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The ECAC Breakdown

By Timothy J. Mcginn, Crimson Staff Writer

2003-2004 record: 15-11-5, 13-7-2 ECAC (3rd)

ANALYSIS: Off-season acquisitions have done little to improve Brown’s lackluster offense, which again figures to place among the conference’s worst. Sophomore forward Brian Ihnacak, who netted 10 goals and 20 assists last year, is perhaps the only skater talented enough to stave off that almost inevitable outcome. Of course, the Bears did quite well with no scoring last year. So all they need to maintain their position in the ECAC’s upper echelon is replace Hobey Baker finalist netminder Yann Danis. That’s all.


2003-2004 record: 18-18-5, 8-12-2 ECAC (9th)

ANALYSIS: Matt Nickerson, the ECAC’s single-season record holder for penalty minutes, left the Golden Knights after his freshman year for a contract with the Dallas Stars, but he is the only major contributor not returning to the bench for Clarkson this season. Senior trio Mac Faulkner, Chris Blight and Jay Latulippe will be counted on for offensive performances mirroring those they turned in a season ago,but they’d better pick up Nickerson’s scoring slack as well, else the Golden Knights certainly won’t be returning to the ECAC championship game.


2003-2004 record: 22-12-5, 14-6-2 ECAC (1st)

ANALYSIS: Interim coach Stan Moore led the Raiders to a first-place finish while his boss, Don Vaughan, filled in as school athletic director. It’s not likely Vaughan will be able to replicate Moore’s effort this time around. Colgate overachieved last season and expecting top honors in 2004-2005 would be too much to ask. But that doesn’t mean the Raiders won’t finish near the top of the heap. To do so, they’ll rely upon Jon Smyth, who scored 42 points last year and emerged as a bona fide scoring threat and stalwart netminder Steve Silverthorn.


2003-2004 record: 16-10-6, 13-6-3 ECAC (2nd)

ANALYSIS: Goaltending figured to be a prominent question for Cornell last season, but then-freshman David McKee definitively answered that question and will again be the foundation of the Big Red’s typically solid defense. He’ll need to be particularly sharp, since the new emphasis on eliminating clutch-and-grab tactics will affect Cornell more directly than any other program in the conference. Whether the historically large, slow skaters employed by Mike Schafer can adapt will determine the Big Red’s finish this season.


2003-2004 record: 14-11-9, 10-5-7 ECAC (T-4th)

ANALYSIS: This is the moment Dartmouth faithful have been waiting for. With the Big Green’s top scorers Lee Stempniak, Hugh Jessiman and Mike Oullette at their peak, and rising star Grant Lewis now with one year under his belt, Dartmouth has more seasoned talent than any other ECAC program. But can the Big Green handle the hype? An embarrassing early-season loss to future league foe Quinnipiac would suggest otherwise, but that should be forgotten months from now.


2003-2004 record: 5-24-2, 5-15-2 ECAC (12th)

ANALYSIS: Make no mistake. Despite importing coach Guy Gadowsky from Alaska and bringing in NHL coach Ken Hitchcock as a pre-season volunteer, Princeton is still, and always will be, awful. The Tigers still lack the talent to compete for a shot at .500 at the end of the day, and will certainly finish in last yet again this year. But Princeton fans shouldn’t lose heart. If recent history is any indication, the Tigers will still be just good enough to beat Harvard.


2003-2004 record: 22-15-2, 13-8-1 ECAC (T-4th)

ANALYSIS: RPI has the role players necessary to stay out of the ECAC dungeon, but not quite enough talent to crack the top four. Kirk MacDonald, Nick Eonomakos and Kevin Croxton have already made their impacts felt thus far this year, with between nine and 11 points apiece through seven games. But that trio had better get some unexpected support from somewhere, else they’ll be headed for another middle of the pack finish.


2003-2004 record: 14-21-6, 7-12-3 ECAC (10th)

ANALYSIS: St. Lawrence shouldn’t be very good, and, from a pure talent perspective, isn’t. But the Saints have pulled off four major upsets—against Michigan St., Maine and Miami twice—in just eight games, earning them early-season potential sleeper consideration. Whether they can be consistent for the rest of the season is a wholly separate question, though. The answer will rest heavily on the shoulders of netminder Mike McKenna, who has been solid in goal thus far this year.


2003-2004 record: 15-6-5, 8-11-3 ECAC (8th)

ANALYSIS: Fortunately, Union should return eight of its top nine and 18 of its top 19 scorers. The bad news? Well, those scorers aren’t all that good and haven’t gotten much better in the off-season. Former Harvard assistant Nate Leaman had the Dutchmen moving in the right direction last year, but still lacks the talent to make a meaningful jump in the standings. Freshman Justin Mrazek might assume full control in goal after his first two appearances—just three goals in nearly two full games, both losses.


2003-2004 record: 9-22-4, 7-14-1 ECAC (11th)

ANALYSIS: UVM has a long way to go before it’ll be good enough to contend in either the ECAC or Hockey East, its future home, but a crop of young stars should have coach Kevin Sneddon ’92 beaming. Freshman goaltender Joe Fallon was electric in net last weekend, recording 69 saves to earn a win and a tie against then-No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth. He must continue his string of impressive performances, else the Catamounts, weak offensively, shouldn’t expect similar results in the future.


2003-2004 record: 12-19-0, 10-12-0 ECAC (7th)

ANALYSIS: Yale’s defense was absolutely wretched last year, allowing Harvard to score six unanswered goals to earn a come-from-behind road win, 7-5. The Bulldogs should count on similar great moments in Eli history this year. Neither their offense nor their defense is much improved, and nearly every other ECAC program has either improved defensively or stayed relatively consistent. Yale may score several goals a game this year, but will be rivalling its football team in points allowed.


If the games were played on paper, Dartmouth would bring the ECAC title home to Hanover, N.H., for the first time.

1. Dartmouth

2. Cornell

3. Harvard

4. Colgate

5. St. Lawrence

6. Rensselaer

7. Clarkson

8. Vermont

9. Brown

10. Union

11. Yale

12. Princeton

—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at

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