December 9, 2004
Bear Market For Brown

By Joe Gladziszewski

 ECACHL Notebook

"We needed to be a blue-collar team," Brown captain Les Haggett said of the Bears.

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Just before Halloween, Vermont traveled to Minnesota Duluth and picked up a win and a tie that turned into an 11-game unbeaten streak. It was a shock at the time, but that road trip sparked the Catamounts, who are now nationally ranked.

Three weeks later, Brown went to UMD and lost the first game of the two-game series to fall to 1-4-1 on the year. Saturday's game saw Brown rally for two third-period goals and win 2-1 at the DECC. The winning goal was scored with one-tenth of a second left in the game by freshman Jeff Prough, and freshman goalie Adam D'Alba got his first start and made 44 saves in the win.

Like Vermont, that trip to northern Minnesota has jump-started Brown's season. Including the last-gasp win against the Bulldogs, Brown is riding a 4-0-1 streak in its last five games before breaking for final exams and the holidays.

"We're a young team in terms of experience and it took us a while to figure out what we're about. We realized that we need to be a blue-collar team," senior captain Les Haggett said. "Having a freshman score that last-second goal was huge. We took confidence from that weekend and ran with it. Now when we go into a game we know that we have a hot goalie and you know you're going to have a great chance to win."

Another similarity to Vermont's season is the emergence of a freshman goaltender. Where Vermont has Joe Fallon, Brown has D'Alba. He's started all five of the Bears' games during the unbeaten run and has a 1.35 goals-against average and has a save percentage of .962.

"The thing about that game against Minnesota Duluth and the last game against Union is the play of the defense. The defense has played excellent. Shots against might seem steep but they're doing a good job and the other teams are only getting perimeter shots," D'Alba said.

D'Alba watched from the bench during Brown's first five games and took advantage of that experience. He played the last five minutes of the Friday night game against UMD and hasn't been back on the bench since.

"You're always trying to study, to pick up the pace of the game and what teams are doing, why goals are going in," D'Alba said.

His education from the bench served him well, as has the expertise that's been passed along to him by Brown assistant coach Tony Ciresi, who works with the team's goaltenders. Ciresi has helped D'Alba improve on the fundamental aspects of the game to complement the outstanding quickness, reflexes, and reaction that the rookie brought to campus.

D'Alba's been able to be his own goaltender and has hardly heard the name Yann Danis.

"The team doesn't mention anything about him. We're moving on," D'Alba said. "You can't underestimate what he's done for the program but everyone realizes that it's time to move forward."


Measuring Stick – Depending on how the polls shake out in the coming weeks, Harvard could play six straight games against ranked opponents, and it started earlier this week with a 3-1 win over Vermont on Tuesday in Cambridge. Two of Harvard's earliest games of the season came against Cornell and Colgate, now 12th and 13th in the national rankings, and it was a struggle. Since then, Harvard's won all three of its games against ranked teams.

"Our team wasn't the team that we are now," captain Noah Welch said. "I think we have come together. On the ice systems-wise guys are staying disciplined and playing within the system and that's huge. It's tough as a freshman to come in and learn six different new systems, but it's clicking now. Systems-wise we are and confidence wise we are. Beating BC and BU and a couple of others we're getting used to winning now and that's huge. We have so much confidence coming down from our coaching staff and it really does rub off. When we were going into those games we were real loose and we played hard."

Harvard's next game is Saturday at home against Maine, followed by a match up against Northern Michigan and possible game against the host Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Dodge Holiday Classic. Then, Harvard hosts Cornell and Colgate on Jan. 7 and 8.

Fresh Faces – Clarkson's struggled to score goals this year, and at 2.00 goals-per-ECACHL game find themselves at the bottom of the scoring charts. One way that the Clarkson coaching staff had hoped to generate some offense was by re-shuffling the power play units in recent weeks. The result was a veteran-laden unit, and another power-play that's comprised of five freshmen.

"We've kind of put a veteran unit together and an all-freshman unit. Even though we didn't get any power-play goals I thought our puck movement was better and we had a lot of chances," coach George Roll said after a recent series against Brown and Harvard. "It's fun to watch. We're going to have three more years with that unit after this year, but it's something we thought with their skill level to go in that direction."

The unit is made up of forwards Nick Dodge, Shawn Weller, and Steve Zalewski and defensemen Grant Clitsome and David Cayer. The Golden Knights recruiting class was highly touted and it hasn't taken long for them to get fully involved.

Fan mail Earlier this week I received an e-mail from a hockey fan who had a very positive experience upon seeing his first college game. Here's what he wrote.

Without the joy of the NHL, I went to my first college game a couple weeks ago. It was Denver vs. Boston U. A few observations on what makes the college game better:

1. The refs actually call the rules and there's no obstruction.
2. Tag-up offsides makes the game much faster.
3. No-touch icing.
4. And I can't believe I'm saying two-line pass rule. The NHL should at least get rid of it during power plays. The breakouts are so much faster this way.
5. Hot college girls all over the place!!!


Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

Maine at Harvard (Sat.)
It's a rematch of last year's first-round NCAA tournament game in Albany as the Black Bears face Harvard. Maine scored four third-period goals in that one to pick up 5-4 win on the way to the national championship game. These are two of the hottest teams in the nation as Maine is 5-1-2 in its last eight games and Harvard has won eight of nine.

While You're There: Stop at Leo's on JFK St. for some of the best burgers in the area.

Stick Salute

Of course we're partial to the college game, but that doesn't mean we don't love the NHL too. It's good to see the NHL owners and the players association back at the bargaining table. Here's hoping to a quick and fair resolution to the work stoppage..

Bench Minor

To the combination of the INCH Power Rankings and the Union Dutchmen. Union appeared in the rankings for two weeks last year, moving up to No. 15 before losing 9-2 to New Hampshire the following week. This year, Union was slotted 18th in the rankings on Nov. 21 and hasn't won a game since..

• As mentioned earlier, Vermont's 11-game unbeaten streak came to an end against Harvard on Tuesday. The coaching match up pitted ex-Crimson teammates Kevin Sneddon against Ted Donato against each other. Sneddon and Donato shared three years in the Harvard lineup and stood side-by-side in the team photo for the 1988-89 season, Harvard's only national championship campaign.

• With a come-from behind 4-3 win over Providence on Wednesday, Rensselaer picked up its first one-goal win of the year. The Engineers were 0-6 in games decided by one goal prior to the win over the Friars.

Colgate senior defenseman Justin Spencer is reliable on the ice and excels in the classroom. Check out this feature story on Spencer at the university's site.

Clarkson's Shawn Weller was the lone ECACHL player named to the United States roster for the upcoming World Junior Championships. The Golden Knights host Ohio State this weekend at Cheel, looking to snap a five-game losing streak.

Brown's Adam D'Alba was the ECACHL Rookie of the Week and Goalie of the Week. The last player to accomplish that feat was RPI goaltender Nathan Marsters on Oct. 30, 2000.

A Hockey East road trip took on the travel-partner format, but it didn't help the ECACHL teams, as St. Lawrence and Clarkson were both swept at UMass-Lowell and New Hampshire.

Cornell is 7-0-0 at Lynah Rink this year after failing to win in its first six home games last year.

All-session passes for the ECACHL Championship weekend at Albany's Pepsi Arena go on sale Monday. Visit the league's official Web site for details.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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