Days of February
It's getting to be
that time of year when you see fewer of the 5-3 and 6-4 type of
score in the weekend results. As the playoffs approach, defensive
hockey becomes the norm. Mistakes are magnified, and one simple
error could be the difference between a one-goal win and a one-goal
So what to make of
Yale? The Bulldogs are in the hunt for a top-four finish in the
league, and seem to be a lock for home ice in the first round,
should they not move into those bye positions. All of this despite
yielding the most goals in the league through 18 conference games.
Yale's given up 69 goals in ECAC play which is tied with 11th-place
Princeton for the worst defensive record in the league.
"We have an amazing
record given that last stat," head coach Tim Taylor said.
"I've never seen anything like it, quite frankly."
More times than not,
Yale's been able to use its own strength — goal scoring
— to combat any defensive shortcoming. Practically everyone
around the Yale program has raved about the performance of sophomore
goaltender Josh Gartner all year long.
goaltender Josh Gartner has helped the Bulldogs climb to the
upper half of the ECAC standings. (Don Clark photo)
doing a great job," senior captain and defenseman Jeff Dwyer
said of Gartner. "Those 10-goal and nine-goal games at the
beginning of the year are more of a team reflection than a goalie
reflection. I think once we tightened up our defense and let him
see the puck he's stopped them."
Defensive play has
been a point of emphasis in New Haven since the turn of the New
Year and it's starting to pay off. The Bulldogs allowed 37 goals
in their first eight conference games (4.625 per contest) and
had a 3-5-0 record to show for it. In 10 games since then, they've
reduced their goals allowed by nearly a goal and a half (3.2 per
game) and are 7-3-0 over that stretch. In Yale's last three games,
they've allowed only three even-strength goals against.
come a long way and we're feeling like we've improved a lot. We're
still playing a lot of young guys and we're getting better and
better, so I'm optimistic," Taylor said. "We're a much
different team. A lot of those goals against came early in the
The defense corps led
by Dwyer, and featuring junior standout Joe Callahan, also regularly
includes a pair of sophomores in Mike Grobe and Matt Craig, and
freshmen Shawn Mole and Matt Cohen or Bill LeClerc.
"I think we've
come along," Dwyer said. "Callahan, Grobe, and Matt
Craig, and myself have been around and we have three young guys
that are doing a great job. It's kind of tough when you're young,
especially on defense, but I think they've really improved themselves."
The overall defensive
improvement has been seen both on the ice and on the score sheet.
"You can't argue
with the statistics but I think it's weighted more toward the
first half of the year than the last half of the year. It's something
we've really worked on, and I think since Christmas on our defense
has been as good as anybody's," Dwyer said.
With its league-leading
offensive output to rely on, steady goaltending from Gartner,
and a defensive corps that's gaining in confidence and proficiency,
this defensive-minded time of year might not be such an awkward
time after all for Yale.
AND HEARD IN THE ECAC
for Hanson – Undoubtedly, the sport of hockey outshines
all others when it comes to taking care of its own players. In
times of crisis, uniform colors are disregarded. Concern for the
well being of hockey colleagues, rather than opponents, is the
to look no further than the injury to Merrimack's Joe Exter last
season, or more recently to the NHL ranks and Jeremy Roenick's
fractured jaw in a game against the New York Rangers. New York's
Bobby Holik visited Roenick in the hospital, and Ranger head honcho
Glen Sather was one of the first to call JR with wishes for a
it usually takes extreme circumstances to bring out this kinship,
and it happened this week in the ECAC community. You probably
know by now that Vermont sophomore goaltender Matt Hanson was
seriously injured during a practice incident last Thursday. He
sustained a fractured cervical vertebra and underwent surgery
to stabilize the fracture. The surgery was a success, and Hanson
has been released from the hospital to his parents' home in Peabody,
Mass. where his recuperation is ongoing.
team rallied in the midst of adversity and swept its weekend trip
to Clarkson and St. Lawrence, mainly due to the efforts of netminder
Travis Russell, who was particularly close to Hanson as the sophomore
duo shared the netminding duties in Burlington with junior Scott
was in our minds in between every whistle, during every play,"
With the Catamounts
holding a one-goal lead in Saturday's contest at St. Lawrence,
and Hanson's sweater hanging on the bench, UVM put forth its most
determined 13-second stretch of play this season.
we called a timeout with 13 seconds left, we just got together
and said 'This one's for Matty.' We all wanted the four points
for him. We all needed the four points for him. The whole team
just can't wait to get back to Vermont to give those two game
pucks to him," Russell said.
Boston Globe has more
on Hanson's recovery, and we at INCH would like to extend
our wishes for Hanson's speedy return to the ice.
Up With Kent – Game results in recent weeks haven't
brought many smiles to the fans of Clarkson's Golden Knights,
as the team is mired in a five-game losing streak — its
longest in five years. But the mention of the name Kent Huskins
should elicit a fond memory or two among the folks that follow
one of the best defensemen ever to suit up for the Golden Knights.
In the 2000-01 season, his senior year, Huskins captained Clarkson
and had a stellar season in earning first team All-American recognition
and being a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
on to a professional career and is spending his third season in
the American Hockey League, where he's currently employed by the
San Antonio Rampage, affiliate of the Florida Panthers. There's
no doubt that his college career helped prepare him for a professional
career, where young defensemen regularly struggle.
"The systems that they had us playing at Clarkson are very
similar to a lot of pro systems, and we learned a lot," Huskins
said. "There was a big emphasis on defensive zone coverage
and how to play in your zone. That's translated well to the pro
game, with a lot of similarities."
memory of his time in Potsdam centered on the 1998-99 season when
Clarkson won the ECAC's regular season and playoff titles and
went to the NCAA Tournament. That year's post-season included
defenseman Willie Mitchell's improbable long-distance goal in
the closing seconds of a 6-5 ECAC semifinal win over Princeton.
a really great team that year and the whole year was a really
fun ride," Huskins said.
And his thoughts
on the differences between hockey in Potsdam and hockey in San
a little different without the feet of snow and freezing cold
temperatures but both places have their upsides," he said.
"I really enjoyed the time I spent at Clarkson and the people
are what makes it a special time for you. There were great people
at Clarkson and we have great guys on this team. Both places have
been great to me."
Great Weekend Getaway
at Dartmouth (Sat.): The Bulldogs and Big Green
sit just outside of the top four in the standings heading
into the weekend, and on Friday there's a game between Rensselaer
and Cornell (currently tied for third) being contested at
Houston Field House. That means it's a chance for one of
the next two teams in the pecking order to pick up ground
on the Engineers or Big Red and possibly move into the top
four heading into the last weekend of the year.
you're there: Lou's Diner in Hanover is an absolute must
for the fan of the traditional greasy spoon American breakfast
... or a simple lunch or homestyle dinner.
No surprise to hear about this classy move by St.
Lawrence coach Joe Marsh. Following SLU's 3-2 loss
at home to Vermont on Saturday, Marsh visited the Catamounts
locker room and talked about how the Saints handled a situation
similar to the Hanson. Last year, the Saints' Allie Skellie,
a defenseman, suffered a similar injury.
how famous does one have to be in order
to be considered a famous alum? In Yale's media guide, the
famous alumni pages list Josh Saviano under distinguished
Yalies in the entertainment industry. Of course, he's most
"famous" for his role as Paul Pfeiffer on "The
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
center Ryan Vesce was back on the ice last weekend
for Cornell. He had a goal in each game as the Big Red picked
up its first four-point weekend of the year at Lynah. Vesce said
he "felt very good" after missing three straight games
due to a nagging injury, and sees the team gaining momentum. "We're
starting to put it together now," he said. "We're playing
better hockey every week. We knew we were going to get it, it
was just a matter of time."
are hard to start, and even harder to stop. But the Dartmouth
hockey team is sick and tired of the tennis ball shower
at Thompson Arena when Princeton comes to town. The team took
out a full-page advertisement in the student paper, and published
this letter urging fans to put an end to the tennis ball tradition.
reminder to readers in central and northern New York that tonight's
Harvard-Clarkson game at Cheel will be televised on Time-Warner
Sports Channel 26, beginning at 7 p.m. Clarkson won the first
meeting at Bright 3-0, and the teams tied 3-3 in the Dunkin Donuts
weekend saw Dartmouth break through and win for the first time
in Potsdam since 1990. This weekend, Colgate has a chance
to end an unflattering streak as the Raiders visit Union's
Messa Rink at the Achilles Center. Colgate hasn't won there in
four straight contests.
weekend sweep by Brown in the North Country will guarantee
a top-four spot in the league standings and a first-round bye.
'em early. Rensselaer is 11-3-1 in Saturday games
streak continues. Princeton's winless skid now
stands at 11 games, dating back to a mid-December victory against
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.