March 11, 2004
Anybody's Guess

By Joe Gladziszewski


Adam Mitchell and Colgate begin play in the ECAC tournament as the league's No. 1 seed.
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One of the things that makes the ECAC such an enjoyable league to follow is the fact that every weekend brings surprises. Intriguing storylines and emerging talents give coaches, players, fans, and writers plenty to talk about on a weekly basis. Among the major stories this year were:

• Colgate's regular season title: Save for a few folks in the Colgate dressing room, nobody expected the Raiders would have the type of season they produced. Every time they were faced with a big-game situation the Raiders responded with a solid performance. How does a 7-0-1 record against the next four teams in the standings sound? Colgate's longest losing streak was two games, and the longest winless streak was three.

• Harvard's so-so campaign: Preseason expectations were very high for the Crimson and those expectations weren't met. Harvard showed flashes of its vast potential but inconsistent efforts led to a sub-.500 season and sixth-place league finish.

• Vermont's improvement: The Catamounts were the only winless team in the nation as Christmas approached. A young team, with a new coach, came together down the stretch and posted a 5-2-1 record in the month of February.

• Len Quesnelle's dismissal: Princeton finished in last place for the second year in a row. A 17-game winless streak to end the year spelled the end for former Tiger player and assistant coach Len Quesnelle.

• Mike Schafer's suspension: A post-game tirade about league officiating, and specifically Joel Dupree's administration of a Jan. 17 loss to Rensselaer, resulted in a one-game suspension for Cornell coach Mike Schafer.

 Quarterfinal Matchups

No. 10 St. Lawrence at
No. 1 Colgate
SLU: 7-12-3 ECAC, 13-19-6 overall
GATE: 14-6-2 ECAC, 19-10-5 overall
Season Series: Split 1-1.

Saint Fact: The Saints blasted Colgate 5-1 on Nov. 14 in Canton. It was Colgate's worst loss of the year.
Raider Fact: Colgate's football team went to the Division I-AA title game and women's basketball team won the Patriot League and automatic NCAA bid earlier this week. Can the men's hockey team keep up with
its colleagues in Hamilton?

How St. Lawrence wins: Maintain the positive momentum gained from
last week's sweep at Yale. Confidence shouldn't be a problem for SLU after those wins, and some measure of success against Colgate in the regular season.
How Colgate wins: Playoff success starts with good goaltending, and
the Raiders have one of the best around in Steve Silverthorn. If he
can keep SLU at bay while his team fights home-ice jitters, Colgate should eventually pull it out.

No. 9 Clarkson at No. 2 Cornell
CLK: 8-12-2 ECAC, 15-16-5 overall
COR: 13-6-3 ECAC, 15-8-6 overall
Season Series: Cornell won 1-0-1

Golden Knight Fact: By scoring 13 goals in last weekend's sweep of
Union, Clarkson eclipsed its 12-goal weekend against Mercyhurst in
early January.
Big Red Fact: Cornell has a winning all-time record against every one
of its ECAC opponents...except for Clarkson. The Golden Knights
lead the all-time series 44-42-9, but Cornell is 9-1-1 in the last
11 meetings.

How Clarkson wins: The Golden Knights have been able to learn from
experiences throughout the year, and coach George Roll feels that his young team is more prepared for Cornell and Lynah after playing there
two weeks ago.
How Cornell wins: The Big Red's key to success doesn't change from
the regular season to the post-season – solid defense, good
goaltending from David McKee, and scrubbing together a few goals here
and there.

No. 6 Harvard at No. 3 Brown
H: 10-10-2 ECAC, 14-14-3 overall
BU: 13-7-2 ECAC, 15-9-5 overall
Season Series: Brown won 2-0-0

Crimson Fact: Goaltender Dov-Grumet Morris posted a modern-day school record 184:35 scoreless streak that included parts of four games over the last two weekends.
Bear Fact: Yann Danis put his name on the map with a 66-save effort against Harvard as a sophomore. All of his heroics still couldn't prevent a 2-1 double OT playoff loss. Since then, Danis is 3-1-0 against Harvard with two shutouts.

How Harvard wins: Improved play by Morris and line combinations that
are clicking have the Crimson playing its best hockey at the right time of the year.
How Brown wins: The Bears need to find the power-play magic that carried them through the first half of the season. After going 1-for-30 on the PP in a five-game winless streak, Brown exploded for four goals in seven chances last time out.

No. 5 Rensselaer at
No. 4 Dartmouth

RPI: 13-8-1 ECAC, 21-13-2 overall
DC: 10-5-7 ECAC, 12-8-9 overall
Season Series: Dartmouth won 1-0-1

Engineer Fact: RPI's current four-game winning streak is its longest
of the season. They've scored 19 goals in the stretch.
Big Green Fact: Dartmouth finished in fourth place and earned home
ice for this round, despite winning fewer than half of its league
games (10 of 22).

How Rensselaer wins: Sophomore forward Kevin Croxton is the team's
leading scorer, and RPI is 19-7-1 when he gets his name on the scoresheet. He didn't score on Saturday, and the Engineers were
stretched to overtime by lowly Princeton.
How Dartmouth wins: The Big Green have been tough to beat at Thompson Arena over the last two seasons, losing only six times in 30 home contests. The venue might be the only advantage Dartmouth needs.

Anything can happen in the ECAC, and to call anyone a favorite is frankly quite silly. See the preseason polls for all of the evidence you need. However, for the playoffs, we'll tab Colgate as the favorite because they've shown they can beat the other contenders. The Raiders are 8-0-1 this season against Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth, and Rensselaer. Sixth-place Harvard has given Colgate fits, with a pair of two-goal wins.

Rensselaer has strong goaltending in Nathan Marsters, excellent senior leadership from co-captains Scott Basiuk and Ben Barr, and came into the year with a sense of purpose. One year ago, the Engineers were 12-25-3. That left a sour taste during the offseason. RPI has turned things around with a 19-13-2 heading into this weekend's series at Dartmouth. The Engineers have the right mix of goaltending, scoring, defense, and team chemistry.


F – Rich Peverley, St. Lawrence
He may not get the notoriety of other guys around the league, but Peverley's as dangerous as they come, evidenced by his league-high 41 points. The senior from Guelph, Ontario led the Saints in scoring for the third year in a row and was a team co-captain.

F – Adam Mitchell, Colgate
Not only did he finish second on his team in scoring, his leadership and attitude were a big part of Colgate's success and the development of young players. He tallied 23 of his 31 points at even strength.

F – Lee Stempniak, Dartmouth
He tied for the team lead in scoring and ranked in the top-five in the ECAC in points in conference games. Stempniak is equally dangerous as a finisher or set-up man. Coach Bob Gaudet likes how Stempniak brings a well-rounded game to the rink every night.

D – Scott Basiuk, Rensselaer
This do-it-all defenseman helps his team in so many ways. His 25 points are an impressive contribution, and lately he's been scoring big goals at critical stages of important games.

D – Ben Wallace, Cornell
The senior defenseman played through injury for most of the year, and was the glue of the Big Red's stingy defense. His leadership was necessary when fellow star rearguard Charlie Cook missed four games at crucial points of the season.

G – Yann Danis, Brown
Simply stated, Danis is the best pure goaltender in the nation. His numbers are spectacular, and his decision to spurn NHL overtures to return to Brown gave the Bears a sense of purpose early in the season. Take 100 shots on Danis and you’ll score five times.


This one's a no-brainer in the ECAC, and the same probably holds true in evaluating coaches from across the country. Colgate's Stan Moore did exactly what a coach is supposed to do. He helped his team reach its potential. Moore's best asset as a coach is his ability to communicate with players, and he's shown that he knows how to get the best out of a player whether it takes encouragement or discipline. Colgate went 11-3-2 over its final 16 conference games despite being without stalwart defenseman Joey Mormina.

Wait a can the player of the year not be on the INCH All-Conference team? Other goalies have posted better numbers, but it's hard to argue that they're more valuable to their teams than Colgate junior netminder Steve Silverthorn. His emergence as the number-one guy after two years of platoon work coincided with Colgate's second half success. And he showed up when the games mattered. Head-to-head against Danis, Silverthorn was 2-0-0. He shutout Cornell at Lynah Rink in late January and then stood up for a teammate involved in a scrap with six seconds left. He beat Rensselaer three times, including one non-conference game, and got a win and a tie against Dartmouth. There may be better goalies around, but in terms of the overall picture, we'll take Silverthorn.

If you saw Nate Ewell's Hockey East article this week, you may have noticed that it was a decidedly down year for the crop of rookies in that conference. The same can't be said in the ECAC. Not only were freshmen able to make the leap from junior hockey to the college game, they were impact players. Three true candidates emerged for this honor and all have legitimate credentials. Like goaltending? Then Cornell's David McKee is the man. A high-scoring forward? Then Brown's Brian Ihnacak is the way to go. Our choice is Dartmouth's standout blueliner Grant Lewis. He assumed some major responsibility despite his youth, as the Big Green lost three starters from their defense corps in the off-season. Lewis chipped in with 25 points from the blueline and led ECAC defenseman in points per game. Scouts are high on Lewis, who will be a coveted talent in June's NHL Entry Draft.

"Breakthrough" might not be a strong enough word to describe the kind of season that Colgate sophomore Jon Smyth had. As a freshman, Smyth played in 25 games, scored a pair of goals, and added an assist. This season, he became one of the top offensive threats in the nation. He leads the team with 39 points. Smyth skates on the left wing with a pair of linemates from Port Elgin, Ontario – childhood pals Darryl McKinnon and Adam Mitchell.

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

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