Games Is Just As Hard As Winning Them
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.
Hockey League Notebook
Dekanich doesn't mind the jokes that people make about
Colgate toothpaste. He put a tube of the stuff right
on his mask.
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
"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."
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE ECACHL
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
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
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.
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.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• One of the coaches interviewed for
this week's notebook returned my call around 7:15 Thursday
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
• 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
• 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
• 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
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report