A look around ECAC Hockey, Oct. 9-11

It’s opening weekend for many ECAC Hockey teams. St. Lawrence, Clarkson, Union, Quinnipiac and Rensselaer all begin their 2015-16 campaigns, some against powerful Hockey East schools like Boston College, UMass-Lowell and Northeastern while NCAA spoiler Rochester Institute of Technology makes its rounds against ECAC opponents.

Friday, Oct. 9

Niagara at St. Lawrence
St. Lawrence will open its regular season with a pair of games against Atlantic Hockey opponents in Niagara and RIT at Appleton Arena. The Saints improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight exhibition games against Canadian schools with a 5-3 victory over Carleton last Saturday. The Saints are 5-3-1 historically against Niagara, with goaltender Kyle Hayton beginning his sophomore campaign in the spotlight for St. Lawrence.

RIT at Clarkson
The Golden Knights will open their 25th season at Cheel Arena against defending Atlantic Hockey champions RIT. History’s on Clarkson’s side, however, as the Golden Knights boast an 11-game unbeaten streak against the Tigers dating to 1983 (9-0-2 in that stretch, 11-2-3 overall). Clarkson defeated RIT 3-1 in Rochester on Oct. 11 last season.

Sacred Heart at Union
It’s a bounce-back year for Union, which looks to get back to its success of 2013-14 beginning with a Friday night matchup against the Pioneers. Starting goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos begins his season as the undisputed starter and 50-point scorer Mike Vecchione returns to the ice for Union.

Quinnipiac at Holy Cross
The Bobcats will play a home-and-home series to start their season with Holy Cross on Friday and Saturday nights. Quinnipiac took the series 4-2 and 4-1 to begin their campaign last year, but the departure of defenseman Danny Federico, defenseman Justin Agosta and forward Matthew Peca are big shoes to fill entering this season.

Rensselaer at UMass-Lowell
The Engineers struggled last weekend against St. Thomas, a 3-2 overtime loss. Rensselaer has to hope for a different result against much stronger competition in Lowell, with goaltender and NHL draft pick Jason Kasdorf beginning his senior season.

Saturday, Oct. 10

Colgate at Northeastern
Starting the season with a 1-1 split against Mercyhurst last weekend, the Raiders are looking for more consistency after a 5-2 victory that proceeded a 9-7 offensive explosion. Colgate trailed 7-3 before rallying to tie, only to see the Lakers get the win. Colgate will continue to shine the spotlight on its big guns up front, including Tyson Spink (five points last weekend) and Mike Borkowski (three goals in the 9-7 loss).

Boston University at Union
Union will finish up its weekend with a matchup against Jack Eichel-less Boston University. The Terriers are the highest nationally ranked opponent to play at Messa Rink since No. 1 Yale lost to Union 3-2 in 2011.

RIT at St. Lawrence
The Saints will hope for a better result after falling to RIT 5-2 on the road in their season opener last season. St. Lawrence is 9-5 historically against the Tigers, including 6-1 at home.

Niagara at Clarkson
Clarkson will look to history to help it get a piece of the Purple Eagles on Saturday. The Knights are 8-4-2 historically against Niagara, winning the last three meetings, all on the road. Last season, Clarkson defeated Niagara in its season opener 3-1, a game in which Steve Perry, Clarkson’s starting goaltender, made 12 saves in the victory and enjoyed a 28-13 shot advantage.

Sunday, Oct. 11

Boston College at Rensselaer
Rensselaer has its work cut out for it against the No. 1 team in the nation. For an offense that managed just 1.88 goals per game last season, the Engineers certainly have a steep hill to climb. In 2013, goaltender Jason Kasdorf was injured in a game against BC, forcing him to hang up his skates for the season early.