March 15, 2007
Four Players You Need to Know

By Joe Gladziszewski

Of the four teams participating in this weekend's ECAC Hockey League Championship at the recently re-named stadium on Pearl Street — It's the Times Union Center these days — only Dartmouth was around last year.

ECAC Hockey League

Mike McKenzie returned to St. Lawrence's lineup and gave the Saints a boost last week against Colgate.

National TV Schedule

A new name for the arena won't be the only change that fans notice this year, as some will undoubtedly wonder what's missing only to realize soon thereafter that neither Cornell nor Harvard are playing in this championship for the first time since 1999, and in fact the Big Red and Crimson have combined to win the last five championships.

All of this change isn't necessarily a bad thing. It gives us a chance to see some new faces, like Quinnipiac, and reacquaint ourselves with old friends like St. Lawrence and Clarkson. The top-seeded Saints are making their first trip to the championship in Albany and were last vying for the Whitelaw Trophy (successfully) in Lake Placid in 2000 and 2001.

Clarkson's been on this stage somewhat recently, three years ago when the current seniors were freshmen and head coach George Roll was in his first season behind the bench.

Even though most of the teams might be newcomers to Albany, many of their start players are well-known. Standout defensemen Drew Bagnall and Reid Cashman will play on the league's finest stage, as will top-level forwards like David Jones, Nick Dodge, Kyle Rank, and Brandon Wong.

It's also a time for some of the unheralded players to step forward, as they've done throughout the year with little fanfare or attention. INCH introduces you to four players you need to know about heading into this weekend's action.

ST. LAWRENCE: Mike McKenzie.

McKenzie made an immediate impact on the Saints right away and was at or near the top of St. Lawrence's scoring list for most of the season. That was before he missed the last eight games of the regular season due to injury.

He returned for the quarterfinal series against Colgate and didn't take long to get back into the swing of things, with two goals and an assist in the Game 1 victory. Among his two goals that night was the game-winning goal for SLU, which was McKenzie's sixth of the year and set a single-season school record.

If there's an area of concern for a well-rounded Saints team, it's probably up front. McKenzie's return gives them another finisher up front for the playoff drive.

ECAC Hockey League Semifinal Capsules

No. 1 St. Lawrence
Record: 22-12-2 (16-5-1 ECACHL)

Saint note: Notice those new home sweaters that Mike McKenzie is modeling in the photo atop this page? The Saints are 6-0-0 when wearing them, and will have the chance to don them all weekend in Albany as they are the top seed in the tournament.

How St. Lawrence wins: The Saints bolted out to 3-1 and 3-0 leads after the first period of last weekend's games against Colgate and went on to win each game. Getting a good start on Friday afternoon gives SLU confidence, and also puts pressure on the Bobcats, who are making their first trip to the Times Union Center.

No. 2 Clarkson
Record: 23-8-5 (13-5-4 ECACHL)

Golden Knight note: Clarkson is 18-0-2 when scoring first and 17-0-2 when leading after two periods.

How Clarkson wins: The Golden Knight power play is red-hot, with at least one extra-man tally in their last 12 games. Staying disciplined and skating well will help earn power-play opportunities, and Clarkson will likely convert them against a penalty-killing unit that ranked seventh in the league.

No. 3 Dartmouth
Record: 18-10-3 (12-7-3 ECACHL)

Big Green note: Dartmouth has lost its last five semifinal games at the ECACHL Championships.

How Dartmouth wins: Draw on past experiences and try to take some positives. They're the only one of this year's final four teams that made it to Albany last year, and if they can learn from the semifinal defeat they suffered against Harvard, they can put that experience to good use.

No. 5 Quinnipiac
Record: 20-13-5 (10-8-4 ECACHL)

Bobcat note: Quinnipiac's 1-0 win over Cornell last Friday was the Bobcats' first-ever win by that score, covering a span of 814 games.

How Quinnipiac Wins: Keep taking care of the defensive zone. The Bobcats held Cornell off the scoreboard for the first 76 minutes and 42 seconds of the series last week at Lynah.

CLARKSON: Chris D'Alvise

Clarkson's power play has accounted for at least one goal in 12 straight games, and while the top unit features well-known stars like Shawn Weller, Nick Dodge, and Steve Zalewski, an equally potent second unit has a number of talented Golden Knights, but Chris D'Alvise makes things go.

The sophomore from Mississauga, Ontario, has scored six of his 14 goals this year on the power play, and had points in five straight games in February as Clarkson played its way into second place in the league. The Golden Knights' strength is depth at forward and D'Alvise is one of the players that can hurt you if you pay too much attention to the top guns. Nine players have 20 or more points this year.


Dartmouth features the league's most dangerous offensive trio in Tanner Glass, David Jones, and Nick Johnson. Head coach Bob Gaudet has at times tinkered with the line chart and broken that line up to balance the Big Green's scoring, but Dartmouth found its scoring balance by keeping that line together, and the emergence of a solid second line of Kevin Swallow, T.J. Galiardi, and J.T. Wyman.

Wyman in particular has caught fire in the second half. He has a point in five of six games and 12 points in 10 games since the start of February. Wyman factored in five of Dartmouth's nine goals last weekend and was the ECAC Hockey League Player of the Week. And that line combination? In 15 games that Wyman, Swallow, and Galiardi have played together, Dartmouth has an 11-3-1 record.


Reid Cashman and Brandon Wong get the headlines, but a team's playoff fate often hinges on its goaltending, and Bud Fisher will have to be at his best if the Bobcats are to win the ECACHL title this weekend.

There's reason to believe that he can get the job done. He's been in net for all four of Quinnipiac's playoff wins. The biggest boost for Quinnpiac's upset hopes against St. Lawrence on Friday evening is how Fisher's played in the first game of the weekend in this playoff season. He turned in a 23-save shutout in an overtime win at Lynah Rink last week to help the Bobcats take the series lead over Cornell. In the opener against Union, Fisher stopped 25 of 26 shots.

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