a more perfect Union
were times, certainly, when Nate Leaman had a hunch about
something he noticed in practice, or something that was
starting to show up during a game.
But, as an assistant at Maine and Harvard, he never had
the absolute power to act on those hunches.
Now – just three games into his head
coaching gig at Union College – Leaman
can do things his way, and he's having a blast.
"You go home at night with a smile on your face. It's
fun knowing that you have the final say in things, and you
can make the decision. You can go with your gut and your
feel on how things are going in games and practices,"
That's an important perk of the job that Leaman has at his
disposal. He described himself as a bit of a reactionary
once the puck is dropped.
"I do a lot of things by feel on the bench, I guess.
When it comes down to crunch time, the guys that are really
getting it done, I'm going to put them together and have
them go," he said.
One of Leaman's first decisions upon his arrival was to
turn linemates Jordan Webb and Joel Beal into former linemates.
He separated the tandem that shared the team scoring lead
last year, in part because he's been around the ECAC and
knows that opposing teams can concentrate on stopping a
so-called number-one line. Leaman wants to win with depth
On Sunday, after an excellent first period from Joel Beal
in which he had two goals and could have had two or three
more, and some spirited shifts from Jordan Webb, Leaman
moved Webb on to a line with Beal and A.J. Palkovich for
the remainder of the game.
Leaman has noticed that there is a chemistry between the
two and said he is considering reuniting the duo on a full-time
basis. But, it is a head coach's privilege to change his
mind. Especially in Leaman's case.
AND HEARD IN THE ECAC
to Colgate– With no games on the schedule
this weekend, Colgate
assistant hockey coaches Andrew Dickson and Shep Harder
will hit the road for some quality recruiting time. When
they meet with players they'll have some good news to share.
Earlier this week, Colgate University announced a restructuring
in its athletic financial aid package. The school has made
a total of 31athletic scholarships available across 13 sports,
and has not fixed the number of scholarships that will be
allocated to each sport. The changes will be effective with
the incoming class in the fall of 2004.
Further, the allocation is flexible and will be evaluated
on a yearly basis. Interim athletic director and 11-year
head men's ice hockey coach Don Vaughan is in charge of
divvying up the scholarships between the teams.
Having an athletic scholarship available to a coveted athlete
might make the difference in landing a big-time talent,
something that interim head hockey coach Stan Moore has
seen first hand over the last several years as Vaughan's
associate head coach.
"I don't think I'd like to name any names in particular,
but historically there have been plenty of cases, where
we've found a very qualified student athlete and maybe the
difference in him attending our university or another is
the scholarship," he said.
That's no longer an issue, and while Moore won't be on the
recruiting trail this weekend, he's hoping for the phone
"I'll be sitting at home like the Maytag repair man
waiting for the phone to ring, and hopefully it'll be one
of my assistants with good news."
Moore also spoke on his team's 1-1-1 start, including a
weekend split with Ferris State. "They were the type
of games that a certain type of hockey fan, or coach, could
appreciate. Tightly contested games both nights and there
were very few scoring chances, and neither team wasted those
Clarkson – It hasn't taken long for the new
coaching staff and an influx of new faces on the roster
to start making an impact in Potsdam. When things aren't
going well, negative thoughts start to set in a little sooner,
and a team's willingness to compete and overcome a deficit
just isn't there.
sophomore goaltender Dustin Traylen, clearly the star of
last weekend's three-point trip to Bemidji State with 78
saves over two games, brought up a fact that reflects how
quickly things are turning around for the Golden Knights.
On Friday, they fell behind 2-0 in the second period before
scoring four straight for the win.
all of last season we didn't have a single comeback win,
and this year we did it in our first game. To come from
behind was nice to see," Traylen said. "I give
a lot of credit to the coaching staff. They kept motivating
us and they seemed to always have the right players on the
coach George Roll said last week that getting away from
home for a few days early in the season helps a team's camaraderie,
and while earning a win and a tie against a good Bemidji
State team was nice, the long-term effects of team-building
between the players and a new coaching staff may be more
weekend Clarkson gets a stiff test from Colorado College
in a pairing of two undefeated teams, and also two teams
that are directly affected by the recent proposal by the
NCAA Division III Presidents Council that would eliminate
all athletic scholarships at schools that primarily compete
at the Division III level.
the Tigers and Golden Knights will be out to beat each other
on the ice this weekend, the long-term viability of their
storied college hockey programs will be a much more important
battle in the months ahead. College hockey fans will be
cheering at full voice for these teams along with St. Lawrence
and Rensselaer to maintain their status as noteworthy college
Great Weekend Getaway
College at Clarkson (Fri.-Sat.)
the second straight week, a reigning league champ
from out west visits an ECAC venue. Last week, Colgate
earned a split with CCHA champ Ferris State on home
ice, and this week Clarkson gets its shot at WCHA
regular-season champ Colorado College. It's a matchup
of two of the nation's 13 unbeaten teams (who have
played a game this year), and it's also the official
home debut of new Clarkson coach George Roll.
While you're there: Sergi's Italian Restaurant
on Market Street in downtown Potsdam is the spot for
a bite to eat. They can accommodate your plans, even
if you change on the fly. Dine-in or take-out, both
before and after the game, and it's just a short ride
from Cheel Arena.
days, universities spend money to solicit money. Stadium
improvements come along in the form of luxury suites,
and then the alumni end up paying big bucks for the
privilege of watching their alma mater. We salute
Union alum Frank L. Messa, who along
with his wife Colleen, donated $1.5 toward the renovation
of the hockey rink at Achilles Center. And holy moly,
they actually decreased seating! The money went toward
improving foot traffic along the arena concourses,
and toward the improvement of the actual hockey facility.
A high tech refrigeration system was installed, and
the expanded ice surface is surrounded by new boards
and glass. A four-sided scoreboard hangs above center
Two minutes to the
pollsters. If you were to track the last
three weeks of the national rankings, you'd think
that Harvard and Cornell have become much worse teams.
Seemingly, these teams have been punished by pollsters
because they haven't played a game yet. Forget me
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
A six-point weekend has Union sophomore
center Scott Seney atop the league's scoring charts. He
had a goal and two assists in each of the Dutchmen's wins
last week and was named ECAC Player of the Week. As was
mentioned earlier, Leaman wants balance up and down the
line chart. The early contributions from Seney and wingers
Olivier Bouchard and Jonathan Poirier has taken some of
the heat off of Webb and Beal.
Seney views this weekend's trip to Bowling Green as a chance
to prove that Union's 3-0 start (the first in the school's
Division I history) is no fluke. "We're really excited
about the chance to go out to the Midwest and try to prove
ourselves out there, to try to do well for our team and
the conference," Seney said.
Most college hockey fans pay little attention to the member
schools in Atlantic Hockey, with the exception of an occasional
glimpse during the early-season non-conference schedule.
They might not realize how hard it is for schools in that
conference to get games on the schedule. Bigger schools
would look down at a Sunday afternoon road trip to Schenectady,
N.Y. But American International coach Gary Wright appreciated
the chance to play Union.
"This is certainly one of the highlights on our schedule,
an opportunity to come here and play a team from the ECAC
so we were really looking forward to this," he said.
Slowly but surely, the Ivy League teams are getting their
seasons underway. Cornell played its Red-White
game on Oct. 18, and hosts the U.S. Under-18s on Saturday.
Guelph has exhibitions lined up against Harvard
(Friday), Princeton (Saturday), and Yale
(Sunday). Brown started its 'competitive'
season with a scrimmage against Bentley on Oct. 20, on the
heels of the Brown-White game on Oct. 18. The Bears welcome
Trois-Rivieres on Sunday afternoon. Dartmouth hosts St.
Francis Xavier on Saturday.
Is it better to play a rigorous early-season schedule and
place your team's confidence at risk, or is it better to
line up against some less prominent teams and build momentum
prior to conference play? As you know, Vermont
started its season with games against Hockey East powers
New Hampshire, Boston College, and Boston University. And
in the third of those three games, the Catamounts earned
a 2-2 tie against BU on Saturday night at Gutterson Field
House. Travis Russell made 27 saves.
• St. Lawrence opened some
eyes around the nation with an opening-night win against
Miami, but since then the Saints have stumbled to an 0-2-2
record. Over the last four games, St. Lawrence has scored
just six goals in the last four games, and four of the goals
came in a 4-4 deadlock with Wayne State on Oct. 10. It doesn't
get any easier for SLU, as Maine visits Appleton Arena for
a pair of games this weekend.
What might be considered the game of the week in the ECAC
isn't even a real game. Sunday afternoon, Harvard
visits Dartmouth for a scrimmage. The Crimson and
the Big Green were tabbed as two of the top three teams
in ECAC pre-season polls, and currently sit fifth and 13th
respectively in the INCH Power Rankings.
• Being the head coach isn't all fun and games for
Leaman, who said there are aspects of being an assistant
that he misses.
"The hard part is I still want to recruit so much.
I've hired two guys (Tony Gasparini and Bill Riga) that
I feel are excellent young recruiters. They both have a
very good eye for talent," Leaman said. "Some
days we're talking about kids for an hour and I find myself
missing that. I love recruiting I love watching kids, but
you just can't do it because you find that you've got to
spend your time in other places to be efficient."
Clarkson's home series against Colorado
College is the start of a nine-game Golden Knights' homestand.
Clarkson doesn't play on the road again until after Thanksgiving.
Sorry Fido. A pre-game announcement at
Union's Messa Rink reminded fans that pets
aren't allowed in the building.