New stuff, old stuff, and old stuff new again

Signs of life?

To cut to the chase, Rensselaer is still at the bottom of the league, and isn’t looking like anything close to a contender at this time.

That said, the Engineers have scored a modest yet significant seven goals in their last three games: a 2-0 win at RIT, and last Friday’s 5-3 loss at Princeton and Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Quinnipiac. While the results are depressing, those seven goals equal the total offensive output of the team’s previous 10 (ten! [¡diez!]) games.

It certainly helps that attackers Brock Higgs, Marty O’Grady, Matt Tinordi and Jacob Laliberte are back in the lineup, but the continued absences of rookie Matt Neal and junior Greg Burgdoerfer are still being felt out in Troy.

The cherry-clad paranoiacs out there might have a new patch of anxiety to roll around in out in the Meadow of Worry, as the eight goals surrendered last weekend match the most allowed in an RPI weekend all season, given up in twin 4-1 defeats at home against Colorado College in late October.

The new tough tandem in town

The league’s coaches are tentatively circling their calendars for this year’s version of the “toughest weekends”: surprise surprise, it’s Cornell and Colgate.

They’ve been a tenacious one-two punch before – and not so long ago, either – when the likes of Tyler Burton, Jesse Winchester and Kyle Wilson supported goalie Mark Dekanich in Hamilton, and Cornell… well, everyone knows that the players are robots in Ithaca, so assigning them names – like, say, Matt Moulson, Byron Bitz, Ray Sawada, Topher Scott, or David McKee – would be totally arbitrary and ridiculous. But in any case, in 2005-06 the Raiders and Red finished 1-2 (technically 1-3, since Colgate tied for the Cleary Cup with Dartmouth), barely eking out the Green and fourth-place Harvard Crimson for most points among travel partners.

Since then, the North Country cousins (in ’06-07), the felines (Princeton and Quinnipiac, in ’07-08 and ’08-09), and last year’s Capital District duo have claimed the crowns for most challenging deuces. Cornell and Colgate combined for the most points of any such set in 2009-10 as well with a 2-4 finish, and after a relatively down year for the pair last year, they are right back on top with a combined 12-3-1 league record over a third of the way into the ECAC schedule.

The western New Yorkers will have to hope they hold the pace over the next month and a half, while their next conference foes – Quinnipiac and Princeton, on January 13 and 14 – are hoping for quite the opposite.

Bears repeating

No, this actually isn’t a note about Brown (though I’ll shoehorn in an impressed gawk at Bruno’s 6-4 home upset of Yale on Saturday). I know many of you probably figured it would be, and if you were one of them, thanks for reading my stuff: you’re the ones who would know what a sucker I am for terrible puns in my sub-heads.

This is actually about Harvard and Colgate, two teams who finished last season scoring averages of 2.26 and 2.55 goals per game (overall), respectively. This year? 3.44, each.

The Crimson have already tallied eight goals from four (of their six skating) freshmen, accounting for just barely more than a quarter of their 31 goals. Colgate on the other hand has only noted four rookie goals: three from Joe Wilson, and one by Joe Lidgett. The big difference? Well, Austin Smith seems to be doing pretty well these days… what’s he up to? Eighteen goals in 16 games? Note to the Raiders: ever heard the phrase, “live by the sword, die by the sword”?

(Hint: Smith’s production is the sword.)

Keep an eye out for rookie writer (well, he’s a rookie to this beat, at least) Nate Owen’s first ECAC Hockey column on Wednesday morning!