October 27, 2006
Getting Games Is Just As Hard As Winning Them

By Joe Gladziszewski

Harvard and Dartmouth play the first ECAC Hockey League contest of the season on Friday night. Most other teams are still getting ready for league games to begin by playing teams from other conferences, or in the case of this weekend's event at Pepsi Arena, playing non-league games against fellow ECACHL teams.

ECAC Hockey League Notebook

Mark Dekanich doesn't mind the jokes that people make about Colgate toothpaste. He put a tube of the stuff right on his mask.

National TV Schedule

Is it more important to build a high strength of schedule? To prepare your team for upcoming league battles? Or to rack up some wins and boost the overall record?

Teams have taken different approaches to their non-league schedules so far this year. Some have taken on elite programs from across the nation, most notably Rensselaer who has played its first three games against Boston University and Denver. Some have had a mix. Colgate played in a strong Ice Breaker Invitational to open the year but has since played Niagara, Bentley, and Canisius. The same goes for Quinnipiac, who opened with a pair of games at North Dakota and then hosted Robert Morris.

Clarkson hosted Niagara and RIT, but then traveled to face a pair of Hockey East teams – Providence and Massachusetts – before hosting Lake Superior State of the CCHA twice. Those last four games probably looked tougher at the time they were scheduled than they do now.

New RPI coach Seth Appert didn't have a choice about how his schedule started, as he inherited the slate. But he didn't mind facing two nationally-ranked teams right off the bat.

"We've started to build our schedule for the next few years and we'll continue to schedule aggressively," Appert said. "You want to go up against the best teams in the nation to see how you stack up. They're great games for your program's exposure, and great games for recruiting. But you've also got to see how your team is. If you've got eight or nine freshmen in the lineup, it's probably not a great idea to start with BU and two games at Denver."

RPI's opponent this weekend, Union, won a pair of games at Ferris State and tied RIT before losing to Northeastern. Having success outside of the league is important for post-season consideration, and Union coach Nate Leaman said that it could only help teams in the ECACHL when other league members do well against teams from other conferences.

"We're trying to help the league as much as we can," he said. "We play more non-conference games than the Ivy League schools and we have to make sure that we're taking care of some wins."

That attitude has helped the ECACHL win the first two Commissioners Cups.

Four ECACHL teams will be playing league foes this weekend in non-league games. Colgate, Quinnipiac, Union, and RPI will take the ice at the Pepsi Arena for the Governor's Cup. This is the first competition of a tournament that will likely be an annual event. These games will not count in the ECACHL standings, but give all four teams a pair of quality games early in the season and motivation for later in the year.

Both Leaman and Appert agreed that the setting for the tournament is meaningful, as teams that are playing important tournament games at Pepsi Arena in October will hope to play some more important games at the league's championship weekend in March.

"It's a great situation and one of the reasons is because you've got four ECACHL teams playing at the site of the championship early in the year. We can showcase our league's brand of hockey and it is an exceptional product," Leaman said.

Colgate welcomes these games, as the Raiders, like the other five non-Ivy teams in the ECACHL, are forced to fill schedules with up to 12 non-conference games. They've played Niagara, Bentley, and Canisius recently and have found that top teams won't travel to Starr Rink for games.

It's not always bad to play newer, emerging programs. That's one of the things that Cornell and Mike Schafer keep in mind at all times. Those teams need games, and need to play top-level opposition. It helps to grow the game and could lead to future expansion into Division I college hockey.

"I learned a long time ago from Ron Mason at Michigan State that you owe it to college hockey to play teams that are developing. They need games and we need to play them," Schafer said on Thursday. "We were challenged tonight. They're a very good and disciplined team that blocked a lot of shots. There are no easy games in college hockey."


Joker's wild: The joke's on Mark Dekanich. At least, it's on his mask. Fans of Colgate rivals around the ECAC Hockey League have long referred to the Raiders as "Toothpaste" in lieu of the university's given name. The mocking moniker, associated punch lines, and resulting conversations don't bother Dekanich.

"Everyone when you get home and anyone that goes to college always makes fun of us for that, about 'Do you use Colgate toothpaste?' or 'Do you have really white teeth?'" Dekanich said. "I just decided to get it on my mask to prove a point and it's pretty cool. It squirts out my name on my chin."

Other logos of significance on the mask include the cartoon character Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory, a maple leaf to signify his Canadian roots, and a silhouette of a goalie that matches Dekanich's favorite tattoo.

New features in the old barn: Cornell's Lynah Rink underwent the majority of an $11-million renovation over the summer and the first NCAA game in the building, against Robert Morris on Thursday night, showcased some of the new features.

The biggest change affecting the playing surface and competing teams is that the Cornell bench has been moved to the other side of the ice. It had previously been adjacent to the visitor's bench on the north (townie) side of the playing surface. The official scorer's box and visitor's penalty box now occupy the space where Cornell's bench used to be. The home penalty box remains on the same side of the ice, next to the Cornell bench on the south (student) side of the playing surface.

Cornell continues to use their old varsity locker room at the west entrance to the playing surface, but expanded men's and women's locker rooms are being built underneath the south bleachers. Eventually, the Big Red will enter the rink through a tunnel that connects their new bench to the dressing room.

For the fans, seats have been added where an interior walkway used to exist. Balcony seating has also been added over the west end of the playing surface and a walkway behind those seats connects Section A and Section O, but that infrastructure surely won't help tenants of those sections get along any better.

Exterior hallways now help traffic flow throughout the building. The press box has been expanded and a camera deck has been added at center ice.

Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

Governor's Cup at Pepsi Arena

Four ECACHL teams head to downtown Albany for an early season tournament. The semifinal games pair Colgate and Quinnipiac at 4 p.m. Saturday followed by Union and Rensselaer at 7 p.m. Sunday's consolation game is at 2 p.m. and the championship game is at 5 p.m.

While You're There: Why do we keep recommending the Bayou Café? Because it continues to be excellent. Head a few blocks down Pearl Street from Pepsi Arena, past Jillian's, and find a good mix of food, drinks, music, and casual seating areas. Can't wait to see you fine folks at the Bayou again in March.

Stick Salute

Congrats on a great job by the RPI players to earn a victory at Denver, a place that is very special to Seth Appert, both personally and professionally. You've gotta think that there was some extra motivation in the Engineer dressing room as they prepared for last weekend's games.

Bench Minor

Cornell's sellout streak of 81 games came to an end on Thursday night. There were at least 100 available seats at the expanded Lynah Rink, and most disappointing were the unoccupied spaces in the student sections.


• One of the coaches interviewed for this week's notebook returned my call around 7:15 Thursday night.

After answering I said, "Let me step out into the hallway for a little less noise."

He asked, "Are you at a bar?"

I said, "No. I'm at Lynah."

• When Harvard and Dartmouth meet on Friday night, each team will begin their seasons defending a title earned in 2005-06. Dartmouth shared the ECACHL regular-season title with Colgate, while Harvard won the Ivy League title and the Hobey Baker Trophy.

• Colgate's Marc Fulton is the hottest scorer in the league. He had three goals and five points in a 5-1 Colgate win over Bentley on Oct. 15, and then had two more goals against Canisius on Tuesday as Colgate won 9-0.

• Rensselaer's Oren Eizenman had a nine-game point streak broken on Saturday night at Denver. In those nine games that included the last seven games of the 2005-06 season, Eizenman totaled six goals and four assists.

• Colgate had a 7-1-1 record last season against the other three teams in this weekend's Governor's Cup tournament.

• Appert said that the Engineers probably played better in Saturday's loss at Denver than they did in Friday's win.

• Quinnipiac's Ben Nelson and Dartmouth's Connor Shields each scored a hat trick in exhibition games last weekend, while Topher Scott had five points for Cornell in an exhibition game.

• Sunday's game between Vermont and Dartmouth will be shown throughout New England on CN8.

• St. Lawrence takes on Michigan State and Wayne State this weekend. MSU Athletic Director Ron Mason is a SLU graduate, as is Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson.

• Yale hosts Holy Cross on Friday then plays at New Hampshire on Saturday. Princeton plays Bentley twice, and Brown will be the last ECACHL team to officially start its NCAA schedule this year when they are at Merrimack on Saturday.

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