October 23, 2003
Forming a more perfect Union

By Joe Gladziszewski

 ECAC Notebook

This week's schedule
National TV Schedule

Atlantic Hockey/CHA Notebook
CCHA Notebook
Hockey East Notebook
WCHA Notebook

There 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," Leaman said.

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 and balance.

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.


Come 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 to ring.

"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 chances.

Changing 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.

Clarkson's 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.

"In 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 ice."

Clarkson 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 important.

This 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.

While 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 hockey programs.

Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

Colorado College at Clarkson (Fri.-Sat.)
For 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.

Stick Salute

These 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 ice.

Bench Minor

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 not.


• 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.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.

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