Two regular season, non-conference games will highlight the weekend schedule, as both Colgate and Clarkson begin their respective seasons. Both of the teams struggled mightily down the stretch of last season and will be looking for a new beginning this season. St Lawrence and Rensselaer host exhibition games on Saturday while Quinnipiac hosts one in Hamden on Sunday.
I will have a full ECAC preview available in the coming weeks, but in the mean time lets enjoy the hockey this weekend. it should only be a preview of what is to come around the country.
Ferris State at Colgate (Saturday , Sunday)
The Bulldogs will travel to Hamilton NY to take on the Red Raiders this weekend. Colgate has to be looking forward to this season to commence, as last season they lost nine of their last ten games and bowed out of the ECAC first round at the hands of St. Lawrence in two games. Colgate was picked ninth by both the media and coaches in the ECAC preseason polls.
Colgate returns an exciting core up front but the defense still will have tons of questions coming into the season. The Spink twins and Kyle Baun should compose one of the more exciting first lines in the ECAC this season. Last year as freshmen they were the only shining light on an otherwise sour season. The three combined 34 goals and 82 points. Look for these three to have a big weekend, as they should most weekends this season.
Spiro Goulakos will also return to the lineup this season. Goulakos missed time last season due to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. His return to the lineup should mean good things for Colgate this season. In the games that he did play last season, he was Colgate’s best defenseman at both ends of the ice. His presence was missed, while he was out of the lineup his team went 1-7-2. He was named a captain during the offseason. Colgate will need his help as they will start the season with two inexperienced skaters on defense, as three graduated.
Ferris State begins its first season in the new look WCHA. They were voted second out of ten teams in their league. Ferris State returns CJ. Motte in net. Last season Motte was the Bulldogs best player on most nights. As a sophomore he went 15-15-5, had a GAA of 2.19 and a save percentage of .927. The Bulldogs graduated their top two scorers, but will return eight players who had ten or more points last season.
Prediction: Colgate sweeps, 4-2 and 5-2
Clarkson at Niagara (Saturday, Sunday)
Clarkson will travel to Western NY to take on the Purple Eagles for a pair this weekend. The Golden Knights, like Colgate, should be excited to start a new season as they struggled much of last season with consistency. Last season, these two teams faced off for a pair in the North Country as the Knights fell on the Friday night and only managed to salvage a tie on the second night.
Clarkson returns most of its core this season but improvement will be necessary up and down the lineup. It should be interesting to see what exactly a year of experience is actually worth . Last year was downright ugly at times and with few new faces one could wonder where exactly the improvement will be.
Up front names like Alan McPherson, Joe Zarbo, Jarett Burton, Ben Sexton and Pat Megannety should produce offense for the Golden Knights but the goaltending will need to be better to win games this season. Last season Clarkson gave up a league second worst 2.97 goals per game and Clarkson goalies had the worst save percentage in the conference at .897.
Niagara was picked first in the Atlantic Hockey preseason coaches poll and will be a tough matchup for Clarkson to begin the season. The Purple Eagles went 23-10-5 a season ago. Although they lost their top goaltender coming into the season, they do return leading scorer Ryan Murphy.
Prediction: Niagara sweeps 5-4, 4-1
Colgate at RIT (Thursday 10/10)
Colgate will play a third regular season game on Thursday, before most teams even play one. RIT drew the fifth ranking in the preseason AHA hockey poll. RIT returns eight of its top ten scorers from a year ago and could pose some problems for Gate.
Prediction: Gate 5-2
Carleton at St. Lawrence (Saturday)
St. Mary’s at Rensselaer (Saturday)
St. Mary’s at Quinnipiac (Sunday)