1. Harvard. The Crimson (25-8-1 overall last season, 18-3 ECAC) has a tougher hill to climb this year, but there is no reason to believe it won't finish first in the ECAC again. (see accompanying story)
2. Cornell. The defending ECAC champion Big Red would like nothing better than to displace the hated Crimson from first place in the regular season this year. They have the horses to do it, despite the loss of All-Ivy forward Duanne Moeser, All-Ivy defenseman Mike Schafer, and especially All-American goalie Doug Dadswell, who turned pro after his sophomore year, Returning is All-American Joe Nieuwendyk (54), the premier center in the ECAC. Behind him lies a wealth of veteran forwards and a big, experienced defense led by All-ECAC defenseman Chris Norton. Like Harvard, the big question mark is in goal--the position for Dadswell's replacement is described as "up for grabs," according to Coach Lou Reycroft. But Reycroft always seems to get more than expected out of his teams, and Cornell (21-7-4, 13-6-2 ECAC) enjoys the greatest home advantage in the league--for opposing teams, playing in front of the Lynah Hall crowd is like stepping into a Roman Coliseum.
3. St. Lawrence. The Saints (16-15, 10-11 ECAC) could be the dark horse this year. Second-year coach Joe Marsh loses only five lettermen from last year's 16-15 squad and has a legitimate Hobey Baker candidate in Hank Lamens, a 6-ft. 2-in., 210 lb. defenseman with the ability to dominate a game. Scoring punch will be provided by forward Pete Lappin (42), supported by his brother Tim (38) and Captain Dave Saunders (33). St. Lawrence also features a proven, experienced goaltender in Scott Yearwood, an asset neither Harvard nor Cornell has.
4. RPI. The Engineers (20-11-1, 13-7-1 ECAC) are an anomaly. After winning the NCAA Championship in 1985, Mike Addesa's crew got off to a fine start last year, only to fall apart late in the season with a loss to lowly Dartmouth and an 11-0 shellacking at the hands of Harvard the next night. RPI went on to finish fourth in the ECAC and quickly bowed out of the playoffs. The Engineers still possess some talent, but will be hard pressed to improve on their '86 finish. Gone are scorers John Carter and Mark Jooris, as well a All-American defenseman Mike Dark. Leading the Engineers this year will be Neil Hernberg (41) and Terry Butryn (38). With a 1-1-1 record so far this year against only Division II opponents, RPI will be slow out of the gate.
5. Vermont. The Catamounts surprised a lot of people en route to a 17-13-1 overall record (11-10 ECAC) last year and expect to improve on that mark this season. They'll bank their hopes on senior goaltender Tom Draper, an All-ECAC performer last year and one of the few established netminders in the league. Jeff Cappello and Kyle McDonough (26 points each) will provide scoring punch, but the defense is hurting from pre-season injuries and the squad lacks overall depth.
6. Clarkson. The Golden Knights (18-11-3) will be breathing down Vermont's neck but don't have the depth to challenge the league's top teams. The defense, anchored by Jeff Korchinski and Jay Rose, is experienced, if unspectacular. Offensively, forwards Luciano Borsato (37) and Steve Williams (36) are fine players. Goaltending will be suspect, however, with two inexperienced players vying for the starting spot.
7. Colgate. The Red Raiders' young squad (15-15-12) will benefit from a year's experience. Coach Terry Slater loses only six lettermen, but among those six is All-ECAC forward Gerard Waslen and--you guessed it--goaltender Dan Delianedis. Wing Rejean Boivin (46) heads a strong corps of forwards, but the defense is only average and the netminder's job is still up in the air.
8. Yale. The Elis, second overall in the ECAC last season (21-10, 15-6), were hurt by graduations. Tim Taylor's squad loses 13 lettermen, including wings Randy Wood and Bob Logan, plus defensive stalwart Ken Bielski. Goalie Mike Schwalb (3.57 goals-against average) and center Bob Kudelski (41) will have to carry the club until the younger players come around.
9. Princeton. The Tigers (11-17-2, 7-13-1 ECAC) could surprise a lot of opponents this year, despite the loss of two of their top three scorers. The offense begins and ends with ECAC Rookie of the Year John Messuri (41), but the defense, anchored by enforcers Scott Howe and Jaime MacPherson, is strong. Princeton also benefits from its two experienced goaltenders, Dave Marotta and Dave Shea.
10. Dartmouth. The Big Green still has a long way to go after an abysmal (7-18, 4-17 ECAC) campaign. Dartmouth's only strength is the year's experience gained by its 17 returning lettermen. Coach Brian Mason claims to have had a fine recruiting year, and he'll have to be proven right for the Green to move up in the standings this year.
11. Brown. The Bruins (4-19, 3-18 ECAC) need a miracle. Their leading returning scorer, Captain Steve Climo, scored only 21 points last season. He'll need strong support from heralded freshman forward Chris Harvey if Brown is to have any offensive potency at all.
12. Army. New coach Rob Riley will have his hands full. This year, Army (18-11-1, 2-9 ECAC)--in its first season as an official ECAC member--will depend on 16 returning lettermen for support, including the Cadets' two leading scorers last year, forwards Matt Wilson and Rob Brenner (50 points each).
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