Senior leadership, solid contributions from
the entire lineup, and a difficult non-league schedule all
combined to give St. Lawrence just its second ECACHL regular
season title in program history. Owning the Cleary Cup certainly
takes some of the sting away from two losses to rival Clarkson,
a team that has been nationally ranked for most of the season.
Two new coaches at Yale and Rensselaer started
to make a mark on their programs, even though the standings
didn't reflect it, and preseason league favorites like Colgate
and Harvard found themselves near the middle of the pack.
Clarkson finished in second
place and showed some vulnerability by turning in the occasional
clunker, but when the Golden Knights are at their best,
they're the best team in the league. They rank first or
second among league teams in scoring offense, scoring defense,
power play, and penalty kill. And they're the only team
in the league that's found a way to beat St. Lawrence twice.
THE GATE CRASHER
The team that was regarded enough to be voted
first in the preseason coaches and media polls entered the
playoffs as the eighth seed. But there's a reason why the
Colgate Raiders received that preseason praise.
They're a talented team that has lots of playoff experience,
and is always a threat to pull an upset. Top players like
Mark Dekanich,Tyler Burton, and Jesse Winchester can make
the difference at this time of the year. Don Vaughan's recent
line adjustments have helped spark the Raider offense.
INCH'S ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
F – Brandon Wong, Quinnipiac
Wong could become the first freshman in league history to
lead the ECACHL in overall scoring, as he stands atop the
scoring chart heading into the second week of the playoffs.
F – David Jones, Dartmouth
The junior from Dartmouth finds himself on this list for
the second year in a row. He leads the Big Green in scoring
by a 13-point margin, racking up 39 points in 29 games.
He stands seventh nationally in points per game (1.34).
ECAC Hockey League Quarterfinal Matchups
No. 8 Colgate
at No. 1 St. Lawrence COL: 15-19-4 (7-12-3 ECACHL) SLU: 20-12-2 (16-5-1 ECACHL) Season Series: Split 1-1-0 Raider Fact: Colgate has never beaten
a No. 1 seed in the ECACHL playoffs. Saint Fact: A Saint win this weekend
will give Joe Marsh 400 career coaching victories,
all at St. Lawrence. How Colgate Wins: As they did last
week against Rensselaer, their best players need to
lead the way. Dekanich, Winchester, and Burton had
big weekends and the supporting players raised their
level of play. How St. Lawrence Wins: Almost every
Saints game throughout the season had playoff characteristics
– tight checking game where teams had to earn
scoring chances and goals. SLU succeeded in those
games by winning the battles and working hard, something
they'll have to continue this weekend.
7 Harvard at No. 2 Clarkson HAR: 4-15-2 (10-10-2 ECACHL) CLK: 21-8-5 (13-5-4 ECACHL) Season Series: Clarkson won 2-0-0 Crimson Fact: Harvard has advanced
to the ECACHL Championship weekend for six consecutive
years. Golden Knight Fact: Four juniors
are the top four scorers for Clarkson – Nick
Dodge (35 points), Shawn Weller and David Cayer (33),
and Steve Zalewski (32). How Harvard Wins: Get a strong weekend
from Justin Tobe, who played well last weekend and
won his first career start for the Crimson, which
came at Cheel Arena against the Golden Knights. How Clarkson Wins: Get off to a better
start. The Knights trailed both regular-season meetings
against Harvard, but came back to win both contests.
No. 6 Princeton
at No. 3 Dartmouth PRI: 15-14-3 (10-10-2 ECACHL) DRT: 16-10-3 (12-7-3 ECACHL) Season Series: Princeton leads 1-0-1 Tiger Fact: Princeton's comeback
win over Brown last Sunday was its first win of the
year when trailing after two periods. Big Green Fact: Dartmouth has earned
a first-round bye for the third time in four seasons.
On the two prior occasions, Dartmouth advanced to
Albany. How Princeton Wins: It's on the seniors
to come through, as they did against Brown. Darroll
Powe, Kevin Westgarth, Grant Goeckner-Zoeller, Daryl
Marcoux, and goalie B.J. Sklapsky all had big weekends. How Dartmouth Wins: Find a way to
solve B.J. Sklapsky, who carried the Tigers to a series
victory over Brown last week, and also shut out Dartmouth
in a regular-season game one month ago.
5 Quinnipiac at No. 4 Cornell QU: 18-13-5 (10-8-4 ECACHL) COR: 14-11-4 (10-8-4 ECACHL) Season Series: Split 1-1-0 Bobcat Fact: Quinnipiac earned a
2-2 tie in its first ever game against Cornell at
Lynah Rink, on Jan. 6, 2001. Big Red Fact: Cornell has not played
a playoff series on the road since 1999. How Quinnipiac Wins: Take control
early. Cornell has a 40-5 all-time playoff record
at Lynah, and can feed off of that confidence in their
old barn. How Cornell Wins: Puck possession
is important. Even if the Big Red don't generate chances,
playing "keep away" keeps the dangerous
Bobcat forwards at bay.
F – Nick Dodge, Clarkson
The junior captain is the heart and soul of the Golden Knights
and is their unquestioned team leader. He finished ninth
in scoring among all ECACHL players, but was a part of a
balanced Clarkson offense that had seven players score 20
points or more.
D – Drew Bagnall, St. Lawrence
His visible assets are easy to recognize – size, mobility,
physical aggressiveness, and a heavy shot. The non-visible
assets make him one of the best captains and leaders in
D – Reid Cashman, Quinnipiac
Like Jones, Cashman is on this list for the second-straight
year. He and his teammates came into the ECACHL as unknowns
with a solid reputation. He'll graduate with Quinnipiac
seen as an established and respected member of the league.
G – David Leggio, Clarkson
If goaltending was the question mark for the Golden Knights
entering the season, Leggio quickly eased the minds of the
doubters by establishing himself as one of the best goalies
in the league. He finished the year ranked first among ECACHL
goalies in goals-against average (2.26) and save percentage
COACH OF THE YEAR
There are two ways to judge coaches in this
category. The first is to laud a coach who led his team
to the best overall season. The second is to honor someone
whose team exceeded expectations. Fortunately for people
forced to make a selection in this category for the 2006-07
ECACHL season, both criteria point to the same person, Joe
Marsh of the St. Lawrence Saints.
Marsh is in his 22nd year at St. Lawrence
and led the Saints to their second ever regular-season title
this year and 13th 20-win season. The Saints were picked
to finish sixth in the preseason by the league coaches and
seventh by media members covering the league.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
When Marsh was asked earlier this season whether
or not his coaching staff had ever charted Drew
Bagnall's ice time, he rolled his eyes and shook
his head. The unspoken answer: lots of ice time. The defenseman
was the most important player on the most successful team
in the league, and is INCH's choice as the ECAC Hockey League
Player of the Year.
A stellar start to his collegiate career was
sidetracked by a hand injury in his junior season, but he
came back to be a dominant presence on the Saint blue line.
He played against the opponent's top players and factored
on both special teams units for the Saints.
"He's worked hard for this. He plays
with such passion and it kills him to lose. He's an unbelievable
kid to coach," Marsh said. "What he's meant to
this team in the locker room, in the weight room, he's just
worked exceedingly hard in every area and has never compromised
in any area."
His quiet confidence and steadying demeanor
served the Saints well as they won a slew of close games
and performed well in difficult situations.
"He creates an atmosphere in the locker
room," Marsh said, "and I think that the guys
deep down think, 'Thank God he's on our team, and not the
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
As mentioned in the INCH All-League section
above, Brandon Wong was the top freshman
in the ECAC Hockey League. His league-leading regular season
point total (24-17–41) was impressive, but more important
to Quinnipiac's success was the depth that he gave them
at forward. His arrival and development as a top forward
gave the Bobcats three legitimate scoring lines that are
difficult for almost all of their opponents to match up
Princeton made a surprising late run in the
regular season and finished tied for sixth, their highest
finish in the league standings in five years. Sophomore
forward Lee Jubinville was a big part of
the Tigers' second half run. He had points in eight of nine
games, and finished atop the Princeton scoring chart with
28 points in 30 games, after scoring just 10 points in his
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Joe Gladziszewski can be
reached at email@example.com.