team respond to adversity with a win and a tie against the No.
1-ranked team in the nation gave Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon a
hunch that this might be a pretty good year.
A pair of home losses to Niagara had the Catamounts with a 1-4-0
record headed out to face the top-ranked Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.
To make matters worse the team's most talented offensive player,
Brady Leisenring, was lost for the season due to injury. Vermont
turned that road trip into a springboard for the rest of the season.
The Catamounts picked up a win and a tie against Minnesota Duluth
on the road.
That was followed by a 4-0-2 run in ECACHL games in the month
of November and a non-league win against Massachusetts.
But four weeks after that successful trip to Duluth was when Sneddon’s
hunch was confirmed. Trailing by a goal with less than three minutes
left, Vermont rallied to tie the game, and then scored the winning
goal with one second left.
“That game, when I saw that we could skate and compete against
an excellent skating New Hampshire team that we have a lot of
respect for,” Sneddon recalled, “I felt that our team
showed it could really play.”
The 5-4 win over UNH was the 10th game in an 11-game unbeaten
streak that sent Vermont into the national rankings and near the
top of the ECACHL standings. Those were unexpected places to find
Vermont. There wasn't much pre-season optimism that the Catamounts
would fare better this season as the media picked Vermont to finish
11th and the coaches forecast the Catamounts tied for 10th. Last
year at this time, Vermont was heading to Harvard for an opening-round
playoff series after finishing 11th in the ECAC Hockey League.
of a bus trip this weekend, there’s time to nurse some injuries,
concentrate on studies, and get some mental recuperation after
a grueling season. Vermont claimed fourth place and a first-round
playoff bye after racking up 29 points with a 13-6-3 record in
“We look at it as earned rest. We’ve had some injuries
from the past three weekends that we can pay attention to and
focus on some important school work,” Sneddon said.
As far as
this week’s practice schedule goes, the Catamounts have
had a couple of days off, and mixed in a lot of skill work while
staying away from contact drills in practice. Intensity will increase
this weekend to simulate a game weekend, and strength coach Paul
Goodman will work with the team to maintain its strength during
the bye weekend.
12 Yale at No. 5 Dartmouth
Y: 3-18-1 ECACHL, 4-23-2 overall
DC: 14-8-0 ECACHL, 17-10-2 overall
Season Series: Dartmouth won 2-0-0
Fact: Yale was the second-choice school for Cornell
goalie Dave McKee and Dartmouth forward Hugh Jessiman. With
those two players on the roster, the standings might have
had a much different look. Big
Green Fact: Dartmouth and Harvard are the only teams that have
advanced to the ECACHL Championship weekend in each of the
last four years.
It’s going to take a stellar goaltending performance
from either Peter Cohen, Matt Modelski, or Josh Gartner
if the Bulldogs hope to pull off a huge upset.
Keep things simple. Dartmouth’s second-half surge
coincided with a commitment to making the basic plays, and
the offensive production picked up.
11 Rensselaer at No. 6 Brown
RPI: 6-15-1 ECACHL, 14-20-2 overall
B: 9-11-2 ECACHL, 14-12-3 overall
Season Series: RPI won 1-0-1
Fact: Junior forward Kevin Croxton, who led the
team in points in his first two seasons, went 22 games without
a goal before scoring in both games last weekend. Bear
Fact: Brown stumbled into the playoffs last year,
and finds itself in a similar position this year after limping
into the postseason with just one win in the last six games.
The Engineers found a way to get three points from the Bears
during the regular season, making this a favorable matchup
for RPI. They must allow their confidence to carry them
into the series. How
Brown’s balanced offense must produce. They’ve
scored just 10 goals in the last six games, and five of
those came in a win over Clarkson.
10 Princeton at No. 7 St. Lawrence
P: 6-14-2 ECACHL, 8-18-3 overall
SLU: 9-12-1 ECACHL, 15-17-2 overall
Season Series: St. Lawrence won 1-0-1
Fact: Princeton hasn’t had a first-team All-ECACHL
selection since Steve Shirreffs was tabbed in 1998. Forward
Dustin Sproat and defenseman Luc Paquin are candidates this
Fact: This is St. Lawrence’s first home playoff
series since 2001, when the Saints won the ECACHL playoff
championship and went to the NCAA Tournament.
The defense has to limit shots against and scoring chances.
The Tigers earned a win and a tie last weekend, but allowed
68 shots to Union and Rensselaer. How
St. Lawrence Wins:
The No. 1 line of T.J. Trevelyan, John Zeiler, and Stace
Page must continue to carry the offense. Senior goaltender
Mike McKenna will be tested by the Tigers.
9 Clarkson at No. 8 Union
CU: 7-13-2 ECAC, 11-20-3 overall
UC: 8-13-1 ECAC, 12-20-2 overall
Season Series: Split 1-1
In last year’s playoff trip to Messa Rink, Clarkson
eliminated Union with 8-3 and 5-2 victories.
Union is hosting a first-round playoff series for the third
straight year. They’ve lost those series each of the
last two years.
The team’s veteran players must step to the fore.
Jay Latulippe, Chris Blight, Mac Faulkner, and Dustin Traylen
were key in last year’s playoff run. They need to
come up big again.
It comes down to goaltending. When Kris Mayotte or Justin
Mrazek have played well, there’s been a noticeable
surge in Union’s confidence. Mrazek started the last
regular-season game and posted a shutout against Princeton.
Jeff Corey, the least-mentioned member of the team’s top
line with Scott Mifsud and Torrey Mitchell, politely disagrees
with Sneddon. He said that the feeling of success on this team
didn’t come from the Duluth trip or the UNH comeback. It
came much earlier.
“As soon as last season ended, the older kids came together
and we wanted to change things. The freshmen came in and everyone
was positive. Our goal was to get to Albany,” Corey said.
“This is the best team I’ve ever been on in terms
of trust and chemistry.”
Vermont showed just how tough and resilient it was last weekend.
Holding a slim two-point lead over Dartmouth for fourth place,
the Catamounts beat Brown 2-1 with another buzzer-beater. This
one came off the stick of Scott Mifsud at 19:59 of the third period.
On Saturday, Mifsud scored a pair of power-play goals as Vermont
rallied for a 2-2 tie against Harvard. It was the difference between
fourth and fifth place, and some well-earned time off.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE ECACHL
Welcome back: Last week we mentioned Hugh Jessiman’s
possible return to the Dartmouth lineup, and when the Big Green
took the ice at Thompson Arena on Friday night for the game against
rival Harvard, there was big no. 27 making his first appearance
since Nov. 6 against Princeton.
“I’m feeling great,” an enthusiastic Jessiman
said from Hanover on Wednesday, where he and his teammates are
preparing to host Yale in a first-round playoff series this weekend.
“I was a little sore over the weekend, but it was great
to be out there with the team, suiting up with the guys and being
a part of it.”
His return to the lineup was the culmination of a long process
that Jessiman approached in stages. The initial stage was depression.
Jessiman completed his most rigorous off-season training program,
which he spent with New York Rangers staff and players. With that
work came big expectations and anticipation for the upcoming season.
“I prepared all summer and fall and then to have that happen,
you get pretty depressed,” Jessiman said. “After that,
the second month you come to terms with what’s happening.
You get the screws out (of the ankle) around 10 weeks and that
was the turning point of the progression. You can see the light
at the end of the tunnel and know that things are in your control.”
Jessiman practiced for approximately two weeks before making his
debut in the 2-1 overtime win against Harvard. He skated a regular
shift on a line with fellow NHL draft picks Tanner Glass (Atlanta)
and David Jones (Colorado).
“Both are very talented players. They play a great style
and it helps me to assert myself physically right off the bat,”
Although he wasn’t in the lineup on a nightly basis, Jessiman
was around the team at practices and team meetings, and from an
observer’s standpoint, he saw something he really liked.
“Watching the team in the locker room over the last five
weeks, I really like the character of the team. I’ve never
been a part of that before,” he said.
And there’s no doubt that Dartmouth is quite happy that
Jessiman can be a part of it.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Union senior forward Joel Beal scored
the game-winning goal with 2:30 remaining to beat Yale
last Friday. The goal, and subsequent victory, snapped Union’s
10-game ECACHL losing streak and was also the 100th point of Beal’s
• A similar fate awaited the Bulldogs on Saturday night,
as RPI’s Kevin Croxton scored an overtime
goal with 15.1 seconds remaining. You guessed it. It was Croxton’s
100th career point.
• Clarkson’s Jay Latulippe became
the 72nd Golden Knight to record 100 career points.
• Brown captain Les Haggett also reached
the 100-career point mark over the weekend. He was the first Bear
to reach that mark since 1996, and Brown’s senior class
was the first to graduate with a winning record since the Class
• Cornell’s Dave McKee tied Ken Dryden’s
career record for shutouts when McKee made 22 saves in a 3-0 win
against Clarkson on Saturday.
Colgate’s Tyler Burton won the league’s
Rookie of the Week award for the third time in the last four weeks.
With three goals and an assist in the last weekend of the year,
Burton finished sixth in ECACHL scoring with 24 points in league
has done nice work promoting goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris for postseason honors, launching gocrimson.com/dovforhobey.
• Yale senior captain Nick Shalek scored
the first goal of his career against Union.
The 0-0 tie between Princeton and Union
on Saturday was the fifth scoreless tie this season involving
ECACHL teams. Colgate and Yale
played to a 0-0 tie on Feb. 11. Harvard, Dartmouth,
and Brown were involved in non-league duels with
a 0-0 result. A
variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.