Toyota UConn Holiday Classic
Edward Freitas Ice Forum • Storrs, Conn.
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.
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.
HOW WE SEE IT
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