ECAC 2008-09 season preview

By DJ Powers

This season, the ECAC features 29 NHL prospects on nine teams, which is the fewest among the top four conferences. Clarkson leads all schools with eight prospects. Three schools –- Brown, Princeton and Union College — do not have NHL prospects on their rosters this season.

Clarkson University

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 8)

After claiming the ECAC regular season championship last season, the Clarkson Golden Knights earned an at-large big into the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. When they open their 2008-09 season on Oct. 17 at defending CHA Champion Niagara, they’ll look to make it three in a row.

But the Golden Knights do have some issues to address and perhaps the most important is in goal. Starter David Leggio, who posted a record of 22-12-4 last season, has graduated. Junior Tim Potter, who served as Leggio’s backup, returns. Competing with Potter for playing time are two newcomers including Paul Karpowich, a 2008 draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He comes to Clarkson from Wellington (OPJHL), where he posted a 15-3-2 regular season record.

The Golden Knights lost four forwards to graduation including last season’s top goal-scorer Steve Zalewski (SJ). The New Hartford, NY native finished second on the team with 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists). The good news for Clarkson is they do return two of their top three scorers in junior Matt Beca and senior Chris D’Alvise. Beca, an ECAC All-Third team selection, led the Golden Knights with 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists).  D’Alvise finished third on the team with 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists).

The forward lines will be without the services of senior Shea Guthrie (NYI). The Carleton Place, ON native is currently nursing a broken hand. Guthrie finished with 22 points last season (nine goals, 13 assists) and led the team with five game-winning goals. As head coach George Roll explained, Guthrie’s presence will be a crucial cog in the team’s success this season.

“We’re hoping that Shea will be back for our first league weekend on Nov. 7 and 8," he said. "Right now, the healing process is going well. Shea is a big key for us. Last year, he didn’t have the point production where we would’ve expected it to be. For us to have success, I think Shea is going to have to be a guy that will really have to help fill the void of those guys that have left.”

The returning group up front will be joined by five outstanding newcomers led by a pair of 2008 NHL draft picks in Julien Cayer (DET) and Nick Tremblay (BOS). Cayer, the younger sibling of recent graduate David Cayer, comes to Clarkson after an excellent season at Northwood Prep. Tremblay comes to Clarkson after a sensational season with Smith Falls (OPJHL).

The Golden Knights strength coming into the season is their deep and talented blueline. Despite the loss of All-America Second team selection Grant Clitsome to graduation, the Clarkson defensive corps looks to be one of the best coming out of the ECAC this season. Clitsome led the Golden Knights in defensemen scoring with 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) and posted a team-best plus-22. Anchoring the Clarkson defensive corps will be co-captains Tyrell Mason (NYI) and Phil Paquet (MON). They logged lots of minutes as two of the team’s top defenders last season and that’s not likely to change this season.

“I think this is our deepest team on the blueline that we’ve ever had since I’ve been here,” said Roll. “We’ll have Ty and Phil back there. Both are very good defensively and I think that’s going to help our goaltending situation. This year, we’re expecting both of them to do more offensively for us by jumping into the rush. Our defense is going to be a little bit more active for us on the offensive end of things, and we certainly have got some guys that we feel are capable of doing that.”

The lone addition to the Clarkson blueline is Ottawa native Mark Borowiecki. The 2008 draft selection of his hometown Ottawa Senators, Borowiecki comes to Clarkson from Smith Falls (OPJHL).

Colgate University

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 4)

Though they ended the 2007-08 regular season with an eighth-place finish in the ECAC, the Colgate Raiders pulled off a stunning upset of top-seeded Clarkson in the conference quarterfinals to advance to the semi-finals. Colgate opened their 2008-09 season on Oct. 11 with a 2-1 win over non-conference foe UMass-Lowell.

Colgate will have a number of issues to address this season, the most notable of which is goaltending. Mark Dekanich (NSH) and Justin Kowalkoski have both graduated. Dekanich was one of the nation’s workhorses last season. He played in 41 of Colgate’s 42 games, going 18-16-6. His six shutouts tied for first in the nation. He was also the only netminder outside of the WCHA to post that many shutouts. The 2389 minutes he logged were the most in the ECAC and ranked fifth most in the nation. Kowalkoski played in seven games, posting a 0-2-0 record. Junior Charlie Long, who played all of 3:13 minutes last season, is the lone returning netminder.

Competing against Long will be two newcomers in Alex Evin and Bryan Bessette. Evin comes to Colgate from Penticton (BCHL), where he posted a record of 31-10-1. Bessette comes to Colgate from Hawkesbury (OPJHL), where he posted a 24-15-1 record.

With the inexperience in goal, the Raiders will be relying on their blueline to provide some much-needed stability. This looks to be Colgate’s strength as the season gets underway. Though the team’s lone graduate is Matt Torti, they have also lost sophomore Kevin McNamara for the year after he underwent off-season hip surgery.

Seniors Nick St. Pierre and Mark Anderson lead what is shaping up to be a rock solid defensive corps for the Raiders this season.  St. Pierre, who will serve as captain this season, posted seven points last season. Anderson, one of the assistant captains of the team, posted 14 points (five goals, nine assists) and was fourth on the team with a plus-12.

The Raiders add one new rearguard in Corbin McPherson (NJ). The Folsom, CA native comes to Colgate from Cowichan Valley (BCHL), where he posted 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) last season. As head coach Don Vaughan explains, McPherson will bring a number of attributes to the Raiders blueline this season.

“We’ve had some big defensemen in the past, but Corbin is the complete package," he said. "He’s a guy that can skate. He’s got decent hands that are only going to get better. Corbin will get the minutes because he deserves them. He will see all kinds of different situations and I think that will only help him in the long run. He’s a big guy with a pretty big upside that will have to adjust to the speed and tempo of the game. He moves the puck well, has great vision and makes a good first pass. I think he is a two-way defenseman, but we’d like to see him stay at home a little bit more. At some point, I do see that Corbin will be involved and getting up into the play, which is something that we want to do more as a team anyway.”

Up front, the Raiders graduated five forwards, including last season’s top two scorers in Tyler Burton and Jesse Winchester (OTT). Burton, an All-ECAC Second team selection, led the Raiders in scoring with 41 points (23 goals, 18 assists). He also led the team in power play goals, (7) and plus/minus (+17). Winchester led Colgate with 29 assists and finished with 37 points.

Two returning players who figure to be big contributors this season are junior David McIntyre (DAL) and sophomore Brian Day (NYI).  McIntyre has developed quite nicely since arriving in Hamilton, NY. He finished with 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) last season. Day led all Colgate rookies in scoring with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists).

Colgate also adds four newcomers, including 2007 Dallas Stars draft pick Austin Smith. The Dallas native comes to Colgate from Penticton (BCHL).

“Austin’s a very dynamic player that has got tremendous skating ability,” said Vaughan. “He accelerates off the mark as well as anyone that I’ve ever coached. He has great vision and is a great playmaker. He’s quick and gets in and out of traffic in a hurry. I want to get him shooting the puck a little bit more though. He’s playing wing for us right now and we’ve talked a little bit about having Austin play in the middle, and at some point, he may end up there for us.”

Cornell University

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 4)

In 2007-08, the Cornell Big Red made a strong push very late in the regular season that saw them end up finishing fourth in the conference, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to propel them back into the NCAA Tournament. They’ll look to remedy that when they open their 2008-09 season on Nov. 7 traveling to Hobey Baker Rink to face off against defending ECAC Champion Princeton.

“With this group of guys, I think we have a nice blend of physical, grinding and penalty-killing type of players along with some good offensive players,” head coach Mike Schafer said. “I think we’re more experienced than we were last year. We have a lot of guys here like Mike Devin and Riley Nash who logged a lot of minutes for us playing in key situations as freshmen last year. So we’re expecting them to continue to get better and develop. So I think we’re not only better balanced, but more experienced as well.”

One of the cornerstones to Cornell’s success over the years has been a great defense, and that isn’t likely to change going into this season. Junior Ben Scrivens, who was stellar between the pipes last season, returns as the Big Red’s go-to guy in net. Scrivens emerged as one of the nation’s best netminders last season and had the numbers to back it up. He posted a 19-12-2 record that included four shutouts. His .930 save percentage ranked tied for fifth in the nation, while his 2.01 goals against average ranked seventh. In addition to Scrivens, seniors Troy Davenport and Dan DiLeo also return to battle for playing time.

The stingy Cornell defense allowed just 78 total goals last season, which were the fewest in the ECAC. Furthermore, the Big Red possessed the nation’s seventh-best defense, allowing an average of 2.17 goals per game.

Aside from stalwart Doug Krantz graduating, Cornell returns its defensive corps intact. Senior Jared Seminoff and junior Brendan Nash anchor the balanced and formidable Cornell blueline. Seminoff, who will serve as one of the assistant captains this season, posted five points (one goal, four assists) playing in all 36 games last season. Nash led the Big Red in defenseman scoring and led the team with a plus-10.

Up front, Cornell lost three players to graduation in Ray Sawada (DAL), Topher Scott and Chris Fontas. While the losses are significant, the Cornell forward lines should be quite good again this season. The dynamic duo of junior Colin Greening (OTT) and sophomore Riley Nash (EDM) lead the Big Red attack this season. Greening, an All-ECAC and All-Ivy League Second teams selection, led Cornell in scoring last season. Nash, the ECAC and Ivy League Rookie of the Year, led the leagues in rookie scoring. One issue that Cornell will need to address this season is getting added scoring from players other than Greening and Riley Nash.

“I would like to see us spread out the scoring more, but obviously we want to see those guys contributing even more this year as well,” said Schafer. “If we could have all of guys, including the role players, chipping in two or three more goals apiece and get contributions from everyone, then that’s going to take us from being in the middle of the pack as far as team offense goes to being one of the top 10 or 15 offensive teams in the country.”

One player who could help the cause is freshman Sean Collins. He is one of five new additions to the Cornell forward lines this season. Collins, a 2008 draft selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets, comes to Cornell from Waywayseecappo (MJHL).

“Sean is a player that has real good size that is mobile and can contribute offensively,” said Schafer. “He skates very well for a kid that’s 6’2 or 6’3, and can also contribute physically as well. Sean fits into the mold of the type of player that we look for here at Cornell. He’s a guy that has some skill. That, along with his skating ability, size and physical game enables him to create offense.”

Dartmouth College

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 2)

After a strong third-place finish in 2006-07, the Dartmouth Big Green was another ECAC team that was decimated by injuries. But when they open their 2008-09 season on Oct. 31 facing off against Harvard, the Big Green should fare better, even with some looming questions.

The biggest question will be in goal. Starter Mike Devine has graduated and senior Dan Goulding returns. Goulding saw action in only two games last season. Challenging Goulding will be a pair of newcomers in James Mello and Jody O’Neill. Mello comes to the Hanover, NH campus from the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (EJHL), where he posted a 19-8-1 record. O’Neill comes to Dartmouth from Smith Falls (OPJHL) after posting a 39-11-3 record.

Another issue will be replacing the offensive production that left with graduates Nick Johnson (PIT), J.T. Wyman (MON) and Jon Grecu. The trio made up three of Dartmouth’s top four scorers last season, accounting for roughly one-third of the team’s entire point production. Johnson and Wyman were also two of only three Big Green players from last season to post ten or more goals. Sophomore defenseman and ECAC All-Rookie team selection Evan Stephens is the team’s returning top scorer. Junior Joey Gaudet is the team’s top goal-scorer. Among the returning group that the Big Green will be relying on to fill some of the offensive holes, include sophomores Kyle Reeds and Scott Fleming.

Dartmouth brings in a quartet of very good newcomers that should also help boost the team’s scoring. Two notables are Troy Mattila (NYI) and Paul Lee. Mattila, a 2006 Draft selection of the New York Islanders, comes to Dartmouth from Tri-City (USHL). He is noted for his blistering shot and good stick. Lee comes to Dartmouth from Avon Old Farms (NEPSIHA). He is noted for his size (6’3/215) and hockey sense.

One area where Dartmouth should be very good is on the blueline. Sophomores Evan Stephens and Joe Stejskal (MON) are two of the team’s top returning rearguards. Stephens, an ECAC All-Rookie team selection, was arguably Dartmouth’s best defenseman last year. He led the Big Green in defenseman scoring last season. Stejskal enjoyed a very solid rookie campaign where he finished with five points (one goal, four assists) playing in all 32 games. He also led the Big Green with 46 penalty minutes.

Adding depth to Dartmouth’s blueline is a pair of excellent newcomers in Jimmy Gaudet and Connor Goggin. Gaudet, the younger of head coach Bob Gaudet’s two sons on the team, comes to Dartmouth from the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (EJHL). Gaudet is noted for his great hands and skating ability. Goggin, a converted defenseman that plays with an edge, comes to Dartmouth from Choate Rosemary Hall (NEPSIHA).

Harvard University

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 4)

Last season, the Harvard Crimson made a strong push up the ECAC standings that saw them finish third and just missing a bid into the NCAA Tournament after falling to Princeton in the ECAC Championship game. When they open their 2008-09 season on Oct. 31 hosting Dartmouth at the Bright Center, the Crimson should once again be one of the ECAC’s top contenders.

The biggest issue facing Harvard coming into the season is in goal. Kyle Richter, the recipient of last year’s Ken Dryden Award as the ECAC’s top goaltender, will not be playing this year for academic reasons. Junior John Riley and sophomore Ryan Carroll return in goal for Harvard, but both saw limited time last season. The two netminders combined to play in just three games without posting any decisions. Adding to the mix this season is newcomer Matt Hoyle.

Despite the losses of David MacDonald (SJ) and J.D. McCabe to graduation, Harvard’s blueline should be quite good this season. Senior Brian McCafferty and junior Alex Biega (BUF) lead the defensive group. Biega led the Crimson in defensive scoring. Adding to the mix will be a pair of newcomers in Ryan Grimshaw and Peter Starrett. Grimshaw comes to Harvard from the USNTDP, while Starrett comes to the Cambridge, MA campus from Catholic Memorial High School.

Starting the 2008-09 campaign the Crimson will also be without the services of punishing senior rearguard Jack Christian due to lingering effects of post-concussion syndrome. Christian posted five points (three goals, two assists) in 26 outings last season. As assistant coach Patrick Foley explained, Christian getting healthy again is the team’s top concern.

“Right now, we haven’t even gotten to the point of making a decision on when Jack will return," he said. "We want what’s best for him and that is for him to go home, get healthy and deal with his personal business that he has to deal with at this point in time. We haven’t discussed with anybody a timetable or when he’ll be back. Our focus is to get Jack healthy again and have him be in an environment that would promote that. The most important thing for Jack right now is not hockey and we want to give him the time to get healthy again.”

Harvard suffered most of their losses up front. Six forwards, including Mike Taylor and Jon Pelle, were lost to graduation. Taylor, an All-Ivy League Second team selection, led the Crimson in scoring last season. Pelle, who excelled on the Crimson’s special teams last season, led the team in goal scoring (14) that included a team-high eight power play tallies. Junior Doug Rogers (NYI) and sophomore Matt McCollem (STL) lead an outstanding returning group up front.  Rogers is the returning top scorer from last season and co-leading the team with a plus-13. McCollem led the Crimson in rookie scoring.

Joining the group up front will be five newcomers, but the player to keep an eye on will be Alex Killorn. A 2007 draft selection of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Killorn looks to be one of the early favorites for both ECAC and Ivy League Rookie of the Year. The Montreal, Quebec native is coming off of a stellar prep career at Deerfield Academy.

“Alex is a guy that I think has the ability to not only provide offense, but also be a dynamic player for us,” said Foley. “We’re hoping that Alex will, in his college career, be in a similar situation as Doug Rogers, where he will be a game-breaking player that we look towards to provide us with offense every single night. Right now, I think Alex is in a position where he will have opportunities and we’re really looking forward to him showcasing what he has and that’s why he’s here. Alex has the ability to shoot the puck and there’s no question that he can get a shot off extremely quickly. His puck skills are extremely high. He’s a big kid, so he has the ability to protect the puck at the same time. Our hope is that with his 6’1/195 frame, we’ll be able to provide him with a strength program that can add some muscle and power to that frame. I think Alex can benefit from a heavy-duty strength program here and we look forward to blending that all into one player so that he can be a well-rounded player by the time he leaves Harvard. I think Alex is certainly one of the top recruits coming into the ECAC this year and with the hockey sense that he has, I think it’ll give him the ability to shorten that learning curve in making that transition and adjusting to the tempo from prep school to college.”

Quinnipiac University

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 1)

A strong first half and a streaky second half that was due in part to injuries to key players had the Quinnipiac Bobcats finishing tied for sixth in the conference last season. When they open their 2008-09 season on Oct. 17 facing off against conference rival Union in the Maverick Stampede tournament in Omaha, the Bobcats will look to have both a solid start and finish to their season.

One of the things that Quinnipiac did quite well last year was spreading out their offense. The Bobcats averaged 3.08 goals per game, which ranked them 14th in the nation. They had nine players on their roster with 20 or more points, including four with 30 or more. Coming into this season however, three of those top nine in Ben Nelson, Jamie Bates and Dan Travis have all graduated. Nelson and Bates were among the 30-plus point producers; so filling those holes will be one issue that the team will need to address.

If Quinnipiac is able to spread around their offensive production among their returning and incoming players, they could end up with one of the most balanced offenses in the ECAC this season. Junior Brandon Wong and senior Bryan Leitch lead a very good returning group up front. Wong led Quinnipiac in scoring last season with 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists). Leitch led the team in goal scoring with 15 and finished with 33 points.

In addition to their returning forwards, the Bobcats also welcome eight newcomers to the fold as well, led by Spencer Heichman and Scott Zurevinski. The energetic Heichman comes to Quinnipiac from Sioux City (USHL), where he posted 47 points (23 goals, 24 assists) last season. The gritty Scott Zurevinski comes to Quinnipiac from Vernon (BCHL), where he posted 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists).

While the Bobcats defense and goaltending positions lost only one each in defenseman Dan LeFort and goaltender Dan Cullen to graduation, those were two areas that were problematic for Quinnipiac last season. The team surrendered on average about as many goals as they tallied (3.08). That ranked them 41st in the nation. With nearly both positions returning intact, Quinnipiac should have better defensive numbers this season.

The Bobcats will be led on the blueline by senior stalwarts Dan Henningson and Matt Sorteberg. Henningson, who will serve as team captain this season, was perhaps one of the more underrated rearguards coming out of the ECAC last season. He led the Bobcats in defenseman scoring with 24 points (three goals, 21 assists). Sorteberg, a fifth-year senior, was limited to just 11 games last season after tearing his ACL. He posted only two assists in that span.

Quinnipiac also returns their top two goaltenders from last season in senior Bud Fisher and sophomore Pat McGann (DAL). Fisher, who saw most of the playing time, posted a 13-12-3 record that included three shutouts. McGann, who served as Fisher’s primary backup when Peter Vetri was dismissed, saw action in eight games and posted a 2-1-0 record.

Rensselaer Polytechnic University (RPI)

(Number of NHL prospects on 2007-08 roster: 4)

Despite finishing tied for tenth in the ECAC last season, the RPI Engineers are a team that looks to be on the rise this season. In their 2008-09 season opener on Oct. 11 Quebec City, they fell to the Vermont Catamounts 1-4.

“I think that we made a little bit of a step last year and we feel that we’ve made another step forward this year,” said head coach Seth Appert in assessing his team. “I think increasing our offensive production is important, but not necessarily because of all we lost. We’re replacing some good forwards but not 50-point producers. We do have most of our leading scorers back. So that’s a positive thing. We need development and players to take a step forward in their own game. We’re going to be a team that scores by committee. And what we’re hoping for is to end up getting get nine or ten guys over 20 points. If we can do that, which we’re very capable of, then we’re going to produce enough offense to win games. I would also like to get our defense more involved offensively too. We’re an aggressive, attack-minded team, and when we play like that, we have a chance to score. We’re a little more talented this year than we have been. I feel that we’re also more balanced on defense as well. We’re just better because we’re more talented, bigger and stronger. We’ve gotten a year older, but we’ve also gotten more talented as well.”

The Engineers suffered most of their off-season losses up front with Jonathan Ornelas, Jake Morissette, Andrew Lord, Dan Peace and Tyler Eaves all having graduated. While the five graduates leadership and experience will be missed, RPI has plenty of excellent returning players that can fill the roles of the departed players. The Engineers’ awesome twosome of sophomores Tyler Helfrich and Chase Polacek return after having led the team last season. Helfrich led RPI in scoring with 29 points (nine goals, 20 assists). Polacek, an ECAC All-Rookie Team selection, led the Engineers with 21 assists and finished with 28 points.

Adding to the outstanding group of returning forwards are six newcomers including the speedy Alex Angers-Goulet, the younger brother of senior and team captain Matt Angers-Goulet. The younger Angers-Goulet comes to RPI from Langley (BCHL), where he posted 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) last season.

With the talented group that makes up the Engineers forward lines this season, the areas that should improve are their offensive production and power play that struggled mightily last season. RPI ranked 56th in the nation last season in team offense, averaging 2.08 goals per game. Even worse was their anemic power play. The Engineers ranked dead last in the nation in power play conversion, at a rate of just 7.1 percent. The 12 total power play tallies they amassed were the fewest in the nation, while the 11 shorthanded goals they allowed were the most in the nation.

The only other position where the Engineers suffered losses was in goal. Jordan Alford and Will Neubert have both graduated. Senior Mathias Lange is the lone returning netminder. He split time with Alford last season, appearing in 23 games and posting a 6-14-3 record.

The Austrian-born Lange will get some intense competition this season from newcomer Allen York. The 2007 draft selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets is coming off of a very solid campaign with Camrose (AJHL) last season, where he posted a 24-5-3 record in 37 appearances.
 
RPI will also boast an excellent defensive corps that collectively may be the biggest, in terms of sheer size, in the ECAC this season. The Engineers return their blueline intact. Junior Peter Merth and offensive-minded sophomore Bryan Brutlag lead the RPI defensive corps. Merth, who will serve as an assistant captain this season, has been one of the Engineers most reliable rearguards since arriving at RPI two years ago. He finished tied with Brutlag in defensive scoring with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) last season. Merth also led RPI with a plus-6.

The Engineers add two newcomers in sophomore Mark Zarbo, a transfer from Bentley College and freshman Mike Bergin. Bergin, a 2008 draft selection of the Dallas Stars, comes to RPI from Smith Falls (OPJHL), where he posted 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) last season.

“Mike is a big, physical player,” said Appert of his new defenseman. “He’s a very talented young man that is a great skater. He’ll be a power play quarterback for us. Mike does some really, really high-end offensive things. But the thing that separates him from most offensive defensemen is that he’s a very good, physical defender that plays with an edge to his game. He’s got three years of junior hockey experience. We gave him the option to come in last year, but he decided that he wanted to go back because he wanted to help his team (Sioux Falls) contend for a league championship. So Mike comes to us a very seasoned, mature freshman.”

St. Lawrence University

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 1)

After claiming the 2006-07 ECAC regular season crown, the St. Lawrence Saints didn’t have the same success last season, finishing a disappointing ninth in the conference. The Saints opened their 2008-09 season last Friday and were swept by Michigan in their season-opening series. When they open conference play in November, St. Lawrence will look to have a stronger conference finish.

While the Saints lost few players to graduation, filling holes won’t be as pressing as improving areas where they struggled last season. The biggest are offensive production and the power play. St. Lawrence averaged 2.78 goals per game last season, which ranked 26th in the nation. However, they only had two players on the roster that posted 10 or more goals last season. The power play was even worse for the Saints. The team posted a 14 percent conversion rate, which ranked them 44th in the nation.

The good news for St. Lawrence is that most of their top scorers return, led by senior Brock McBride. The Cornwall, ON native led or co-led the team in numerous categories, including points (34), goals (12) and assists (22). The Saint will also be looking to other forwards such as senior Kevin DeVergilio and junior Mike McKenzie to help pick up the goal scoring that the team needs more of. DeVergilio finished second on the team. McKenzie, the son of TSN commentator Bob McKenzie, finished fifth on the team.

Adding to the group up front will be six newcomers, including Jacob Drewiske. The Hudson, WI native is the younger sibling of former University of Wisconsin defenseman Davis Drewiske. The younger Drewiske comes to St. Lawrence from Sioux Falls (USHL).

Coming into the season, defense looks to be St. Lawrence’s strongest position. The defensive corps returns intact and will be led by two outstanding seniors in Zach Miskovic and Matt Generous (BUF). Miskovic led the Saints in defensive scoring last season with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists). Generous, the lone NHL prospect on the St. Lawrence roster posted 15 points and led the team with a plus-11.

The Saints also bring in two newcomers on the blueline, including junior Jeff Caister. The Mississauga, ON native transferred to St. Lawrence from the now-defunct Wayne State program after an outstanding final season with the Warriors, leading defensemen in scoring.

St. Lawrence had one of the more interesting goaltending situations in the league, with four netminders playing in multiple games. However, this season only two return in juniors Alex Petizian and Kain Tisi. John Hallas and Justin Pesony, the other two netminders, have graduated. Petizian saw action in 12 games last season, posting a 4-5-1 record. Tisi played in nine games and posted a mark of 1-5-1.

Princeton University

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 0)

The 2007-08 season will certainly be one to remember for the Princeton Tigers. After a second place finish in the ECAC at the end of the regular season, the Tigers went on to win the ECAC tournament championship. That propelled them into the NCAA tournament for just the second time in school history. Princeton opens its 2008-09 season on Oct. 31 facing off against host Brown in the Showcase at Brown tournament.

With few off-season losses, Princeton could conceivably repeat as champions once again. Two of the keys to the Tigers success last season were outstanding offensive production and sensational goaltending, both of which should continue.

Junior Zane Kalemba was brilliant between the pipes for Princeton last season. The All-Ivy League Second team selection posted a 19-11-0 record. His five shutouts tied him for fourth in the nation, while his .633 winning percentage tied him for 10th.

Coming into this season, there will be one significant hole to fill — Mike Moore (SJ), who has graduated. Moore, the ECAC’s Best Defensive Defenseman and All-America East First team selection, logged a ton of minutes on the Tigers blueline playing in all situations. He led all Princeton defensemen in scoring.

Among those that Princeton will be relying on to help fill the void left by Moore are junior Jody Pederson and sophomore Taylor Fedun. Pederson is the returning top scoring defenseman. He posted 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) last season. Fedun had an outstanding rookie campaign where he logged a lot of ice time and posted 14 points (four goals, 10 assists). He also led the team with a plus-15.

The Tigers possessed one of the nation’s best line combinations last season in juniors Lee Jubinville and Brett Wilson, and sophomore Mike Kramer, all of whom are back again this year. The trio alone accounted for 30 percent of the team’s scoring. Hobey Baker finalist Jubinville led the ECAC and ranked 17th nationally in points per game (1.15) last season. He also led the Tigers in scoring. Jubinville’s stellar season earned him numerous honors including both the ECAC and Ivy League Player of the Year honors, as well as a selection the All-America East First team.

Wilson, an All-ECAC Second team selection and led Princeton with six power-play tallies and five game-winners. Kramer led the Tigers in rookie scoring.

In addition to the aforementioned trio, Princeton looks to have tremendous depth on their forward lines again this season. Juniors Cam McIntyre and Mark Magnowski were also strong contributors. That should help the Tigers on the offensive side in their quest to repeat as league champions.

Brown University

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 0)

For the last three seasons, the Brown University Bears have struggled in their climb up the ECAC rankings. This past season, one culprit was the rash of injuries that hit the team. When they open their 2008-09 season on Oct. 31 facing off against Ivy League rival Princeton in the Showcase at Brown tournament, they’ll look to get out of the ECAC basement.

Brown will have several issues that they’ll need to address, but the most pressing one is offensive production. The Bears ranked 52nd in the nation in total team offense, averaging 2.16 goals per game. The 67 total goals posted were the second fewest in the nation. But adding to their scoring woes this season is the fact that they’ve lost three of their top five scorers of last season to graduation in forwards Jeff Prough and Chris Poli, and defenseman Sean Hurley. Brown also returns only one scorer in senior Ryan Garbutt that posted ten or more goals last season. Juniors Devin Timberlake and Sean McConnagle are two other forwards that the Bears will be relying on to help fill the void left by the departures.  Timberlake will serve as captain this season.

Joining the returning players up front are five newcomers including Bobby Farnham and Jack Maclellan. Farnham comes to Brown from Phillips-Andover Academy. Maclellan comes to Brown from the Edmonton Oil Barons (AJHL).

Brown’s defense could be another concern, especially in adding to the team’s offensive production. The trio of Paul Baier, Sean Hurley and David Robertson has graduated.  While the Bears defense looks good coming into the season, the big question is can they avoid the injury bug? Senior Mike Stuart, who has battled through injuries the last two seasons, could provide some stability on the blueline if he can remain healthy. This past season, he was limited to 13 games, posting just two assists.

Two defensemen will be joining the Bears defensive corps this season, including Riley LaForge. LaForge, the son of Edmonton Oilers President and CEO Patrick LaForge, comes to Brown from Edmonton (AJHL). One name missing from this season’s roster is Kevin Koopman. According to the school, the 2006 draft selection of the Ottawa Senators is enrolled, but has decided not to play hockey.

Goaltending should the Bears’ strength coming into the season. Sophomore Dan Rosen returns between the pipes after a solid rookie campaign, despite a 6-14-4 record. One player that will challenge Rosen this season is newcomer Mike Clemente. The Great Falls, VA native comes to Brown from the USNTDP.

Union College

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 0)

The 2007-08 season saw a much-improved Union Dutchmen team. Union made a strong push in the second half that earned them a first-round bye in the opening round of the ECAC tournament as well as a winning record, going 15-14-6. When the Dutchmen open their 2008-09 season on Oct. 17 facing off against conference rival Quinnipiac in the Maverick Stampede tournament in Omaha, they’ll look to build on last season’s success.

That may not be hard to do either because the team lost few players in the off-season.

One of those losses was goaltender Justin Mrazek, who graduated. He split time with returning sophomore Corey Milan last season. Mrazek appeared in 18 games last season, posting a 9-6-0 record that included one shutout. Milan, an ECAC All-Rookie team selection, was part of Union’s rock solid tandem between the pipes last season. He appeared 21 games posting a 6-8-6 record that included one shutout. This season, Milan will competing against returning junior Rich Sillery and newcomer Brett Bothwell for ice time. Sillery did not see any action last season. Bothwell, a transfer from the now-defunct Wayne State program, posted an 8-13-0 record that included two shutouts.

The area where Union looks to be their strongest coming into the season is on the blueline. Michael Beynon, who has graduated, was the Dutchmen’s lone loss on defense. Union possessed an excellent defense last season that allowed an average of 2.60 goals per game, ranking them 25th. And it could be even better this season. Seniors Lane Caffaro and Brian Milnamow lead the Dutchmen’s defensive corps. Co-captain Caffaro is coming off an excellent junior campaign where he led Union in defensemen scoring with 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) and earned a spot on the All-ECAC Second team. Milnamow emerged as a dependable presence on the blueline. He finished the season with nine points (two goals, seven assists) and led the Dutchmen with 48 penalty minutes.

Two newcomers will be joining Union’s defensive corps this season in Nolan Julseth-White and Taylor Reid. Julseth-White comes to Union College from Chilliwack (BCHL). Reid comes to Union College from Fort McMurray.

If there was one weakness to the Dutchmen’s game last season, it was in offensive production.  Union lost three players in Josh Coyle, Torren Del Forte and Sam Bowles all to graduation, but they do return their top five scorers last season. Unfortunately, Union only had one player in senior Matt Cook who posted ten or more goals last season. Leading the returning group up front are two very good sophomores in Adam Presizniuk and Stephane Boileau. Presizniuk, an ECAC All-Rookie team selection, is coming off of a terrific freshman campaign where he led the Ducthmen in scoring. Bolieau finished second on the team. All of his goals came on the power play.

Joining the returning squad up front are two newcomers including Kelly Zajac. The Winnipeg, MB native is the younger sibling of current New Jersey Devil and former North Dakota centerman Travis Zajac and current North Dakota Fighting Sioux junior Darcy Zajac. Kelly Zajac comes to Union College from Salmon Arm.

Yale University

(Number of NHL prospects on 2008-09 roster: 1)

Since head coach Keith Allain arrived in New Haven two seasons ago, the Yale Bulldogs have gradually re-established themselves. That has resulted in an upward climb in the ECAC standings. When they open their 2008-09 season on Nov. 1 facing off against host Brown in the Showcase at Brown tournament, the Elis will look to continue that trend.

Yale’s strength last season looks to be their strength this season – their forward lines. Though the team lost Will Engasser, Jean-Francois Boucher, David Germain, Matt Thomey, and Blair Yaworski all to graduation, none were among Yale’s top scorers from last season. Junior Sean Backman and sophomore Broc Little lead the returning group up front. Backman, an All-Ivy League First team selection, led Yale in scoring. Little, led the Elis in rookie scoring.

Though Yale returns an outstanding group of forwards, they need to find a way to generate more goal scoring from players other than Backman and Little. The two were the only players on the Yale roster last season to post ten or more goals. Overall, the team averaged 2.74 goals per game, which ranked them 28th in the nation. Two players that could help boost those numbers this season are sophomore Denny Kearney and junior Mark Arcobello. Kearney finished with 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists), and Arcobello finished with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists). Both players co-led the team in assists.

Joining the returning group up front are five newcomers including a pair of forwards from the Chicago Steel (USHL) in Brian O’Neill and Dan Otto. O’Neill posted 61 points (23 goals, 38 assists) last season. Otto posted 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 17 appearances.

The Elis defensive corps made some good progress as a unit last season and should continue to do so this season. Yale lost two defensemen in the off-season. Robert Page graduated and Brennan Turner opted to forego his senior season to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Anchoring this season’s squad on the blueline are juniors Tom Dignard and Ryan Donald. Dignard led the Elis in defenseman scoring with18 points (four goals, 14 assists). Three of his four goals came on the power play. Donald posted five points (two goals, three assists) and led Yale with 60 penalty minutes.

Adding some depth to the blueline is a pair of outstanding newcomers in Nick Jaskowiak and Kevin Peel. Jaskowiak comes to Yale from Tri-City (USHL). Peel comes to Yale from Spruce Grove (AJHL).

The Elis also returns their goaltending tandem of junior Billy Blase and senior Alec Richards. Blase appeared in 27 games last season, posting a 13-8-4 record that included one shutout. Richards posted a 3-4-0 record in 11 appearances. Though both netminders posted good goals against averages (2.51 and 2.02 respectively) as well as save percentages over .910, consistency, particularly in the second half will be crucial in not only Yale’s success, but also in the always-tight ECAC race for the coveted top four spots in the league standings as well.