2007-08 ECAC Hockey Mid-Season Report
With a solid group of newcomers contributing
early in their careers, and stellar goaltending from
the tandem of Jordan Alford and Mathias Lange, Rensselaer
is making some noise early in the 2007-08
season. It's just the second year for head coach Seth
Appert behind the bench and assistants Shawn Kurluak
and Jim Montgomery have hit the recruiting trail to
find impact players, like freshman forward Tyler Helfrich
who leads RPI with 10 assists and ranks second on
the team with 13 points. The Engineers are off to
an 8-5-3 start and done a nice job of winning the
games they are favored to win and also had Minnesota
and Notre Dame on the ropes before losing to those
teams. The other three losses are nothing to be ashamed
of – versus Michigan, at Quinnipiac, and at
When Dartmouth lost three of its top
four scorers following the 2006-07 season, most people
expected Nick Johnson to pick up most of the slack
offensively for the Big Green. Instead, senior classmate
J.T. Wyman has been the go-to guy
for Dartmouth so far this season with a team-best
12 points through nine games. Wyman has always been
a solid player and totaled 55 points through three
years and 94 games, but this year he's put up the
kind of numbers that have made him a legitimate candidate
for all-league recognition.
BEST NEW FACE
Yale goalie Alec Richards started the
majority of games for the Bulldogs in the first two
years of his collegiate career, but suffered an injury
this season that forced the Yale coaching staff to
find another option in net. Enter sophomore Billy
Blase, who technically isn't a new face by
class year, but he's a new face on the ice as he only
had one start as a freshman and played one other period
in relief of Richards early in the 2006-07 season.
This year, Blase has posted a 1.63 goals-against average,
a .937 save percentage, and has started every game
since the first of the season.
WHAT HAPPENED TO…
|Kevin Devergilio leads
St. Lawrence in scoring, but the Saints haven't
had much success in close games this year.
St. Lawrence was the
surprise story of last season, winning the regular
season title and earning an at-large bid in the NCAA
Tournament. Things just simply went their way last
year. The hard work, discipline, and tenacity that
most Saint clubs have exhibited under Joe Marsh paid
dividends with a number of close wins and consistently
strong performances. This year, the effort and persistence
are still there and the team has shown potential with
a pair of wins over Clarkson and a three-point weekend
at Princeton and Quinnipiac but the close games haven't
gone their way. Of St. Lawrence's eight losses, six
have come by one goal.
Union has just one league win and Quinnipiac
has traditionally been a very strong home-ice team
dating back to the Bobcats' days at the Northford
Ice Pavilion and now in the TD Banknorth Sports Center.
But that home ice advantage didn't help when Union
earned a 4-3 win at Quinnipiac on Nov. 30.
Union jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period
only to see Quinnipiac rally to tie the game 3-3 after
two periods. Andrew Buote scored his first career
goal for Union halfway through the third period and
Dutchmen goalie Corey Milan stopped 13 shots in the
last 20 minutes to give Union the win. Quinnipiac
was 1-for-8 on the power play in that contest, and
had a power-play opportunity in the final three minutes
of the game, but could not convert.
TOUGHEST ROAD OUT
Brown has played 12
games so far (counting an exhibition), and just two
of them have come at Meehan Auditorium. Fortunately
for the Bears, those 10 road games have included three
at Yale's Ingalls Rink, one across town at Providence
College, and a short trip up to Boston against Northeastern.
However, longer trips to Clarkson and St. Lawrence
and Union and RPI made for a lot of hours on the bus
during the first semester. The two home games for
Brown resulted in a split, with a win over Colgate
and loss against Cornell. After playing at the UConn
Tournament later this month, Brown will play 10 of
its last 16 games at home.
TOUGHEST ROAD IN
Princeton and Quinnipiac
play four of their remaining seven ECAC league weekends
on the road, including weekends at Harvard and Dartmouth
and a season-finale weekend at Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
Also on tap is a late-February home set against Colgate
and Cornell, two teams that have traditionally been
stronger at the end of the season than at the beginning.
As is usually the case, the
last weekend of the ECAC Hockey season (Feb.
29 and March 1) will provide must-watch action on
the ice and on the scoreboards from around the league
as the standings and playoff seedings will seemingly
shuffle with each lead change and eventual final result
in every game being played. Some especially significant
games to keep an eye on during the last day of ECAC
Hockey action include Quinnipiac at Clarkson, Harvard
at Cornell, and Rensselaer at Yale.
BIGGEST QUESTION ANSWERED
Can Clarkson back up its strong
year last season and sustain prominence in ECAC Hockey?
So far, so good for the Golden Knights. They're 10-5-0
overall with just one loss at home, and that came
against St. Cloud State. The concern for Clarkson
is that they haven't really had any signature wins
so far this season, although victories over Harvard,
St. Cloud State, and Massachusetts are certainly good
ones to get. The Golden Knights have a real chance
to improve their national standing with a home game
against Boston College on Jan. 5 and two on the road
at Colorado College on Feb. 1-2.
BIGGEST QUESTIONS REMAINING
Will any of the ECAC Hockey
member schools go on a significant run beginning with
holiday tournaments and continuing through the second
half of the season to become worthy of consideration
for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament? Clarkson,
Harvard, and Rensselaer have the best credentials
thus far and if the Golden Knights should stumble
in the playoffs, it's nearly impossible to declare
a favorite to win the Whitelaw Cup and earn the automatic
qualifier for the NCAAs.
How good is Harvard goalie Kyle
Richter? The sophomore got off to an amazing
start and was leading the nation in both of the significant
goaltending statistics, but has proven to be vulnerable
in recent games. Earlier this week, Richter got beat
for six goals by Boston College before being yanked
in the third period. A tie against Vermont and loss
to Rensselaer preceded that BC game.
First Half All-ECAC Hockey Team
|Even after Boston
College put six pucks behind him, Richter's numbers
are still absolutely incredible. He's got a .938
save percentage (tops in the league) and a 1.85
goals-against average (second in ECAC Hockey).
|The junior captain
logs lots of minutes for the Saints and makes
good decisions in all three zones. Fensel has
seven points so far this season.
|Biega has contributed
at both ends of the ice and is a big part of Harvard's
new youth movement in recent years. Biega ranks
second on the team in scoring.
off to a hot start and is part of a very strong
top line for the Tigers including Brett Wilson
and Lee Jubinville.
|Once again, Nelson
quietly keeps putting up big numbers for the Bobcats.
Seven of his 16 points have come on the power
play. He already has 115 points in his career.
|D'Alvise has taken a step forward
in offensive production in his junior season and
has been one of Clarkson's most consistent players.
He is currently tied for the team lead in scoring
with Nick Dodge.