December 28, 2006
Toyota UConn Holiday Classic

Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum • Storrs, Conn.

Holiday Tournament Preview


Friday, December 29
Colgate vs. Northeastern, 4 p.m.
Holy Cross at Connecticut, 7:15 p.m.

Saturday, December 30
Third-place game, 4 p.m.
Championship, 7:15 p.m.


Bowling Green defeated Massachusetts 3-2, and registered a 9-2 rout of the host Huskies in the championship game to take the UConn Holiday Classic title in 2005. The Falcons' Alex Foster scored four points (all assists) in the tournament's two games. James Unger, Brett Pilkington, and Mike Nesdill each posted three points in the tourney final.


Since UConn joined the Division I ranks prior to the 1998-99 season, it has a 7-8-1 record in its holiday tournament. All but one of the wins came against a MAAC/Atlantic Hockey foe, the lone exception being a 1-0 triumph over ex-CHA member Air Force in the 2003 championship game.


The goaltenders in Friday's first semifinal — Colgate's Mark Dekanich and Northeastern's Brad Thiessen — have been effective despite lackluster won-loss records and middle-of-the-pack goals against averages. Dekanich boasts a .912 save percentage, while Thiesen has a save percentage of .909. Neither team is an offensive powerhouse (Colgate is 37th nationally in scoring offense, Northeastern is 47th) but the Raiders have an edge with a pair of talented forwards in junior Tyler Burton and senior Marc Fulton. Keep an eye on the Huskies' penalty kill, the nation's fifth best. Sophomore forward Joe Vitale has four goals this season, half of which are of short-handed variety. James Sixsmith of Holy Cross ranks 10th nationally in scoring with 6-21—27 in 17 games, while defenseman Jon Landry, with 19 points so far this year, is well on his way to eclipsing the career-high 29 points he scored as a junior last season. Connecticut has three players averaging a point per game or more this season led by forwards Chris Myhro and Matt Scherer, who have identical 11-7—18 scoring lines. Scherer has scored six of his goals on the power play.


The tourney's first game is one featuring a Colgate team disappointed with its middling 7-10-2 start against a Northeastern club that's better than its 4-9-2 record would indicate (the Huskies have lost four games by one goal and were twice beaten by second-ranked New Hampshire by 3-1 margins.) A Northeastern win wouldn't be a shock here, but we'll give the Raiders the nod here based on their slightly more reliable offensive attack. The combatants in the nightcap are a Connecticut squad that's allowed four or more goals 10 times in 17 games and a Holy Cross team that's 0-3-2 since beating — surprise! — UConn in Worcester Nov. 21. The Crusaders' recent woes have been on offense (just nine goals in the last five games), but they're certainly capable of scoring in bunches, and the goaltending tandem of freshmen Ian Dams and Tyler Chestnut is steadier than UConn's Scott Tomes-Jon Anderson combo.

Look for Colgate to win the tournament with a confidence-building rout of Holy Cross in the final. Burton, Fulton and fellow forwards Jesse Winchester and Tom Riley are too much for the Crusaders to handle, Northeastern will beat the hosts in the third-place game on the strength of Thiessen and its stifling penalty killing unit.

— Mike Eidelbes