Archive for the 'ECAC' Category

Three Things I Think: ECAC 11/7

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Entering conference play with a clean slate is always a nice beginning to the season.We probably didn’t learn much over the weekend, because it is so early in the season and most teams are getting into their systems with new faces. While Harvard looked really good in both games, it only escaped the weekend with a win and a tie. Ditto to Dartmouth, that has surprisingly begun its season 2-0-1 overall and 1-0-1 in ECAC play. Cornell has struggled in its three games to begin its season, while SLU came up with a big weekend sweep of Quinnipiac and Princeton. For the Saints, it appears that its stalwart netminder, Kyle Hayton, has left his early season struggles behind him. Over the weekend Hayton had two shutouts, stopping everything the Tigers and Bobcats threw at his net. Hayton with the two shutouts, set the SLU program record for shutouts in his career, as the junior now has 10.

Union has rocketed out of the starting gate with a 4-0-0 record in ECAC play, while rival RPI is 1-3-0 after it defeated Brown on Friday night. Union is a tad of a surprise but they have, arguably, the best offense in the conference and right up there with Harvard. There will always be questions about its defense and goaltending, but at least so far it has been able to score enough goals, most nights to not have to worry about that. The Dutchmen have scored the most goals in college hockey, with 45, and scores more than four goals a game (4.09). Its top line, which I will write more about in a feature on Mike Vecchione this week, has been dynamite and has put itself into conversation of the best line in the country. The statistics can certainly prove that. If the Dutchmen can get better in its own zone, it will be a serious contender in the ECAC this year, but then again that will be deterrent. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 11/1

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

The Ivy League schools began play over the weekend. For some, it proved to be a rough night. For others, there were moments that showed hey they may have something to add. For Dartmouth, the one game it played had to be a big momentum boost for the coming weeks heading towards ECAC play. All told, the Ivies had a 4-4-0 record on the weekend, including the Big Green’s win over Michigan on Saturday night.

Union swept RPI in the opening league games of the 2016 season, continuing their hot start. The Dutchmen are now 6-1-1 on the season. Their offense is led by rejuvenated senior Mike Vecchione, who has 10 goals on the year and the game-winner against the Engineers on Saturday. The only team that has defeated Rick Bennett’s charges this season was Michigan at Yost. They will play at Holy Cross tonight, which has a win against Providence and defeated Brown on Friday, 3-0.

The league has in some senses struggled this season in non-conference play, but it was probably never going to equal last year’s impressive non-conference season. So many teams are young and have players in new roles. Other than a 5-1-3 record against the Atlantic, the ECAC has a record of 13-19-4 against the BIG and Hockey East. It has been tough sledding in some games, but with the Ivies back I suspect it will all get better. I also totally expect Clarkson and SLU to break their respective slumps at some point. Both teams have a good number of talented players. Without further ado here are my thoughts of the week: (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 10/25

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Another week, another week and another mixed bag for ECAC teams in non-conference play. Quinnipiac dropped the game of the week at Boston University, SLU was swept by Providence and Lowell. Clarkson had a good weekend with a win and a tie at Providence and Lowell. Union swept Niagara and RIT, while RPI picked up a victory . For some teams it was a tough weekend and for others they are making noise, like Clarkson picking up a win and a tie on the road against two tournament quality teams.

The Ivies will begin play this weekend. Harvard will travel to Arizona State, COrnell to Merrimack, Dartmouth will host Michigan, Brown is at Holy Cross, Princeton goes to Michigan State and Yale has Sacred Heart at Ingalls. These games are often interesting because you have teams playing their first games that are playing teams that have already played six games this season. In the case of Dartmouth it will have its hand full with a new look Michigan team.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts of the week (more…)

Making A Case To Do Away (Or Change) With ECAC Travel Partners

Monday, October 17th, 2016

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful North Country, taking in a game at Clarkson and St. Lawrence. If you’ve never made the trip, it’s highly recommended, especially in the fall where the temperatures aren’t too cold and the scenery is second to none.

Not to mention you get to take in two awesome college hockey buildings. There’s not another building in the country like Appleton Arena.

But this weekend got me thinking … is the ECAC travel partner concept outdated? Do coaches even like it?

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Three Things I Think: ECAC, 10/16

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

The first weeks of the regular season are past us and for the non-Ivy league schools some trends are taking shape. We are about a week and a half away from when the Ivy League schools begin play. Harvard and Cornell will each open their seasons on Friday October, 28th against Arizona State and Merrimack, respectively. Conference play will begin the next weekend, with Quinnipiac/Clarkson probably the best matchup in the first week. This weekend there will be many intriguing non-conference matchups, which I will delve on later in the week in my weekend preview blog.

The league as a whole had a good weekend in non-conference and some younger players are coming forward, while some newer trusted hands are also breaking out. While the league has no one that remains undefeated, St. Lawrence and Quinnipiac again look poised to be near the top. SLU after a struggle in the opener, has looked lights out in the past three games, winning going away in each. Clarkson has been a tad inconsistent over the first couple weeks. Colgate, is having some expected bumps early on, RPI is surprisingly as well. Quinnipiac has been hit or miss in the early going and Union has had a decent start to the year with a win and a loss at Michigan, with a win and draw against AIC and Sacred Heart over the weekend. Clarkson split its two weekends against Hockey East foes. All told over the first two weekends ECAC teams have gone 9-9-4. (more…)

The Right Choice For St. Lawrence

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

When I first heard Mark Morris’ name pop up, it was early in the process. I included Morris in my preliminary look at candidates that should be involved. It was based mostly on his North Country connections. I said then and I will say here, Mark Morris was the best, most seasoned candidate that wanted this job. Remember, I have seen all the candidates and I say this with plenty of confidence.

Now here we are with the former Clarkson coach, who led that program to new heights, being announced as the head coach at the Golden Knights’ biggest rival St. Lawrence… Who would have ever thought this was even remotely possible about ten seasons ago, five or even last year?

I suggest you read CHN editor Adam Wodon’s piece last week on why this move was a move SLU should make. There we were getting the idea that this was happening and he wanted to start the conversation on it… Enjoy the other perspective, while you read mine… He comes from a past perspective on this, having reported on Clarkson during his firing, while I come from the present having watched Morris’ work with Manchester.

It was hardly a shock when I learned Mark Morris applied for the job (I was the first to report that), it was not a shock when I learned he was the favorite and it certainly wasn’t a surprise to me that he quickly went to the top of the list of candidates. A guy with 300 wins as a college hockey coach, 9 appearances to the NCAA tournament and 374 wins at the AHL level should have never been dismissed.

His success speaks loudly of the person that he is. Quite frankly, accept it or not, everywhere he has gone he has won. If you polled people about a coaching hire, I would assume they would say they want someone that could win and win a lot.

Why would St. Lawrence, a place close to his home, be any different? Morris wanted this job, because it offered him a way to be closer to his family that he has been away from for over a decade. For what it is worth, isn’t that something that would  make a guy strive to be better? He wants this to work, he wants to prove Clarkson was wrong for firing him over a decade ago and of course isn’t there a lot of pride in knowing he will be around a school that is close to home, where his friends and family will be around for every game? I would think so…

Of course the character and coaching style were always going to be in question. Will there be a loss or more among the current roster and commits, I assume so because it happens in nearly every coaching change. Know what I say to that? A player that leaves a program in this regard probably doesn’t want to be in that program to begin with. Ya coaches play a huge role in where a player goes, but if they truly want to be there they will stay and attempt to learn, regardless of who the coach is.

Any player that wants to successful would want to play under Morris. He has developed players at every level. Just look at the Los Angeles Kings for example, he built those Stanley cups in Manchester, New Hampshire when he was the coach of the Kings AHL affiliate, the Monarchs. Many of those players that he coached in Manchester, ended up winning two cups in LA. During the 2014-15 LA Stanley Cup run, 13 of those players had played for Morris in Manchester and in 2012, 14 were former Monarchs. Of course many of his players at Clarkson also went on to successful careers, which should not be forgotten.

Now there are many SLU fans that won’t like this move. That is fine, of course, but at the end of the day if they really support the program they will come around to really love this guy as a coach. There may be a difficult transition for those that don’t think this is right, because he is a Clarkson guy, but eventually those ties will be forgotten, to some degree.

They may not like to hear it, but this was the best move for St. Lawrence not only from a coaching perspective but a marketing perspective as well. The Saints brand will now be easier to sell in the North Country, as a whole, and heck as a program Durocher hit a home run here because there may be many locals that weren’t drawn to SLU that now will be. You have to think too, Morris was affordable because of his local ties and the fact he wanted to be home (I do not know).

Of course comes the issue of age, with Morris being 58. Times have changed and those who think Morris will retire at 65 are probably mistaken. If he is successful, I assume he will be around for a while. I don’t even question whether he will be successful, I totally expect him to take the current roster to new heights this coming season. He will be around longer than those other guys that are younger than him and he is the best coach that was available.

It seems like a win for SLU, in my book because we just saw what happened when a promising coach that was an alum just did, he left for supposed greener and bigger pastures. I respect Carvel’s decision, as a friend of his, but at the end of the day it shows just what the SLU job has become, a stepping stone in the hockey world.

One of the things that draws me to St. Lawrence is the camaraderie of the area and the close knit nature of the community. In recent weeks, as this move started to become likely I have seen a lot of divisive, unhappy fans and alums come to the forefront. It concerns me, because this is one of the ECAC’s premier programs. I really hope that everyone can rally around this move, whether they like it or not, and support their Saints. I hope the players can appreciate why this move would be made and I also hope they realize how much they are learning from this guy who can teach them a lot.

My hope of course, is that SLU is the same place that I have come to love as a reporter. I know where I will be when Clarkson and SLU play for the first time this season. By then, I hope all SLU fans are behind this move and are unchanged in their opinions of the program. It seems like a large task, but it will happen and I hope it is sooner rather than later. The Saints will always be the Saints, or they should be…

What’s Next for St. Lawrence

Friday, April 1st, 2016

This week has been an unexpected one at St. Lawrence. When Greg Carvel took the head coaching job at UMass, he left his alma mater and the school that he grew up following. I am not sure I can fully explain how much of a shock this was to those around the program, in the administration and even the players. None of which had any idea this was coming. What made it even more unexpected, was that Carvel recently signed a five year extension to coach the Saints team that he had heading in the right direction. When opportunities arise, human nature tells us to jump at it, which is exactly what Carvel did and kudos to him.

Right now, SLU will look to pick up the pieces in a situation that is rare in a college hockey. Unlike most jobs that come open in college hockey the cupboard is half full, so to say.

The Saints have a great nucleus returning that will make the job attractive to a coach that may just be looking for an opportunity. It has, arguably, the best three defensemen in the ECAC returning next year, as Gavin Bayreuther, Eric Sweetman and Nolan Gluchowski all return. Of course the other piece, is also the most important.  Its stud goaltender, Kyle Hayton will return for his junior season. Hayton, will enter the season as a Richter Award favorite and on the Hobey Watch List. Heck, I have already started at looking at preseason and this should be a top four team in the league, regardless of what happens. (more…)

SLU Defeats Rival Clarkson in Overtime to Take a 1-0 QF Series Lead

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Canton, NY - It is almost as if SLU and Clarkson are a mirror image of each other; in all actuality they are. On Friday night, the rivals separated by just 11 miles played a thriling game that could only be capped off with an overtime game, where Brian Ward ended it on a 3 on 1 break. The Saints took a 1-0 series lead against the Golden Knights in a series it could end on Saturday night, one that could send them back to Lake Placid and the ECAC Final Four for the second time in two seasons.

The crowd was raucous before the game, but it quickly got louder as SLU took an early lead just four minutes, 57 seconds into the tilt. Nolan Gluchowski sent a shot intentionally wide and Alexander Dahl got a pretty tip to put the Saints fans in a frenzy. Ten minutes later, Perry D’Arisso got off a wicked wrister from the faceoff dot to tie the score at one.

The second period was much of the same from both teams, as Clarkson in some ways dominated play and SLU counter-attacked. The Golden Knights got the only goal of the period, when Nick Pierog retrieved a puck as he came out of the penalty box, deked Kyle Hayton and backhanded it home to give Clarkson the 2-1 lead after 2. The Saints came on strong in the third period and had a  golden opportuity early in the period, when Jacob Pritchard found a puck all alone in front on his backhand missing a wide open net by a few feet. At the 6:59 mark of the third, Pritchard made amends by by tying the score on a scrum in front of the net.

The overtime period, much like the game, provided back and forth action, until Ward ended it by looking to pass and finding an empty slot on the glove-side of Greg Lewis. SLU is now 8-2-1 in its last 11 games, while Clarkson fell for the first time in the tournament.

Box Score

Metrics (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/24

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

As always the regular season hits its last weekend really quick, but here we are. Quinnipiac should clinch the Cleary Cup on Friday against Brown, but ya know Bruno has wrecked the dreams of Bobcats fans before and so has Saturday opponent, Yale, who could steal the Cleary Cup from its New Haven rival. Of course this script was written in Atlantic City and Pittsburgh in the year 2013, so it couldn’t possibly be relived? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened. QU has had a great season, but of late Yale has been better, so I am interested to see what happens this weekend.

Yale has a bye locked up and Harvard needs just a point this weekend to clinch one. The mess in the standings begins behind them. St. Lawrence currently has the fourth spot and is followed just one point behind by Dartmouth and RPI. Cornell also has a chance at the bye and sits two points back of SLU. The Saints and Dartmouth have a huge opportunity to make hay on Friday as the two of them will meet in a defacto bye championship game, well not really because good ole RPI and Cornell could sneak past if the two tie. I will take the Saints at home, because they have been really good in Canton this year.

Union still has a chance to host a first round series, as it sits in ninth just three points behind Clarkson. I find this comeback as unlikely but who knows I guess. What we do know is that Colgate, Brown and Princeton will be travelling in the first round of the ECAC tournament.

In terms of the pairwise, four ECAC would be in if the tournament started today. Quinnipiac remains in its lofty position at the top, Yale has climbed all the way to seventh with its great run of form, Harvard is in 12th but has a little cushion and Cornell after a strong weekend has moved into the 14th position. Of course, the Big Red shouldn’t rest on its laurels because someone could make the tournament that shouldn’t. Right  now both the WCHA and AHA champions would be out of the top 16. Check out this article on the current tournament picture(more…)

Yale and SLU Play an Interesting One at Ingalls

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

It could have been billed as a matchup of two of the best goalies in college hockey, Kyle Hayton and Alex Lyon, but it turned out to be something else. Both Hayton and Lyon had their struggles, although Hayton was the better of the two most of the night.  Yale got a late winner with about a minute remaining from Ryan Obuchowski on a two on one pass from Joe Snively. Yale continued its hot streak defeating St. Lawrence, 4-3.

Yale had a marked advantage in shots and possession for much of the first two periods, but the Saints came on late despite allowing Yale a late winner.The Bulldogs outshot its opponent, 34-19 and out-attempted them 66-38 .In the thrid period the Saints held an 8-6 shot advantage, as it was the better team after Yale took a 3-2 lead.

The Bulldogs have now won six in a row and have just one loss since December 5th, a stretch of 15 games that has seen them go 12-1-2. Yale also clinched a first round bye and a home series in the ECAC quarterfinals. Yale still has a shot at the ECAC regular season crown, but it sits five points behind rival Quinnipiac with just three games to go. The two will play in Hamden next week, which might not mean much in terms of the standings if the Bobcats clinch tonight with a win.

St. Lawrence, who had also been hot, dropped its second game to Yale in about a month. The Saints entered with a six game run of their own, at 5-0-1. It is in a tie for the all important fourth place in the ECAC standings with Dartmouth. Those two will play next week in Canton, which could decide the last team that gets a bye. (more…)