Union Tries to Stay the Course
By Joe Gladziszewski
Hockey League Notebook
Mayotte's 16 wins have set the Union single-season
by Bob Ewell)
A sign of familiarity often falsely reassures
the traveler that has lost his way. The glimmer of hope
that a landmark provides in a journey is dashed when the
driver realizes that it really wasn't the landmark he thought
it was. But in order to reach the final destination, the
traveler must continue following the road.
So it is with Union. Its road to the ECACHL
playoffs has been filled with wrong turns. Academic issues
sidelined leading scorer Josh Coyle and a non-hockey related
matter benched star freshmen Lane Caffaro and T.J. Fox.
Injuries on the defense corps and inconsistency from forwards
made this a particularly challenging campaign in Schenectady.
But unlike a misguided voyager, a hockey team
and coaching staff can't check the GPS navigation system
or ask for directions. What Union had was a group of travelers
that didn't complain about being lost. They helped guide
the team down the correct path and have reached the playoffs
as the sixth seed.
"With the adversity that we've faced,
I'm proud of the character it's brought to our locker room,"
coach Nate Leaman said. "There were instances when
they could have put their heads down and felt sorry for
themselves but they came out to battle and play hard. I'm
amazed more and more every day by the character this team
Senior goaltender Kris Mayotte has been responsible
for leading the way for most of the season. He set single-season
school records in several categories but the most important
is wins. His 16 victories are the best in Union history
and Mayotte has a 7-3 record in one-goal games this year.
"Kris has definitely been our rock, but
he hasn't been the only guy responsible for carrying us,"
Leaman said. "It's been different guys on different
nights. That's why I've been a little disheartened on some
nights when he might have had an off night and the other
guys didn't pick him up."
Those nights might be chalked up to dealing
with the pressures of trying to find the way. But the Dutchmen
arrive at March showing remarkably few signs of the exhausting
trip they've been on.
ECACHL First Round Matchups
No. 12 Brown
at No. 5 St. Lawrence
B: 3-14-5 ECACHL, 4-18-7 overall SLU: 12-9-1 ECACHL, 18-14-2 overall Season Series: Split 1-1
Bear Fact: Double-reverse.
The Bears were third in the regular season in 2004,
sixth in 2005, and now 12th in 2006. Saint Fact: The Saints have not swept
a season series from Brown since the 1991-92 season.
How Brown Wins: These
teams enter the weekend heading in different directions.
The Bears need to capitalize on their momentum after
tying Princeton and beating Quinnipiac. How St. Lawrence Wins: SLU must use
its superior depth and talent to take care of business
on home ice after being swept on the road last weekend
when they could've clinched a bye.
11 Yale at No. 6 Union
Y: 6-14-2 ECACHL, 8-18-3 overall U: 9-9-4 ECACHL, 16-14-6 overall Season Series: Split 1-1
Bulldog Fact: Yale
carries a six-game losing streak into the playoffs,
the longest skid of any ECACHL team heading into the
postseason. Dutchmen Fact: Union is one of only
five teams to host at least one playoff series each
year since the league went to the current format in
2003, joining Cornell, Colgate, Harvard, and Dartmouth.
How Yale Wins: Yale
ranked fifth in the ECACHL in scoring and will have
to out-gun the Dutchmen, who finished 10th in the
league. How Union Wins: The best part of
being the 10th-ranked offense in this case is that
they're facing the league's worst defensive team.
No. 10 Quinnipiac
at No. 7 Rensselaer
QU: 8-13-1 ECACHL, 17-16-1 overall RPI: 8-8-6 ECACHL, 14-15-6 overall Season Series: RPI won 1-0-1
Bobcat Fact: The 'Cats
are just one of five teams nationally to have a losing
record in conference play but a winning record overall.
Clarkson, Lake Superior State, Ferris State, and Alaska
Fairbanks are the others. Engineer Fact: RPI coach Dan Fridgen
has led his team to a 4-0-1 all-time record against
Quinnipiac and is a perfect 3-0-0 at Houston Field
How Quinnipiac Wins: Out-freshmen
the freshman. QU forwards Brian Leitch (40 points)
and David Marshall (32 points) will have to produce
some goals against RPI rookie goalie Mathias Lange. How Rensselaer Wins: With several
players back from injury, the Engineers are one of
the hottest teams in the league with a 3-1-2 record
in their last six games. They'll need to carry the
momentum that started during Freakout! weekend.
Tiger Fact: Princeton
garnered at least one point from nine of the other
11 teams in the ECACHL this year. They were only swept
by Harvard and Union. Golden Knight Fact: Seniors Jeff
Genovy and Chris Brekelmans are the only Knights that
have played a playoff series at Cheel. That was an
upset loss to Vermont when the Clarkson duo were freshmen.
How Princeton Wins: Their
strength is carrying the puck on the rush and they'll
have to generate chances against a relatively young
defense and unproven goaltending. How Clarkson Wins: Maintain a dominating
presence on home ice. The Golden Knights were 12-2-2
in the regular season at Cheel and haven't lost on
home ice since Nov. 26.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE ECACHL
Crimson coup: The big movers
in the ECACHL standings last week were the Harvard Crimson,
who moved one spot. But it is an important distinction between
fifth and fourth place because it means the Crimson can
rest this weekend and await a quarterfinal playoff series
on home ice, needing just two wins to get to Albany.
Harvard clinched fourth place with a three-game
winning streak to close the season. All of the victories
were by one goal. There was a win at raucous Lynah Rink
to start the streak, a 3-2 win over St. Lawrence that put
Harvard level with SLU in the standings, and a 2-1 win over
Clarkson to seal the fourth spot. The first line of Dan
Murphy, Ryan Maki, and Kevin Du accounted for four of the
five goals last weekend.
Coach Ted Donato told The Crimson,
"I think our guys, at least for a couple nights, can
sit back and be proud of the way they finished the season."
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Everyone's mind is on the ECACHL Tournament
but forgive us for looking forward to Christmas-time when
Dartmouth hosts its holiday tournament. The Big Green will
welcome North Dakota, Boston University and St. Lawrence
• ESPN hired an ombudsman last year
and George Solomon reports on the ideas and issues regarding
sports journalism. Near
the end of his most recent column, Solomon acknowledges
the fact that college hockey fans' requests for increased
coverage by ESPN have at least been heard, if not acted
• The eighth and ninth seeds usually
produce the most compelling playoff series and Clarkson
and Princeton played a great game in the regular season.
Shawn Weller scored an overtime winner, his second of the
game, to give Clarkson a win at Cheel on Nov. 18.
• RPI was outshot 34-17 but beat Cornell
2-0. The next night the Engineers outshot Colgate 36-18
but lost the game 2-1.
• Princeton played five consecutive
overtime games before snapping the streak with a 4-2 win
at Yale on Saturday.
• Check out what happens when you score
some goals. The five goals that Brown scored in Saturday's
win were the most goals scored by the Bears in any game
this season, and they followed three goals in a tie on Friday
night against Princeton. An eight-goal weekend led to a
three-point weekend. It marked the Bears' first three-point
weekend since their November sweep of Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
• Colgate's Mark Dekanich had a big
part in that Raider win over RPI with 35 saves. One night
earlier he made 29 saves and shut out Union, his second
blanking of the Dutchmen this season.
• Quinnipiac enters the playoffs with
a 6-2-1 record in its last nine games. Brian Leitch and
David Marshall are the top-two rookie scorers in the ECACHL
both in league play and overall.
• Dartmouth sophomore forward David
Jones, the ECACHL Player of the Week, finished the year
third in the league in points and second in goals. Senior
Mike Ouellette might get more attention, but Jones is highly
regarded by opponents and coaches around the league.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.