The defending league champs lose both their coach and starting goalie, but return a ton of talent up front. Both Daniel Carr and Jeremy Welsh look like breakout and potential Hobey candidates. Mat Bodie was one of the best defensemen in the conference already as a Freshman.
Despite losing four of their top six scorers, Yale brings back a ton of talent up front, led by Brian O’Neill (20 goals) and Andrew Miller (45 pts). Like Union, Yale’s fortunes will hinge on how they replace a netminder coming off a great year: Ryan Rondeau had a .928 save percentage, while his backups saw just 5 games of action between them.
Andy Iles looks to be the next great Cornell goalie, following in the David McKee and Ben Scrivens footsteps (not to mention some Dryden guy). Like the Cornell of old, this year’s Big Red team doesn’t look to have much scoring punch up front, but they do return Greg Miller, who had 29 points last year. Also look for Penguins draftee Nick D’Agostino to have a breakout season.
The Big Green arguably have the most individual talent in the league, and unlike the two top finishers from last year don’t have to replace their netminder. James Mello had a .926 save percentage for Dartmouth, which may need him more this year as they lose their top two scorers. Matt Linblad, who tied for 2nd on the team with 13 goals last year, seems an obvious breakout candidate.
The Bobcats really struggled to put the puck in the net last year (2.23 goals per conference game), but they return, by my count, every forward off last year’s team. They weren’t exactly young last year, but did have two Freshmen in their top four scorers, so another year to gel could lead to more goals.
6. St. Lawrence
The Saints are led by Greg Carey, who had 23 goals as a Freshman and became one of my favorite players in the league.
Kyle Flanagan, no slouch himself, is back as well. St. Lawrence got a .913 save percentage out of a Freshman goalie last year, so there is a lot to like defensively there as well.
The Engineers are reportedly being courted by Hockey East (edit: as the great RPI blog Without a Peer points out, courted is too strong a word. Vetted is better. My mistake), which I’ll admit doesn’t make much sense to me, but this year’s team, despite no Chase Polacek, has a lot to like. Mike Bergin is a very good defensive defenseman and I think Alex Angers-Goulet will have a good year to finish out his career.
The Tigers lost their coach, but unlike Union don’t really have the talent to ensure a smooth transition. Andrew Calof had 33 points as a Freshman last year and Rob Kleebaum should have a breakout year.
Colgate has a fairly talented D corps, far more talented than you’d expect from a preseason 9th ranked team in ECAC Hockey anyways. They also had a Freshman in net last year, so their improved defense should keep them in a lot of games this season.
Brown made some strides last year, but losing leading scorer Harry Zolniecrczyk will hurt big time. They’ll need improved net play from Mike Clemente in order to push towards the middle of the pack.
Clarkson loses its two leading scorers, the only two to score in double digits last season as well.
Defenseman Danny Biega is one of the best players in the league, but beyond that there’s not much to love.