There isn’t even ice in the Bright Hockey Center rink yet, but with the release of yesterday’s ECAC pre-season polls and all-conference projections, Harvard men’s hockey must be just around the corner.
The Crimson, the league’s reigning tournament champions and recipients of three consecutive NCAA bids, were ranked fourth by both coaches and the media, reflecting an expected drop off in the team’s performance following the graduation of the nine-man class of 2004. The two votes did not dovetail perfectly, though, with the coaches selecting Cornell as the team to beat and Dartmouth staking out the top spot in the media poll.
Nor did the two sets of balloters similarly evaluate Harvard’s chances for a repeat. The Crimson received first-place marks from four out of 12 coaches—equalled only by the Big Red—and none of 27 cast by the press.
Not that it matters either way to most Harvard skaters.
“That’s the first I’ve heard it,” said captain Noah Welch, who was personally selected to both pre-season all-league teams at defenseman. “We don’t really look at that stuff....It’s good not to be one though. There’s a lot of pressure and expectations that come with that.”
Last season, the Crimson emerged as a consensus No. 1 pick prior to the start of play but sputtered early, only to muster a perfectly timed renaissance come playoff season.
Assistant captain Tom Cavanagh, who led Harvard in scoring last season with joins Welch on the coaches’ preseason all-conference team, but was left off the media’s squad in favor of Dartmouth’s Hugh Jessiman.
“Honestly,” Cavanagh said, “it doesn’t mean that much.”
THE JOY OF COLA
The road to the ECAC tournament won’t be getting any longer. Not literally, anyway.
Albany’s Pepsi Arena will remain the host site of the final stages of the league’s post-season play through 2008 thanks to the successful negotiation of a contract extension announced yesterday by the ECAC Hockey League’s Acting Commissioner Steve Hagwell. The two sides formally kicked off their partnership in 2003.
“The Pepsi Arena and the City of Albany have been great to us these past two years,” Hagwell said in a press release. “Our teams and our fans have enjoyed a first-rate experience in everything involved with the tournament, and we are excited to call the Pepsi and Albany our home through 2008.”
Though the building can hold up to 15,500 fans, attendance at last year’s conference tournament did not approach that number, thanks in part to the absence of Cornell and other ECAC schools not quite so far away.
Hagwell has wasted little time in his attempts to restore ECAC hockey to national prominence since assuming administrative control from Phil Buttafuoco, the ECAC’s commissioner.
In addition to solidifying the neutral site in Albany, the ECAC has agree to a deal with College Sports Television that will bring the league’s post-season tournament to the airwaves, as well as several as-yet-unannounced regular season contests, Hagwell announced yesterday.
The length of the “multi-year” contract was not released.
“The ECAC Hockey League is excited to have this partnership with CSTV,” Hagwell said in a press release. “The agreement allows the ECACHL to have multiple league games presented to a national audience throughout the season. We are delighted to offer our fans the opportunity to see these games, as well as our championship final over the next few seasons.”
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at email@example.com.