December 11, 2002
Mid-term evaluations for the East

By Nate Ewell

 East Notebook

Quinnipiac's Brian Herbert has led the Bobcats to an 8-1-1 MAAC record, and two near-upsets of Hockey East foes.

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Dec. 4 East Notebook
Nov. 26 East Notebook
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ECAC: Yale. Just a year removed from a 9-11-2, ninth-place conference finish, the Bulldogs jumped to a 7-3-0 start this season. The reason: a free-wheeling, offensive style of play with the personnel to pull it off. Two terrific lines lead the way, highlighted by Chris Higgins on one and Evan Wax on the other.

Hockey East: Tie – Massachusetts and Merrimack. Near-unanimous picks for the bottom of the league, the Minutemen and Warriors have four Hockey East wins apiece at the break, which is just two off the pace of the conference’s co-leaders. Can either compete for the conference title? Probably not – they are a combined 0-5-0 against Hockey East’s “big three” of Boston College, Maine and New Hampshire. But they’ve proven that they don’t deserve to be dismissed as the “bottom two.”

MAAC: Canisius. The Golden Griffins have surged into a tie for second place in the MAAC after an 0-6-0 start. Freshman Andrew Dawe started the Griffs’ 6-2-0 run with an overtime goal against Sacred Heart; the streak has also featured wins over Mercyhurst, Army and Connecticut. Sophomore Fred Coccimiglio (5-5—10) is averaging a point per game.


ECAC: Evan Wax, Yale. Wax leads the ECAC in conference goals (10) and points per game (2.00). Overall, the senior has posted 10 goals and eight assists in 10 games, just two points shy of his career high (20 points as a sophomore). He provided the ECAC’s best individual effort in a game thus far with four goals against Vermont and has been a key factor in Yale’s success.

Hockey East: Peter Fregoe, Providence. He’s not a total surprise – he did, after all, average a point per game last season – but Fregoe and the Friars took college hockey by storm in the early going this season. He had a pair of hat tricks and three four-point games as Providence raced to a 6-0-1 start. While Fregoe, like his team, has slowed of late, he still shares the Hockey East overall scoring lead (with teammate Jon DiSalvatore) with 12-13—25 through 16 games.

MAAC: David Wrigley, Mercyhurst. The Lakers knew they needed a balanced attack this season, especially in the absence of last year’s leading scorer, Louis Goulet. Wrigley – eighth on the team in scoring a year ago – has stepped up to assume Goulet’s mantle, posting 6-9—15 through 12 games.


ECAC: Brown. The Bears still have the goaltending that lifted them to back-to-back shutouts to open the season. Problem is, there’s not enough offense to support Yann Danis (5-5-1, 2.44, .907). They’ve gone 2-5-1 since a 3-0-0 start, managing just six goals in the five losses and one tie.

Hockey East: Providence. The Friars’ fast start rekindled the optimism of last year, when they were expected to contend for the Hockey East title. Unfortunately for PC, November resembled last year as well. In retrospect, the 6-0-1 start may have been a product of the schedule, which included Princeton, Iona and Minnesota State.

MAAC: Mercyhurst. They may not have assumed the same standing as last season, when the Lakers started the season 20-0-3 in the conference, but fear not. Their 4-2-1 MAAC record is not that unexpected – and remains within easy striking distance of the top. Mercyhurst has a young roster, a new goalie and has faced a nearly impossible schedule (see below).


ECAC: Cornell. Beating up on the ECAC (with the exception of Dartmouth, which has earned nemesis status in Ithaca) hasn’t been enough for the Big Red, which is 5-0-0 outside the league. Included are sweeps of Boston University and Western Michigan, plus a win at Ohio State. The Everblades College Classic provides a test after break, especially if Dave LeNeveu makes the Canadian National Junior Team.

Hockey East: UMass Lowell. With a 0-7-0 Hockey East record, the River Hawks join Lake Superior and Michigan Tech as the only teams without a conference win this season. The good news: at least UMass Lowell isn’t located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. More good news: The River Hawks are 6-1-0 outside the conference, including a split with Colorado College – the only loss this season for the No. 1 team in our Power Rankings.

MAAC: Quinnipiac. Sure, the Bobcats didn’t win at Northeastern or at Maine. But the pair of 2-1 losses – just two days apart – proved that head coach Rand Pecknold’s club can skate with anybody. Assuming the Bobcats survive the MAAC Tournament – yes, a big assumption, but they’re certainly the favorites at this point – teams won’t be clamoring to play them in the NCAAs.

INCH's ECAC First Half
All-League Team
G Dave LeNeveu, Cornell
D Noah Welch, Harvard
D Doug Murray, Cornell
F Tim Pettit, Harvard
F Chris Higgins, Yale
F Dominic Moore, Harvard


ECAC: St. Lawrence over New Hampshire, 4-2, Dec. 7. It’s plenty sweet when you earn your third win of the season against the nation’s No. 2 team. Scoring four straight goals in the third period makes it even sweeter.

Hockey East: Merrimack over Boston University, 4-3, Oct. 22. Merrimack earned its first win of the season – and perhaps signaled the inconsistency ahead for preseason favorite BU – thanks to an all-around effort, including goals from two freshmen.

MAAC: Iona over Mercyhurst, 5-4 OT, Nov. 16. Iona’s first win of the year came against the defending league champs. And don’t look now, but it sparked a three-game MAAC winning streak for the Gaels.


ECAC: Rensselaer. The Engineers played nine of their 17 games against teams that have made the NCAA Tournament at least once in the past three years. Five of those nine games were on the road, including splits at St. Cloud State and the IceBreaker Tournament (win vs. Wisconsin, loss to Boston University – one of two to the Terriers).

Hockey East: Boston College. The Eagles have faced tough teams from the CCHA (Notre Dame), ECAC (Harvard and Dartmouth) and WCHA (Denver), not to mention battles with New Hampshire, Boston University and Maine (twice). Nobody has an easy slate in Hockey East, but Boston College gets the nod here for its five-game road stretch from Oct. 26 through Nov. 15, in which the Eagles went 4-0-1.

MAAC: Mercyhurst. Mercyhurst’s first half lists cities like the back of a Rolling Stones Tour t-shirt (if the Stones played Orono, Troy, Colorado Springs and the Soo). The Lakers’ 4-9-1 record (2-1-1 at home) doesn’t accurately reflect their talent – but it does demonstrate head coach Rick Gotkin’s desire to test his young team early. Expect them to prove how much they’ve grown in the second half.

INCH's Hockey East First Half
All-League Team
G Jim Howard, Maine
D J.D. Forrest, Boston College
D Kevin Truelson, New Hampshire
F Lanny Gare, New Hampshire
F Ed McGrane, UMass Lowell
F Ben Eaves, Boston College


ECAC: Clarkson. The story of the first half in the ECAC, of course, was in Potsdam, where the university fired Mark Morris. The Knights have more challenges ahead in their second-half schedule, beginning with a trip to the Wells Fargo Denver Cup (New Hampshire, then Miami or Denver). Clarkson still faces Cornell, Yale and Dartmouth twice each, with the Harvard/Brown trip looming on the last weekend of the season.

Hockey East: Boston University. It’s been far from easy for the Terriers thus far – with the IceBreaker and a trip to Cornell highlighting the first half – so Jack Parker’s boys should be well prepared for what lies ahead. The path is daunting: the Great Lakes Invitational, the Beanpot and weekend series with Boston College, New Hampshire and Maine. Both Maine games take place in Orono, on the last weekend of the season.

MAAC: Iona. Maine will likely move to 4-0-0 against the MAAC – all at home – when it hosts the Gaels on Friday. After that, Iona can look forward to more challenges in its league schedule: three games against Sacred Heart, two remaining with Holy Cross and Quinnipiac, and one vs. Mercyhurst.


ECAC: Cornell at Harvard, Feb. 15. The Bright Center will be ready for what could be its biggest game in years. By the looks of it, the winner would have the inside track on the ECAC regular-season title.

Hockey East: Boston College vs. New Hampshire, home and home, Feb. 28-March 1. The conference co-leaders will clash on the final weekend of the regular season, reprising their terrific overtime game from Nov. 19 (a 3-2 Wildcat win). Of course, somebody’s got to beat Maine for this series to impact the race for the regular-season title.

MAAC: Mercyhurst at Quinnipiac, Jan. 17-18. The MAAC’s two most high-profile programs meet twice in Hamden to settle their season series, which began with a 3-3 tie Oct. 26.

INCH's MAAC First Half
All-League Team
G Jamie Holden, Quinnipiac
D Wade Winkler, Quinnipiac
D R.J. Irving, Holy Cross
F Brian Herbert, Quinnipiac
F Brandon Doria, Holy Cross
F Guillaume Caron, American Intl.


ECAC: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning (Vermont). NHL pundits love his size, pointing to St. Louis as proof that the little guy can make it. We love the memories from Gutterson, and wonder if his November numbers would have tailed off with Eric Perrin on his line.

Hockey East: Eric Boguniecki, St. Louis Blues (New Hampshire). Boguniecki finally got a sustained look from the Blues, and he’s responded. By Dec. 11, he’d scored more goals (a team-high 11) than the number of goaltenders the Blues had auditioned (six).

MAAC: Pat Rismiller, Cleveland Barons (Holy Cross). The MAAC may lack an NHL star, but Rismiller can make the conference’s fans proud. He signed with the Barons’ parent club, San Jose, during training camp, and has performed well in the AHL. He even picks up the phone and checks in with Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl on occasion.


ECAC: Will Cornell match its nine-point cushion in last year’s league standings? We suppose the Big Red could still run and hide, but the field is keeping pace to this point. Harvard’s 9-2-0 record with a home game remaining against Cornell gives the Crimson the best shot of overtaking the Big Red – or at least staying close.

Hockey East: How will Maine replace Matt Yeats and Mike Morrison? Who? The play of Jim Howard and his oft-used backup, Frank Doyle, makes it easy to forget that Maine had a goaltending question coming into the season – and easy to see why the Black Bears were the league’s best team in the first half.

MAAC: How much will Mercyhurst miss Peter Aubry? Certainly any team would miss a three-year starter in goal who has spent this season in the ECHL and AHL. But the Lakers have survived, thanks to the performances of junior Matt Cifelli (2-5-1, 3.62, .902) and freshman Andy Franck (2-4-0, 4.51, .874). Cifelli has been especially solid in MAAC games (2-1-1, 2.22, .922).


ECAC: Who will take over the head coaching duties at Clarkson? While a strong performance this season could give interim coach Fred Parker a boost, the university will conduct a national search – and it figures to be more extensive than Maine’s at the end of last year. Other candidates could include Los Angeles Kings' scout Greg Dreschel, Lake Superior State assistant coach Jim Roque, Oswego State head coach George Roll, and former Bowling Green and RIT coach Buddy Powers.

Hockey East: How will BC respond after Patrick Eaves’ injury? Eaves fractured a vertebrae on a fluke play, keeping him out of the lineup for six weeks – at least. That leaves the Eagles to cope with both the frightening nature of the injury and with the loss of their top scorer in the first half. “What a year he was having. Ten goals!” head coach Jerry York told the Boston Herald. “We're trying to lift his spirits. He's a resilient kid. When we left here (Saturday) night, we thought we had dodged a bullet.” Time will tell how the Eagles – winless in three straight entering tonight’s game at Harvard – respond on the ice.

MAAC: Can the MAAC post its first win against a Hockey East team? The Bobcats came oh-so-close twice, and Connecticut had a shot at New Hampshire. The prime opportunities appear to have passed, but circle these two dates on your calendar: Holy Cross at Merrimack, Jan. 24, and UConn at Massachusetts, Feb. 14. It could still happen.

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