February 21, 2008
What A Difference A Year Makes

By Joe Gladziszewski

Some say that history repeats itself, but in the case of St. Lawrence and Dartmouth, recent history definitely has not.

At this juncture in the season one year ago – through the completion of 18 league games – the Saints had already clinched a first-round bye and home ice in the quarterfinal round and Dartmouth was in fifth place but well within reach of a top-four spot in the standings.

ECAC Hockey Notebook

Colgate coach Don Vaughan became the all-time coaching wins leader at the school last weekend.

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St. Lawrence clinched the outright regular season title to capture the Cleary Cup, swept a playoff series on home ice against Colgate and went on to finish third in the league's championship weekend after a semifinal loss and consolation game victory. The Saints also got back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years.

The Big Green went on to win their last four games of the regular season and finished third in the standings. They swept a home playoff series against Princeton and advanced to the league's championship weekend for the second consecutive season and fourth time in the last five years.

This year, it is almost assured that both teams will finish in the bottom four of the league, with road playoff series to begin their quest to make it back to Albany.

At the other end of the standings, Union and Yale were tied for last in the league with Brown and all three had 13 points through 18 games. This time around, things look much better for both Union and Yale. They're still tied in the standings, but are now standing in fifth with Harvard, just one point behind fourth-place Cornell and two back of third-place Princeton.

The difference for all of these teams, very simply, is seen on the scoreboard.

Take a look at St. Lawrence and Dartmouth first. Both teams are averaging 2.67 goals per game after posting better than 3 goals per game last year in the league. The defensive end of the rink has been even more telling. The Saints, who ranked tied for second in team defense last year (2.50 goals allowed) are yielding 3.22 goals per game this year. Dartmouth is currently last in ECAC Hockey, allowing 3.50 goals per game after letting in 2.73 goals per game last season.

For Union, it's a matter of keeping the puck out of the net. The Dutchmen are actually scoring less than they did one year ago, but have reduced their team goals-against average to by more than half a goal. The same is true for Yale, who has seen a small scoring surge but is three-quarters of a goal against better per game. The resultant jump in the standings shows that.

It doesn't seem like much, but in ECAC Hockey, where games are tight and decided by the narrowest margins, those differences in goals allowed go a long way. Just look at the difference a year makes.


Dex Stacked Against Them: Colgate is back to .500 in the league with a 7-7-4 record after gaining three wins and a tie its last four games. That run included a 0-0 draw on the road at first-place Clarkson and impressive 4-0 and 8-0 victories over Rensselaer and Union last weekend.

Notice anything about those scores? Of course you do. It's the zeroes on the end. Colgate goalie Mark Dekanich has shutout his last three opponents, and his shutout streak stretches back into a 2-1 win over St. Lawrence in which the Saints scored their lone goal in the middle of the second period. That means it's been more than 10 full periods, plus a five-minute overtime, since Dekanich has felt the warmth from the heat lamp above his net.

Officially, the streak stands at 212 minutes, 14 seconds and ranks as the seventh longest in NCAA history. The streak is also the new standard in Colgate history and the longest ever recorded in ECAC Hockey. Dekanich now has six shutouts this season and 11 for his career, also setting new records in both of those categories for the Raiders.

The senior from North Vancouver, British Columbia will end his career as one of the best players in Colgate history. He is a two-time All-ECAC Hockey team member, including a First Team honoree in 2006, when he also won the Ken Dryden Award, given to the league's best goaltender. His numbers this season are better than he's ever posted before, including that 2005-06 campaign.

ECAC Hockey

More important than individual records, Colgate is back to its winning ways and is now within reach of a top-four spot in the league standings, as they trail current fourth-place team Cornell by just three points. The Raiders also control their own destiny as their next three games come against Princeton, Quinnipiac, and Harvard, all of whom are ahead of them in the standings and a victory means a four-point swing. The Raiders close their season with a home game against Dartmouth on March 1.

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Colgate at Princeton (Fri.)
Cornell at Princeton (Sat.)

Just because the Ivy Title is wrapped up doesn't mean that Saturday's game isn't important. Cornell enters the weekend just three points behind the Tigers and if one of those teams comes out of that game with two points it'll go a long way toward a top-four spot in the standings. Friday's game is meaningful too, as the high-scoring Princeton team looks to end Dekanich's record shutout streak.

While You're There: We say it every year, because it's the best ... Hoagie Haven.

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Princeton captured its first ever outright Ivy League title by winning at Dartmouth last weekend, and its first title of any kind since sharing the Ivy honors with Yale in 1999.

Bench Minor

Attribute it to balance, a few players having less than stellar performances by their standards, or just plain ol' luck, but at this point it doesn't appear that very many ECAC Hockey players are legitimate candidates for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, and might not even make the list of 10 finalists.


• Colgate isn't the only team getting hot late in the season. Harvard has won four of five, with the only loss coming in overtime of the Beanpot championship game against Boston College. Last weekend's sweep of Princeton and Quinnipiac included a hat trick by Doug Rogers in a 3-2 win over Princeton. Rogers was the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week.

• While turning back the clock to look at last year's standings, I also glanced at the statistics. Nick Dodge of Clarkson had 35 points through the first 30 games he played. This season in 30 games, Dodge has just 19 points to rank fifth on the team in scoring.

• Clarkson's loss to Yale last weekend was its first league defeat in eight ECAC Hockey games. It was also Yale's first win against Clarkson in eight games, snapping a seven-game winning streak in the series for the Golden Knights.

• Of the six players that have played in all 32 RPI games this season, four are freshmen and one is a sophomore.

• Colgate head coach Don Vaughan is now the all-time leader in coaching victories at the school, picking up his 252nd career win to move ahead of Terry Slater atop the coaching record book at Colgate.

• Cornell scored seven goals in a win over RPI on Saturday (Feb. 16), and it was the highest total for the Big Red in almost exactly a year, after scoring eight against Princeton on Feb. 17, 2007. Both of those victories came at Lynah Rink.

• Dartmouth scored a season-high seven goals against Quinnipiac on Friday night, and that was without J.T. Wyman, who has missed the last three Big Green games. With three points last weekend, Nick Johnson overtook Wyman for the team's scoring lead, with 25 points on the year.

• The Big Green are 5-1-1 in non-league games and seven games under .500 in ECAC Hockey.

• Jeff Prough of Brown reached the 100-point milestone with an assist against St. Lawrence in a 3-1 victory for the Bears.

• Quinnipiac's Ben Nelson snapped a 10-game goal-scoring drought with a tally against Harvard.

• NESN will televise Sunday afternoon's game between Colgate and Quinnipiac, which starts at 12:30.

• Regular readers of INCH are aware that we've always got our eyes out for unique sweaters, and one was spotted at an American Hockey League game this week as a green Clarkson sweater bearing the number and nameplate of ex-Golden Knight Mike Nagai was seen in the crowd.

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