January 19, 2007
Familiar Foes Appreciate Rivalry

By Joe Gladziszewski

It's much less noteworthy when it happens in other leagues. Of the other college hockey conferences, only College Hockey America (20) plays fewer league games than the ECAC Hockey League's 22 league games. With the travel-partner system, that means there are just two regular season games per year between given opponents.

ECAC Hockey League Notebook

Cornell's Mark McCutcheon and his classmates have played 14 games against Clarkson, with another one scheduled for Feb. 2.

National TV Schedule

That's why the senior classes at Cornell and Clarkson have truly achieved something remarkable. The six regular season and seven playoff games they waged against each other in their first three college seasons made this past Saturday's game at Cheel Arena in Potsdam the 14th game between these senior classes.

"We've got a little history I guess. They've knocked us out of our season twice now in my four years here so anytime you can get payback it's really good, and every time we play them there's a little of that emotion," Clarkson senior forward Brodie Rutherglen said. "It's fun though, we know what they're going to bring. They're always going to be good and always going to play an upper-level game against us because we're one of their rivals now."

Rivalries are strengthened during the playoffs, and these teams have met each of the last three years at Cornell's Lynah Rink. In 2004, Clarkson stunned the Big Red and won a three-game series to advance to the league's championship weekend in Albany. Cornell won the series in two games in the last two years, but both of the 2006 contests were decided in double-overtime. Now, when they meet, there's more at stake.

"You know the players on the other team," Cornell's Mark McCutcheon said. "I've played them every year in the playoffs so far and you get to know their team and their coach pretty well. Any time you know that many people on the other team, it's going to be a different game. You kind of look forward to it, it almost felt like a playoff game because you have that mentality any time you play these guys that much."

The other compelling factor in this rivalry is that Clarkson is fighting to take control of what has recently been owned by Cornell, and that is the title as the team to beat in the ECACHL. Clarkson's top-10 national ranking and impressive season to date show signs that they're ready to take that next step, but Cornell is fighting to retain that title.

"It is kind of different because you know them so well. It seems like you know every player out there. They've beat us the last seven of eight, so every time we play them we come out with extra urgency. We really want to beat these guys," Clarkson's Mike Sullivan said.

Cornell's Mike Schafer added that when two teams are nationally-ranked, the games take on greater importance.

"It's always been a rivalry. Clarkson always has a great hockey team and is a traditional, storied program. They've done a great job and their team continues to grow," Schafer said. "They've been a top-10, top-15 team all year and they've got a nice mix."

The on-ice battles they've waged won't be forgotten long, as the teams are due to meet again on Feb. 2 at Lynah Rink.


Four Point Weekends: St. Lawrence and Quinnipiac earned sweeps in ECACHL games and picked up four crucial points in the league standings. The Bobcats stand first in the current standings, but have already played 14 of their 22 league contests. The good news is that points accrued cannot be taken away. The bad news is that while they're idle, other teams will be making up ground in the league standings.

St. Lawrence is in an advantageous position, with 14 points from nine league games (7-2-0). The Saints trail Quinnipiac by five points, but have played five fewer games. Senior forward Kyle Rank was named ECACHL Player of the Week after scoring three goals and adding two assists in a pair of wins for SLU. Freshman goalie Alex Petizian has emerged as the go-to guy in the net, and has started four straight games. He made 47 saves in two wins against Cornell and Colgate

Setting the Tone: Cornell will welcome four prominent freshmen players back to the lineup this week. Forwards Tony Romano, Blake Gallagher, and Justin Milo, and defenseman Brendon Nash missed last weekend's games at St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Big Red head coach Mike Schafer didn't bring them on the road trip as a disciplinary measure.

The timing of the action is significant, as the quartet missed two very important games against rivals, and teams battling for position near the top of the ECACHL standings.

"They're great players. It was my decision to leave them home for various different reasons, not one thing that sticks out," Schafer said. "They're great kids, awesome kids, and great hockey players. For me, within our hockey team I made a decision for my own reason to leave them home. They'll be back next weekend and I'm sure they'll be ready to help this hockey team."

Romano is the Big Red's second leading scorer, while Nash and Gallagher had dressed in all 15 of Cornell's games prior to last weekend. Milo played in 13 of 15 games.

"It's just a matter of the way we play and how hard you've got to play and different things," Schafer said. "Those guys are great kids and I know they'll respond and be a tremendous asset to our hockey team."

Great Weekend Getaway
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Clarkson at RPI (Fri.)
St. Lawrence at RPI (Sat.)

Houston Field House is the place to be this weekend, as one of RPI's most hated rivals, Clarkson, visits on Friday. That's followed by the 30th Big Red Freakout! on Saturday night and St. Lawrence comes to town. Even though the Saints enter this weekend seven points ahead of RPI in the league standings, don't call the Engineers an underdog. They haven't lost a Freakout! game in 16 years, posting a 12-0-4 record.

While You're There: After the game, head to downtown Albany and one of INCH's all-time favorite post-game meeting places, the Bayou Café. The band Almost Famous is playing there beginning at 10 p.m.

Stick Salute

Folks at Quinnipiac are excited about moving into the TD Banknorth Sports Center, but they did their part to leave the Northford Ice Pavilion with fond memories. The last scheduled game in that rink was a 5-1 win for the Bobcats over Brown and Quinnipiac finished with an 89-15-10 all-time record at Northford.

Bench Minor

Cornell ranks 55th nationally in penalty-killing percentage and 49th in power-play conversion percentage, which is astonishing for a team that has recently thrived in special teams situations.


• Clarkson extended its unbeaten streak to nine games with a pair of ties last week. The nine-game streak (7-0-2) is the longest stretch of games without a loss for any team in the nation, and goalie David Leggio has allowed just 11 goals in those nine games.

• Princeton earned an overtime win over Brown to improve to 9-9-2 overall before taking a two-week exam break. Senior forward Grant Goeckner-Zoeller scored the OT-winner.

• Colgate looks to build some momentum with a stretch of five of their next six games at home. A three-game homestand begins this weekend with games against Brown and Yale. For the Raiders to turn things around, they'll need more production from their forwards and power play. Colgate has scored just three goals in its last three games, and is scoreless in its last 17 power-play chances.

• Thinking back on the Dartmouth roster of four years ago, and the heralded duo of Hugh Jessiman and Lee Stempniak, it makes one realize that hockey is a strange game. Jessiman was a first-round pick of the New York Rangers and is now playing in the ECHL with the Charlotte Checkers. Stempniak, a fifth-round draft pick, is a big part of the St. Louis Blues' youth movement and has played a big part for them this season. He's been rewarded with a trip to the YoungStars Game on Tuesday that's a part of the NHL's All-Star week celebration.

• Quinnipiac's Brandon Wong was the ECACHL Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season. Wong led the Bobcats to wins over Brown and Yale and had six points on the weekend.

• Last week's notebook mentioned forward Will Engasser, a former healthy scratch for Yale who scored three goals in his first two games back in the lineup. Those lineup decisions are paying off for Yale coach Keith Allain. He put another former scratch back in the lineup, Michael Karwoski, and he scored twice.

• If you can't make it to the Freakout! game in Troy on Saturday night, watch the webcast that will be streamed by the RPI alumni association. Also on the tube in the Capital District Saturday night, Time Warner Sports will be airing the Clarkson-Union contest.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report. Joe Gladziszewski can be reached at gladdy@insidecollegehockey.com.