December 7, 2006
Seniors Are Patron Saints

By Joe Gladziszewski

St. Lawrence's declared leadership group is unlike any other in college hockey. Two players serve as co-captains, which is not unheard of, but is uncommon. The assistant captain is a goalie. That's what makes this situation unique.

ECAC Hockey League Notebook

St. Lawrence senior forward Max Taylor doesn't wear a letter on his jersey, but he's a valuable veteran player for the Saints.

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Eschewing the traditional captain-assistant-assistant setup makes St. Lawrence a little strange, but it's also making them successful.

The Saints' co-captains have seamlessly stepped into their roles as captains, because they've been auditioning for the part for the last four years. St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh is in a fortunate situation that his best leaders are two of the team's best players, and also two of the team's best students.

Kyle Rank, a graduate student, finished second on the team in scoring last year and earned All-Rookie honors from the league as a freshman. Drew Bagnall, who owns a 3.75 grade-point average, had two stellar seasons in his first two years before missing a third of last year with a hand injury.

"If you could ever pick two guys that were sort of groomed, it would be them. They've been very vocal from day one, without usurping the older guys. They've been sort of captains-in-waiting, if you will, and have done a great job," Marsh said.

Heaping all of the praise on Rank and Bagnall would be a little short-sighted, as junior goaltender Justin Pesony – the assistant captain and owner of a 3.80 grade-point average – has also contributed to the team's direction this season. So, too, have senior forwards Max Taylor and Andrzej Sandrzyk.

"Taylor is a guy that has just done a fabulous job for us, killing penalties and he's brought it every day," Marsh said.

The Saints send a very young lineup out on the ice most nights. Four of the six regular defensemen are sophomores, and in their freshman year not one of them missed a game as a healthy scratch. They learned on the job, and are better off for it. Freshmen goalies Alex Petizian and Kain Tisi have joined Pesony in the goalie rotation, and eight of the 12 forwards are first- or second-year players.

Led by the aforementioned team leaders, the young Saints have shown poise and have earned some good wins in the early going. Despite losing Tuesday night's game at Clarkson, the Saints are off to a 5-2-0 start in ECAC Hockey League games and own an 8-5-0 overall mark heading into a stretch of non-league games over the coming weeks.

Some people expected the Saints to take a step backward after losing All-American T.J. Trevelyan and other talented seniors such as Mike Madill, John Zeiler, and Mike Zbriger.

But led by Rank, Bagnall, and others, this St. Lawrence team is showing unexpected composure in dealing with success and failure.

"I think the maturity of those guys on and off the ice has helped the younger guys a lot in terms of their demeanor and their presence," Marsh said. "We're handling adversity better and we're handling things in stride. The guys play with emotion, and sure there's some disappointment but it's short-lived. I think we've been pretty resilient."

After losing a close game at Clarkson, the Saints have an opportunity to play another very good team in a hostile environment on Friday when SLU travels to New Hampshire. The Saints then play against UMass-Lowell on Sunday afternoon. Injuries to Kevin DeVergilio and Brock McBride in the loss to Clarkson will give some of the other forwards an opportunity to crack the lineup.

"We want to get better, regardless of who we play, and this gives us an opportunity against some of the best teams. We handled things pretty well in a tough building tonight and it's another opportunity to see how we do that and see if we can't get a little better at it," Marsh said.

The Saints won't be expected to leave the Whittemore Center with a win, but so far this season they've proven themselves to be able to defy expectations.


Leading the States: Their names almost certainly won't be featured in articles or discussion once the United States team takes the ice at the IIHF World Junior Championships later this month in Sweden, but Union head coach Nate Leaman and Harvard sophomore forward Jimmy Fraser will be a big part of the team's success or failure.

The ECAC Hockey League representatives will help lead the team, as Leaman serves as an assistant coach to head coach and close friend Ron Rolston. Fraser, while not as highly regarded as a professional prospect as many of his US teammates, captained many of them when they played together on the NTDP Under-17 and Under-18 teams.

Leaman said the selection process involved a 10-day evaluation camp at Lake Placid over the summer, and additional player evaluations by himself, Rolston, US assistant coach Phil Housley, Senior Director of Hockey Operations Jim Johannson, and Ben Smith. Rolston was given final approval of the roster and had the ultimate say in selecting the team.

That group met via conference call every two weeks leading up to the selection of the team, and in comprising the roster targeted players to play specific roles. Several players were included for their special teams prowess. In deciding the final few spots on the team, familiarity with particular players played a role.

Union will play in the Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup in Vermont and also in a pair of ECAC Hockey League games against Dartmouth and Harvard while Leaman is with the national team. Rick Bennett will assume the head coaching duties in Leaman's absence, and assistant coach Bill Riga and volunteer assistant coach Dan Tatar will continue assisting.

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Union at Quinnipiac (Fri.)
Rensselaer at Quinnipiac (Sat.)

An abbreviated league schedule yields these matchups in Hamden as our choice for the place to be this weekend. Union and Quinnipiac will play for the third time already this season on Friday. The Bobcats hung eight goals on the scoreboard in each of the first two meetings.

While You're There: Bet on the home team. Including this weekend's games, the Bobcats have just five home contests remaining at the Northford Ice Pavilion, before moving into the TD Banknorth Sports Center. Quinnipiac's all-time record at the NIP is 87-13-9.

Stick Salute

Quinnipiac's fourth line of Chris Myers, Mark Agnew, and Dan Lefort combined for seven points in the Bobcats' last two games. Just what ECACHL opponents wanted to see ... more scoring depth from Quinnipiac.

Bench Minor

After starting out the season 6-1-1, Yale has lost three in a row. Maybe the Yale staff can turn to last week's visitors from Clarkson for advice. They went on a four-game slide after starting the year 6-1-1, but have broken that skid with a five-game winning streak.


• There's sad news to report out of Harvard, as longtime Crimson hockey supporter and team travel coordinator John Toland passed away on Monday after battling cancer. Toland was an integral part of the hockey support staff for the last 15 years and rarely missed a Crimson game.

• Colgate's Jesse Winchester was the INCH National Player of the Week after posting six points in a Raider sweep of Rensselaer and Union. He has 10 points in the last seven games.

Winchester recently discussed getting out of a slump, which he has certainly done. "I expect to contribute on the scoresheet, but if I focus on the little things I know the other things will come with hard work," he said.

• Brown has won five of its last seven games after going winless in its first four. The only losses in the recent stretch were one-goal setbacks against Clarkson and at Dartmouth. The Bears host travel-partner Yale this weekend.

• Clarkson has killed off 31 consecutive power-play opportunities by their opponents. Not surprisingly, the Golden Knights have a four-game win streak during that run.

• Yale senior defenseman Bill LeClerc is third on the team in scoring, but it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. He led Yale defensemen with 16 points last season and his eight goals fell two shy of the school record of 10 goals by a defenseman.

• Clarkson's Sean Weller scored the first goal of the game and also into an empty-net near the end of the third period as the Golden Knights beat St. Lawrence 3-1 on Tuesday. The win thrust Clarkson into a second-place tie in the ECACHL standings.

"That's what you come to school for, and that's why you play college hockey," Weller said. "In a rivalry like this, if you can't get up for a game like this you shouldn't be playing. It's exciting."

• St. Lawrence's Marsh on the emotional level of the game: "It was a good game. It was a good effort by both teams. There was good focus, no chippiness. It was a clean, hard game and I think the emotion of both teams was well-controlled."

• Five of Princeton's six goals in two games last weekend against Alabama-Huntsville were power-play goals for the Tigers. Princeton ranks 15th nationally and second among ECACHL teams in power-play percentage.

• Dartmouth has just one loss in its last six games. In the five games they've won or tied, Dartmouth has scored the first goal of the game.

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