March 1, 2007
Tournament Tested

By Joe Gladziszewski

A tournament series between Rensselaer and Colgate isn't that big of a deal this season, considering that the ECACHL playoffs mark the third tournament this year that both teams have participated in. Each took part in the Governor's Cup in downtown Albany on Oct. 28-29 and the Rensselaer/Bank of America Holiday Tournament in Troy on Nov. 24-25.

ECAC Hockey League Notebook

RPI celebrated in downtown Albany earlier this season, and 12 teams hope to do the same in three weeks time.

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In-season tournaments defined the seasons for these two teams. While both finished the regular season with sub-.500 records overall and in the ECAC Hockey League, they had the chance to test themselves against many quality opponents in pressurized situations. Colgate played in four in-season tournaments and RPI competed in three.

Rensselaer faced Colgate in one of those games, the championship game of the Governor's Cup and won the inaugural event with a 2-1 victory. Dan Peace scored with 49 seconds left in regulation to give RPI the late lead that turned into a victory.

The Engineers celebrated the title on the ice at the then-Pepsi Arena (now Times Union Center) and got to experience a tournament title of any type for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

"It definitely helps you and it's part of the reason you appreciate playing in those tournaments. You get a sense of what it feels like to be in a situation where you need to win to advance, and to compete for a championship," RPI coach Seth Appert said.

The tournaments also fill a need for non-Ivy ECACHL teams, as was mentioned in an ECACHL Notebook earlier this season. Several teams need to find a significant number of non-league games, and making them as meaningful as possible can only help a team once the playoffs roll around.

"You can never mimic what playoff intensity is like and the sense of urgency that you need to have," Appert said. "But with 12 non-league games for the non-Ivy League teams there can be a mental letdown for the non-league games and you try to sprinkle in tournaments like those."

The Engineers were the last team to celebrate on ice in downtown Albany, and their quest for the opportunity to do that again begins this weekend.

ECACHL First Round Matchups

No. 12 Union at No. 5 Quinnipiac
U: 14-17-3 (7-14-1 ECACHL)
Q: 16-13-5 (10-8-4 ECACHL)
Season Series: Quinnipiac leads 3-0
Dutchmen Fact: Union's last five postseason games have gone to overtime, but they've won just one of those games.
Bobcat Fact: Quinnipiac improved seven points and five places in the standings compared to its first year in the ECACHL.
How Union Wins: Keep it under three. Union is 9-0-1 when allowing two goals or fewer this season, and 5-17-2 when allowing three or more.
How Quinnipiac Wins: Continue to get production from the line of Bryan Leitch, Ben Nelson, and Jamie Bates which combined for 16 points in the three wins over Union during the regular season.

No. 11 Brown at No. 6 Princeton
B: 10-13-6 (6-12-4 ECACHL)
P: 13-13-3 (10-10-2 ECACHL)
Season Series: Princeton leads 1-0-1
Bear Fact: Brown's last trip to the ECAC Championship Weekend was in 2003, and that playoff run started with a two-game series sweep of Princeton.
Tiger Fact: Grant Goeckner-Zoeller scored twice, including the game-winner, in a 3-2 overtime win over Brown at Baker Rink on Jan. 13
How Brown Wins: Mark Sibbald returned to the nets for the first time since late November when he relieved Dan Rosen in the third period of the loss to RPI, and then started and beat Union the following night. Whether it's Sibbald or Rosen, goaltending will give them a chance at the upset.
How Princeton Wins: Stay hot. The Tigers rolled over the top two teams in the league last week, combining to outscore Clarkson and St. Lawrence 11-2.

No. 10 Yale at No. 7 Harvard
Y: 11-15-3 (8-13-1 ECACHL)
H: 12-15-2 (10-10-2 ECACHL)
Season Series: Yale leads 2-0
Bulldog Fact: Yale had lost seven straight games against Harvard between the 2002-03 and 2005-06 seasons, but has won the last three meetings against their big rivals, including both games this year.
Crimson Fact: Harvard has never lost a postseason game to Yale.
How Yale Wins: Five of Yale's 10 goals against Harvard this year were scored on the power play. Maintaining that efficiency with the man advantage will help them this weekend.
How Harvard Wins: Keep the scoring balanced. Eight Crimson players have three points or more in Harvard's last three games, resulting in two wins and a tie.

No. 9 Renssselaer at No. 8 Colgate
R: 10-16-8 (6-11-5 ECACHL)
C: 13-19-4 (7-12-3 ECACHL)
Season Series: RPI leads 2-1
Engineer Fact: RPI has never lost a playoff series to Colgate, but two of those series wins came at Houston Field House.
Raider Fact: Colgate's current four-game losing streak is its longest since the middle of the 2002-03 season.
How RPI Wins: Get more shots to the net. They averaged just 22.3 shots on goal in the three regular-season games against Colgate.
How Colgate Wins: Take advantage when down a man. The Raiders have a strong 84.6 percent penalty kill, and RPI has allowed the most short-handed goals against in the nation (12).


By-Buy-Bye-Bi: Four ECACHL teams earned valuable time off this weekend and gave their coaches a chance to hit the recruiting and scouting trails by finishing in the top four of the ECAC Hockey League standings. Not only does it bode well for this season, past history has shown that strong regular seasons have propelled them on to postseason success.

St. Lawrence finished first for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, and went on to win the ECACHL playoff title that year and advanced to the Frozen Four in Providence.

Dartmouth earned its third bye in the last four years, and on both previous occasions it won its quarterfinal series at Thompson Arena and advanced to the championship weekend in Albany.

Cornell is the only team to have earned a home-ice bye in all four years of the current playoff system, and will open the playoffs at home for the eighth year in a row. The only time they didn't advance to Lake Placid or Albany was in 2004.

Clarkson has never earned the bye in the quarterfinal round of the ECACHL playoffs, but has a 9-2 record in playoff series since Cheel Arena opened in 1992. The only team that has beaten Clarkson in a playoff series at Cheel is Vermont, as the Catamounts accomplished the feat in 2001 and 2003.


• If you're headed to the Brown and Princeton playoff series prepare yourself for some extra hockey. The Bears played 10 overtime games this season and Princeton played in eight. Both regular-season meetings between the teams went to OT, with one ending in a tie and Princeton's Grant Goeckner-Zoeller winning the other.

• The 10th, 11th, and 12th seeded teams have better overall records than the 8th and 9th seeds. No. 8 Colgate and No. 9 RPI are both six games under .500 for the season, while No. 10 Yale is four games under and No. 11 Brown and No. 12 Union are three games under .500.

• Princeton's Kevin Westgarth is the INCH Shop Player of the Week after scoring seven points in the Tigers' two wins over Clarkson and St. Lawrence last weekend. Those two wins evened Princeton's overall record at 13-13-3 and league record at 10-10-2.

• Dartmouth's Mike Devine and Harvard's Justin Tobe shared the league's Goalie of the Week honors after both of their teams swept games against Colgate and Cornell. Devine made 54 saves on 56 shots and Tobe stopped 47 of 49 shots he faced in two victories.

• Three finalists have been announced for the ECACHL Student-Athlete of the Year award, which will be presented at the league's awards banquet on March 15. Union's Olivier Bouchard, St. Lawrence's Andrzej Sandrzyk, and Dartmouth's Dan Shribman are the finalists. Each has achieved a cumulative grade-point average of 3.50 or higher through the fall semester, has played in at least half of his team's games, and demonstrated leadership on and off the ice.

• Harvard's Alex Meintel has a three-game point streak with six points in those games.

• Brown's Jeff Prough has nine points during a four-game point streak.

• The AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins are spending two days in Ithaca this week. The Griffins played at Rochester on Wednesday, and return to game action on Saturday in Syracuse. They passed the time in between above Cayuga's waters.

• The next win by St. Lawrence will give Joe Marsh the 400th coaching win of his illustrious career. The Saints have achieved their 11th 20-win season in Marsh's tenure.

• Clarkson has broken the 20-win mark this year for just the second time in the last eight years. Prior to that streak, the Golden Knights won 20 or more for 10 straight seasons.

• Yale's power play was 3-for-9 in a win against Rensselaer, and Clarkson successfully killed off 11 short-handed situations in a win at Quinnipiac.

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