ECAC 2010-11 season preview part two

By DJ Powers

In part two of Hockey’s Future’s two-part preview of the ECAC, we take a closer look at the six Ivy League schools. All noted start dates are for non-exhibition, regular season games.

Cornell University
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 4

The defending ECAC Tournament Champions will look to successfully defend their title when they open their 2010-11 on Oct. 29 hosting New Hampshire.

Cornell’s traditionally stingy defense was evident in last season’s run to the NCAA Tournament. The Big Red ranked second in the nation with a defense that allowed just 1.97 goals per game. The 67 total goals surrendered were the fewest in the ECAC. Of their 34 games last season, Cornell allowed three or more goals in just 12 of them. Equally as strong was their penalty-killing, which ranked third with an 87.9 percent efficiency rating. Interestingly, Cornell was also one of five teams nationally that did not post a shorthanded goal last season.

Coming into this season however, the Big Red’s strong defense will be severely tested with the loss of three key defensive cogs to graduation. And nowhere will it be felt more than in goal.

Ben Scrivens (TOR) was one of the nation’s top goaltenders last season and the numbers he posted were astounding. The All-American East First Team selection posted a 21-9-4 record playing all but nearly 32 minutes. He led the nation with a .934 save percentage and seven shutouts. His 1.87 goals against average ranked second in the nation, while his .676 winning percentage ranked 11th.

The daunting task of filling the monumental hole left by Scrivens will fall to the inexperienced trio of junior Mike Garman, sophomore Omar Kanji and talented newcomer Andy Iles, who have just one game of playing experience between them. Garman, who served as Scrivens’ backup last season, played just 31:58 minutes.

The two other significant defensive losses were of defensemen Brendan Nash and Justin Krueger. Nash, who has since signed with the Montreal Canadiens, led the Big Red in defensemen scoring with 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 33 games. Krueger, one of Cornell’s most reliable rearguards last season and named the ECAC’s Best Defensive Defenseman, finished with 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) playing in all 34 games.

Among those that the Cornell will be relying on defensively this season is sophomore Nicholas D’Agostino (PIT). The Bolton, ONT native enjoyed an impressive 2009-10 campaign leading the Big Red in freshman scoring with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 32 games. D’Agostino capped the year with a selection to the ECAC All-Rookie team.

The defensive side wasn’t the only area where Cornell was hit hard this off-season. The Big Red also lost last season’s top three scorers in Blake Gallagher, Colin Greening (OTT) and Riley Nash (CAR) as well. Gallagher led Cornell with 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) in 34 games. Where he was especially dangerous was on the power play, where 11 of 18 goals were scored. Greening, finished tied for second with 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 34 games. Both Gallagher and Greening were also selections to the All-Ivy League First Team as well. Nash, who opted to forego his senior year to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes, led the Big Red with 23 assists and finished with 35 points in 30 games. In all, the trio accounted for 37 percent of Cornell’s point production that will need to be replaced this season.

Cornell’s top returning scorer is senior Joe Devin. The Scituate, MA native finished fourth on the team with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 34 games last season.

Brown University
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 0

Brown will look to build on last season’s strong finish when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 29 facing off against host Yale in the Ivy Shootout tournament.

Despite their 11th place finish in the ECAC last season, Brown enjoyed a strong post-season that saw them pull off a stunning upset of Yale in the ECAC Quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Cornell in the semi-finals.

Second-year head coach Brendan Whittet has begun the process of rebuilding the Bears, and it has already started to pay dividends. This season they are shaping up to be very good with a nice mix of strong returning veterans and an excellent freshman class.

The most significant loss that the Bears suffered was of top goal-scorer Aaron Volpatti, who has graduated. The Revelstoke, BC native signed with the Vancouver Canucks in the off-season after finishing the 2009-10 campaign with 30 points that included his team-high 17 goals playing in all 37 games. Volpatti also led the Bears with 115 penalty minutes.

Junior Jack Maclellan returns as Brown’s top scorer after leading the team last season with 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 36 games.

While the Bears returning a very good core up front, they also add an impressive group of freshmen as well. One to keep an eye on is Garnett Hathaway. The Kennebunkport, ME native is a power forward that will bring some scoring punch to Brown this season. Hathaway, who was passed up in the NHL Draft this past June, will be eligible again for the 2011 Draft.

One area where Brown struggled mightily last season was on defense. The team ranked 52nd in the nation, allowing an average of 3.62 goals per game. The eight shorthanded and 134 total goals that the Bears surrendered were the most of any ECAC team.

Leading the Bears defensive corps this season are a pair of juniors in rearguard Jeff Buvinow and goaltender Mike Clemente. The offensive-minded Buvinow led the team in defenseman scoring with 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) playing in all 37 games last season. Clemente, the hero in last year’s ECAC Quarterfinals versus Yale, played remarkably well despite posting a 12-15-4 record in 35 appearances.

Dartmouth College
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 4

Dartmouth will look to move up the ECAC standings when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 29 versus Princeton in the Ivy Shootout tournament.

The Big Green finished tied with Harvard for ninth-place in the ECAC last season. A dismal start and injuries to some key players contributed to their demise. But with few off-season losses and a terrific group of newcomers, Dartmouth is poised to be much better this season.

The Big Green’s most glaring weakness last season was on the defensive side. Dartmouth ranked 51st in the nation with a defense that gave up nearly 3.60 goals per game last season. Equally as poor was the Big Green’s penalty-killing, which posted an ECAC-worst 75.7 percent efficiency rating.

The good news for Dartmouth is that they return all but two rearguards and add three. The one newcomer to keep an eye on is Nick Lovejoy. The Orford, NH native is the younger brother of former Big Green standout Ben Lovejoy (PIT). The younger Lovejoy is noted for his superb skating and shooting ability, and has garnered considerable interest for the 2011 NHL Draft. As Head Coach Bob Gaudet explains, Lovejoy will bring similar facets to Dartmouth this season that his brother Ben brought before him.

“Nick is very similar to Ben, but he’s bigger. He’s also a very good athlete, and it’s just a matter of learning the simplicity side of and catching up to the college level game. Nick can shoot the puck and is a very similar to Ben in the way he skates. We think that Nick will be a very good defenseman for us, who has a tremendous amount of potential.”

Another area that should be quite good for Dartmouth this season is in goal. Junior Jody O’Neill is coming off a solid year, despite posting a 6-14-1 record. Challenging O’Neill will be returning junior James Mello and talented newcomer Cab Morris.

The Big Green’s strength this season looks to be in their forward lines. Senior Scott Fleming returns after a stellar junior campaign leading the team with 39 points (22 goals, 17 assists) playing in all 32 games. He was particularly lethal on the power play where ten of his 22 goals were scored.

But the one player to watch is sophomore Dustin Walsh (MON). The Shannonville, ONT native was one of the most promising young forwards to come out of the ECAC last season, but injuries limited him to 22 games and ten points (eight goals, two assists). Gaudet notes that the now-healthy Walsh should give a tremendous lift to the Dartmouth offense this season.

“Dustin is a kid that is smooth, has a reach and is a natural. We think that he’s going to be a real bonafide player for us this season. He’s a very smooth skater and has good speed for a big kid. He has really good hands and can shoot the puck. Dustin has also got a lot of poise and is always around the net. He’s also starting to pick up his defensive game too. We think that Dustin is developing into a very solid player in all aspects for us. And I don’t think people realize what an elite player that he can become.”

Harvard University
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 4

Harvard will look to get things back on track when they open their 2010-11 season on Nov. 5 versus Union College.

The Crimson ended a difficult 2009-10 campaign tied with Dartmouth for ninth in the ECAC. One reason was their anemic offense. The Crimson ranked 47th in the nation last season with an offense that posted an average of just 2.48 goals per game. Their 82 total goals were also the fewest in the ECAC.

Coming into this season, Harvard will need to get much more offensive production throughout their lineup. And they will have to do it without top scorer Louis Leblanc and stalwart Doug Rogers. Leblanc, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, opted to forego the remainder of his eligibility to sign with the Montreal Canadiens, while Rogers has graduated. Leblanc led the Crimson with 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 31 games last season. He was also one of only two players on the Harvard roster to post ten or more goals last season. Rogers finished his injury-shortened senior season playing in just 28 games and posting 12 points (six goals, six assists).

Among those that Harvard will be relying on this season to pick up the scoring slack are returning junior Alex Killorn (TB) and sophomore Conor Morrison. Killorn enjoyed a solid sophomore campaign, finishing third on the team with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 32 games. Morrison returns as the Crimson’s top goal-scorer after posting ten goals. Overall, he finished fourth on the team with 18 points, and is also the lone returning player to play all 33 games last season. Morrison’s solid rookie performance hasn’t gone unnoticed by the NHL either, having attended the Buffalo Sabres prospects camp this summer.

Another area where Harvard struggled last season was in goal. While the Crimson’s top tandem of seniors Kyle Richter and Ryan Carroll both return this season, they will need to be more consistent if Harvard expects to battle in the hotly-contested ECAC. Richter posted a record of 5-15-2 in 22 outings, while Carroll posted a 4-6-1 record in 16 appearances. Challenging the seniors this season will be newcomer Raphael Girard.

The blue line looks to be Harvard’s strongest position coming into the season, despite the loss of four defensemen, including Alex Biega (BUF), who has graduated. Biega finished second among all Crimson defensemen in scoring with nine points (two goals, eight assists) in 33 games.

The defenseman that all eyes will be on this season is Danny Biega. The Montreal native was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round (67th overall) this past June. Biega was one of the best young blueliners to come out of the ECAC last season, and is poised to be even better this season. He enjoyed a terrific freshman campaign that saw him post nine points (five goals, four assists) in 32 games.

Princeton University
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 1

Princeton will look to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 29 versus Dartmouth in the Ivy Shootout tournament.

After a stellar 2008-09 season that was capped with an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers limped to an eighth-place finish last season.

Few ECAC teams were as decimated by injuries in 2009-10 as Princeton was. But staying healthy won’t be the only issue the Tigers will have to contend with heading into this season.

Princeton lost nine players who have all graduated. And nowhere will their loss be felt more than in goal with the departure of former All-American Zane Kalemba. He appeared in 23 games last season, posting an 8-12-3 record that included two shutouts. The huge task of filling the hole left Kalemba will fall to returning senior Alan Reynolds, sophomore Mike Condon, and outstanding newcomer Sean Bonar. Reynolds appeared in eight games last season, posting a 4-3-0 record, while Condon appeared in four games, posting one loss.

Another area where Princeton’s losses will be felt will be up front. The Tigers lost last season’s top scorers in Dan Bartlett and Mark Magnowski. In addition, Princeton also lost their best power forward in Cam McIntyre (SJ). Bartlett led the team with 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) playing in all 31 games. Magnowski finished second with 27 points (ten goals, 17 assists) in 30 games. McIntyre struggled through an injury-riddled season that limited him to ten games and ten points (six goals, four assists).

Leading the Tigers offensive charge this season is senior Mike Kramer. The St. Paul, MN native is Princeton’s top returning scorer after finishing third last season with 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 29 games. However, Kramer is also the team’s lone returning player that posted ten or more goals and 20 or more points last season. So increasing their point production throughout their lineup will be one of the primary keys to Princeton’s success this season.

The blue line is shaping up to be the Tigers strongest area. And that should help to not only solidify their goaltending situation, but also improve their less-than-stellar defensive numbers from last season as well. Princeton allowed an average of 3.32 goals per game, which ranked 46th in the nation.

Two defensemen that look to be vital contributors this season are senior Tyler Fedun and towering newcomer Jeremy Goodwin. Fedun was Princeton’s best and most consistent rearguard last season, leading the team in defenseman scoring with 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 31 games. He capped the year with a selection the All-ECAC Second Team. Fedun has also gained some NHL interest as well, having attended the Vancouver Canucks prospects camp this summer.

Goodwin, who is entering his final year of eligibility for the NHL Draft, is a defenseman that will provide the Princeton blue line with some grit and great offensive ability to go along with his imposing size.

Yale University
Number of NHL prospects on roster: 3

The 2009-10 Ivy League Champions will look to successfully defend their crown when they open their 2010-11 season on Oct. 29 versus Brown in the Ivy Shootout tournament.

Yale narrowly missed a trip to the Frozen Four, falling to eventual National Champion Boston College 7-9 in the wild Northeast Regional Final this past spring. They hope to remedy that this season.

Yale was one of the nation’s most explosive offensive teams last season. The Bulldogs (aka Elis) led the nation in goals per game, averaging 4.15. They were one of only two teams in the nation (Boston College was the other) that averaged more than four goals per game. The 141 totals goals that Elis scored were the most in the ECAC. And with much of the team returning intact, along with a stellar incoming class, Yale looks to be even better this season.

Like last season, Yale’s depth this season will be in their forward lines. However, the team will need to replace the 71 combined points that left with graduates Sean Backman (DAL) and Mark Arcobello. Backman, the Ivy League Player of the Year, was second on the team with 21 goals and finished with 35 points in 29 games. Arcobello, who is now with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, finished fourth on the Elis roster with 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) playing in all 34 games last season. He was also named to the All-Ivy League Second team as well. Where Backman and Arcobello proved to be particularly effective last season was on special teams. The duo accounted for 14 power play goals and three shorthanded goals. As head coach Keith Allain explains, getting contributions from all of his forwards will be one of the keys to his team’s success this season.

“Depth at forward should be a strength of our team as we head into the season. We have a number of talented competitive (returning) players who will be battling for spots. We are also excited about our incoming freshmen Ken Agostino (PIT), Clinton Bourbanais, Jesse Root, and Brad Peltz (OTT). Each of them have good offensive skill, excellent speed, and the ability to play a two-way game. So we need each and every one of these guys to step up if we are to be successful.”

Leading Yale offensively this season is senior Broc Little. The diminutive dynamo led the Elis with 27 goals and finished second on the team with 41 points playing in all 34 games. Little, one of two Yale players named to the All-American East Second Team last season, showed a knack for scoring timely goals too. His seven game-winners tied him for third in the nation. He has also drawn some NHL interest as well, having attended the Detroit Red Wings prospects camp this summer.

The remaining graduates were on the defensive side with the loss of defensemen Thomas Dignard and Ryan Donald, and goaltender Billy Blasé. The offensive-minded Dignard led all Yale blueliners with 27 points (six goals, 21 assists) playing in 29 games. The rugged Donald, who is now with the Providence Bruins (AHL), finished with eight points (two goals, six assists) playing in all 34 games. He also co-led Yale with 46 penalty minutes. Blasé was part of the Elis four-man goaltending rotation last season. He appeared in 11 games, posting a record of 7-2-0 that included a respectable 2.56 save percentage.

Despite the loss of Dignard and Donald, the Elis will still be quite good on the blueline this season. One player to watch is lone defensive newcomer Guy Young (COL). The Dedham, MA native possesses good size and can contribute offensively.

“Gus we see as a very good two way defenseman, a guy who can eventually play in all situations and both special teams PP and PK,” Allain said of his young rearguard. “We lost quality minutes and quality people when Tom (Dignard) and Ryan (Donald) graduated, but each of our returning defensemen has experience playing in big games, and Gus comes to us ready to challenge for a spot.”

While the loss of Blasé is significant, Yale returns a solid trio in senior Ryan Rondeau and sophomores Nick Maricic and Jeff Malcolm. Rondeau posted a 2-1-1 record in six appearances. Maricic appeared in 14 games and posted a 7-4-2 record, while Malcolm posted a 5-3-0 record in ten games.