. . . And the Bottom of the Heap
Last year, Yale finished 10th in the league. Ninth on offense. Eleventh on defense. Except for the annual Elis upset of Harvard at the Yale Whale, the Bulldogs can expect more of the same this season.
Yale's offense has a few returning impact players: Jeff Blaeser (17-14--31), Mark Kaufmann (9-16--25), John Sather (7-11--18) and Captain Chris Gruber (5-12--17).
1989-90 Record: (6-15-1 ECAC, 8-20-1 overall)
Coach: Tim Taylor
Captain: Chris Gruber
But defensively, the Bulldogs look pathetic. As exemplified by Harvard's 11-0 Eli thrashing at Bright last year, the Bulldogs are thin at the blue line. Goalie Ray LeTourneau (4.64 goals-against-average, .867 save percentage) brings at least a modicum of experience to the Yale net.
A losing experience.
You've really got to pity Army. They can't recruit any Canadian talent. Their skaters are up at 5 a.m. every day. They rarely win anything.
1989-90 Record: (4-15-3 ECAC, 10-16-4 overall)
Coach: Rob Riley
Captains: Todd Tamburino, Scott Williams
"The problem for us each year is that there's not a lot of naturally talented players," Coach Rob Riley said. "We're counting on hard work to keep us in games. It helps us now and then to be counted out of games. We beat Harvard last year, and Cornell a few years back after they won the ECACs."
Like most service academies, Army's strength rests with its defense. The Cadets finished tied for sixth at goal prevention last year, thanks mainly to superb goaltending from junior Brooks Chretien (3.31 goals-against-average, .855 save percentage). Freshman Mike Landers will help out Co-Captain Todd Tamburino, Chris Mead and Scott Williams on defense.
"You play 22 league games," Riley said. "We'll need a lot of luck. Our players don't get enough rest. It's another one of the little things that makes it difficult for us."
Vermont recently showed the university's commitment to hockey by undertaking a renovation of Gutterson Field House. But the Catamounts may not prove themselves worthy of the $4.6 million splurge.
UVM has many questions to answer before Coach Mike Gilligan can consider his squad a contender for even the middle of the pack. The Catamounts return scoring threats in Jim Larkin (16-12--28), Mike McLoughlin (9-8--17) and John LeClair (5-5--10). LeClair "can beat you almost single-handedly," according to Harvard Coach Ronn Tomassoni. But the talented center has been injury-prone throughout his college career.
Captain Dave Browne had a weak season last year, mainly because of injuries. Harvard hockey faithful will remember Browne as the cursed Catamount who banged home a rebound in the 1989 ECAC tournament semifinal to deprive the Crimson of a Beanpot/ECAC/NCAA celebration.
1989-90 Record: (7-13-2 ECAC, 9-20-2 overall)
Coach: Mike Gilligan
Captain: Dave Browne
Don't expect Vermont to spoil anyone's party this season.
At Dartmouth, there is a time for everything. A time for studying and a time for partying. A time for sleeping and a time for whining about the Review. A time for losing and a time for losing.
This year, the Big Green is rebuilding under Ben Smith. Seven of Dartmouth's 20 skaters will be frosh. Smith said he will try to keep their mental errors to a minimum.
1989-90 Record: (4-14-4 ECAC, 4-18-4 overall)
Coach: Ben Smith
Captain: Mike Daly
"We're looking to play honest hockey," Smith said. "We hope that teams look past us, and we can sneak by them. We don't have mirrors or smoke here. We have a group of seniors here who have been through some lean years. We'd like to salvage their experiences, record-wise."
At Rensselaer, a good offense is not the bestdefense.
The skate-and-shoot Engineers finished first inECAC team offense--averaging a whopping six goalsper contest.
But RPI's porous team defense finished deadlast in the league, inviting nearly five goals pergame.
1989-90 Record: (14-8-0 ECAC, 20-14-0overall)
Coach: Buddy Powers
Captains: Joe Juneau, Bruce Coles
The Engineers goalies have already surrendered18 goals in just three games, and should continueto hear a lot of "Sieve" chants again this year.Al Kummu and Stephane Robitaille will try to dothe impossible on defense. The way they're going,the Engineers may as well play the full 60 minuteswith an empty net.
Good thing RPI can score. The Engineers mayhave given up 18 goals this season, but they'vescored 18 as well. ECAC scoring leader Joe Juneau(12-38--50) and number-four ECAC scorer andperennial annoyance Bruce Coles (18-20--38)captain a goal-thirsty squad.
"Defense is our weakness," Coach Buddy Powerssaid. "We have to check better and be moreconscious on defense. We have plenty ofexperience. We're just not executing. We've got alot of guys who can score: Gary Wohlford, KevinMazzella and Mickey LeBlanc are all capable ofscoring 15 to 20 goals."
"We should be a team that scores a lot ofgoals," Juneau added. "Each line plays hard. Butif we're not tough mentally, it will be easy forteams to beat us."
The Tigers are basically your typical averageteam. No-frills potato chips. Mike Dukakis.Three's Company.
The Tigers are good but not great on offense,defense and in the net. No glaring errors, butnothing to write home about.
Princeton returns leading scorer Andrea Faust(9--28--37)--a second-team All-ECAC forward and aneighth-round New Jersey Devils pick on 1989--butloses its next two most prolific scorers in GregPolaski and Mark Khozozian.
1989-90 Record: (11-10-1 ECAC, 12-14-1overall)
Coach: Jim Higgins
Coach: Jim Higgins
Captains: Sean Gorman, Sean Murphy, AndyCesarski
Sean Murphy (10-14--24) and Mike McKee(6-17--23) will be back and should give Princetonsome semblance of a scoring attack. Watch forsophomore forward Keith Merkler--a seventh-roundToronto pick in 1989--who should rebound from anunspectacular freshman year. Frosh forwards RobLaFerriere--whom Higgins says "works both ends ofthe ice"--and Jacques Gobert--who has "good handsand a good knack around the net" according toHiggins--could also turn out to be ice sharks.
The Tigers wound up a very average sixth indefense last year. Expect the same this year.Goalies Ron High (4.36 goals-against-average, .865save percentage) and Mark Salsbury (2.73 GAA, .907save percentage) haven't come through in theclutch for the Tigers. Tri-Captains Andy Cesarskiand Sean Gorman anchor a thin D.
"Everyone will have to pick up the slack,"Higgins said. "We're looking to get consistent Dand consistent goal-tending. Last year we didn'tget consistent goaltending when we needed it. Iknow we shouldn't be number-one in the league. Wedon't have the depth. We're thin in numbers ofquality players. If we get a key player hurt,we're in trouble."
Except for the goalie position, the GoldenKnights could be the league's strongest club.Clarkson returns a plethora of talented forwardsand a couple of standout defensemen.
But goalies Chris Rogles or Phil Comtois playedless than one game between the two of them lastseason. If the untested duo cannot come up big,the Golden Knights will falter.
1989-90 Record: (12-7-3 ECAC, 21-11-3overall)
Coach: Mark Morris
Captain: Dave Tretowicz
Watch for Clarkson to shoot up its mediocrefifth-place offensive production. Clarkson linesup Mike Casselman (14-14--28), Dave Trombley(15-27--42), Mark Green (18-17--35) as theexperienced members of the firing squad. All-ECACrookie team forwards Hugo Belanger (14-25--39) andScott Thomas (19-13--32) should also provide somefirepower.
Captain Dave Tretowicz garnered second-teamAll-ECAC defensive honors last season. DefenderGuy Sanderson has already notched nine points inhis first three contests for Clarkson.
"We're our own worst enemy," Morris declared."We're explosive, but we've been experiencinglulls and letups. But so far, we've been able tobounce back. We're not going to win all our gamesby nine goals, so we have to concentrate ondefense."
The Bruins are one of the league's youngestteams, and one of the most improved. But the lossof second-team All-ECAC goalie Chris Harvey andbackup DAN Quinn means frosh goalies for the teamfrom dreary Providence. Ouch. Brett Haywood andJeff Finch are no Allain Roy and Chuckie Hughes.
"Haywood is solid fundamentally, gets aroundthe crease well and has good reflexes," Coach BobGaudet said. "Finch is a big kid who covers a lotof net and cuts off angles well. We'll have to bepatient with the new guys. By mid-season, weshould have solid goaltending."
1989-90 Record: (8-11-3 ECAC, 10-16-3overall)
Coach: Bob Gaudet
Captain: Brad Kreick
If Brown wants to improve on its eighth rank inteam offense, its leading scorer cannot be adefender, even an All-ECAC defender like MikeBrewer (7-23--30). Fellow prolific defender MikeRoss (12-12--24) will move to the front line,where he will join Derek Chauvette (7-18--25) andJoey Beck (3-12--15) as a key threat. Talentedfreshman Chris Kaban will join the Bruins afterserving a three-game eligibility suspension andshould add offensive punch.
St. Lawrence is taking a "you gain some, youlose some" attitude this season.
The Saints lost goalie Mike Mudd (2.45goals-against-average, .924 save percentage) aswell as forwards Chris Consorte, Doug Murray,Martyn Ball, Kevin Wright and leading scorer JoeDay.
Andy Pritchard (17-17--34) and B.U. importsMike and Chris Lappin will lead the Saints'offense after sitting out the mandatorypost-transfer season. Eric LaCroix--aseventh-round Toronto selection--and junior-hockeyexperienced Lee Albert from Saskatchewan shouldprovide additional boosts.
1989-90 Record: (12-8-2 ECAC, 13-15-4overall)
Coach: Joe Marsh
Captains: Andy Pritchard, Dan LaPerriere
Goalie Les Kuntar (4.23 GAA, 88.5 savepercentage) could determine the Saints' fate. St.Lawrence's defense is untested, and question marksabound.
"Our only key seniors are Kuntar andPritchard," Marsh said. "We're counting on them.We're inexperienced defensively. Chris Lappin andMike LaCourt should solidify our defense. Mike isa freshman but has played a lot of hockey up inBruckville [Ont.] On paper, we look young, butwe're coming along.