Friday, September 28, 2012

Our Ballot

Here's our ballot for this year's ECAC media poll. No apologies. Consider this the power ranking for October - our first power ranking typically comes out at the end of November, since half the league really hasn't gotten underway yet by the end of October.

1. Union - Won everything there was to win in the ECAC last year, went to the Frozen Four, and lose very little. Nuff said.

2. Cornell - Really shouldn't have to explain this.

3. Quinnipiac - They look stupid good on paper, and they have a knack for overachieving vis a vis preseason expectations.

4. Harvard - Showed lots of potential late last year but they have to stop living on the edge.

5. Yale - Scoring talent is still there, answering the defensive call could make for an elite squad.

6. Colgate - Possibly too optimistic here, they have a ridiculous amount of scoring to replace.

7. St. Lawrence - Young guns are going to have to be big for the Saints.

8. RPI - Have to prove they're ready to vie for a top end spot again through growth of younger players, trying not to be too optimistic.

9. Dartmouth - Offense is there, but considerable defensive question marks cloud the outlook significantly.

10. Princeton - Much like RPI, a team with a great deal to prove with the capacity to do just that. Possibly too pessimistic here.

11. Clarkson - Some good upside here, but as mentioned Wednesday, painfully young.

12. Brown - A serious case of "show me something first."

As always, there are certain "bands" that teams seem to fit in that could be somewhat interchangeable. I like the top three as the clearly defined top-tier, but to be honest the rest of the league could (and probably will) be a tossup. And of course once the puck drops I'm sure we'll learn things about those top three, too.

Choices for All-ECAC:
G - Andy Iles, Cornell - Always going against the grain with our preseason goaltender selections. Grosenick will be the choice, but Iles deserves respect for the season he had last year.

D - Danny Biega, Harvard - Crimson's MVP, power play quarterback and also an offensive driver.

D - Mat Bodie, Union - Probably the best two-way defenseman in the league right now.

F - Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence - Averaging a point per game in his first three seasons. If only he had stayed healthy...

F - Connor Jones, Quinnipiac - Poised for a big year with a juggernaut supporting cast.

F - Andrew Miller, Yale - For three years he's been a top supporting cast member, is it time for his star turn?

Honorable mention: G Troy Grosenick, Union, D Shayne Gostisbehere, Union, F Kellen Jones, Quinnipiac, F Kenny Agostino, Yale.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Know Your Enemy: Clarkson

Here it is - the last Know Your Enemy of 2012. You know what that means - hockey next weekend! For any team, it's difficult to rebound from losing an all-ECAC goaltender and your two top forwards (see also RPI, 2011-12). That's just what Clarkson is going to be tasked with accomplishing in the coming year, but unlike the Engineers, they will have to do it without having at least tasted the fruits of the NCAA tournament first.

Nickname: Golden Knights
Location: Potsdam, NY
Founded: 1896
Conference: ECAC
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008
Last Frozen Four: 1991
Coach: Casey Jones (2nd season)
2011-12 Record: 16-17-6 (9-9-4 ECAC, 6th place)
Series: Clarkson leads, 84-46-8
First Game: January 24, 1925 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: March 4, 2012 (Potsdam, NY)
Last CU win: March 3, 2012 (Potsdam, NY)

2012-13 games: February 9, 2013 (Potsdam, NY); March 1, 2013 (Troy, NY)

Key players: D Andrew Himelson, sr.; D Nik Pokulok, sr.; D Alex Boak, jr.; F Will Frederick, jr.; F Allan McPherson, jr.; F Ben Sexton, jr.; D James Howden, so.; D Sam Labrecque, so.; D Kevin Tansey, so.; F Joe Zarbo, so.; F Jeff DiNallo, fr.;F Christian Finch, fr.; G Andrew Hunt, fr.; F Patrick Megannety, fr.

Key losses: F Nick Tremblay, F Louke Oakley, G Paul Karpowich, F Corey Tamblyn, F Jake Morley, F Julien Cayer

Previous KYE installments:
The Golden Knights spent a good chunk of the season last year proving the doubters wrong and they appeared to be on the verge of pulling themselves right back up to the higher reaches of the league where they've traditionally been resident. Unlike their North Country rivals, the Knights breezed through the month of October with a lineup of mostly tomato cans (back-to-back-to-back weekend series with Sacred Heart, AIC, and Bentley don't get much more cupcake-y). That was parlayed into a solid start to the ECAC season, but inconsistency down the stretch doomed them to the same seventh place finish they'd had in 2010-11, and for the second year in a row they fell at home in the playoffs, this time in three games to RPI.

That seventh place finish did, at least, amount to more than most had expected from Clarkson heading into the season (both the media and the coaches had pegged them to finish in the bottom four), but it represented a tough end to a promising season, and this coming year could be difficult as well for the men from Potsdam as they lose their top two scorers in Tremblay and Oakley, and their goaltender in Karpowich, who was arguably the team's MVP last season after three tough prior seasons as the top choice netminder.

Tamblyn and Morley will also be missed up front, as the Knights lose four of their top six scoring forwards from last season. Juniors Sexton and McPherson have both put up two outstanding seasons thus far for Clarkson, but after that questions certainly abound. Can Zarbo live up to expectations and follow on from an OK freshman year? Can the three freshmen listed above translate big numbers in Ontario to terrific first years in college? They're probably going to have to.

The best thing Clarkson has going for them is definitely their defensemen. The six blueliners listed above not only played well last year, they were healthy and pretty much all of them played nearly the entire season, most missing only a couple of games, if that. Even comprised of three freshmen last season, they played very well and should have no trouble whatsoever being a cohesive unit this season.

They'll need to be strong, for sure. Behind them in net will, in all likelihood, be a freshman goaltender. Clarkson does have a senior netminder in Cody Rosen who is an NHL draft pick, but his selection in the 2010 draft caught pretty much everyone by surprise (including Rosen), and he enters his senior year with only 140:13 of playing time in three seasons as a third-string which followed a season in juniors as a backup. If he's not the choice, look for Hunt, a BCHL alum, to potentially take that top spot, though we shouldn't be too surprised to see fellow freshman Greg Lewis get his own shot. Either way, both goaltenders committed to Clarkson late - Hunt this past February, Lewis in March after the Knights' season ended.

This team looks painfully young, and unless the d-corps can carry a young and/or inexperienced goaltender night in and night out, this is a team that looks to have more in common with last year's RPI squad than any other in the league. With luck, that could mean a late season renaissance as the young ones mature, but it still seems like a tough thing to call this team a favorite for home ice in the first round.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Juggling Chainsaws

A lot can change in 3 years.

Back in October 2009, when I launched Without a Peer, I was a recently returned from deployment veteran who was suddenly unemployed, still single, and for all intents and purposes living at home out of necessity. Needless to say, I had time on my hands. Lots of it. It's one of the reasons I started this blog, to be quite honest.

Today, I'm quite settled back into civilian life, employed, seeking a new home while renting, and engaged to be married. On top of that, I'm now a semi-regular commentator on WRPI for Engineers hockey. Whew. Quite a difference.

Don't worry, this isn't an elaborate goodbye speech. Without a Peer isn't going anywhere, and neither am I. But the reality is that there are certain things that I just am not going to have time for in the near future - which, hopefully, is an opening of opportunity rather than a closing door.

In 2010, when I added podcasts to the list of services WaP provides, I was basically still largely stuck in the same situation I had been a year earlier, only now I was living on my own. I had plenty of time to produce podcasts, scheduling guests, setting up content, and the like. Last year, now gainfully employed, I had a lot less time to do that. This year, beset with all kinds of planning to do for a new house and a wedding, I seriously doubt I'll be able to set aside time to put together a quality product - and rather than produce something that isn't worth listening to, I'd rather open the opportunity for others to take on a role.

I'm willing to help produce a weekly podcast, but I will be quite unavailable to host it this season - so if there's any interest out there, do drop me a line. Check out the link in the bar to the right.

I noticed last year that with the loss of time last season, not to mention the tough year both teams had on the ice, the frequency of crappy photoshops decreased significantly. I never intended for WaP to be a 100% straight-faced news and insight blog - I wanted to be sure to be making biased and humorous opinions as well. It's certainly not as easy to find the humorous side when the team's struggling and we never want to kick our guys and gals when they're down anyway. So in the future, I don't expect to be focusing as much on trying to put up zingers - unless, of course, the opportunity and inspiration arises.

You can, however, continue to expect the same type of analysis and coverage of both men's and women's hockey that we've offered in the past. We're still planning to have our groundbreaking live tweets (something which we pioneered for RPI hockey) as in the past, and don't forget to like us on Facebook, too.

Finally, I would like to thank you, our readers, for your continued support over the last three years. Gary and I couldn't have done it without you, since otherwise, we're just rambling to ourselves on the Internet. 

We don't often mention this, but we do have some relatively minor costs associated with running the site - WaP will always be free and free of outside ads, but if you want to help out, feel free to hit the tip jar on the right.

The season's right around the corner, and we can't wait.

Friday, September 21, 2012


We're in full on preseason mode now - which means... content three times a week! Sweet!

So with that in mind, let's talk about something completely inconsequential.

We're all about being pumped up here at WaP. Our weekly pump ups before game weekends are practically legendary at this point, so we consider ourselves semi-experts at the art. For years, beginning circa 2000, the Engineers have been introduced to the sound of The Alan Parsons Project's "Sirius." It's a staple in sports circles, made famous by the still-amazing use of the song in the Chicago Bulls' starting lineup during their dynasty in the 1990s.

They still use it today, and it's still awesome.

RPI has used it for at least the better part of a decade, and... to be honest, we probably couldn't measure up to the original even if we tried, and it's starting to get a tad dated, especially now that we don't hit the lights over the stands anymore before the introductions begin.

Personally speaking, I was always a big fan of the band's "charge" during the introductions, but the realist in me knows that probably isn't coming back. So on the cusp of a brand new season... why not explore other options? We here at the pump up experts are here to help.

The Modern Lone Rider Option
We noticed a couple of years back that when the band was not in the house, the team frequently took the ice to "The Ecstasy of Gold" from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, written by Ennio Morricone. It's a pretty excellent choice, for sure, famously used by Metallica as they take the stage for a concert.

With that in mind, a couple of seasons back when we suggested a historical montage to play on the new scoreboard, we used Metallica's "S&M" live orchestra intro version, and it worked pretty well. There was indeed a montage that year, and a couple of times we heard that same version on the speakers during pre-game... but the crowd noise from the live recording was a bit distracting.

Here's a different take on "Ecstasy of Gold," though - Jay-Z, on his 2002 album "The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse" sampled the song for the title track, adding a piano, drums and some bass. The instrumental version of this song seems like it would work pretty well, allowing the announcer's voice-over to shine through while projecting the kind of rough-and-ready cowboy overtone with a modern twist. Listen below.

The Trendy But Still Badass Option
Released in 2003 but continuing to grow as a sports anthem, the White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" is becoming more and more ubiquitous for its catchy and easy-to-vocalize riff, not to mention the braggadocio of its second line, which should be appealing to any sports fan ("a seven nation army couldn't hold me back"). Students in college football and basketball can frequently be seen bopping up and down while chanting the main riff, and it has even crossed into college hockey - the BC "Superfans" chant it during a penalty kill whenever the puck is outside the defensive zone.

I first heard the Glitch Mob's dubstep remix of this song in a movie trailer last spring, and it instantly popped into mind as a killer intro track. Again, minus the lyrics for the announcer's clarity, take a listen.

The Embracing Your Inner RPI Nerd Option
Come on now, this has got to at least be a possibility. At a school like RPI, where roughly 120% of the student population has viewed the Star Wars trilogies at least twice this calendar year, why wouldn't a heroic John Williams overture be on the docket?

There are only two real solid options, of course (unless one were to mix things up on Black Friday, for instance, with the Imperial March). The first would be the main title, but that's too easy. Instead, we submit the medley of the Throne Room fanfare from the first movie's final scene, which segues into the end title. Give a listen.
(YouTube won't let us embed this one. Try it out here.)

The Possibly Outdated Already But Inspirational Option
OK, I'm going to admit that I don't really have a strong argument for this choice. But still... there's something about this song that, played ahead of an athletic event, just seems to work. Lupe Fiasco's "The Show Goes On," released in late 2010, is basically a message tune - you're about to see something awesome, regardless of whether the team's coming off a win, loss or tie, the show goes on. It's got the requisite beat you can nod your head to while you cheer, too.

The instrumental alone wouldn't work too well in this case, given the song's required connotations... so here's a solid instrumental version that includes the song's hook.
(Same issue - YouTube won't let this embed. Here it is.)

The Super Modern and Worldly Option
Right, like this wasn't going to be a choice? What's not to love? The kids will love it. Students will mark out for it. Townies will... well, they're not going to get it, but it fits very well with the school's culture for sure.

We probably shouldn't really have to mention this song, especially after mentioning that the version below has no Korean rapping in it - again, for clarity.

So how about it? Any of these choices strike your fancy as an awesome crowdstarter for the new season? Vote below! And if you've got a better idea, we're certainly all ears. Comment below!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Know Your Enemy: St. Lawrence

It's been a tough couple of years in Canton, and it's probably very little coincidence that long-time head coach Joe Marsh's health concerns were a dominating topic over the last two years. Last year, those health issues led him to take a leave of absence from the team, and unfortunately, they have since led to his retirement. While Marsh's absence is a blow for the school (and for the league, which loses a true class act behind the bench), it will at least allow the program to move on to the next chapter on firm ground.

St. Lawrence
Nickname: Saints
Location: Canton, NY
Founded: 1856
Conference: ECAC
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007
Last Frozen Four: 2000
Coach: Greg Carvel (1st season)
2011-12 Record: 14-19-3 (10-11-1 ECAC, 8th place)
Series: SLU leads, 76-52-6
First Game: January 3, 1951 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: January 27, 2012 (Troy, NY)
Last SLU win: November 5, 2011 (Canton, NY)

2012-13 games: February 8, 2013 (Canton, NY); March 2, 2013 (Troy, NY)

Key players: F Kyle Flanagan, sr.; D George Hughes, sr.; D Justin Baker, jr.; F Greg Carey, jr.; F Kyle Essery, jr.; D Pat Raley, jr.; G Matt Weninger, jr.; F Patrick Doherty, so.; F Gunnar Hughes, so.; F Chris Martin, so.; F Tommy Thompson, so.; F Matt Carey, fr.; F Alex Hagen, fr.; D Ross McMullan, fr.

Key losses: F Jacob Drewiske, D Peter Child, F Mark Armstrong

Previous KYE installments:
You can't get much more hot and cold than St. Lawrence last year. Five straight losses opened the season, then they won four out of five. Four straight losses followed, then they were unbeaten in six of seven. Another four losses in a row, then five wins in a row, and four losses in their last five games to end the season. Rollercoasters at Six Flags don't make you nearly that queasy.

So really, the question is this... will the real St. Lawrence please stand up?

SLU's early season troubles were at least identifiable by the monstrously difficult schedule they had early on, with three of those first five games coming against teams that would later play in the Frozen Four, a fourth coming against an NCAA team in Michigan, and the fifth played in front of 10,000 rabid RIT fans at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, but that doesn't account for bombs later in the season (giving up four goals to Brown comes to mind).

No, the Saints' real problem was in an inconsistent offense. The defense was practically never exceptional throughout the season, but on the occasions where the offense came alive, SLU looked very solid. But you've still got a problem when the defense can only keep the opponents under three goals on only three occasions after New Year's Day.

There's no question that Greg Carey and Kyle Flanagan, one and two on the team in scoring for the last two years, are two of the top forwards in the ECAC. Both are averaging just over a point per game for their careers thus far, which is never a bad sign. Their linemate, Martin, had a solid freshman outing. But by and large, teams that could shut down that line found themselves with a better than average chance at skating away with victory thanks to a porous defense.

Weninger has been very good at times for SLU, but he's been very rough as well. George Hughes is excellent at puck distribution, as his 20 assists last season would indicate, but besides him and Raley, there's not an overwhelming amount of solidity on that blue line in front of Weninger.

Greg Carey's younger brother Matt arrives on campus this fall, and he certainly has the potential to be just as good. McMullan promises size in the back at 6'5". Hagen, whose father also played at St. Lawrence, arrives from the BCHL, where he produced some OK numbers.

The bottom line for Greg Carvel in his first season has got to include not only getting the team's defensive affairs in order, but also in producing more offensive options for the Saints. If he can achieve both, this is a team that at least has the potential for a top-half finish, but if not, it's going to be a very difficult year in Canton and they'll be clawing and scraping to stay at home in the first round.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Best of What's Around

Well, it's about that time. We're under three weeks now until the puck drops on another season of RPI hockey. College hockey in general unofficially gets underway this coming weekend as Mercyhurst, RIT, and Colgate play exhibitions in women's hockey, and there'll now be either men's or women's college hockey every week until early April (with the exception of the week before the men's Frozen Four, of course).

It's been a mercifully quiet offseason for the first time since WaP began back in 2009. Only a few ECAC underclassmen jumped to the pros, just one team swapped conferences, and in our own backyard, not much to report with the exception of one player leaving school. So we have been pretty quiet since the season ended back in March, for sure, but it's now time to crank things up once again.

With the season approaching, it's always a good idea to take stock of which players to be watching for. Below are the top ten returning players in each category in ECAC play, with RPI's top returning players added on if necessary - they're the ones in bold. Are these the only players to be watching for? Of course not; some returning players will improve and become stars, and I'm sure you'll see some freshmen providing immediate impact. For those that are returning, though, these are the ones proven to be in the upper echelon of the league.

Danny Biega, Harvard – 23
Daniel Carr, Union – 22
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence – 21
Andrew Calof, Princeton – 21
Connor Jones, Quinnipiac – 21
Andrew Miller, Yale – 21
Antoine Laganiere, Yale – 20
Kellen Jones, Quinnipiac – 20
Matthew Peca, Quinnipiac – 20
Kenny Agostino, Yale – 19
(Nick Bailen/Brock Higgs – 13 each)

Daniel Carr, Union – 12
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence – 11
Brandon McNally, Dartmouth – 10
Greg Miller, Cornell – 10
Andrew Calof, Princeton – 10
Antoine Laganiere, Yale – 10
Kellen Jones, Quinnipiac – 9
Eric Robinson, Dartmouth – 9
Wayne Simpson, Union – 9
Rob Kleebaum, Princeton – 8
Kenny Agostino, Yale – 8
(Marty O’Grady – 5)

Connor Jones, Quinnipiac – 16
Jeremy Price, Colgate – 16
Matthew Peca, Quinnipiac – 16
Andrew Miller, Yale – 16
Danny Biega, Harvard – 15
Ben Sexton, Clarkson – 14
Kyle Bodie, Union – 14
Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence – 13
Joel Lowry, Cornell – 13
Josh Jooris, Union – 12
(Brock Higgs – 12)

Power Play Points
Danny Biega, Harvard – 14
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence – 10
Jeremy Price, Colgate – 10
Matthew Peca, Quinnipiac – 10
Ben Sexton, Clarkson – 9
Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence – 9
Marshall Everson, Harvard – 9
Kyle Bodie, Union – 9
Mat Bodie, Union – 9
Patrick McNally, Harvard – 9
Nick Bailen, Rensselaer – 9
Dennis Robertson, Brown – 9

Power Play Goals
Daniel Carr, Union – 6
Marshall Everson, Harvard – 5
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence – 5
Wayne Simpson, Union – 5
Antoine Laganiere, Yale – 5
Alex Fallstrom, Harvard – 4
Nick D’Agostino, Cornell – 4
Loren Barron, Quinnipiac – 4
Kellen Jones, Quinnipiac – 3
Ryan Haggerty, Rensselaer – 3

Short-Handed Points
Matt Hatch, Union – 2
Mark McGowan, Rensselaer – 2
Daniel Carr, Union – 2
Jeremy Price, Colgate – 2
Spiro Goulakos, Colgate – 2

Defenseman Scoring
Danny Biega, Harvard – 23
Jeremy Price, Colgate – 18
Mat Bodie, Union – 16
Michael Sdao, Princeton – 15
Patrick McNally, Harvard – 15
Nick D’Agostino, Cornell – 14
Shayne Gostisbehere, Union – 14
Dennis Robertson, Brown – 14
Spiro Goulakos, Colgate – 14
George Hughes, St. Lawrence – 14
(Nick Bailen, Rensselaer – 14)

Goals Against Average
Troy Grosenick, Union – 1.60
Eric Hartzell, Quinnipiac – 1.99
Andy Iles, Cornell – 1.99
Bryce Merriam, Rensselaer – 2.32
Jeff Malcolm, Yale – 2.63
Matt Weninger, St. Lawrence – 2.73
Eric Mihalik, Colgate – 2.76
Steve Michalek, Harvard – 2.77
Mike Condon, Princeton – 2.99
Sean Bonar, Princeton – 3.08

Save Percentage
Troy Grosenick, Union - .940
Andy Iles, Cornell - .922
Eric Hartzell, Quinnipiac - .921
Mike Condon, Princeton - .920
Jeff Malcolm, Yale – .916
Matt Weninger, St. Lawrence - .911
Bryce Merriam, Rensselaer - .911
Steve Michalek, Harvard - .906
Eric Mihalik, Colgate – .896
Sean Bonar, Princeton - .893

Returning Goals Per Game (difference from last year)
Union – 2.50 (-0.95)
Cornell – 2.36 (-0.64)
Quinnipiac – 2.32 (-0.41)
Princeton – 2.27 (-0.37)
Dartmouth – 2.09 (-0.77)
Harvard – 1.95 (-0.82)
Yale – 1.95 (-1.41)
St. Lawrence – 1.82 (-0.45)
Rensselaer – 1.64 (-0.30)
Brown – 1.45 (-1.00)
Clarkson – 1.41 (-1.18)
Colgate – 1.05 (-2.22)


And, while we're at it, a look at the top returning players around the nation. ECAC players are in bold, RPI's top returners are included for comparison, and players in italics are those from outside of the league that the Engineers are scheduled to get a look at this season.

Points per game
Mark Zengerle, Wisconsin – 1.35
Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence – 1.32
Joey Diamond, Maine – 1.27
Brett Gensler, Bentley – 1.25
Cole Schneider, UConn – 1.18
Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College – 1.14
Erik Haula, Minnesota – 1.14
Matt Nieto, Boston University – 1.14
Connor Jones, Quinnipiac – 1.11
Ben Hanowski, St. Cloud State – 1.10
(Brock Higgs – 0.68)

Goals per game
Joey Diamond, Maine – 0.68
Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College – 0.66
Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota – 0.62
Cole Schneider, UConn – 0.61
Ben Hanowski, St. Cloud State – 0.59
Brett Gensler, Bentley – 0.57
Antoine Laganiere, Yale – 0.54
Andrew Calof, Princeton – 0.53
Wade Megan, Boston University – 0.51
Jordan George, Bemidji State – 0.50
(C.J. Lee – 0.21)

Assists per game
Mark Zengerle, Wisconsin – 1.00
Nate Schmidt, Minnesota – 0.88
Andrew Miller, Yale – 0.85
Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence – 0.82
Matthew Peca, Quinnipiac – 0.79
Connor Jones, Quinnipiac – 0.76
Danny Biega, Harvard – 0.74
T.J. Tynan, Notre Dame – 0.72
Matt Nieto, Boston University – 0.70
Nick Sorkin, New Hampshire – 0.70
(Brock Higgs – 0.59)

Power Play Goals
Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College – 11
Joey Diamond, Maine – 11
Mark Anthoine, Maine – 11
Brant Harris, UConn – 10
Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence – 9
Antoine Laganiere, Yale – 9
Derek Arnold, UMass-Lowell – 9
Wade Megan, Boston University – 9
Kyle Rau, Minnesota – 9
Wayne Simpson, Union – 9
Daniel Carr, Union – 9
(Nick Bailen – 6)

Points per game (Defensemen)
Danny Biega, Harvard – 1.03
Nate Schmidt, Minnesota – 0.95
Joey LaLeggia, Denver – 0.88
Patrick McNally, Harvard – 0.82
Nick Jensen, St. Cloud State – 0.82
Lee Moffie, Michigan – 0.78
George Hughes, St. Lawrence – 0.77
Andrew Prochno, St. Cloud State – 0.76
Mike Boivin, Colorado College – 0.76
Mat Bodie, Union – 0.74
(Nick Bailen – 0.56)

Goals Against Average
Troy Grosenick, Union – 1.65
Parker Milner, Boston College – 1.66
Jason Torf, Air Force – 1.73
Shane Madolora, RIT – 1.93
Frank Slubowski, Western Michigan – 2.03
Andy Iles, Cornell – 2.12
Doug Carr, UMass-Lowell – 2.13
Raphael Girard, Harvard – 2.14
Juho Olkinuora, Denver – 2.18
Eric Hartzell, Quinnipiac – 2.20
(Bryce Merriam – 2.36)

Save Percentage
Parker Milner, Boston College - .937
Troy Grosenick, Union – .936
Raphael Girard, Harvard - .933
Shane Madolora, RIT - .931
Jason Torf, Air Force - .929
Doug Carr, UMass-Lowell - .928
Jared Coreau, Northern Michigan - .928
Casey DeSmith, New Hampshire - .926
Juho Olkinuora, Denver - .924
Josh Thorimbert, Colorado College - .924
(Bryce Merriam - .908)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Know Your Enemy: Cornell

Yup, here they are. Another year, another first round bye, another ECAC semifinal, another NCAA appearance. Last year, Cornell kicked it up a notch by upsetting regional top-seed Michigan in the first round of the tournament and taking eventual runners-up Ferris State to the limit in the Midwest regional. What does the future hold for the Big Red? Brace yourself... more of the same, in all likelihood.

Nickname: Big Red
Location: Ithaca, NY
Founded: 1865
Conference: ECAC (Ivy League)
National Championships: 2 (1967, 1970)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2012
Last Frozen Four: 2003
Coach: Mike Schafer (18th season)
2011-12 Record: 19-9-7 (12-4-6 ECAC, 2nd place)
Series: Cornell leads, 59-32-7
First Game: January 31, 1908 (Albany, NY)
Last RPI win: February 25, 2012 (Ithaca, NY)
Last CU win: February 12, 2011 (Troy, NY)

2012-13 games: January 19, 2013 (Troy, NY); February 22, 2013 (Ithaca, NY)

Key players: F Erik Axell, sr.; D Braden Birch, sr.; D Nick D'Agostino, sr.; F Greg Miller, sr.; D Kirill Gotovets, jr.; G Andy Iles, jr.; F Dustin Mowrey, jr.; F Cole Bardreau, so.; F Brian Ferlin, so.; F Joel Lowry, so.; F John McCarron, so.; D Joakim Ryan, so.; F John Knisley, fr.; D Gavin Stoick, fr.; F Teemu Tiitinen, fr.; D Reece Willcox, fr.

Key losses: F Sean Collins, D Sean Whitney, D Keir Ross, F Locke Jillson

Previous KYE installments:
Count 'em - Cornell has picked up a first-round bye in each of the last four years and as mentioned last year has missed it only once since the league expanded to a 12-team playoff: 2008, when they lost a tiebreaker with Union for fourth place. That makes 13 straight seasons in the top four.

Cornell has their system and they play it well, and last year, like most years, they were right in the thick of things for the Cleary Cup until RPI helped snatch it away from them on the last day of the regular season, with Matt Tinordi scoring to tie things up at Lynah Rink with just over two minutes left in regulation, followed by a Patrick Cullen goal with just seconds left in overtime on the Engineers' seventh shot of the extra period, gifting the regular season crown to Union. So while they still tend to get the job done, Cornell actually hasn't won the Cleary Cup since 2005.

Will they be in the hunt this year? If you're asking that question, try going back to the start and then read again. Cornell wasn't offensively gifted last year (they frequently aren't anyway), but they do return eight of their top nine scorers from last season (all but Collins, who was second on the team with 26 points). Ferlin showed immense potential before his season ended to an injury. Knisley is positively short for a Schafer recruit at 5'9" but he'll have been on the recruiting books for four full years once he finally suits up for the Big Red - he played with Mike Zalewski for two years at Vernon in the BCHL.

Defensively, Birch and D'Agostino are rocks already, Ryan showed potential, and now they bring in Stoick from the US Under-18 team and Willcox, a fifth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers. Add in Iles between the pipes (whose outstanding season was overshadowed by Troy Grosenick in Schenectady), and the much-maligned but highly effective Cornell defensive scheme, and you've got a team that's tough to score on, even with the loss of Whitney and Ross.

As difficult as RPI's season was last year, they actually managed to win the season series with the Big Red for the first time in roughly forever, and they've now played three straight tight ones against Cornell. Can that continue? Perhaps, but it won't be easy. We've already discussed top contenders like Union and Quinnipiac, but this team, which was a goal away from the Frozen Four in the third period against Ferris State, hasn't changed a great deal from last season, and that places them right in the mix right along with them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Know Your Enemy: Colgate

Few teams have been harder to draw a bead on before the season over the last couple of years as Colgate. Expected to do well two years ago, they instead flopped to the bottom of the table before leading an inspired run to Atlantic City. Expected to be a middling team last year, they instead got out of the gate fast and was one of the most consistently solid teams in the league until they faltered down the stretch. What does the future hold for the Raiders? It's still hard to tell.

Nickname: Raiders
Location: Hamilton, NY
Founded: 1819
Conference: ECAC
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2005
Last Frozen Four: 1990
Coach: Don Vaughan (20th season)
2010-11 Record: 19-17-3 (11-10-1 ECAC, 4th place) 
Series: RPI leads, 57-56-3 
First Game: February 19, 1916 (Hamilton, NY) 
Last RPI win: February 24, 2012 (Hamilton, NY)
Last CU win: February 4, 2012 (Troy, NY)

2012-13 games: January 18, 2013 (Troy, NY); February 23, 2013 (Hamilton, NY)

Key players: F Kurtis Bartliff, sr.; F Robbie Bourdon, sr.; D Thomas Larkin, sr.; D Jeremy Price, sr.; D Nathan Sinz, sr.; G Eric Mihalik, jr.; F John Lidgett, so.; F Joe Wilson, so.; D Spiro Goulakos, so.; F Michael Borkowski, fr.; D Ryan Johnston, fr.; D Kevin Lough, fr.; F Tylor Spink, fr.; F Tyson Spink, fr.

Key losses: F Austin Smith, F Chris Wagner, F Austin Mayer, D Corbin McPherson, F Matt Firman, F Nick Prockow

Previous KYE installments:
The offensive drivers of the Raiders' success last year were Hobey finalist Smith, who pumped in a nation-leading 36 goals in 39 games (more than anyone else in the nation by six), and linemate Wagner, who frequently fed Smith to rack up 34 assists to go with 17 goals of his own. Smith and Wagner were one of only two sets of teammates in the country to both achieve 50 point seasons last year (Minnesota-Duluth's Jack Connolly and Travis Oleksuk also managed the feat). Unfortunately for Colgate, both men are now gone, with Smith graduating and Wagner choosing to forego his final two years of college eligibility to sign with the Anaheim Ducks.

Throw in the graduations of Mayer (23 points) and Firman (15 points) and the Raiders are losing four of their top six point producers from last year, players who combined for 146 total points, which approaches half of their total team scoring output and represents over half of their goal scoring output from last season. For a team that depended so heavily offense last year, that can't sit terribly well. In league play, Colgate loses  a whopping 2.22 goals per game from last season, far beyond what any of the other 11 squads need to make up, and they rank dead last for what does return.

It's not that Colgate doesn't have players who can fill the void - Bourdon (12), Wilson (10), and Lidgett (5) are the top returning goal scorers - it's just that it's always a little easier knowing who your go-to guys are coming into the season. Just ask the Engineers last year.

Defensively, the Raiders were a mixed bag. There was a period from mid November through the end of 2011 in which the team looked positively unstoppable, holding opponents under 3 goals in each of seven consecutive contests, outscoring them 27-10 and going 6-0-1. Unfortunately, the defense managed the feat only seven more times in its final 21 games, forcing the offense to pick up the slack - and after mid-February, the offense started to show problems.

Colgate's eight-man freshman class arrives exclusively from Ontario junior leagues, though five of them (all listed above) were all-stars last season in the CJHL, including three former teammates of Jacob Laliberte with the Cornwall Colts. Two of those teammates, the identical Spink twins, were Laliberte's linemates two years back and were for a time rumored to have been pursued by the Engineers. They could fill some of the offensive gap, but as last year's RPI team illustrated, it's never easy having to rely on freshmen for goals.

The Raiders will likely benefit from an experienced defensive grouping, including a pair of NHL draftee seniors in Larkin and Price, but Mihalik needs to continue the slow improvement he displayed last year and the Smith-Wagner gap needs to be filled in a hurry. The Raiders always present RPI with a challenge and should provide a pair of challenging games nonetheless. A bottom four finish would probably be classified as a disappointment for this team (though not outside the realm of possibility), so look for a middle four finish with an outside shot at competing for a bye if everything (and we do mean everything) falls into place.