October 27, 2005
The Perfect Mind

By Joe Gladziszewski

 ECAC Hockey League Notebook

Defenseman Brad Farynuk has four assists in the first five games of his senior season.

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Confidence grows, expectations change, and everyone is happier when things are going well. It’s a nice feeling to have, and it’s one that’s running rampant in the Houston Field House around the Rensselaer Engineers hockey team.

After struggling for most of last season, and losing its first two games this year, RPI finds itself on a three-game winning streak. Those wins have already had an effect on the team’s mindset. Junior center Oren Eizenman said that positive thoughts are growing with every win.

“Winning, if you expect to do it, you’ll do it. Last year we kind of got into a funk where even if we were winning, we were kind of expecting something (bad) to happen. Now we’re just the opposite, so it’s been really refreshing to get these first wins under our belt,” Eizenman said. “It’s one of those attitudes. If you go in expecting that the puck is going to be taken away from you it usually will. Because everyone is so optimistic and things have been going our way, everyone is up-tempo and moving their feet. That’s what has us on this roll. It’s a cycle where one thing helps the other thing and everything is spiraling upward right now.”

The nature of the victories can’t be overlooked. The Engineers trailed 2-0 in wins over Michigan Tech and Boston University. Going through some difficulty and responding in a positive manner can only help a team when it faces similar situations later in the season.

“It’s been very important. It’s been highly publicized, especially in this area, our season last year was not up to our usual standards. The first two wins, the Michigan Tech game and BU, were come-from-behind wins and it just does wonders to lift the spirit of a team,” Eizenman said.

Senior Kevin Croxton is providing his usual offensive punch, with seven points through five games. He is playing on a line with Eizenman (2-3-5) and Jonathan Ornelas (2-2-4). In goal, freshman Matthias Lange is looking to prove that Thomas Vanek isn’t the only Austrian-born player capable of making an impact in college hockey. Lange has been the hot goaltender, and has been in net for all three wins. The shutout of Army on Sunday was the first of his career.

Now that RPI has found a winning attitude and tasted a bit of success, the challenge is to hold on to it.

“I think that’s real important, especially with these guys,” coach Dan Fridgen said. “We’ve been playing some real solid hockey, even in the losses that we’ve had out at Alaska and up at Lowell, it’s not like we were playing poor hockey. You have a save here or there or a bounce here or there that might be the difference in a game. You create your own bounces as well.”

Right now, the Engineers are creating those bounces with a positive outlook, and with growing confidence; bounces and breaks could continue to go RPI’s way.


Cornell knows the importance – The Big Red welcomes Michigan State to Lynah Rink this weekend and even though these are the first two games of the season for Cornell against a non-conference opponent, Cornell knows that they could have an impact on their fortunes later on this season. There was some grumbling to be heard last year when the Big Red ended up playing NCAA Tournament games at Mariucci Arena last year on an Olympic-sized ice surface against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The difference between Minnesota being a number-one seed for the tournament and Cornell being a number-two seed was their record against common opponent Michigan State. The Big Red lost and tied against the Spartans, while Minnesota beat Michigan State in the College Hockey Showcase. It is conceivable, but not certain, that had the Big Red fared better in those October games against the Spartans they would have been placed in a different regional than Mariucci.

It’s a fact that has been discussed by the Big Red as it prepares for this weekend’s games.

“We have mentioned it briefly, but we don’t harp on it,” senior captain Matt Moulson said. “We don’t have a lot of non-conference games so we take these seriously, especially games against ranked teams because of the NCAA Tournament selection criteria about quality wins. We are going to come out and play and we know that it might affect where we play down the line."

Harvard and Dartmouth fill voids – The first ECACHL game of the season features Harvard and Dartmouth. For more on this game, see the Great Weekend Getaway. Looking back to last weekend, however, both teams hosted McGill in exhibition contests and used the game to get a look at some new faces that must step into the roles left vacant by departed star players.

At Harvard, coach Ted Donato dressed a total of 26 players and used the game (a 4-3 loss to McGill) as an evaluation opportunity. He took a look at some of his young players and experimented with combinations. Sophomore Jon Pelle had two of the Harvard goals. John Daigneau and Justin Tobe split the goaltending duties, and although Tobe allowed all four goals in that game, Donato indicated that both goaltenders will get starts in the early part of the season until one of them emerges as the go-to guy. Both are trying to replace Dov Grumet-Morris, an All-American last season and among the best goaltenders to ever play for Harvard’s storied program “It is a lot easier when you’ve got a guy like Dov,” Donato said.

Dartmouth also played against McGill, and came out of that with a 5-2 victory. In Hanover, the lineup question marks surround replacing all-everything winger Lee Stempniak. Hugh Jessiman also left the program to sign a professional contract with the New York Rangers. First-line center Mike Ouellette returns and it looks like wingers Nick Johnson and Tanner Glass will join him to start the season. Ouellette had three goals in the exhibition. Defenseman Grant Lewis had two assists. Johnson was an ECACHL All-Rookie Team member last year, and spent a lot of time on a line with Ouellette and Stempniak. Sean Samuel will likely be the starting goalie, taking over that title from Dan Yacey, who was a senior last year.

Great Weekend Getaway
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Dartmouth at Harvard (Sat.)
Two of the better programs in recent ECACHL campaigns get things started by facing off on Saturday night. Harvard looks to continue the run of success without several important players. Dartmouth tries to take the first step toward qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, an accomplishment that they’ve failed to achieve despite several close calls.

While You’re There: Big Green and Crimson will compete against one another in a variety of athletic endeavors so be sure to visit Cambridge early and make it a full day. Of particular note, a 12:30 football game in venerable Harvard Stadium.

Stick Salute

INCH readers know that we cherish the traditions of the game of hockey. That’s why this week’s Stick Salute goes out to Rick DiPietro (pictured below), former Boston University Terrier and current goaltender for the New York Islanders. In an age where goalie pads are dressed up in a myriad of colors, DiPietro’s brown pads, blocker, and catching glove remind me of times gone by. When matched with the classic Islanders logo, it almost looks as if Billy Smith is back between the pipes in Nassau County, but DiPietro would need a white Koho helmet and a few cross-checking minors to complete the deal.

Bench Minor

The nature of the ECACHL schedule is often mentioned in this part of the notebook, and it’ll get mentioned again today. Due to the schedule limitations placed on Ivy League programs, they don’t have the benefit of the extensive preparation time that other Division I programs enjoy. It also means that teams jump right into important contests, such as is the case with Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.


Congrats to RPI coach Dan Fridgen. The win over Army on Sunday was the 200th of his coaching career.

Kyle Wilson lived up to the accolades showered down on him and linemates Ryan Smyth and Marc Fulton in last week’s notebook. Wilson had his first career hat trick and added an assist in Colgate’s 6-1 win over Army. Ryan Smyth also had four points in the game. All of those were assists.

Another lineup note, this one from the Cornell Big Red. When Shayne Hynes signed a pro contract, it left a spot open on the top line that has been filled by Ray Sawada for the time being. Also, Hynes and Charlie Cook are gone from the top power-play unit, and Ryan O’Byrne and Sasha Pokulok take their spots along with Matt Moulson, Byron Bitz, and Topher Scott.

Princeton and RPI used similar methods to score four goals in games last weekend. In Princeton’s exhibition win, and RPI’s win over Army, the teams scored three power-play goals and one short-handed goal.

Union’s penalty killing efforts have been ineffective. The Dutchmen are killing off fewer than 70 percent of opposition power plays through four games this season. In Union’s last game, Connecticut was 3-for-7 on the power play.

Yale continues its preparations with another exhibition against a Canadian university. After defeating Waterloo 3-1 last week, the Bulldogs welcome Concordia this week.

Quinnipiac’s Reid Cashman continues his strong scoring pace with 11 points through six games. Goaltenders Bud Fisher and Josh Siembida have posted shutouts for the Bobcats thus far.

Clarkson has named its two assistant captains to join captain Chris Brekelmans in leadership roles. Senior winger Jeff Genovy and sophomore center Nick Dodge will wear the “A”s.

• Freshman forwards Sean Muncy and Matt Vokes have made an early impact through two scrimmages at Brown. Vokes scored three goals in those scrimmages.

St. Lawrence will likely welcome John Zeiler back to the lineup this weekend in two road games at RIT, which is good news because defenseman Drew Bagnall will be out for the next two months after having surgery on his hand to repair tendons.

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