Last year ECAC Hockey had two NCAA tournament teams. Yale upset North Dakota in the first round, while Cornell, a possible national title contender, lost to New Hampshire in the first round. In all it was a fairly disappointing tournament for the conference.
This year ECAC looks like it could possibly be a one bid league, with a couple key early departures hurting potential NCAA bid hunters.
Obviously the preview has to start with Yale as the defending regular season champs return both Brian O’Neill and Broc Little to the nation’s best scoring offense. O’Neill was 2nd in the league with 1.32 points per game, and Little led the league with 27 goals. While there was a fairly big drop off in goals after Little, Sean Backman, Marc Arcobello and O’Neill, Yale had some good distributors last year, including Freshman Andrew Miller, who tied for the team lead with 29 assists.
Goaltending concerns did the Bulldogs in, as not a single Bulldog goalie had a save percentage over 90%. Sophomores Nick Maricic and Jeff Malcolm will likely get the bulk of the time, with Senior Ryan Rondeau getting some of the PT as well. Yale will need at least adequate goaltending to be a Frozen Four team, though they are for sure the best ECAC Hockey team.
RPI should probably be the 2nd best team in the conference, though Jerry D’Amigo’s early departure rocked the team. Last year’s ECAC Hockey player of the year Chase Polacek (26-26-52) is a heavy favorite for conference player of the year, and serious Hobey contender. The Engineers will have to deal with a young defensive corps, though losing D’Amigo will hurt much more than inexperienced defensemen, as RPI was the 4th best team in conference in defense, but just 9th in scoring offense (12 teams). Potentially helping the Engineers is Bowling Green transfer Nick Bailen, who had 14 goals in 58 games with the Indiana Ice last year.
Much in the same boat as RPI, Harvard had an interesting team, but with Louis Leblanc going to the QMJHL, the Crimson have an uphill climb. Even with Leblanc Harvard had the worst offense in the conference, averaging less than 2.5 goals per game last year. Their leading returning scorer is Michael Biega, who had 22 points last year.
After losing Blake Gallagher, Colin Greening, Riley Nash and Ben Scrivens, Cornell could be in trouble this year. Some good recruits should help, but the Big Red look a couple years away. Joe Devin is the leading returning goal scorer (9), so it looks like Mike Schafer will be employing a defensive scheme in Ithaca this year.
Preseason All-League Teams
Player of the year – Chase Polacek, RPI
1st team all ECAC
F – Polacek
F – Brian O’Neill, Yale
F – Broc Little, Yale
D – Denny Kearney, Yale
D – Brock Matheson, Union
G – Ryan Carroll, Harvard
F – Austin Smith, Colgate
F – Scott Fleming, Dartmouth
F – Denny Kearney, Yale Brian Day, Colgate
D – Greg Coburn, Union
D – Jeff Buvinow, Brown
G – Corey Milan, Union