November 3, 2006

ECACHL Preview: A Fresh New Look

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Colgate and Dartmouth finished tied for first in the ECACHL last season, and it won’t be a shocker if it happens again. Having shown it can play with any team in the league in its first season in the ECACHL, Quinnipiac could give the top teams a run for the title. Also, if Cornell’s young players can come through, expect a far better finish than fourth place.

Colgate Red Raiders
2005-06: 20-13-6, 14-6-2 ECACHL

The unanimous choice seems to be Colgate, last year’s regular season champion and ECAC tournament quarterfinalist. Despite some losses, three of the Raiders’ top-4 scorers return, including its two-highest point leaders from last season in Tyler Burton (16 goals, 10 assists) and Jesse Winchester (nine, 14). Mike Campaner, Mark Dekanich and Marc Fulton are back, along with a stingy defense that includes preseason All-ECAC goaltender Mark Dekanich.

Dartmouth Big Green
2005-06: 19-12-2, 14-6-2

Led by experienced head coach Bob Gaudet, and with losses at only a few positions, the team looks primed to challenge for the title. Leading scorer David Jones (17 goals, 17 assists) and Tanner Glass (12, 16) return. The defensive pairing of Grant Lewis and Ben Lovejoy is one of the best in the nation, leading a Dartmouth defense that gave up only 92 goals all last season. Mike Devine (.915 save percentage, 2.32 goals against average) will once again anchor in net.

Clarkson Golden Knights
2005-06: 18-17-3, 9-11-2

Captain Nick Dodge leads a promising but unproven squad. Seven of Clarkson’s eight top-scorers are back, headlining an offense that scored 121 goals on the season — third-best among ECACHL teams. Grant Clitsome and Michael Grenzy lead a defense that returns nine players, many of whom gained valuable experience last season. Clarkson also returns its staring goaltender David Leggio.

Cornell Big Red
2005-06: 22-9-4, 13-6-3

See other Supplement articles for an analysis of this year’s team.

Quinnipiac Bobcats
2005-06: 20-18-1, 18-13-1

Quinnipiac has tremendous depth at the forward position, with 10 returning players. Jamie Bates (21, 20) leads an explosive offense that scored 70 goals in league play and 130 goals overall. Defenseman Reid Cashman has been touted as one of the nation’s finest blue liners, but the defense must improve upon its league-worst 74 goals allowed in conference action. Bud Fisher is coming off a stellar freshman season(.904 save percentage, 2.56 goals against average) in goal for the Bobcats.

Harvard Crimson
2005-06: 21-12-2, 13-18-1

Harvard scored just over three goals per game last season, and should continue that trend going into this year. Four of the team’s top-5 scorers return. Senior Kevin Du (10, 23) and Jon Pelle (10, 18) will be the mainstays of the Crimson offense and will provide valuable leadership for the other players. Dylan Reese leads a defense that allowed 59 goals last season — the sixth-best total.

St. Lawrence Saints
2005-06: 21-17-2, 12-9-1

Four of the Saints’ top-5 point-scorers graduated last season — accounting for 129 points combined — so head coach Joe Marsh has added players up front to compensate. Captain Drew Bagnall commands a defense that gave up 69 goals against conference foes — the fifth-worst tally. Goaltender Justin Pesony returns, looking to improve upon his .888 save percentage.

Union Dutchmen
2005-06: 16-16-6, 9-9-4

Union returns five of its top-6 scorers, a good sign for an offense that scored the second-fewest goals in all of the ECACHL last season. Olivier Bouchard (14, 12), the team’s leading scorer from last season, returns to lead the ailing offense. Six Dutchmen return for the strong Dutchmen defense led by captain Sean Streich. Head coach Nate Leaman also added four more players to man the blue line in the off-season.

Rensselaer Engineers
2005-06: 14-17-6, 8-8-6 ECACHL

The Engineers are buoyed by the squad’s new head coach, Seth Appert. An uptempo style of hockey is expected, led by forwards Oren Eizenman (16, 22) and Jonathan Ornelas (13, 9). Kirk MacDonald returns from testicular cancer this season and should contribute significantly. Rensselaer’s strong point is not its defense, as the only blue liners returning are Reed Kipp, Ryan Swanson and Jake Luthi. Mathias Lange started over Jordan Alford last season, though both are very capable and may split time in goal.

Princeton Tigers
2005-06: 10-18-3, 7-12-3

The Tigers return from a season that saw the team net only 96 goals overall — the second-worst total in the ECACHL. Princeton is a young squad, led offensively by Grant Goeckner-Zoeller (15, 14), Kevin Westgarth (10, 13) and Brett Wilson (11, 10). Brian Carthas and Seamus Young graduated, leaving Princeton without its top-2 defensemen. Brett Westgarth, Daryl Marcoux, Mike Moore and Max Cousins will pick up the slack, supported by a trio of freshmen. Graduation also hit the goaltending position, as Eric Leroux will replace the departed B.J. Sklapsky.

Yale Bulldogs
2005-06: 10-20-3, 6-14-2

Yale may have made a shocking run in last year’s ECACHL playoffs, but after finishing in second-to-last place in the regular season, a new coach was brought in. Keith Allain takes over the reigns of a squad that has gone through some major changes offensively. Jean-Francois Boucher (13, 10) will be the Bulldog’s major threat at forward, but most of his supporting cast is gone. Goaltender Alec Richards had an excellent rookie season (.912 save percentage) despite his 3.02 goals against average, and will benefit from the help of Allain, who is a former goaltender.

Brown Bears
2005-06: 5-20-7, 3-14-5 ECACHL

Call them the encore team. The Bears’ top-12 scorers return this season, but only one of them scored at least eight goals last season — Jeff Prough (17, 13). This is from a squad that only managed to score 69 goals in 32 games. Defensively, the Bears lost three seniors and goaltender Adam D’Alba. They return no seniors on the blue line and will have a runoff between three goaltenders: Mark Sibbald, Tristan Favro and Dan Rosen. If things don’t improve, 2006-07 could spell doom for the Bears.