January 26, 2007
Right Where They Belong

By Joe Gladziszewski

It's not fair to judge Yale's current standing based on its 6-1-0 start to the season, nor is it reasonable to write off the Bulldogs because they've won just twice in their last 12 games (2-7-3). Yale probably isn't as good as that early record indicated, nor are they as bad as their record over the last dozen might show.

ECAC Hockey League Notebook

Five of Yale captain Matt Cohen's six points this season have come in ECACHL games.

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It's most appropriate to look at their season as a whole thus far, and it's both fair and reasonable to say that Yale is a .500 team in the middle of the pack in the ECAC Hockey League.

"I think we're a .500 team. We're right where we belong," head coach Keith Allain said. "You can look at some of the games we won when we were (6-1) that maybe we were fortunate, and you can look at some of the games we lost when we were (2-7) and we were unfortunate. It all evens out."

New faces have been a key part of Yale's season so far. Allain, a 1980 Yale grad, is leading the team in its quest toward the top of the ECACHL. A pair of freshman lead the team in scoring. Sean Backman has a team-leading 10 goals and 18 points. Mark Arcobello has a 7-9-16 scoring line, and each has 11 points in the team's 12 league games.

"We do some nice things. I like our speed, and I think we've shown a sense of urgency when we've been behind and come back in games. That's a positive sign. We're starting to get a little bit more balance in our attack," Allain said.

What might be most remarkable is that they've been able to stay at that .500 mark despite ranking toward the bottom of the ECACHL in the most significant statistical categories. Yale is tied for 10th in scoring offense (2.50 goals per game), and 10th in scoring defense in league play (3.25 goals against per game). Yale also has the most penalty minutes, ranks sixth on the power play and eighth in penalty killing.

The goal for the rest of the season is to keep making strides. Yale has just one winning season in its last eight, and steady improvement is the key to getting back toward the top of the ECACHL standings.

"It's definitely something that we're trying to build. That's why I'm here," Allain said. "I don't think anyone can expect it to happen overnight. Those things take time. We want to make progress with our hockey team. I think in a lot of respects we're a better team than we were in October, and I think we'll be a better team in March than we are now."


Colgate's leaders stepping up: Colgate's struggles to find some consistency this year have been documented all year long. Once again, the Raiders are showing signs of living up to the lofty preseason praise that was showered upon them.

The early-season plaudits negatively affected Colgate. Instead of taking confidence from them, there was a lackadaisical approach. And when things started to go poorly, well ... coach Don Vaughan explains:

"I think that was a good thing, until it doesn't happen. Guys have a tendency to tighten up and those expectations are still hanging and they can't get away from it and you get even tighter when it's not happening. That had a part in it, but it's not over either," Vaughan said. "Maybe it took us to get to this point to put all of the expectations behind us, because right now I'm not sure that too many people have expectations for us."

Thursday's 4-2 win over Cornell gave Colgate its second straight win and third straight ECACHL game with at least one point. In fact, the Raiders have responded from an 0-4-1 start in league games to go 5-1-2 in their last eight ECACHL games, and even their league record. They stand tied for fourth heading into this weekend's action.

Colgate's best players came through in the team's wins this week over Yale and Cornell. Tyler Burton, Marc Fulton, Mark Dekanich, and Jesse Winchester led the way. Mike Campaner is back on the blueline and starting to look comfortable after missing nine games due to injury.

Those veterans will call on experience over the next few weeks to position themselves for another run at an ECACHL title.

"We know what it takes when you get into the playoffs, and we know how hard you have to work," Burton said. "When you get to Albany anything can happen and we know you have to be ready every night. We have a lot of veteran guys here that have a lot of experience and we can put a good run together in these last regular-season games and playoffs, and do a lot of damage when we get there."

Bad Decision: Colgate students don't show up to many home games, but they always pack the Raiders' home date against travel-partner Cornell. They astutely chanted, "Thank you, captain," when Big Red senior forward Byron Bitz took a roughing minor with 35 seconds left in the third period.

Cornell trailed 3-2 at the time and had an extra-skater on with goalie Ben Scrivens pulled. There was a net-mouth scramble at the edge of Mark Dekanich's crease, and once the whistle blew to stop the play, Bitz aggressively roughed up Colgate defenseman Nick St. Pierre. Referee Peter Feola whistled Bitz for a roughing minor, which not only put the Big Red short a player in the last half-minute of the game, but also moved the face off from the offensive zone to the neutral zone.

Bad play, Byron.

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Dartmouth at Clarkson (Fri.)
Dartmouth at St. Lawrence (Sat.)

These are the only three ECACHL teams among the top 20 in the INCH Power Rankings and these matchups are obviously important for league standing, but also could make a difference as they chase at-large consideration for the NCAA Tournament.

While You're There: Check out the big doubleheader against Union! It's not the college hockey variety, but St. Lawrence's women's and men's basketball teams host the Dutchpersons on Saturday afternoon at 2 and 4 p.m.

Stick Salute

Many of the teams and student-athletes in the ECACHL are involved in generous community service and charitable activities. We take notice of all of them, but we'll use this space to mention Union senior goaltender Dan Tatar, and his efforts with the Rolling for Autism group at the Union College.

Bench Minor

If there's a pep band in the rink, we prefer to hear them play. Thursday's game at Starr Rink had TWO bands and the DJ was still the prominent provider of music. "Cotton-Eyed Joe"? "My Sharona"? Please.


• Several promotional giveaways will help make the opening week at Quinnipiac's new TD Banknorth Sports Center more special. All fans attending the Bobcats' opener against Holy Cross on Sunday will receive a commemorative ticket and T-shirt. Tuesday's game against Harvard will feature Boomer the Bobcat bobbleheads awarded to the first 2,000 fans through the doors. The opening week concludes with Quinnipiac's game against Yale, and fans will receive a commemorative ticket and rally towel. The winner of the Yale-Quinnipiac game will receive the Heroes Hat, to honor those who lost or risked their lives during terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

• Rensselaer's run of success in the Big Red Freakout! continued with a 3-3 tie against St. Lawrence. The Engineers extended their unbeaten streak in the annual event to 17 games, with a 12-0-5 record in that time. RPI led 3-1 in the third period, but the Saints scored twice in a span of 53 seconds late in the period to get the tie.

• Brown earned a tie at Colgate and a win at Cornell last weekend, getting their first point at Colgate's Starr Rink and their first win at Lynah Rink since 1995. The win at Cornell came in the 1994-95 season, while the tie at Colgate came in the 1995-96 season. Defenseman Sean Hurley was the ECACHL Player of the Week.

• Clarkson saw its 10-game unbeaten streak end in a 2-1 overtime loss at Union last week. Although Clarkson held the nation's longest unbeaten streak, they hadn't been playing their best. Following the loss to Union, the Knights were just 1-1-2 in their previous four games, and the Golden Knights fell behind 2-0 on Tuesday night at St. Lawrence, before rallying for a 6-2 victory.

• Dartmouth is one of the hottest teams in the league. They played three games against teams from Atlantic Hockey – Holy Cross, Sacred Heart, and Canisius – and won all three. They've pushed their overall record back up over .500 at 9-8-2 and carry some momentum into this weekend's games at Clarkson and St. Lawrence. The newly-formed line of Rob Pritchard, Connor Shields, and Jon Grecu combined for 13 points in those three games.

• Tyler Burton's 100th point in a Colgate uniform came last Saturday against Yale. What makes Burton's century-mark special is that he made it to 100 points in his junior year. He's the first Raider to rack up that many points as an underclassman since Mike Harder did it as a sophomore in the 1994-95 season.

Harder went on to become Colgate's all-time leading scorer and was a Hobey Baker finalist. He spent five years playing in the American Hockey League and International Hockey League, and is now playing professionally in Italy, and leading HC Alleghe in scoring.

• Dying by the sword: Cornell has scored lots of goals off of pick plays on face offs in the offensive zone during Mike Schafer's coaching tenure. Hockey's crackdown on obstruction at all levels has made that increasingly difficult to execute. Big Red forward Mitch Carefoot was whistled for an interference minor on an offensive-zone face off in the first period on Thursday night, and Colgate capitalized with a power-play goal. Cornell is now 0-5-2 in its last seven games, and it marks the longest winless streak in Mike Schafer's 12 seasons behind the Big Red bench.

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