Every year the Sun Sports Editor locks him or herself in a closet, tries to make some sense of eight-month old statistics, and eventually everyone ends up in a five-way tie anyway. Well, here it goes…
1. Cornell Big Red
Last Year’s Record: 25-8-2, 17-3-2 ECAC, 1st
Who are we to argue with Sports Illustrated, USCHO.com, The Hockey News, InsideCollegeHockey.com, the coaches, etc. …
2. Harvard Crimson
Last Year’s Record: 15-15-4, 10-9-3 ECAC, tied 3rd
Last year, the team was young — it took the Crimson until playoff time to bring the team together. But once Harvard coach Mark Mazzolini assembled the squad under his game plan, the Crimson was quite good. With former defenseman Peter Capouch as the only significant loss from last year, Harvard should be a national contender.
Forwards: No doubt about it, the Crimson is stacked. Faceoff specialist Dominic Moore and Brett Nowak lead the group, followed by Tyler Kolarik, power play component Tim Pettit, and legacy Tom Cavanagh.
Defense: Noah Welch was one of the best defenders in last year’s freshman class. However, defense is not the Crimson’s strongest attribute, but it is good enough to keep opponents from scoring fewer goals than the potent Harvard offense.
Goal: Dov Grumet-Morris is back for his sophomore season. Although his 2.84 GAA and .895 save percentage are unimpressive, they should just improve with experience.
3. Clarkson Golden Knights
Last Year’s Record: 17-15-6, 11-6-5 ECAC, 2nd
The Golden Knights had a few key losses but so does every team, and this team can rebuild quickly. Last year, the Knights were plagued by injuries. They also must control themselves on the ice. Knight coach Mark Morris has set a goal to be more disciplined this year. If the team can stay healthy and play cleanly, it should be tough all year long.
Forwards: Leading scorer Kevin O’Flaherty returns for his final year in Canton, N.Y. Also, 2000-2001 ECAC Rookie of the Year Rob McFeeters should be back to form after having to sit out of 15 games — he still had .50 points per game.
Defense: Clarkson was second in the ECAC in defense last year, giving up 2.32 goals per game. Losing Kerry Ellis-Toddington will hurt, but the unit shouldn’t suffer too much.
Goal: Mike Walsh has come a long way from the freshman walk-on he once was. He recorded a .911 save percentage and 2.39 GAA last season.
4. Brown Bears
Last Year’s Record: 14-15-2, 10-10-2 ECAC, tied 6th
Bruno was resurrected last year, after the coaches and media expected the Bears to finish 12th in the ECAC. Little did anyone expect them to break even in conference play, let alone beat the then No. 1 team in the country, St. Cloud. With an extra year of experience, the young team should only improve this season.
Forwards: First the good news: Brown returns its top 14 scorers from last year. Now the bad news: those 14 only had 68 goals amongst them. The team also must get the power play converting more than last year’s 12 percent.
Defense: Practically everyone is returning here including senior Paul Esdale, the second-highest scorer on the team. Junior Vince Macri is also a solid blue liner. The No. 13 defense should be just as tight if not tighter. The challenge, though, will be to let in fewer goals than the offense can score.
Goal: Coming into 2001, Brian Eklund was expected to lead Brown from between the pipes. However, newcomer Yann Danis shocked the ECAC and the nation with the fifth-best GAA and second-best save percentage, earning him second-team All-America honors.
5. Yale Bulldogs
Last Year’s Record: 10-19-2, 9-11-2 ECAC, tied 9th
Eli coach Tim Taylor has been there and seen it all, which makes Yale hard to pinpoint in the standings. There’s no question that this team is talented, but key losses in key positions may hold it back.
Forwards: If you haven’t already heard, Yale has Chris Higgins, the No. 14 overall NHL draft pick who won ECAC Rookie of the Year, was a second team all-conference pick and strikes fear into the heart of many a defenseman. As a freshman, he led the Elis in scoring with 31 points while missing four games. He has a good supporting cast with a bevy of role players to help him out.
Defense: Although the Elis graduated one defenseman, only five remain who have playing experience. With a young goaltender in net, they will be called on frequently. The traditionally disciplined team shouldn’t allow many power plays for the opposition.
Goal: Dan Lombard left, sparking a competition between two Peters. Sophomore Peter Cohen seems to have gotten the nod over junior Peter Dobrowolski.
6. Dartmouth Big Green
Last Year’s Record: 14-13-5, 9-8-5 ECAC, tied 3rd
Of all the teams burdened by graduation, the Green might be the hardest hit. The team advanced to the ECAC tournament for the first time in recent memory, but with the new four-team format, Dartmouth’s chance of getting back this year is just a little slimmer.
Forwards: The team lost its three highest scorers — second-team ECAC forward Mike Maturo, honorable mention Jamie Herrington, and Christopher Baldwin — leaving the Green with plenty of question marks up front. In total, six forwards graduated, so Dartmouth will need its freshmen to contribute significantly.
Defense: With the inexperience up front, much of the scoring burden will have to come from the blue line. Trevor Byrne will be one of the best defensemen in the ECAC. Period. The second-team ECAC selection will have to contribute on both sides of the ice. Pete Summerfelt, who had 22 points last year, will also be an important cog in the Green squad.
Goal: Last season ended on a controversy. Nick Boucher started in 21 games, but Darren Gastrock spelled him at the end of the season because of Boucher’s, shall we say, penchant for being distracted. Both of them will likely see time between the pipes this year.
7. St. Lawrence Saints
Last Year’s Record: 11-21-2, 9-11-2 ECAC, tied 9th
As one of the few ECAC schools to offer scholarships to its players, St. Lawrence is always a team to watch. However, it seems that the formerly dominant Saints won’t climb out of their recent rut this season.
Forwards: This team has the potential for breaking out offensively, but it can also get shut out easily. The Saints are losing about half of their top scorers, but this team can rebuild itself quickly. Junior Rich Peverley, last year’s leading scorer, should pace the team again. The power play needs to get on track for success — it only scored on 16 of 100 chances last year.
Defense: This area is not really St. Lawrence’s forte. Even though the Saints had the best penalty kill in the ECAC last year, the team was 10th in scoring defense, allowing 2.91 goals per game.
Goal: Sophomore Mike McKenna took over between the pipes as a rookie last year, although his accomplishments were overshadowed by two other netminders from his class, Cornell’s David LeNeveu and Harvard’s Dov Grummet-Morris. He should provide St. Lawrence with much needed solid goaltending.
8. Colgate Raiders
Last Year’s Record: 13-19-2, 10-10-2 ECAC, tied 6th
The Raiders have already had their share of good fortune, having the NCAA change a double-overtime loss to Nebraska-Omaha to a tie. But Colgate’s luck hasn’t run out yet. Last “>Re, the Raiders benefitted from being
Cornell’s travel partner and this year should be no different, as the Red will beat down teams before they face ‘Gate.
Forwards: Scooter Smith not only has the best name in the ECAC, but he should be ready for a successful senior campaign. The young corps ought to benefit from the extra year of experience in order to increase their 2.65 average goals per game.
Defense: Colgate’s blue liners can score. ECAC honorable mention Rob Brown was second on the team in points last year. The bigger problem is with the Raider defense which gave up over three goals a game. The team definitely has to iron out its penalty kill, which was successful only 79.5 percent of the time.
Goal: David Cann took the majority of starts and had the best stats (a not too pretty 3.01 GAA and .892 save percentage) and will probably be in net most of the time this season.
9. Rensselaer Engineers
Last Year’s Record: 20-13-4, 10-9-3, tied 3rd
RPI’s desire to show that it was a better team than Cornell last year went unrequited. The team probably won’t be able to realize that aspiration this year, either.
Forwards: The RPI offense finds itself in some dire straits without the tandem of last year’s ECAC Player of the Year Mark Cavosie and Matt Murley. With Murley’s graduation and Cavosie’s signing with the Wild, the two take away 96 total points and over 30 percent of the scoring. Much of the responsibility up front will fall on the shoulders of Carson Butterwick. But it will take more than a solitary effort to compensate.
Defense: The best friend of the Engineers’ defense was their high-powered offense last season. The team will need to tighten up the 3.15 goals against average in 2001-2002.
Goal: Nathan Marsters had an impressive .920 save percentage last year. However, he may not be the starting goalie after Kevin Kurk posted consecutive shutouts last weekend against Army and Iona. But being Army and Iona, Marsters may still be No. 1.
10. Union Skating Dutchmen
Last Year’s Record: 13-13-6, 8-11-3 ECAC, 11th
The Skating Dutchmen have made a home for themselves at the bottom of the ECAC; this year will be more of the same. On one hand, Union was only four points below third place, but on the other hand it was still denied a playoff berth. At least with the new tournament format, it won’t be left out this year.
Forwards: The team returns five of its top six scorers and a underclassmen-heavy roster. There’s a lot of versatility on the offense with the top six returning forwards notching double-digit point totals.
Defense: Only one person is missing from last year’s defense, so that means more experience. But Union needs more than just that, especially when it comes to special teams. With a new goaltender between the pipes, the blue liners must improve upon their second-worst penalty kill in the ECAC.
Goal: Brandon Snee, whose bread and butter was tormenting the Red, has graduated. Kris Mayotte has gotten the majority of starts thus far this year, but coach Sneddon has rotated in Tim Roth and Matt Wise.
11. Vermont Catamounts
Last Year’s Record: 3-26-2, 3-18-1 ECAC, 12th
The Catamounts have nowhere to go but up. After a hazing incident three years ago, and a three-win season last year, head coach Mike Gilligan is most likely itching to get to where he was during his ECAC championship season in 1997. Of course, these things take time, but his efforts should bring him out of the cellar.
Forwards: Sophomores and freshmen make up the bulk of the forwards, but it shouldn’t be too hard for them to improve upon a conference-worst 2.09 goals per game.
Defense: This group is equally young and was equally ineffective last year with it’s 12th-place 4.23 team defense. It was a whole 1.28 higher than next worst, Yale.
Goal: After a good sophomore campaign, Shawn Conschafter’s play degenerated last year along with the rest of the team. He has begun to return to his form of two years ago, letting in one of 42 shots in a 1-1 tie against Boston University on Oct. 18.
12. Princeton Tigers
Last Year’s Record: 11-18-2, 10-10-2 ECAC, tied 6th
Hobey Baker was a Tiger, but that’s the only link Princeton will have with the prestigious award this year. The Tigers barely made their way into the postseason with a late season surge, but youth and inexperience may get in their way this year.
Forwards: Scoring wasn’t really one of Princeton’s strengths last year with 2.13 goals per game. It gets worse, though. Over 43 percent of the point total has graduated, leaving head coach Len Quesnelle crossing his fingers that his freshmen will be able to step up.
Defense: The blue liners will match the forwards in their overall youth. However, 2001-02 left the legacy of a not-too-stellar 3.16 scoring defense. Mediocre special teams will also be an Achilles heel for the Tigers.
Goal: Nate Nomeland will get to play now that Dave Stathos graduated to the minor league hockey system. He has a career 3.36 GAA and .902 save percentage in 21 games played and a 3-7-1 career record.
Archived article by Amanda Angel