on the Prowl
For the first
time all season, a scan of the ECAC standings shows the Vermont
Catamounts in 11th place. It's an improvement, as you know, because
UVM started its season with an 0-11-2 overall mark and lost its
first seven conference games. Vermont's first win of the year
didn't come until Dec. 20 (a 4-3 overtime win against Connecticut)
and its first ECAC win followed on Jan. 10 against Dartmouth.
Not that Vermont
was getting blown out in those early-season games, mind you. These
were close games. Two-goal losses to Boston College, Harvard,
Brown, and UMass were a part of the slump. Vermont's young team,
which dresses just two seniors on a nightly basis, had to learn
how to win. At the same time, there was a period of adjustment
as Kevin Sneddon assumed the head coaching job following Mike
Gilligan's retirement last summer.
Over the last
two months, Vermont has put those lessons to good use. They've
been a .500 hockey team (8-8-2) beginning with that win over UConn,
and have rattled off four straight wins in the ECAC to climb over
Princeton into 11th place.
confidence, and a winning attitude have all contributed to Vermont's
Russell and the Catamounts are rolling along on a four-game
winning streak. Photo by William DiLillo, University
there was going to be a turning point. We were playing a lot of
close games; we just didn't have a lot of confidence. We would
get down by a goal and get down on ourselves a little bit,"
sophomore goaltender Travis Russell said.
we're maturing. Having 11 losses in a row does that to you pretty
have stepped up their performance in recent weeks, but none more
than Russell has. He was named INCH National Player of the Week
following a stellar weekend in the North Country two weekends
ago, and backed up that performance with a pair of wins against
Yale and Princeton this past weekend. His stellar play and an
all-around improved team defensive effort have Vermont riding
high. The Catamounts are 5-2-1 over their last eight games and
have allowed just 12 goals in that stretch.
I think we've improved greatly since the beginning of the season.
During the Christmas break we stressed defensive zone coverage
and that's been a big key for us. We're a young team defensively,
and a young team overall," Russell said.
to carry its momentum on the road, where it faces Harvard and
Brown, and continues preparation for the upcoming playoffs.
weekend should be a good test for us to play some of the top teams
in the league. There's not a team in the league we're afraid of,"
Russell said. "We feel confident going into anyone's barn."
AND HEARD IN THE ECAC
– Brown's power play was a big reason why the Bears
led the ECAC for most of the season. During a recent four-game
winless streak, the Bears were 1-for-25 with the man advantage.
Brown fell out of the league lead into second place behind Colgate.
play conversion rate was one of the best in the nation, but a
recent slump has seen the man-advantage success slip to third
in the league. Freshman winger Brian Ihnacak has seen how important
a good power play can be in the ECAC.
got to get that passion back when we're on the power play. We
weren't realizing how important that is, because five-on-five
goals are hard to come by," he said.
recorded 22 of his 28 points this year on the power play.
struggles have instilled a sense of urgency as the Bears close
the regular season with home games against Dartmouth and Vermont
championship team goes through its ups and downs during a season,
and right now we're in a stretch where we'll see how we respond.
We've had a good week of practice, and we know what it takes to
be successful. Friday's a big game," Ihnacak said.
Watch – The Hockey News recently released its annual
Future Watch issue, which ranks the NHL’s organizations
and prospects (minor leaguers and draft properties). THN consulted
with the head scouts from each of the 32 NHL teams and compiled
a list of the top-75 overall prospects, and the top-10 prospects
in each NHL organization.
The ECAC was
well represented by current and former players. Four current players
appeared in the rankings, and four former players appeared in
the top-five in their respective organizations.
way was Dartmouth’s Hugh Jessiman, ranked 42nd overall and
No. 2 in the New York Rangers organization. Harvard defenseman
Noah Welch was 63rd overall and No. 2 in Pittsburgh’s system.
Rensselaer goalie Nathan Marsters (No. 8 by Los Angeles) and Cornell’s
Shane Hynes (10th by Anaheim) rounded out the ECAC representation.
ECAC players, Chris Higgins and David LeNeveu rated very well.
Higgins, formerly of Yale, was 28th overall and third in Montreal’s
list. LeNeveu was Phoenix’s top prospect and 62nd overall.
Matt Murley (RPI) was fifth for Pittsburgh and Dominic Moore (Harvard)
was fifth for the New York Rangers.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Yale (Fri.): Admit it, you knew all along that
one of the big games on the ECAC's last regular-season weekend
was going to be Union's trip to Yale. Well, maybe not, but
it's shaping up to be a huge game for both teams. Should
St. Lawrence and Clarkson stumble on the road at Colgate
and Cornell, Union could pass both teams and earn the last
home-ice playoff spot for next weekend's opening playoff
round. It'll take a Friday win at Yale to keep those hopes
alive for the Dutchmen.
you're there: Visit the appropriately named "BAR"
on Crown Street near campus, which caters to every crowd.
The Front Room is a spot to hang out and play pool, the
Bru Room features home-brewed beer, while the Back Room
features dancing to DJs spinning the latest tunes.
senior Brent Booth grabbed the microphone
during last Saturday's Senior Night festivities at Messa
Rink and promised the Union fans in attendance that they'd
be back in the building: "This is not the last game
of the season here at Messa Rink. We're going to get it
done on the road this weekend and come back home."
readers of this section of the ECAC Notebook know our stance
on throwing things onto the ice. Kudos to Dartmouth College
for attempting to put an end to the tennis ball tradition
at Thompson Arena, yet some bozos decided
to disobey the team's wishes. Following Dartmouth's game-tying
goal on Friday night with 2:06 to play, a few tennis balls
and a cup of soda were thrown onto the ice. The Big Green
was forced to kill off a bench minor penalty, because of
the ill-advised actions of a few so-called fans.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
team in the league (other than Colgate) can improve
its position for the playoffs heading into the final weekend of
the regular season. But travel partners Rensselaer
and Union clearly have the most to gain this
weekend on the road at Yale and Princeton.
With some favorable results in other games around the league,
fifth place RPI can grab a top-four spot and first round bye.
Union, currently 10th, can leapfrog Clarkson
and St. Lawrence into eighth, and get home ice
for next weekend’s opening round.
Detroit Free Press featured Dartmouth's
Eric Przepiorka as its College
Hockey Player of the Week in Wednesday's "The Puck"
section. Przepiorka is a native of Grosse Pointe, Mich., and an
Economics major at Dartmouth. In the article, Przepiorka weighs
in on the academic rigors involved with playing at an Ivy League
school, Dartmouth's nine ties, his favorite NHL player (hint:
Grapes would be proud), and the most enjoyable road trip in the
may not be a better example of a heart-and-soul player in the
ECAC than Harvard's Tyler Kolarik. His enthusiasm
for the game is unmatched, and it shows on the ice and in media
interviews. Kolarik was particularly disappointed with his line's
defensive effort in a Beanpot consolation loss to Northeastern.
At the time, he was on a line with Tim Pettit and Tom Cavanagh.
Since that time, Kolarik's been moved on to a wing with freshmen
Kevin Du and Steve Mandes, and seems to be a happier hockey player,
was detailed in The Harvard Crimson earlier this
old linemates are now joined by Ryan Maki. The emerging trio of
Brendan Bernakevitch, Dennis Packard and Rob Fried gives the Crimson
three stable and productive lines as the playoffs approach. The
return to health of centerman Charlie Johnson is also good news
Canton, lineup selection problems are the concern, as St.
Lawrence's second-leading scorer, T.J. Trevelyan, suffered
a concussion during the first period of last Saturday's game against
Harvard and did not return to action. His status for this weekend
is still up in the air.
Warner Sports channel 26 in central and northern New York will
televise both of this weekend's games from Lynah Rink. Friday's
contest between St. Lawrence and Cornell
will be shown on a 90-minute tape-delay basis, with the broadcast
beginning at 8:30 p.m. Saturday's Clarkson-Cornell
game will be on a two-hour delay. The broadcast starts at 9 p.m.
game between fourth-place Dartmouth and second-place
Brown will be broadcast in New England by Cox
3 TV, live at 7 p.m. from Brown's Meehan Auditorium.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.