Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Know Your Enemy: Colgate

We're closing in on the regular season now, and we've still got three teams to look at to close out our Summer Cooler series - so they're going to start coming fast and furious now rather than just one a week. Today we're looking at a team that doesn't necessarily have a long and distinguished past, but at the very least has had some flashes of excellence combined with generally having a competent team every season - competent enough to give RPI fits regularly.

Nickname: Raiders
Location: Hamilton, NY
Founded: 1819
Conference: ECAC
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2005
Last Frozen Four: 1990
Coach: Don Vaughan (18th season)
2009-10 Record: 15-15-6 (12-8-2 ECAC, 4th place)
Series: RPI leads, 54-52-3
First Game: February 19, 1916 (Hamilton, NY)
Last RPI win: January 16, 2009 (Troy, NY)
Last CU win: February 26, 2010 (Hamilton, NY)

2010-11 games: January 15, 2011 (Hamilton, NY); February 11, 2011 (Troy, NY)
Key players: F Brian Day, sr.; F Francois Brisebois, sr.; F Austin Smith, jr.; F Nick Prockow, jr.; F Robbie Bourdon, so.; F Chris Wagner, fr.; D Wade Poplawski, sr.; D Kevin McNamara, sr.; D Corbin McPherson, jr.; D Thomas Larkin, so.; D Jeremy Price, so.; G Alex Evin, jr.

Key losses: F David McIntyre, F Jason Williams, G Charles Long

Colgate managed to earn a first-round bye last year by winning games against lesser teams - the only teams the Raiders beat last year with winning records were RIT, and RPI twice. That may be part of the reason they were swept in the first round by St. Lawrence. But as you can see, they bring back a solid core of experienced players who turned in great seasons last year.

The Red Raiders' first game against RPI was also the first game in their history - a 6-1 victory for Colgate in Hamilton in 1916, their only game that year. The team would not be firmly established as a regular program for another 12 years, eventually coming under the tutelage of Colgate professor Howie Starr, who took the reins in 1933. Although the Red Raiders struggled through the Great Depression with eight losing seasons during the 1930s, Starr would have the team among the best in the east at the end of the decade despite lacking an indoor rink.

In 1942, Starr (a World War I veteran) enlisted in the Army despite being old enough to avoid being drafted. The following year, the team went 11-0 despite his absence, following up on a 10-3 record the previous year. Like many other programs, the final years of World War II saw the team put on the shelf, but when Starr returned in 1946, so did the Red Raiders. In 1947, Starr oversaw an undefeated and untied season of his own, guiding Colgate to a 14-0-0 record that, had it come a year later, may have seen the Red Raiders invited to the very first NCAA Tournament. They would not achieve an invite in Starr's final three years, and he retired in 1950.

Colgate was an inaugural member of the Tri-State League in the 1950-51 season, but after a 2-7 record and struggling to complete with Clarkson, St. Lawrence, and RPI, all of which had indoor rinks on campus, the Red Raiders left the league and dropped hockey - the team would be dormant throughout most of the 1950s.

The opening of Starr Rink in 1959 heralded the return of Colgate hockey, just in time for the formation of the ECAC in 1961. It took the Red Raiders a few years to get up to speed, but by the time the ECAC opened for business, Colgate was regularly near the top of the standings in the eastern superconference in the early 60s.

The team generally finished with records near .500 into the late 60s, but the 1970s were not as kind. After a 14-7-3 season in 1970, the Red Raiders endured eight consecutive losing seasons, including a 5-22-1 record in 1978 in coach Terry Slater's first season. That stands today as one of the worst records Colgate has ever turned in, but it would not become a regular thing for Slater's teams.

As the 1980s got underway, Slater got the Red Raiders back into contention within the ECAC. Just three years after bottoming out, Slater and his charges - which included former RPI head coach Dan Fridgen - brought the program to a new high with their first 20-win season in 1981, which in turn delivered the Red Raiders to their very first NCAA tournament appearance. It was the preface for an outstanding decade in Hamilton, which would see the Red Raiders regularly appearing near the top of the ECAC standings in nearly every year of the decade.

In 1990, Slater almost brought Colgate all the way to the top. That season, the Red Raiders ran away with the ECAC regular season title, beat RPI 5-4 for their first (and thus far, only) ECAC title, and then made a run through the NCAAs in only their second ever appearance, reaching the national championship game in Detroit against Wisconsin. The Badgers would win the day, 7-3, but the future looked very bright in Hamilton after a 31-6-1 season.

But two seasons later, tragedy struck. Shortly after the Red Raiders completed a tough road weekend at Kent State in December, Terry Slater suffered a stroke, dying four days later on his 54th birthday. Assistant Brian Durocher, now the head coach of the women's team at Boston University, would take over for the remainder of the year, but the program had the awesome task of replacing the man who had spearheaded Colgate's rise to the top just 20 months prior.

The job fell to Don Vaughan, who returned Colgate to their winning ways with a 20-win season in 1995, keeping the team competitive through the remainder of the decade, which culminated with a third NCAA bid in 2000. The recently rechristened "Raiders" (dropping the red) struggled through three straight losing seasons afterwards, but would unexpectedly win the ECAC regular season in 2004 under the guidance of assistant coach Stan Moore, who took the reins for a season while Vaughan served as interim athletic director at Colgate. Moore was named ECAC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career, having previously won the award at Union, but Vaughan returned as expected the following season, leading the Raiders to an NCAA appearance in 2005 and a second Cleary Cup in 2006.

Since then, Colgate has been a formidable opponent for the most part, but has not returned to the upper levels of the league. Their ECAC championship game appearance in 1990 remains the only one the team has ever made, and their NCAA championship game appearance that same year remains the last by an ECAC program.

This year, the Raiders may be in a good position to regain a position in the upper reaches of the ECAC. One thing we should be able to count on from Colgate this season is defense - they return basically every major element from last year's defensive corps, which was about the definition of the league average last year as a young unit.

Offensively, the Raiders lose a star player in McIntyre, but otherwise return basically every significant scorer from last year's third-best offense in the league, especially Day and Smith, the latter of whom was recently a preseason All-ECAC selection of both the coaches and the media. The bottom line for Colgate is that scoring, like the defensive protection at the blueline, should be not only ample, but in plentiful supply.

The question marks lie in net for the Raiders. Long and Evin split time in net last year, and neither put up especially outstanding numbers, practically becoming a drag on the overall team defense. Where RPI seems to be fairly solid in net and has a few issues on the blue line, Colgate is basically the exact opposite. Evin returns as the most experienced netminder on the Raiders' roster and the likely starter, but there are three other options between the pipes, including Evin's classmate, Bryan Bessette, who has three career starts, and a pair of freshmen with promising junior resumes.

Colgate should be a very solid team this year, but they seem to have had RPI's number for quite some time. RPI's longest single-building winless streak in the ECAC is at Starr Rink, and it's not even close. While the Engineers have racked up at least one win in every league rink over the course of the last two seasons, RPI hasn't pulled out the victory in Hamilton since November 9, 2001, going 0-7-1 there in the last seven years. Expect the games between the Engineers and the Raiders in January and February to be tightly fought - and meaningful for the race for the bye.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Upcoming Podcast: David Kilfoil, Arlan Marttila

We're settling into a solid time for our podcasts - they're probably going to be Wednesdays at 8pm unless we need something different in a given week to accommodate our guests. This week will be at the new normal time of 8pm on Wednesday, September 29th.

This week, we have two featured guests from opposite ends of the college hockey continent. We'll be joined by The CIS Blog contributor David Kilfoil, who will clue us in on what to expect in the Engineers' exhibition game against the University of New Brunswick in a week's time, as well as give us a rundown of the hierarchy as it pertains to college hockey in Canada.

We'll also talk to Gopher Puck Live's Arlan Marttila. Arlan covers the Minnesota women's team for GPL and and is one of the finest sources for information about the wild wild west, where the Engineers head this coming weekend as they venture to Madison to take on the Badgers. Arlan will let us know what the expectations are for #5 Wisconsin, as well as give us the low down on the WCHA this season.

As always, you can surf on over to our Blog Talk Radio page for more information, and to sign up for a reminder email about our broadcast. Or, you can just click "Listen to Without a Peer" in the upper right hand corner.

The player below features our last podcast, with special guest John Burke.

Listen to internet radio with Without a Peer on Blog Talk Radio

Monday, September 27, 2010

Men's Hockey - ECAC Preview

As a member of the ECAC Hockey Writers and Broadcasters Association, I have a ballot in the EHWBA's annual preseason media poll, which outlines the media's expectations for the coming season (and is often compared against the coaches' poll). The ballots are not made public and a lot of the voters choose not to expose themselves to criticism. Which is certainly understandable.

Well, I'm used to criticism. So here it is. My ballot.

Realistically, there's always more of a "band" breakdown in the ECAC at the start of any given season than a solid 1-12 ranking, even though we are asked to rank teams in that way. Where the bands exist depends on the relative quality of the teams in question. Teams in any of the bands could finish anywhere within that band. Sometimes, the bands are as simple as 1, 2-11, and 12. This year, it's a touch different. This year, I think the bands are 1, 2-6, 7, and 8-12.

As you'll shortly see, I disagree with most of the poll's final placements, but I do at least concur on which teams are the top six, and which are the bottom six.

1. Yale (1st coaches [11/12], 1st media [25/30])- The Bulldogs are head and shoulders above the rest of the league and are the clear favorite to win a third-consecutive Cleary Cup. Their only weakness is in goal, but their offensive strengths will mitigate that regularly. Yale is already a fair preseason pick for the Frozen Four, if they get their goaltending situation straight and get bolstered by a good incoming class they could be competing for a national championship.

2. Dartmouth (6th/6th) - The Big Green awaken from a two-year slumber with some dynamite offense and adequate defense that, while not on Yale's level of excellence, should be enough to make them a top contender in the ECAC. They have a pair of goaltenders who have demonstrated the ability to be among the best in the conference - if one or both of them can show it again, the sky is the limit.

3. Colgate (5th/4th [2/30]) - Balance is the watchword in Hamilton. While the Raiders graduated one of their most recognizable offensive stars, they still have a ton of talented - and experienced - scorers returning this season, as well as a decent amount of tested blueliners. Like Yale and Dartmouth, goaltending is going to be the issue. Will they have someone who can step up and lead them to the top of the league?

4. Cornell (2nd [1/12]/2nd [2/30])- Even in a down year for Cornell, they're still going to be right there fighting for an quite possibly earning a first-round bye. Despite losing a lot of talented scoring and the best goaltender in the league in the offseason, the Big Red's defensive mentality will probably be enough to get them by more often than not.

5. RPI (4th/5th) - The Engineers would have challenged Yale for the top spot if they'd returned all of their underclassmen, but as it is RPI still returns a very experienced team loaded with seniors, a Hobey Baker finalist, and the best returning goaltender (statistically) in the league. It's hard to throw all that away.

6. Union (3rd/3rd [1/30]) - The defense isn't in question for the Dutchmen, but the offense is. The defense is solid enough and what offense they return is ample enough to pencil Union in for a home-ice slot in the first week of March, but they're going to need to show more than what they have on paper to vie for another first-round bye.

7. Brown (11th/11th) - The thing I like about Brown that has them solidly ahead of the back-of-the-pack band is their experience and the level of commitment the players showed to playing Brendan Whittet's system last March. They have significant weaknesses on defense, but their offense and their system will be enough to win them some games - not enough to shoot for the top four, but probably enough to at last get a home-ice series.

8. Princeton (10th/9th) - Someone has to get the final home-ice slot, and while I feel like none of the bottom five teams are especially good enough for it, Princeton is my dark horse for that final spot. The Tigers underwhelmed last year and then lost a significant chunk of the talent that was supposed to have them battling Yale at the top of the table, but there's at least a little bit of everything, even if it doesn't add up to be terribly overwhelming.

9. Quinnipiac (8th/8th) - The Bobcats have one thing going for them this year, and it's their goaltending. Besides having one of the best goaltenders in the league, they also have the deepest bench in the league between the pipes. Unfortunately, the offense took a massive hit and will be very young, as will many of the defensemen, who were young last year as well. The offensive questions are the ones most in need of answering.

10. Clarkson (12th/12th) - It'll be hard to be much worse than they were last season, but the Golden Knights are at the very least another year older, and considering that the major issues last year were inexperience and injuries, they should at least be somewhat better as long as the injuries don't come back. The goaltending situation, however, needs to improve drastically for Clarkson to shoot for home ice.

11. Harvard (7th/10th) - It's back to the drawing board in Cambridge for sure. The Crimson relied heavily on their star freshman last season - he led the team in scoring with only 23 points - and now he's gone. The goaltending has been known to be good occasionally, but it's difficult to look at the roster as it's comprised and be able to see a team capable of putting together a solid run in the ECAC.

12. St. Lawrence (9th/7th) - Someone has to be last. It may not end up being St. Lawrence, but there's not much to like in Canton this season. Two senior goaltenders gone, a truckload of scoring gone, and other than a couple of talented young blueliners and a promising young forward, it's hard to find the core of a team that is going to be in the running for much of anything. The hope in Canton has to be behind the bench- Joe Marsh has been known to wring more from his teams than people reasonably expect. If I had to do it over I might have moved them up a bit on Marsh alone but a coach by himself is never a given.

My preseason All-ECAC ballot:
G Dan Clarke, Quinnipiac - This one is probably the most wide open position in the league, and my vote went to Clarke over RPI's Allen York (the choice of the coaches) and Union's Keith Kinkaid (the choice of the media). More than the latter two, Clarke has the ability to carry his team farther up in the standings on his own if he plays to his ability - we saw it in the first three months last year.

D Evan Stephens, Dartmouth - You name it, he does it, and does it pretty well. I had Stephens on my preseason ballot last year and he did not disappoint. A Third Team All-ECAC selection last year, Stephens is perhaps the best all-around defenseman returning this season. He moves the puck well and can be a pain deep in his zone. He was a consensus pick between the coaches and the media.

D Taylor Fedun, Princeton - Fedun was one of the pests that made the Freakout! intolerable last season. A Second Team All-ECAC pick, Fedun takes the mantle of "best quarterback" from Yale's Tom Dignard, who graduated last year. He has great vision for delivering the puck from the blue line to where it can be best utilized within the offensive zone. The coaches selected St. Lawrence's George Hughes, while the media picked Cornell's Nick D'Agostino, both sophomores.

F Chase Polacek, RPI - Only two of ten Hobey Baker finalists from last year are returning to school this fall. Polacek is one of them. The reigning ECAC scoring champion, and a First Team All-ECAC selection, he's an obvious choice - and was a consensus selection of both the coaches and the media.

F Broc Little, Yale - Another obvious and consensus choice, given his 20-goal ECAC campaign last season. A First Team All-ECAC pick last year, Little is the spearhead of the Bulldogs' scary offense. Little is my second repeat from last year's ballot.

F Scott Fleming, Dartmouth - If you're not familiar with Fleming yet, prepare to become aware. Last year, he silently put up 22 goals to lead the Big Green in that category for the second year running. His linemate Adam Estoclet tends to, in my view, get more attention (and was one of my other potential choices for this slot), but Fleming is just as dangerous with the puck and has a great scoring touch. The coaches and media both took Colgate's Austin Smith, who was another one of my potential choices here and a good selection.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Women's Hockey - Montreal (25 Sep)

RPI opened its season in fine fashion this afternoon, rolling to an 8-3 exhibition win over the University of Montreal after getting off to a slow start. Junior forward Jill Vandegrift notched a hat-trick and an assist in the win, the freshmen played a solid first game, and Shannon Ramelot played relatively well in net for the Engineers.

By the middle of the first period, the Engineers found themselves in a 2-0 hole as Montreal capitalized on two bad turnovers in quick succession at 11:57 and 12:34 of the frame. It became clear early that Montreal hoped to win the game by capitalizing on RPI mistakes, as they didn’t quite have the talent needed to win any other way. Unfortunately for Montreal, the mistakes decreased rapidly as the Engineers found their feet, and once the Engineer train started rolling, there was no stopping it.

A little more than two minutes after Montreal’s second goal, Jill Vandegrift scored her first of the night as she put home a Toni Sanders rebound to narrow the margin to 2-1 at 14:15. Freshman Jordan Smelker made an impact starting in the first period, covering more ice than most other players from either team, and tenaciously going after the puck and winning battles. She was noticeable throughout the entire game, and showed none of the tentative tendencies freshmen frequently do.

While the teams headed to the locker room with Montreal holding a 2-1 lead, it took fewer than three minutes to see a goal in the second period. With Jill Vandegrift off the ice for a cross-checking penalty, Montreal’s Annie-Claude Dumans roofed a beautiful backhand shot past Shannon Ramelot to give Montreal a 3-1 lead. It looked like Montreal would give the Engineers more of a challenge then they bargained for, but things quickly fell apart for the Carabins. Just two minutes after Dumans’ goal, Andie Le Donne lobbed an innocuous shot in from the blue line, and it lofted over Montreal goalie Rachel Ouellette’s glove to bring RPI back within one. RPI’s special teams took over for the rest of the second period, controlling play for most of the frame despite several Engineer penalties during that time.

On RPI’s first power play opportunity, granted after a Montreal player went a tad overboard with the pushing and shoving in front of the net, Katie Daniels scooped up a rebound which was fired off the post, and pushed it past Ouellette to tie the score at three. Later, with Le Donne in the box for body checking, the Engineers channeled Ben Barr and notched a pair of shorthanded goals on the same penalty. Smelker made it 4-3 after skating circles around a pair of Montreal defenders and burying one past Ouellette. A minute and a quarter later, Sydney O’Keefe fired a rocket of a shot which was tipped in front of the net by Jill Vandegrift for her second of the game, increasing RPI’s lead to 5-3.

The third period was nearly all RPI just as the second was. Montreal looked for a spark in the third with a goaltending change between periods, but Taylor Horton quickly squashed those hopes by scoring on the first shot of the period, just 17 seconds in, making it 6-3. Vandegrift completed the hat-trick just past the midway of the period as she and Smelker broke in alone on goalie Joanie Grand-Maison. Smelker fed a perfect pass to Vandegrift who had an empty net to shoot at with Montreal’s netminder sprawled out across the ice. Sanders finished the scoring for RPI with a little over two minutes remaining as she poked home her own rebound which Grand-Maison failed to cover.

As mentioned above, the game was a fantastic one for RPI’s new freshmen. While Montreal may not have been the most talented team, the freshmen stumbled for a few minutes early in the game but once they got their game going, they played strong, smart hockey throughout the rest of the match. Smelker was probably the best of the freshmen overall, but Madison Marzario was solid on defense, making several smart defensive plays and hassling Montreal forwards throughout the game. Nona Letuligasenoa, listed at defense, played forward but did so with a defensive mindset and made several good defensive plays of her own. Missy Mankey finished the game with a -2 rating and had the most trouble of the freshmen on the ice, getting beaten several times early on, but her game solidified as time went on as well.

The obvious player of the game was Jill Vandegrift with her 4-point effort, setting the tone for the team and stepping up to provide some of that scoring we knew the upperclassmen would need to come up with. With three goals on five shots, her shots were laser-guided and she was tough for the Montreal players to contain.

Next week, the real season starts as RPI hits the road for Madison, Wisconsin for a pair of games against Wisconsin. One of the perennial powers in women’s hockey, the Badgers should give us a much better idea of what to expect from this Engineer squad, as they’re more of a known quantity than Montreal, who even Coach Burke admitted in an interview earlier this week he knew very little about. The Carabins put up a good fight for a team in its second year, but by the end of the game just couldn’t keep up. Wisconsin likely won’t have any such trouble.


RPI vs. University of Montreal
Exhibition Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
9/25/10 – 4:00pm
RPI 8, UM 3

RECORD: 0-0-0 (0-0-0 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Oct. 1 - @ Wisconsin (8:07pm)
Oct. 2 - @ Wisconsin (8:07pm)
Oct. 8 - Vermont (7pm)
Oct. 9 - Vermont (4pm)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If You Build It, They Will Come

With the women's exhibition game taking place at the Field House today (an 8-3 RPI win - recap will be up tomorrow), we had an opportunity to take some new photos of the construction in progress. We forgot to grab a photo of the front facade, but it's still under construction along with the reconstruction of the circular driveway in front of the box office. All told, it doesn't look like the construction is anywhere near done, and we'll probably be looking at at least a few weeks of working around it for games in Troy.

Click any thumbnail for a larger version.


When we last had a look inside HFH, the new structure in Section 1's place was basically a bunch of steel, with no real defining characteristics to demonstrate what the finished product would look like. It's now pretty easy to see what's in store for the west end of the rink, and already it looks good.


You can see the large VIP area in the center of the upper floor, along with what look like smaller boxes or similar rooms flanking on either side. You can see the existing exterior doors in the background on the left and center of the photo.


The green box coming out the top left of this photo is the elevator shaft that will serve the upper floor. The stairs are far to the left near the concession stand, out of the view of this shot. An angled front wall and overhanging floor platform project the VIP seating area out toward the ice - it looks like there will be two rows of seats in the front of that platform based on the tiered concrete that's there.


From a distance, the new new structure does a great job filling the void between the corner sections. It really adds something to the view on the west end of the rink, and surprisingly goes a long way toward making the Field House look much more modern, even while all this work is unfinished. While there's nothing built above this area yet, it looks like prime real estate for a future relocated press area.


The new lighting is about 90% complete, with just one row of lights at center ice left to be replaced. Coupled with the new paint job on the structure and the natural light from the west windows, the rink is much brighter overall, as are the seats. The color of the new fixtures and lamps is also much improved over the old ones, so the Poly's photographers should be able to stop having nightmares about shooting at HFH.


Another look at the east end of the rink where the stage once stood. The band will be in section 13 for at least the first half of the season, in the red seats to the far right near the column in the photo above. If the stage returns at all, it won't be until December once all construction is completely buttoned up and no more equipment needs to come and go from the large roll-up door in the center of the east wall of HFH.


As the afternoon wore on, the sun started to drop to the west and we saw some glare in the building. Most of the window area was covered by translucent plastic due to the construction - the sun you see is coming from the areas that weren't covered. We'd be surprised if there's not some sort of covering installed in the finished product to let light in without the glare for afternoon games.


A shot of the scoreboard and north side after the final buzzer of RPI's 8-3 win. Notice the big streak of light hitting the seats on the north side - this was from a roughly 6x6 foot patch of uncovered glass near the top corner of the west wall. If all the glass was uncovered, most of the north stands and much of the ice would likely have been washed in a similar glare.

As we can see, construction has come a long way since we last had a glimpse inside the Field House, but there's a lot left to be done. While most will be able to see the progress for themselves in the coming weeks, we'll keep you updated with periodic photos as construction nears completion.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Men's Hockey - 2010-11 Season Preview

With the season now upon us - we get our first glance at the men in just eight days in the Cherry and White scrimmage - it's about time to sit down and analyze the Engineers. We've attempted to break down the team a couple of times early in the offseason, but the changes never stopped coming.

First, we'll analyze the schedule for the upcoming season.

The season kicks off a week from Tuesday with an exhibition against New Brunswick. The Varsity Reds will be playing their third game in four days, as they also have games at UMass and Vermont on the preceding Saturday and Sunday. As we saw last season against Prince Edward Island, the Canadian schools in the Maritimes are no pushovers, and UNB should provide an excellent challenge for the Engineers.

Three nights later, the games that count get underway as RPI plays a weekend series out west against Colorado College. They return east the next weekend to face Northeastern in Boston followed by the home opener the next night against Bentley on Homecoming weekend.

The first full home weekend follows, as the Engineers host RIT and Niagara, and a week later, RPI returns to the home of the Miracle on Ice for the first time in eight years as they face off against Union in a non-conference game the night before Halloween.

From there, the ECAC schedule gets underway as RPI travels to Dartmouth and Harvard on the first weekend of the month. The following weekend, the Union home-and-home weekend returns, with the meeting in Schenectady coming on 11/12 and the return trip to Troy coming the next night. As that Saturday night's game is the only ECAC home game before January, Black Friday has become Black Saturday this season.

After a week off, the November schedule concludes after Thanksgiving with the annual RPI Invitational. The Engineers face UConn on Friday before taking on Bowling Green or Alabama-Huntsville on Saturday.

On December 3rd, the Engineers try to make it three in a row against Yale in New Haven, and face playoff nemesis Brown the next night in Providence. They return home the next weekend for the annual game against traditional rivals Boston University.

From there, the team is pretty much done with the first half of the season, but they do return eight days later to face the US World Junior team in Troy - likely including Jerry D'Amigo - for the Yanks' tune-up and final audition game before they head to Buffalo to defend their title.

After Christmas, the Engineers take a vacation down south, but it's a working vacation as they play on 12/30 and New Year's Eve against Alabama-Huntsville.

From there, it's all ECAC matchups for RPI - 16 games, 10 of which are at home. It begins in the second weekend of the new year as Clarkson and St. Lawrence come to town - during break, unfortunately. The remainder of break is taken up with a road weekend at Cornell and Colgate.

Students should, however, be back in town for the longest homestand of the year as Harvard and Dartmouth come to town to finish the season series with those teams, followed in the last weekend of January by Brown and Yale - the Yale matchup being this year's Big Red Freakout! on 1/29.

The final month of the regular season kicks off with a road weekend at Quinnipiac and Princeton, playing those teams for the first time on the year even after having already finished the season series with four other squads. They return home the following weekend for Colgate and Cornell.

The dreaded North Country trip comes in the final road weekend of the regular season as the Engineers face St. Lawrence and Clarkson, finishing the season the following weekend with their second Princeton/Quinnipiac series of the month, with the Bobcats on 2/26 coming in for senior night.

That's the schedule. Now, the team. Seniors are listed in italics.

Departed since last September (6) : Jerry D'Amigo, Paul Kerins, Christian Morrisette, Brandon Pirri, Garett Vassel, Jordan Watts.
Returning (12): Alex Angers-Goulet, Kevin Beauregard, Bryan Brutlag, Patrick Cullen, Scott Halpern, Tyler Helfrich, C.J. Lee, Joel Malchuk, Marty O'Grady, Chase Polacek, Josh Rabbani, Justin Smith.
New this season (4): Greg Burgdoerfer, Brock Higgs, Johnny Rogic, Matt Tinordi.

It had looked like there was going to be a glut of forwards when we looked at the team in April - there were expected to be 20 forwards competing for 12 slots. Then we found that Jacob Laliberté would not be coming in. Then in August, it was Jerry D'Amigo signing a pro contract. Then Jordan Watts transferred to D-III Adrian. Then Brandon Pirri was signing on the dotted line, too. What had been expected to be an unassailable asset for the Engineers is starting to become something of a question mark.

Fortunately, there are a lot of potential and realistic answers to that question mark within the 16-player bloc. Polacek should be a constant, but he'll need other producers chipping in around him if he's going to be able to operate. The potential replacements for D'Amigo, Kerins, and Pirri? Cullen wowed the scouts at the Washington Capitals rookie camp this summer (as an undrafted free agent). Helfrich led the Engineers in scoring his freshman year (on a team that included Polacek) but has dealt with injuries the past two seasons. Brutlag and O'Grady were significant contributors up front last season. Higgs, Rogic, and Tinordi all come in with the size and talent to produce. And all RPI needs is two or three of those names with demonstrated ability stepping up as scoring threats to make the offense work.

The supporting players have done their job well in the last couple of seasons. Angers-Goulet played his role as a secondary threat very well, but RPI could use more output from Halpern and Lee in this regard.

Departed since last September (4): Erik Burgdoerfer, Christian Jensen, Peter Merth, Mark Zarbo.
Returning (3): Mike Bergin, Jeff Foss, John Kennedy.
New this season (4): Nick Bailen, Bo Dolan, Pat Koudys, Guy Leboeuf.

This position is practically the mirror opposite of the offense - in April, it seemed like the defensemen would be the biggest concern. The three returning names are stalwarts, representing half of the nightly defensive contingent. But the new faces, in many ways, could be ready to be practically immediate improvements over the guys they are replacing. Burgdoerfer's toughness won't be easy to replace, but Bailen and Dolan both have shown a willingness to stand up for their teammates at other levels. Bailen's past NCAA experience (he played one season at Bowling Green before transferring) should help him ease in as a regular. That leaves two defensemen per night that will be freshmen.

The most important addition, absolutely, is size, and that comes via Koudys and Leboeuf. The former is younger (still only 17) and 6'4" while Leboeuf is three years older and 6'5", but Koudys is bigger and comes with a lot of expectation - he may well be a fairly high draft pick in 2011 and should be a formidable regular presence for the Engineers. We expect the 6th defenseman to vacillate between Leboeuf and Dolan.

The drawback, of course, is in something of a lack of depth as there are only 7 players to fill 6 nightly positions, though the Engineers do have former defenseman Bryan Brutlag available in an emergency, as well as Kevin Beauregard, who is still practicing as a forward but has been mentioned as a viable emergency defensive option.

Departed since last September (1): Joe Harkenrider.
Returning (2): Bryce Merriam, Allen York.
New this season (1): Jeremy Coupal.

York is the top returning goaltender in the ECAC if you look solely at the numbers. That puts the Engineers in a firm position in net for sure, but they are going to need some better showing from Merriam in his sophomore year to be confirmed as a positive for the team. When York got hurt down the stretch last year, the team struggled. Merriam will need to be able to step in and be just as capable in net as York.

That's not to say that York doesn't have a few issues of his own to iron out. If he wants to snag the mantle of top goaltender in the league, it's certainly out there for the taking. He's got a full season as the top guy under his belt now, so if he can build on last year's positive experiences, he could be a force to be reckoned with all on his own.

In other news, the practice goaltender has changed, which isn't really much more than a note than an issue of great concern.

In The Pipeline

F Jacob Laliberté
Cornwall Colts, CHL

Laliberté has been long awaited in Troy. He committed to RPI before Jerry D'Amigo and Brandon Pirri even did, but he disappointed the Engineer faithful when he did not arrive with the fab frosh last season, and when it was announced early this offseason that he wouldn't be here this year either, people began to wonder whether Laliberté was ever going to wear the Cherry and White. Word began to leak out that despite his awe-inspiring offensive numbers, that he lacked work ethic, wouldn't play defense, and was still somewhat immature.

But at the beginning of this month,
Laliberté recommitted himself to RPI in comments to Ed Weaver at the Troy Record. "Me, my family and the RPI coaching staff felt I still wasn’t ready for RPI,” he said. “I had to mature both off the ice and on the ice. I had some personal problems... I’m putting that all behind me now." That's great news for the future, as Laliberté projects to be the prototype for the star four-year recruit - small of stature and overlooked by the NHL, but with the goods to be a collegiate star.

One does wonder how much more Laliberté can grow in his current league, which he has dominated offensively two seasons in a row. Perhaps he will have the opportunity to fine-tune his game defensively and grow his work ethic to become a better all-around player. With any luck, he'll have aged like fine wine by the time he arrives.

D Luke Curadi
Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL

Curadi, when he committed to RPI earlier this year, was iffy on whether he would be due this season or next season, and while he probably could have fit well with the rest of the incoming defensemen - he's listed at 6'5", 255 and he may not be done growing yet - he could well be the largest player in all of college hockey when he arrives in Troy next year. Between him, Koudys, and Leboeuf, the Engineers will have an awful lot of size on defense.

This year, he will hone his craft under the tutelage of former RPI assistant coach Jim Montgomery, now the head coach and general manager of the expansion Saints. The word is that he needs to increase his speed a little bit, but the popular adage is that "you can't teach size," and in hockey, size often matters quite a lot. Even if he eventually arrives with some flaws, that's something he'll have going for him no matter what.

C Matt Neal
Stouffville Spirit, OJHL

Neal appeared as a commitment to RPI for the 2011-12 season just this week, so we're still finding out good information about him. He's listed at 5' 11", 175, turns 19 in November, and has two goals and three assists in five games so far this season for the Spirit. We'll keep you updated on his progress throughout the year.

Early indications are that Neal may be a pretty decent talent. He played alongside Pat Koudys on the Team Canada Selects squad that went to Sweden this past April, which is a pretty significant honor. Last year, he had 21 goals and 26 assists over 49 games, just short of a point per game.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Women's Hockey - Around the ECAC (Putting Together the Pieces)

Over the past week we’ve looked at the Engineers’ schedule, broken down the teams they’ll face, and opined on some of the strengths and weaknesses of the ECAC opposition. Let’s take a moment to wrap it up with a look at the preseason Coaches’ Poll and our own predictions for the ECAC this season. Below is a chart showing the league’s final standings from the past five seasons, along with the preseason poll results.


Taking a look at the poll and based on our review of the league’s members, there’s not much to disagree with in the coaches’ predictions. As is pretty typical of preseason polls, the coaches followed last season’s results fairly closely. Cornell and Clarkson are clear favorites to take the top two spots, with Harvard and Quinnipiac close behind. Either of the Crimson or the Bobcats could move up if they get a strong performance from their goaltenders.

St. Lawrence, Princeton, RPI, and Dartmouth are good picks to round out the playoff spots, but in what order is anybody’s guess. After the trouble Dartmouth had last season, it’s possible they could miss the playoffs for the second year in a row, something most would have considered unfathomable just a couple seasons ago. The coaches’ prediction of Princeton finishing in 6th could actually be a little on the low side as long as the Tigers’ upperclassmen come back stronger than last season. Experience will work in their favor in 2010-11. RPI, picked 7th, we feel to be pretty accurate. With a lot of talent to replace and a heavy dependence on some upperclassmen who did not have spectacular seasons last year, the Engineers could find themselves out of the playoffs just as easily as they could be in the top half of the league. A lot will depend on the performance of Sonja van der Bliek in net.

Rounding out the bottom of the conference are Colgate, Yale, Brown, and Union, four fairly safe picks to miss the playoffs again in 2010-11. While Brown and Union can pretty much be considered locks to finish 11th and 12th, Colgate and Yale could play spoiler to one of the teams picked to finish 5th-8th. Of Colgate and Yale, the Bulldogs look more likely to be the surprise team to climb out of the bottom third, with returning talent and goaltending that look a little stronger than the Raiders bring to the table.

Looking back a couple seasons in the final standings, it’s fairly obvious that last season’s results represented a big shakeup compared to the typical results of seasons past. This season’s results could give a better indication of whether that shakeup was a fluke, or if years of fairly uniform results could be out the window in favor of a new arrangement where Cornell, Clarkson, and Quinnipiac find themselves in the spotlight while Dartmouth and St. Lawrence struggle in the bottom half of the standings.

The ECAC schedule kicks off October 29th and 30th. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping an eye on these teams during nonconference play in order to get a better feel for what to expect once we get into league play. To catch a glimpse of the Engineers as they take to the ice for the first time this season, make your way to the Field House this Saturday at 4pm following the RPI-WPI football game for the team’s exhibition against the University of Montreal.

Finally, it’s hockey season!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Women's Hockey - Around the ECAC (Part III)

On Sunday, we trudged through the middle of the ECAC schedule and the bottom tier of the ECAC – Yale, Brown, and Union. Today we finish out the conference with Dartmouth, Harvard, Cornell, and Colgate.


  • Last Season's Record: 12-14-2, 9-12-1 ECAC (9th)
  • Key Players: Amanda Trunzo (F, Sr), Camille Dumais (F, So), Sasha Nanji (D, So)
  • Key Losses: Sarah Parsons (F, 20-20-40), Jenna Cunningham (F, 18-13-31), Mariel Lacina (G, .898%, 2.67 GAA)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 2-1 RPI (1/22/10 in Hanover), 5-2 RPI (2/13/10 in Troy)
  • 2010-2011 games: 1/7/11 in Troy, 1/22/11 in Hanover.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 8th
RPI made huge strides against the Big Green last season, sweeping the season series to mark the first times the Engineers had defeated the Big Green since first playing them in 2006. Admittedly it was a down season for Dartmouth, who missed the playoffs for the first time with a 9th place finish in the ECAC. RPI could pick up another win or two next season, as Dartmouth suffers a big loss to graduation, including forwards Sarah Parsons and Jenna Cunningham, who combined for 71 points last year on a weak Dartmouth squad. All told, nearly 40% of Dartmouth’s scoring has graduated, leaving a lot to the returning forwards as only one forward arrives for the Big Green in the class of 2014.

Also graduating was Dartmouth’s starting goalie, Mariel Lacina, whose lackluster .898%, 2.67GAA was the best the Big Green had to offer. It’s hard to tell who will take the reins this season between incoming freshman Lindsay Holdcroft - who performed well on a HS boys’ team in the Pittsburgh area, and sophomore Whitney Woodcox, who posted a .871%, 2.73GAA in seven games last season. Neither looks to be a superstar at this point, and coupled with a weak offense, it could be a long season for the Big Green. Picked to take the last playoff spot by the coaches, Dartmouth is going to have to watch its back this season lest one of the other teams fighting for a playoff spot ousts them for the second year in a row.


  • Last Season's Record: 20-8-5, 13-6-3 ECAC (T-3rd)
  • Key Players: Kate Buesser (F, Sr), Jillian Dempsey (F, So), Liza Ryabkina (F, Jr), Leanna Coskren (D, Jr), Josephine Pucci (D, So)
  • Key Losses: Christina Kessler (G, .944%, 1.39GAA), Randi Griffin (F, 11-10-21)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 4-2 RPI (1/23/10 in Boston), 3-2 RPI (2/12/10 in Troy)
  • 2010-2011 games: 1/8/11 in Troy, 1/21/11 in Boston
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 3rd
Harvard hasn’t finished in the bottom half of the ECAC since the 1997-98 season, and it looks like this season will be another strong one for the Crimson, who return a talented class including Kate Buesser, last season’s New England Hockey Journal Player of the Year. Harvard will be without former top goaltender Christina Kessler, who missed the latter half of last season due to injury and has since graduated. Despite Kessler’s injury, the Crimson went on a tear late in the season, going 10-2-1 in their last 13 ECAC games before sweeping Princeton by a combined 9-2 score in the ECAC quaretfinals. They went on to lose to Clarkson in the ECAC semifinals, and after making the NCAA tournament as an at-large team, fell to Cornell in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Expect to see Laura Bellamy be the starting goalie for the Crimson early in the season, as her .921%, 1.68GAA held strong in the wake of losing Kessler last season. Harvard touts a strong recruiting class of seven freshmen this year, which should help reinforce an already-tough team.

Against the Crimson last season, RPI had the same unexpected success they had against Dartmouth. After earning their first win over the Crimson in the 2009 playoffs, RPI swept the season series against the Crimson in 2009-10, marking the first regular season wins over Harvard, as well as an impressive season sweep of the Harvard/Dartmouth travel pair. For a Harvard team that lost just six league games last season, this was a bit of a shock, and will be a tough feat for the Engineers to repeat this year.


  • Last Season's Record: 21-9-6, 14-2-6 ECAC (1st)
  • 2010 ECAC Tournament Champion
  • 2010 NCAA Championship Runner-Up
  • Key Players: Rebecca Johnston (F, Jr), Catherine White (F, Jr), Laura Fortino (D, So), Lauriane Rogeau (D, So), Amanda Mazzotta (G, Jr)
  • Key Losses: Melanie Jue (F, 9-11-20), Liz Zorn (F, 5-11-16)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 3-1 Cornell (11/7/09 in Troy), 2-1 Cornell (2/19/10 in Ithaca).
  • 2010-2011 games: 1/14/11 in Troy, 1/29/11 in Ithaca.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 1st (unanimous)
After challenging for the national championship last year (falling 3-2 in 3OT to Minnesota-Duluth in the championship game), Cornell loses very little during the offseason, and will come back as strong as (or stronger than) last season’s team. Top talent returns to the team in Catherine White, Laura Fortino, Lauriane Rogeau, and most of all junior goalie Amanda Mazzotta (.927%, 1.53GAA).

As a testament to the talent on the Cornell squad, eight Cornell players (out of nine invited to camp) made the 22-strong roster of the Canadian Under-22 National Team this summer. Among the players selected was forward Rebecca Johnston, a junior who took the 2009-2010 season off to play for Team Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She finished +9 with one goal and five assists in five Olympic games. In her first two seasons at Cornell she was the recipient of numerous accolades, including being named a RBK All-American, All-Ivy League, first team All-ECAC, and Patty Kazmaier Top 10 Finalist. Her return should give an even bigger punch to an already-strong Cornell offense.

Cornell brings in one of the top recruits of this offseason, last year’s captain and MVP of the Canadian Under-18 team, Jessica Campbell. Between the returning talent and the incoming recruiting class, Cornell is going to be the team to beat in the ECAC, and it would be pretty surprising if they didn’t make a run for the Frozen Four in 2011.


  • Last Season's Record: 12-20-4, 8-10-4 ECAC (8th)
  • Key Players: Brittany Phillips (F, So), Hannah Milan (F, Sr), Jordan Brickner (D, So)
  • Key Losses: Katie Stewart (F, 24-15-39), Ali Edell (D, 3-11-14), Evan Minnick (F, 10-15-25), Marissa Dombovy (F, 6-11-17)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 10-4 RPI (11/6/09 in Troy), 3-2 Colgate (2/20/10 in Hamilton)
  • 2010-2011 games: 1/15/11 in Troy, 1/28/11 in Hamilton
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 9th
Colgate has been a middle-of-the-road team since they’ve been in the ECAC, and there is little to suggest next season will be a breakout one for the Raiders. Selected to be the first team out of the playoffs by the coaches, Colgate has to worry about graduating three of its top four scorers, weak goaltending, and having a third of its roster comprised of freshmen in 2010-11.

Senior goaltender Lisa Plenderleith finished last season with a .890%, 3.17GAA overall, and an ECAC-worst .900% in ECAC play. With no freshmen goaltenders, the job will be hers to lose, and she’ll need to step it up in order to help a weak Colgate squad stay competitive on the ice. Freshman defenseman Shannon Doyle could help restore some scoring with a knack for setting up goals – she had a 18-79-97 line last season with the Toronto Junior Aeros last season, and earned several awards as a member of the Canadian Under-18 Team.

While it’s possible Colgate will sneak into one of the last playoff spots this season, it’s going to be an uphill battle. It’s more likely that the Raiders will be on the outside looking in come the end of February.


With that, we’ve now had a look at each of the teams in the ECAC. Come back tomorrow when we put together the pieces, review the preseason coaches’ poll, and offer our thoughts on how the season might shake out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Upcoming Podcast: John Burke

Join us tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Eastern for Without a Peer, in your ear!

Our guest will be women's head coach John Burke. With the women's hockey season getting underway this coming Saturday, we'll ask Coach Burke what to expect from the Engineers in the coming months, players to watch, and his impression of the ECAC this season.

We'll also discuss the recently released media and coaches polls on the men's side in the ECAC and Atlantic Hockey.

You'll be able to listen right here on the player below, or click "Listen to Without a Peer" in the upper right corner of the web page. Until we go live, the player will have last week's podcast with Ken Schott available on demand: just push play.

Listen to internet radio with Without a Peer on Blog Talk Radio

You can call in by dialing (310) 742-1841 after 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Know Your Enemy: Cornell

OK, back to reality.

Our 17th installment of "Know Your Enemy" is one of a program that most of the Engineers will handily tell you is one of their growing rivals. It's not hard for a team to gain that kind of attention from multiple teams when you have as much success on the ice as Cornell has had over the last several years. Arguably the team of the 2000s in the ECAC, the Big Red have found themselves in the thick of the race for the Cleary Cup practically every year for the last 10 seasons and can be frustrating to watch and to play.

Nickname: Big Red
Location: Ithaca, NY
Founded: 1865
Conference: ECAC (Ivy League)
National Championships: 2 (1967, 1970)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2010
Last Frozen Four: 2003
Coach: Mike Schafer (16th season)
2009-10 Record: 21-9-4 (14-5-3 ECAC, 2nd place)
Series: Cornell leads, 57-31-6
First Game: January 31, 1908 (Albany, NY)
Last RPI win: March 13, 2009 (Ithaca, NY)
Last CU win: December 4, 2009 (Troy, NY)

2010-11 games: January 14, 2011 (Ithaca, NY); February 12, 2011 (Troy, NY)
Key players: F Joe Devin, sr.; F Patrick Kennedy, sr.; F Sean Collins, jr.; F Locke Jillson, jr.; D Mike Devin, sr.; D Nick D'Agostino, so.; D Braden Birch, so.; G Andy Iles, fr.

Key losses: F Blake Gallagher, F Colin Greening, F Riley Nash, D Brendon Nash, D Justin Krueger, G Ben Scrivens

Like St. Lawrence, practically every key player that paced Cornell during an outstanding season will no longer be at the team's disposal this season. Unlike the Saints, however, the Big Red do have the ability - partially through the "slow-it-down, clutch-and-grab" system that they have played under Mike Schafer, to maintain themselves near the top of the league.

From 1900 to 1903, Cornell played seven games in Philadelphia and New York, winning their first three games over the course of four days in late February and early March against Swarthmore, Penn, and Princeton at the Philadelphia Ice Palace before going 1-3 over the next three years playing one or two games a year at the renowned St. Nicholas Rink in New York City.

The program went on the shelf for a few years and returned in 1907 when the team played its first games in Ithaca on a rink built on Beebe Lake, but Cornell would remain largely a barnstorming squad until the 1920s, when games on the lake would become more frequent. At about the same time, Nicholas Bawlf became the program's head coach. He would stay at Cornell for 27 seasons, but ultimately was little more than a solid presence for the team. While Cornell would have a few decent years in the 1920s, the team's 3-2 record in 1931 would be the final winning season under Bawlf, after which the team did not play for the next two seasons. When they returned to the ice, they put up a record of 21-46-2 through the Great Depression and past World War II, including a dismal 2-17 from 1944 through 1948, regularly giving up double digits of goals throughout while going 0-8 in the final two years of that stretch.

At that point, it appeared that hockey was dead at Cornell. The team rarely played in Ithaca due to poor conditions at Beebe Lake, and interest in a losing team was practically non-existent. While the Engineers were opening Houston Field House and beginning the modern era of hockey in Troy, hockey at Cornell disappeared for almost a full decade.

In 1957, Lynah Rink opened on campus, inaugurated by a game featuring the NHL's New York Rangers in April. The game helped spark interest in hockey at Cornell, and a varsity team was up and running that winter, led by former St. Lawrence coach Paul Patton, who would guide the team through its first six seasons of indoor hockey in Ithaca. But it wasn't until 1963 that hockey at Cornell would finally start becoming notable - and it would be thanks to the man that had already established at tradition of excellence at RPI with a national championship: Ned Harkness.

Harkness' arrival had an almost instantaneous effect on the Big Red. In just his second season behind the bench, Cornell went 19-7, besting the school record for wins in a season by six. The team would set or tie that record for the next six consecutive seasons. In 1966, following Cornell's first 20-win season, the Big Red claimed the Ivy League title for the first time, they would win a total of eight in a row from 1966 to 1973, the longest stretch in the history of the Ivy League. But most importantly, the team became a national force behind goaltender Ken Dryden, who joined the Big Red in the 1966-67 season. That year, Cornell would win its first national championship in its very first NCAA appearance, which would be the first of six appearances over the next seven seasons.

North Dakota would knock off the 26-1 Big Red in the NCAA semifinal in 1968, stopping their march to a second title. The following season, Dryden's final game would be a 4-3 loss to Denver in the NCAA championship game in Colorado Springs - it would be only his second loss of the entire season following the dramatic overtime loss in Troy in December when Doug Hearns scored one of the most memorable goals in RPI history. But the next season, Harkness and the Big Red were back on top in remarkable fashion, completing the only undefeated and untied season to end in an NCAA championship in history. The Big Red went 29-0 in 1970, defeating Clarkson in Lake Placid to claim their second championship in four years in their third title game appearance during that stretch. Cornell won four straight ECAC titles during this stretch, a feat duplicated only by rivals Boston University in the 1970s.

Two months after the immaculate season ended, Ned Harkness left Ithaca to become the general manager and head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, the first coach to move from the NCAA to the NHL. He was replaced by Dick Bertrand, who had just graduated as one of the captains of the undefeated team. Cornell's success generally continued under Bertrand, although they would not return to the top of the college hockey world. They would win 22 games in 1971, but would not claim any hardware or return to the NCAA Tournament. A still-standing home undefeated record of 63 games (spanning five years) ended at the hands of Clarkson in February 1972, but the following month the Big Red would be back in the national championship game, falling to growing league rival Boston University, 4-0.

Bertrand would lead Cornell back to the NCAA Tournament in 1973, 1980, and 1981. His only losing season was his last one, in 1982, which snapped a streak of 18 consecutive winning seasons dating back to Harkness' first year in Ithaca, and was the Big Red's first losing season in the ECAC. After the 1981-82 season, Bertrand would leave and take up the reins at Ferris State.

The 1980s and early 1990s were a bit of a lost period for modern Cornell hockey under Lou Reycroft and Brian McCutcheon between 1982 and 1995. During this stretch, the Big Red would claim only one ECAC title (in 1986, powered by Joe Nieuwendyk, who would later have an exceptional NHL career) and two NCAA appearances, one under each coach. During this period, Cornell wasn't exactly terrible (with the exception of McCutcheon's final three seasons from 1993 to 1995) but they weren't among the top programs in the ECAC, either.

Echoes of the glory days began to return in 1996 when first-year coach Mike Schafer, one of the captains of the 1986 ECAC title winning team, took over in Ithaca. Immediately, the Big Red rattled off two 20-win seasons, their first back to back since the late 1970s. Both seasons, Cornell would claim the ECAC title and their first two Ivy titles in a decade. The Big Red would start middling over the next three years, but a new Cornell dynasty would get under way in 2001.

That season, Cornell made an impressive run through the ECAC playoffs to reach the title game, their first of six consecutive (and eight in ten) ECAC championship games. While they would only claim the Whitelaw Cup twice during that stretch, they would win three Cleary Cups as the first place finisher in the regular season three times during the same stretch, including a 2002-03 season which saw Cornell returning to the Frozen Four for the first time in 23 years and setting a new school record with 30 wins. Since 2002, the Big Red have won 3 ECAC titles, 4 Ivy titles, and have made 6 NCAA appearances.

Last year, Cornell won the ECAC championship for the 12th time, putting them four ahead of arch-rival Harvard in that category. They were helped in their journey to the title by Brown's shocking defeat of Yale in the quarterfinals - Yale had certainly had Cornell's number in two games last season - but the Big Red were hardly a surprising champion. They returned to their familiar destination using the same formula which has made them a dominant force during the Schafer era: big, burly defensemen playing a lockdown style. Usually, this is paired with at least enough offense to get by, and a goaltender who takes full advantage of the behemoths in front of him to put up eye-popping numbers.

When Cornell has scoring, they can be a very exceptional team, and that's definitely what they were last season. Gallagher and Greening were twin scoring threats, both extremely agile and dangerous with the puck. Riley Nash was another important scoring angle, and Scrivens, even with the help a Cornell goaltender typically gets in front of him, was nonetheless the best goaltender in the league even after factoring in Schafer's system. Some pundits were touting the Big Red as a legitimate Frozen Four threat out of the Eastern regional thanks to Scrivens and the ability of the Cornell offense.

Unfortunately for the Big Red, none of the rocks that made last year successful - with the obvious exception of the big, burly defensemen, of which there will probably never be a serious shortage in Ithaca - are returning this season. Cornell loses a significant chunk of its demonstrated scoring ability in Greening, Gallagher, and Nash, and has a highly-touted and local, but short of stature, undrafted, and largely untested goaltender coming in Andy Iles. He will almost certainly be called on from the get-go.

That's not to say they're going to be any more difficult to beat than they are in any given year. Cornell hockey can tend to be fairly tedious to watch even in a good year. When they don't have much in the means of scoring, it can look a lot more like what we saw from Brown last March. The difference between Brown and Cornell is that the Big Red is stocked with players that have bought into the system and generally have more talent than the players Brown brings in, and that's usually enough to make them difficult on any given night. The key is the same - score first and make them have to come from behind. That's just not as easy against Cornell. Even when you can neutralize the clutch and grab, you still need to be able to maneuver around giant blueliners who are more than just road cones in order to put yourself in a position to just to be able to put the puck on net.

If Iles is even just adequate in net, Cornell will probably be a very boring team to play against this season but they will likely still enjoy heaps of success and at the very least be in the running for the bye the way they usually are. If the Engineers can utilize their team speed and score early goals the way Yale did to them last season, the door could still be open to good results.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Know Your Comrades: Cornell

Next on our tour is the only team that really needs to be mentioned, ever, when discussing college hockey. Their style is impetuous. Their defense is impregnable, and they're just ferocious. They want your heart. They want to eat your children. And they will - because they have never been stopped, and will never be stopped, ever.

Democratic People's Republic of Cornell
Nickname: Big Red
Location: Pyongyang
Founded: Cornell 1
Conference: Ivy League and only the Ivy League, because we are Ivy League Ivy Leaguers
National Championships: 2 (Cornell 102, Cornell 105)
Last NCAA Appearance: Cornell 145
Last Frozen Four: Cornell 138
Eternal President: Ned Harkness
Dear Leader: Mike Schafer (16th campaign)
2009-10 Record: CHAMPIONS OF THE LEAGUE (ECsomething. Did we mention we are Ivy League? We totally are.)
Series: Cornell leads with 57 amazing victories!
First Game: January 31, Cornell 43(Conquered city of Albany, NY)
Last RPI win: Cornell never loses.
Last CU win: December 4, Cornell 144 (Imperialist city of Troy, NY)

2010-11 victories: January 14, Cornell 146 (Pyongyang); February 12, Cornell 146 (Imperialist Troy, NY)
Key players: No one player is key, they all play as one.
Key losses: none

You will now stand for the national anthem.

There is, of course, no more glorious program the world over than that of the winner of the only two "national championships" in history: the Cornell Big Red. The program got its start in Cornell 36, when it was formed by the Great Leader, Ned Harkness. The Great Leader was born in Cornell 1 in the gorges of Pyongyang and built Lynah Rink, the largest and grandest hockey rink in the history of the world, with his bare hands, opening it to the awe of the world in Cornell 92. Shortly thereafter, Cornell would host the very first national championship, winning the title with ease in Cornell 102.

Cornell's loyal fans celebrate another Big Red victory at Lynah Rink.

The Great Leader coached the team until Cornell 105, when he passed from this world to the eternal endowment after the only undefeated season ever by any team in any way, shape, or form. One of the Great Leader's greatest players was Ken Dryden, who managed to get through the undefeated Cornell 105 season without allowing a single goal. He is now the King of Canada.

After the Great Leader became the Democratic People's Republic's Eternal President following that glorious year in which the Big Red won the second of two national championships in the history of college hockey, the Great Bear, Dick Bertrand - a direct descendant from the Great Leader - took control of the glorious program. Under the command of the Great Bear, Cornell won the Ivy League title in every year it existed, as well as the title of that less important league in every year it was offered as well.

Joe Niewendyk played under the Great Bear, and after setting basically every important hockey record in college hockey, went on to dominate the NHL for over 25 years. He won 15 Stanley Cups, earning the nickname "the Great One" after setting NHL records in every meaningful offensive category. He was also the first person ever elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame by acclamation.

A recent DPRC propaganda poster glorifies Cornell's two greatest players, depicted attacking capitalist pig Ted Donato, Cornell's most despised enemy.

Today's Dear Leader, Mike Schafer, was nearly as good as Niewendyk when he was a player at Cornell. He set a record which will likely never be broken when he scored 10 goals in a single game. Later, when DNA tests showed that he was also likely descended from the Great Leader, Comrade Schafer became the third leader in the magnificent, awe-inspiring history of Cornell. Scientists in Pyongyang are trying to determine just how amazing the Dear Leader is, given his apparent ability to produce fantastically exciting hockey games in a style that thrills the loyal legions at Lynah Rink, indicating that his talent may well approach that of the Eternal President. It is believed that the Dear Leader is the chosen one who will herald a third ever national championship tournament, in which the Big Red will surely triumph.

The Dear Leader is a common subject of DPRC posters. In this work, beloved Comrade Schafer's famed relationship with the referees of college hockey is depicted and glorified.

For example, in this past season, the lesser league championship was contested between the 12 programs of the lesser league, and although the Dear Leader was disappointed to find that the Ivy League title was not at stake for a fifth consecutive season, the Dear Leader bravely led his players in battle, winning their 12th title of the lesser league in as many tries, defeating the puny and weak Union in the process.

Posters such as these appeared in Pyongyang following Cornell's fantastic victory in the lesser league's championship in Cornell 145. It depicts the destruction of Union's Nott Memorial in a hyperbolic military strike.

This year, hopes are high at Cornell that the resplendent Big Red will once again be permitted by the imperialist dogs to reach the promised land which, out of fear, they have denied for so long. That they are the greatest team in all of college hockey once again is beyond doubt, especially now that the chosen one, Andy Iles, has come to the Big Red. Iles, who observers believe is likely the greatest goaltender since Dryden, is a native of Pyongyang and knows perhaps better than anyone what Cornell hockey is all about. The anticipation builds as the proud and loyal Cornell faithful look forward to another season of community and collective perfection in the grand arena of Lynah Rink.

Posters such as this one build anticipation in the Workers' Paradise for the might of the team's newest players.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Women's Hockey - Around the ECAC (Part II)

On Friday, we took a look at the first third of the Engineers’ ECAC schedule, consisting of St. Lawrence, Clarkson, Princeton, and Quinnipiac. While that presented a fair cross-section of the league as a whole, today’s teams finished in the bottom three of the ECAC last season. Let’s have a look at them – Yale, Brown, and Union.


  • Last Season's Record: 10-16-3, 8-13-1 ECAC (10th)
  • Key Players: Samantha MacLean (D, Sr), Bray Ketchum (F, Sr), Aleca Hughes (F, Jr), Jackee Snikeris (G, Sr)
  • Key Losses: Caroline Murphy (F, 8-3-11), Alyssa Clarke (D, 3-6-9)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 4-1 RPI (11/13/09 in Troy), 4-3 Yale (1/16/10 in New Haven).
  • 2010-2011 games: 11/12/10 in New Haven, 2/5/11 in Troy.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 10th
Although Yale missed the playoffs last season, things don’t look altogether bleak for the Bulldogs this year. Goalie Jackee Snikeris had a good 09-10 season, posting a .927%, 2.47GAA on the year, and returns for her senior season. Seven of Yale’s eight top scorers return for another go, and they will need to find the net early to see success. In ECAC games where Yale scored first last season, they were 8-1. When surrendering the first goal, they went 0-12-1. Yale returns half of its top defensive pairing in junior Samantha MacLean. The other half, Alyssa Clarke, was one of two defensemen to graduate. A large incoming class of eight freshmen will replenish the roster, but with 17 returning players, youth really shouldn’t be an issue for this Bulldog squad.

Yale will be led by a new head coach in 2010-11, as Hillary Witt departed at the end of the 2009-10 season after eight years behind the bench. The Bulldogs made the ECAC playoffs six times in those eight seasons, and Witt was named ECAC Coach of the Year in 2002-2003. She will be succeeded by Joakim Flygh, a nine-year assistant coach at Minnesota-Duluth and Harvard, who has seen his teams make the NCAA tournament five of the past six seasons, and amass a combined .701 winning percentage over those years. Flygh brings to Yale a renewed commitment to success on the ice, and should be expected to start moving Yale back up the standings in the coming seasons. This could mean trouble for the middle of the pack, as the last 4 playoff spots should become even more contested than they already are. Remember that Dartmouth and Yale were both within 3 points of making the playoffs last season, so just an extra win here or there could be the difference that ends up shaking up the bottom of the playoff field.


  • Last Season's Record: 3-21-4, 1-18-3 ECAC (11th)
  • Key Players: Laurie Jolin (F, So), Alena Polenska (D/F, So), Erica Kromm (D, Sr), Samantha Stortini (D, Sr), Paige Pyatt (D, Jr)
  • Key Losses: Nicole Brown (F, 1-7-8), Sasha Van Muyen (F, 7-1-8)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 1-1 tie (11/14/09 in Troy), 2-0 RPI (1/15/10 in Providence).
  • 2010-2011 games: 11/13/10 in Providence, 2/4/11 in Troy.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 11th
Brown has been in a real funk the past several seasons, missing the playoffs four years in a row after being a fixture in the top half of the ECAC standings since the early ‘90s. There has been speculation about a rift between head coach Digit Murphy and her players, as several players have left in the past few seasons before graduation, however Brown has issues that go beyond coaching (financial and administration support for the program being seen as major ones) that could well be contributors. Whatever the root problem, the result has been a mediocre on-ice product, something that comes as a shock to fans and supporters that were used to the Bears teams of yesteryear.

On the ice, the Bears return their top four scorers as well as starting goalie Katie Jamieson, who finished last season with a .911% and 3.21GAA. 4 players graduated but are being replaced by seven incoming freshmen, so there should be some competition for ice time in the coming season, always good for a team. The recruiting class is solid but not outstanding; it’s doubtful they’ll have the impact the Bears need to move out of the bottom third of the league this season.

Last season, RPI outshot Brown handily in two games, but walked away just with a 2-2 tie (one of just four non-losses for the Bears) in one and a 2-0 victory in the other. Despite Brown's several bad seasons in a row, they regularly put up a good fight against the Engineers; don't be shocked to see the Bears challenge the Engineers again this season.


  • Last Season's Record: 5-28-1, 1-20-1 ECAC (12th)
  • Key Players: Marissa Gentile (F, Sr), Perri Maduri (D, Sr), Alana Marcinko (G, So)
  • Key Losses: Jackie Koetteritz (D, 4-1-5)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 2-0 RPI (12/5/09 in Schenectady), 5-0 RPI (12/6/09 in Troy).
  • 2010-2011 games: 12/3/10 in Schenectady, 12/4/10 in Troy.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 12th
We’re not going to sugar coat things here – Union has had no success on the ice since elevating to Division I from the ECAC East in 2003-2004. They’ve finished in last place every season since and amassed an impressive (for all the wrong reasons) 2-140-4 conference record in 7 seasons. In our last podcast, Ken Schott from the Schenectady Daily Gazette mentioned that head coach Claudia Asano believed this could be the season the Dutchwomen make the playoffs for the first time – they’re going to have to win more than one game before that happens.

On the bright side for Union, they graduated just one senior in 2010, and so return a stronger and more experienced squad, if nothing else. Union is going to need to find some serious offense if they intend to compete in their ECAC games, as they scored more than one goal just twice in ECAC play last season, in a 3-0 win over Brown and a 6-3 loss to Princeton. For comparison’s sake, they were shut out 12 times in those same 22 ECAC games. Sophomore starting goalie Alana Marcinko, who posted a respectable .908%, 3.14GAA last season (facing an average of 34 shots per game), returns as well. If Union is to make any strides in the ECAC, expect it to start from the net out. Like Lundy Day before her, Marcinko keeps the games from getting out of hand – it will be up to the rest of the team to start putting the puck in the net in order to win some games.

Perhaps the real story this offseason was Union’s addition of former Harvard standout, Patty Kazmaier Award winner, and three-time US Olympian Julie Chu as assistant coach. Chu previously coached at Minnesota-Duluth, where she was an assistant coach to the 07-08 Bulldogs team that won the national championship. While coaching changes, especially assistants, frequently don’t yield results immediately, this addition sends a message that Union is starting to get serious about their women’s program. Expect Chu, who is already a legend in women’s hockey at age 28, to add serious name recognition to the program and increase Union’s odds at landing more talented players.


With seven teams down and four to go, check back on Wednesday as we round out the ECAC with a look at Dartmouth, Harvard, Cornell, and Colgate. On Thursday we’ll wrap up the preseason coverage with a birds-eye view of the league, review of the coaches’ preseason poll, and our thoughts on how things will shake out by the end of the season.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Women's Hockey - Around the ECAC (Part I)

While we ran through the season at a glance on Wednesday, breaking down some of the non-conference matchups and hitting each game on the schedule, the meat and potatoes of the Engineers’ schedule comes from competition within the ECAC. Over the course of the next week, we’ll break down RPI’s ECAC opponents a few at a time before pulling it all together next week before the team hits the ice against Montreal.

Hitting the Engineers’ competition in the same order they’ll see them on the ice, in this installment we’ll take a look at travel partner pairs St. Lawrence and Clarkson, and Princeton and Quinnipiac. Sunday we’ll break down Yale, Brown, and Union, and tackle Dartmouth, Harvard, Cornell, and Colgate on Wednesday.


St. Lawrence
  • Last Season's Record: 16-14-7, 11-8-3 ECAC (7th)
  • Key Players: Vanessa Emond (F, Jr), Kelly Sabatine (F, So), Kayla Sullivan (F, So)
  • Key Losses: Britni Smith (D, 8-17-25), Brittony Chartier (G, .909%, 2.32GAA), Maxie Weisz (G, .918%, 1.89GAA), Tara Akstull (F, 7-10-17)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 3-1 SLU (1/8/10 in Troy), 3-1 SLU (2/6/10 in Canton).
  • 2010-2011 games: 10/29/10 in Canton, 2/19/11 in Troy.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 5th
St. Lawrence is coming off a disappointing season, having finished 7th in a conference they had shown dominance in for years. After finishing in the ECAC’s top three every season since 2000-2001, SLU faced a reality check when the were forced to hit the road in the 2010 playoffs and take on rival Clarkson, the second seed in league and one of the top teams in the nation. Although they squeaked out a win in game two of that series, Clarkson outscored the Saints by a combined 10-3 across three games en route to punching a quick ticket to the offseason.

Against RPI, SLU has had better luck. To call the series lopsided doesn’t do it justice; the Saints are 11-0 all-time against the Engineers and are the only team in the ECAC that has consistently had RPI’s number whether having a good season or bad. When RPI took a big step forward last season picking up wins against Harvard and Dartmouth both, SLU still handed RPI a pair of 3-1 losses without much trouble.

The Saints lose some talent as senior goaltenders Brittony Chartier and Maxie Weisz both graduate, leaving incoming freshman Caitlyn Lahonen and senior Nicolien Bongaerts (who saw all of 15 minutes of ice time last season) to take charge in net. Also out is defenseman Britney Smith, the team’s second leading scorer in 2009-2010. Fortunately for the Saints they return five of their six top scorers and have just two freshman forwards, but defense may be a sore point. With only six defensemen currently listed on the roster – three freshmen, a sophomore, a junior, and a senior – the Saints are going to need to be very careful to avoid injuries and will be relying on a lot of young players on the blue line. For a team that ranked 5th defensively in the ECAC last season, this could be a tough pill to swallow.

Each of the goal scorers that gave RPI trouble last year return for another season, however, and RPI will need to step up its game to avoid giving up 3 or more goals a game to SLU. If the Engineers can be opportunistic and take advantage of a young Saints defense, this may be the season we see RPI’s first win in the series, but don’t expect it to come easy.


  • Last Season's Record: 23-12-5, 14-5-3 ECAC (2nd)
  • 2010 ECAC Tournament Runner-Up
  • 2010 NCAA Playoff Berth (Eliminated in quarterfinals)
  • Key Players: Juana Baribeau (F, Jr), Melissa Waldie (F, Sr), Lauren Dahm (G, Sr)
  • Key Losses: Dominique Thibault (F, 21-19-40), Britney Selina (F, 10-26-36), Carlee Eusepi (D, 6-13-19), Genevieve Lavoie (F, 3-9-12)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 1-1 tie (1/9/10 in Troy), 3-1 RPI (2/5/10 in Potsdam)
  • 2010-2011 games: 10/30/10 in Potsdam, 2/18/11 in Troy.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 2nd
Clarkson has been an up-and down team for the past several seasons – last season marked a new high for the Golden Knights as they rolled to a second place finish with a 14-5-3 record, also finishing second in the ECAC tournament to Cornell, who would go on to play in the national championship game. While recent history might predict a down year for Clarkson in 2010-2011, chances are good that they will remain one of the top teams in the league for at least another year.

The Golden Knights graduate four out of seven top scorers including overall leader Dominique Thibault who finished the season with 21 goals and 40 points, including 12 goals in conference play. However they return starting goalie Lauren Dahm and most of their defensive corps, a good start for last season’s second best defense in the ECAC. Add a talented recruiting class to the mix and Clarkson isn’t likely to suffer very significant growing pains in the coming year.

Last season the Engineers matched up well against the Golden Knights, skating to a 1-1 tie in Troy followed by an impressive 3-1 win in Potsdam late in the season that saw RPI hold a 27-19 shot advantage despite having to kill four consecutive penalties (three of them in nearly six straight minutes) late in the game to pick up the win. A tight Clarkson defense could spell trouble for RPI in 2010-2011, who may find themselves at a loss for goals and struggling to compete in a couple of low-scoring, hard-fought games.


  • Last Season's Record: 13-14-4, 11-7-4 ECAC (T-5th)
  • Key Players: Paula Romanchuck (F, Jr), Danielle DiCesare (F, Jr), Laura Martindale (D, Sr), Sasha Sherry (D, Sr)
  • Key Losses: Melanie Wallace (F, 7-13-20), Stephanie Denino (D, 1-7-8)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 2-2 tie (10/31/09 in Princeton), 1-1 tie (1/30/10 in Troy).
  • 2010-2011 games: 11/5/10 in Troy, 2/12/11 in Princeton.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 6th
Princeton is a tough team to figure out. They seem to bring in solid talent each year, going on a run at some point or another during the season - but have an increasingly disturbing habit of forgetting how to play once the playoffs arrive, having made an exit in the ECAC quarterfinals seven of the past nine seasons. There have been rumblings about the coaching staff failing to prepare the team for the postseason, but the fact remains that from season to season Princeton reliably puts a viable team on the ice, only to see it fizzle out when the games count most.

The Tigers are relatively unscathed by graduation this season, returning all but one of their top 10 scorers from 09-10. Goaltenders Rachel Weber and Cassie Seguin, who split playing time last season, both return for another, along with the top two scorers from last season, Danielle DiCesare and Paula Romanchuk. Some serious talent exists in the freshman class, including defenseman Rose Alleva who averaged 60 points in her junior and senior high school seasons in Minnesota, and forward Sally Butler, who notched 73 points, won 64% of faceoffs taken, and finished the season with a +61 rating and a PWHL championship with the Toronto Junior Aeros last year.

RPI and Princeton were evenly matched last season, skating to a pair of ties in their two conference games, and the two teams had nearly identical offense and defense stats by the end of the season. Princeton’s recruiting class coupled with RPI’s significant graduation losses may tilt the scales in the Tigers’ favor this season, but the games shouldn’t be a blowout in either direction.


  • Last Season's Record: 19-10-8, 11-4-7 ECAC (T-3rd)
  • Key Players: Victoria Vigilante (G, So), Heather Hughes (F, So), Bethany Dymarcyak (D, Jr), Jordan Elkins (D, Jr)
  • Key Losses: Janine Duffy (F, 11-14-25), Kallie Flor (F, 14-8-22)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 6-1 Quinnipiac (10/31/09 in Hamden), 1-0 RPI (1/29/10 in Troy), 2-1 Quinnipiac (2OT, 2/26/10 in Hamden – ECAC Quarterfinals), 1-0 RPI (2/27/10 in Hamden – ECAC Quarterfinals), 2-1 RPI (5OT, 2/28/10 in Hamden – ECAC Quarterfinals).
  • 2010-2011 games: 11/6/10 in Troy, 2/11/11 in Hamden.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 4th
Quinnipiac will hit the ice next season with a special kind of axe to grind with RPI – the type that comes from a quarterfinal playoff series that spans 16 periods of hockey in a single weekend, two multiple-overtime games, and a heartbreaking loss in five overtimes to eliminate the Bobcats from the playoffs and send RPI on to the championship weekend. After a 6-1 Quinnipiac trouncing of RPI early in the season (after which the Engineers bounced back to put Colgate through the ringer in a 10-4 bloodbath), the teams were perhaps the most evenly matched of any two in the league, with their remaining four matchups all decided by one goal.

Sophomore goaltender Victoria Vigilante, last season’s goalie and rookie of the year (and the coaches' preseason pick as the All-League goalie) had a phenomenal freshman season and is poised to carry the Bobcats through the next several years. Coupled with just a single defenseman graduate, Quinnipiac stands to be one of the top defensive teams in the conference this season. Offense was a problem last year, when the Bobcats only managed to outscore Colgate, Brown, and Union in league play. While high scoring forwards Janine Duffy and Kallie Flor both graduated, Quinnipiac boasts an enormous recruiting class of 11 players, including 8 forwards.

Freshman Kelly Babstock, a teammate of Princeton’s Sally Butler on last year’s championship Toronto Junior Aeros team, led that team in points and assists. Several other freshman saw accolade-filled seasons precede their jump to the college ranks, so while Quinnipiac may stumble a bit out of the gate, expect a strong finish as the young players adapt to the college game and hit their stride as the season wears on. The coaches pick Quinnipiac to finish 4th, and a higher finish is not out of the question if Vigilanti continues to play her game while the recruits step up and play smart hockey. In a lot of ways this Bobcat team parallels the Engineers, with a top notch goalie and a lot riding on the freshmen – however, Quinnipiac’s recruiting class could very well give the Bobcats an edge this season.


Check back on Sunday for Part II of the ECAC preview as we take a look at Yale, Brown, and Union, last season’s 10th, 11th, and 12th place teams.