2005-06 ECACHL Preview
games over the course of a 22-game conference schedule make
for close standings. Playoff seeding in the ECAC Hockey League
has been decided by the slimmest margins in recent years.
A power-play goal on one side or a giveaway on the other has
proven to be the difference between a one-goal victory and
a loss or tie. With no margin for error, it’s no surprise
that the most detail-oriented teams, those that address all
of the little things, have had the most success. Cornell,
Colgate, and Harvard were the three teams the rest of the
Ouellette and Dartmouth may have the best chance of challenging
Cornell for the ECACHL championship.
year, things might not be so close, at least at the top of
the standings. Cornell enters the season as overwhelming favorites
to defend the regular season and playoff titles it captured
in the spring. The Big Red returns a Hobey Hat Trick finalist
in record-setting goaltender Dave McKee and the bulk of the
key forwards and defensemen that made the 2004-05 club so
players are looking forward to the challenges of the season,
of again having a great journey in the regular season,”
head coach Mike Schafer said. “We really want to be
consistent in the regular season, giving ourselves a chance
to win the ECAC Hockey League championship again and move
on to compete in the NCAA Tournament. Our goals haven’t
changed at all from previous seasons.”
Big Red lost just two conference games in the regular season
last year. Can they improve on that impressive record this
year? With attention to detail and consistent efforts every
night, it’s possible, and it’s bound to be close.
recruiting classes in recent years have led to excellent freshman
campaigns from the likes of Brian Ihnacak, Sean Hurley, Jeff
Prough and Adam D’Alba. Last year, sophomore forwards
Sean Dersch and Antonin Roux emerged as scoring options. Those
players all have more experience and will be counted on to
lead the way for Brown. The Bears have been
poised for incredibly successful seasons in the ECAC Hockey
League in each of the last two seasons, only to stumble down
the stretch. More consistent efforts throughout the season
will go a long way toward making sure the same thing doesn’t
happen this year.
FOR A FALL
a Hobey Baker finalist like goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris will
certainly have a negative effect on a team’s chances
for success in the following season. But that’s not
the only key contributor that Harvard lost.
All-American defenseman Noah Welch and fellow defensive stalwart
Ryan Lannon are in the Pittsburgh Penguins system this fall
instead of on the ice at the Bright Center. Forwards Tom Cavanagh
and Brendan Bernakevitch are also trying their hand in professional
hockey. The Crimson face an enormous challenge in extending
their NCAA Tournament appearance streak to five.
comes to top-end talent, St. Lawrence can
match up with anyone in the nation. Their group of four star
players – forwards T.J. Trevelyan and John Zeiler, and
defensemen Mike Madill and Drew Bagnall – is putting
the pressure squarely on their shoulders to lead the Saints
from the mid-to-lower level of the ECACHL standings toward
the top. The three seniors know that it’s their last
chance to win at the collegiate level, and Bagnall is serving
as an alternate captain in his junior year. In the last four
years, St. Lawrence has finished seventh (2005), tenth (2004),
and ninth (2003 and 2002).
ACT TO FOLLOW
goaltender Dave McKee posted statistics last year
that were among the best in college hockey history. He recorded
10 shutouts, stopped 94.7 percent of the shots he faced, and
allowed just 1.24 goals per game. McKee was honored as a Hobey
Hat Trick finalist following his sophomore campaign and was
a First Team All-American. Matching or improving upon those
numbers will be particularly difficult because he set such
a high standard. Now, as a junior, McKee’s presence
in goal is among the reasons that the Big Red are heavy favorites
to successfully defend their regular season and playoff titles.
Gretzky retired from the NHL, someone asked me who I thought
was the best player in the league and I quickly responded,
“Dominik Hasek.” He, in return, said, “He
doesn’t count because he’s a goalie.” I
do not agree with that criteria, but I will apply it in casting
this vote for Cornell’s Matt Moulson. The Big Red value
puck possession and aggressively cycle the puck in the offensive
zone that lessens the burden on McKee (fewer shots faced)
and oftentimes draws penalties. Moulson has excellent size
and can play the game along the wall. When Cornell is on the
power play, Moulson mans one of the points and shows an uncanny
knack of getting shots through traffic and tucked underneath
the crossbar. His 22 goals and 20 assists last year led the
nation's highest scoring defenseman last year, Quinnipiac's
Reid Cashman will ply his trade in the ECACHL this season.
The Bobcats are the league's newest member.
you would expect an incoming freshman to fill this spot, but
we turn an admiring eye toward Quinnipiac defenseman Reid
Cashman. The junior blueliner was a Hobey Baker Award finalist
last season after recording 45 points to lead Atlantic Hockey
in scoring and rank first in scoring among all defenseman
in college hockey.“He is highly competitive, has great
vision, and is excellent on the power play,” Quinnipiac
coach Rand Pecknold said. “There will be an adjustment
for him and he will not be able to take as many risks, which
he was able to get away with last year.”
coaches, players, and fans all know how much Scott Seney means
to the Dutchmen. He has excellent size, has demonstrated a
scoring touch throughout his career, and is responsible defensively.
Seney finished with a plus-6 rating last year for an eighth-place
team that was outscored by 14 goals at even strength and allowed
10 short-handed tallies. The senior forward will captain Union
Can Mark Dekanich make Colgate fans forget Steve Silverthorn?
Among the reasons for Colgate’s two-year run at or near
the top of the ECACHL standings has been stalwart goaltender
Steve Silverthorn. He graduated, leaving a vacancy in the
Raider crease. Mark Dekanich has the inside track on winning
the starting job and benefited last year when Robert Esche
was helping the Colgate staff during the NHL lockout.
Will Dan Fridgen be the coach of the RPI Engineers at this
time next year? The Engineers are coming off of an
11th-place finish and a season in which they won just six
league games. Fridgen’s recruiting and travel budgets
were increased for this season and with that allocation of
resources comes increased expectations for success. University
administrators or alumni may not tolerate another losing season.
Who will step up for Dartmouth to replace the offensive tandem
of Lee Stempniak and Hugh Jessiman? The obvious individual
answer here is Mike Ouellette, a player that played on a line
with Stempniak and Jessiman in recent seasons. Other talented
forwards such as Nick Johnson, Eric Przepiorka, and Tanner
Glass will play in a bigger spotlight and should step into
a more prominent role.
Five things you can take to the bank in the ECACHL this season
1. The Quinnipiac Bobcats will have three home rinks
this year, playing six league contests at Yale’s
Ingalls Rink and another against Harvard at the Hartford Civic
Center. The remainder of the Bobcats’ league and non-league
contests will be held at the Northford Ice Pavilion. Construction
on the university’s new athletic facility is ahead of
schedule and the Bobcats could possibly move in for the start
of the 2006-07 season, about three months ahead of the projected
January 2007 opening.
When he signed a contract with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks during
the off-season, erstwhile Cornell forward Shane Hynes
broke up the best line in the ECACHL. His physical
presence and deft hands opened space for Matt Moulson and
Byron Bitz and the trio had a wonderful chemistry to generate
chances off of the cycle.
Television exposure for the ECACHL will be better than ever.
As ESPNU joins CSTV in regularly carrying live college hockey
broadcasts, league members will be able to be seen by a nationwide
college hockey audience.
Clarkson will be a much more consistent team. It’s
the third year in charge for the George Roll-Greg Drechsel-JF
Houle coaching staff, and they’ve brought in players
to change the attitudes around Golden Knights hockey. Leadership
and attitude issues surrounded the Knights last season, and
malcontent goaltender Dustin Traylen was dismissed from the
As always, a surprise team will emerge and be better than
expected. Check the last four teams in the poll shown
below. One of them will likely end up hosting a playoff series.
sky is the limit for the Big Red. Will Topher Scott and
Sasha Pokulok struggle through a sophomore slump?.
Stempniak and Jessiman hurts, but Dartmouth returns a
talented lineup and will try to qualify for the NCAA Tournament
for the first time since 1980.
Grillo has been building a talented team for three years;
now it’s time for veteran players to use their experience
and give the Bears some consistency.
leadership is lost, but talent still remains on the roster.
The Raiders return their top two scorers in Tyler Burton
and Jon Smyth.
Saints have hosted just one playoff series in the last
four years and they hope to return to the NCAA Tournament
for the first time since 2001.
Crimson struggled to score goals last year, and will need
the likes of Kevin Du, Dylan Reese, and Ryan Maki to carry
the third year for George Roll as head coach and he’s
had time to bring in “his guys” and change
the attitudes surrounding Golden Knights hockey. Malcontent
goaltender Dustin Traylen was dismissed from the team.
Dutchmen have hosted home playoff series the last two
years. The next step is winning one.
Tigers will score goals, but last year they allowed too
many. Finding a way to keep the offensive flair without
sacrificing defensive responsibility is the mandate.
is another team that allowed way too many goals, but Josh
Gartner stood on his head as the Bulldogs nearly pulled
off a shocking playoff upset of Dartmouth last spring.
and Kevin Croxton are two of the most talented offensive
players in the ECAC Hockey League.
North Dakota goalie Josh Siembida has the inside track
on winning the starting job for the Bobcats.