scoring strength to graduation, the Raiders were coming off a historically bad year and Crimson sticks have been seemingly snake-bit for the last half-decade.
So where did all these goals come from?
Cornell, with 25 goals in six league games (4.17 goals per game), has benefited immensely from the puck-potting prowess of one Brian Ferlin. The big, 6-foot-2, 200-pound freshman hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere — the Boston Bruins thought highly enough of him to draft him in the fourth round last year — but then in another sense, he really did come out of nowhere: Jacksonville, Fla., isn’t exactly a fertile breeding ground for icers.
Ferlin has made a seismic splash with five goals and five assists in his first six league games (11 points in nine games overall), leading the conference in league scoring and points per game (1.67). Junior defenseman Nick D’Agostino actually leads the Red in overall scoring (6-6–12), and five other players have already notched multiple goals through nine games of overall action.
Travel partner Colgate is flying high on the wings of another player from a non-traditional hockey market: senior Austin Smith of the Lone Star State is hotter than August in Odessa, filling the net with 15 goals in 14 overall games. His 21 points and 1.50 points per game are the best overall figures in the league to date, and he’s not slacking against conference foes either with eight strikes in six outings.
Unlike Ferlin at Cornell, however, Smith is practically carrying the Raiders’ offensive load so far. He has accounted for a solid third of Colgate’s overall goals, and nearly half (eight of 18) of the league scores.
Down Boston way, the Crimson have enjoyed a consistent attack borne of a deeper lineup than many — myself included — originally gave them credit for. Senior Alex Killorn leads the way, of course, with five goals and 10 points in eight games overall and 3-4–7 in seven games of ECAC action. Killorn is supported by seven other multiple-goal scorers (overall), and 18 different Crimson players have earned a point in league play alone. Of additional note, Harvard leads the league in goals in any period with a dozen in seven second periods.
Fatigue? What fatigue?
Yale leads the league in team defense — surrendering six goals in four games (1.50 goals against per game) — but the way Union buckles down as games wear on has been truly impressive.
The Dutchmen, who are right behind Yale with 1.60 goals allowed per league game, have given up eight goals in five games. All well and good, right? Well how about this: Of those eight goals, six were endured in the first period. In five second periods played against ECAC competition, Union has allowed one goal. Ditto the third. How long until new strength and conditioning coach Dan Gabelman — a protégé of Mike Boyle and former practice-team goalie at Boston University — is getting bigger and better offers, I wonder?
Tigers tame, but tired
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Princeton is still trying to earn its stripes. The Tigers have taken a league-low 7.4 penalty minutes per game — always a good sign — but have still surrendered a league-high 24 goals in seven games (3.43 goals against average).
Combined with a mediocre 2.14 goals per game on the attack and 11 third-period goals against, you’ve got the makings of a 2-5-0 start.
Goalies Sean Bonar and Mike Condon have been subpar, seeing roughly 29 shots per league game but each saving fewer than 90 percent of those bids.
Dartmouth looked good. The squad is staffed with proven veterans, anchored by a well-respected goalie and guided by one of the true icons of the national coaching fraternity. They started the season 3-1-0, dropping a nail-biting 2-1 decision to Yale but beating Brown, Quinnipiac and Princeton.
But then what? A 1-4-1 skid? How did this happen?
For starters, 11 goals in those six games aren’t good enough when simultaneously allowing 20. That’s called a negative differential. Going 2-for-16 on the power play isn’t so hot, either, but somehow that’s an improvement: Dartmouth was 0-for-15 with the advantage in its opening four games.
Senior James Mello’s save percentage is mired at .892, and his team is allowing more shots than it’s taking at this point. Dartmouth has to hope that its last game of the semester — on Dec. 11 against Sacred Heart — will allow the goal spigot to open once more. Otherwise, the 2012-opening five-game road swing might put the Green very much in the red.