November 9, 2012

ECAC Journal: Flanagan making noise on national level

By Dan Guttenplan

Kyle Flanagan leads the nation in points, he is the reigning National Division 1 Player of the Month, and now he has a YouTube highlight reel to boot. 

Saints captain Kyle Flanagan 15 through just six games. (Photo by Wally Johnson)

The St. Lawrence captain isn't off to a bad start this winter. Flanagan (Canton, N.Y.) was named Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Division I Player of the Month for October after lifting St. Lawrence to its best road start (3-1-0) since the 1998-1999 season.

On the heels of receiving that honor, Flangan led St. Lawrence to two more wins over Alabama-Huntsville last weekend. In the first win, he created his YouTube highlight by crossing in front of Alabama-Huntsville goalie John Griggs, faking a backhand, and then slipping the shot between his own legs for a goal.

Flanagan is the nation's leading scorer with six goals and nine assists in six games.

"I didn't expect to have 15 points in six games," Flanagan says. "I worked hard in the offseason, and I like to say hard work pays off. Obviously, I couldn't have anticipated this start. I'm fortunate to play with good linemates and teammates."

St. Lawrence has followed Flanagan's lead onto the national stage, earning a top 20 ranking in just about every national poll. The captain recorded his 100th career point as a junior last season, but was sidetracked at midseason with a concussion. He missed eight games, only to earn ECAC Player of the Week in his first week back from the injury. He has already earned the same award twice this season.

"I've been put in situations where I have a lot of freedom," Flanagan says. "I can't get too high or be satisfied, but I think good things will continue to come."

One of those good things could be Hobey Baker Award recognition. If the season ended today, Flanagan would certainly be considered a finalist.

"Sure, that's in the back of my mind," Flanagan says. "We're starting league play this week, so that's our goal right now. But we've played really well to get ready for league play, and I think we're ready."

St. Lawrence will open its ECAC Hockey season at Brown Friday before visiting Yale Saturday. Now that Flanagan's video has made its rounds through college hockey circles, he may have a tough time scoring any more goals between his legs.

"It's a fancy move, but it's still a hockey move," Flanagan says. "I've seen it happen. I figured I couldn't use my backhand, and the only move I had was to pull it back through my legs. The goalie slid over and covered my backhand. I guess I did it instinctively. I wouldn't have expected to score a goal like that. I probably haven't scored a goal like that since street hockey."

It's been that kind of season for Flanagan.

Player of the Week

Eric Robinson (Foxborough, Mass.), Dartmouth College

Robinson recorded game-winning goals in both of Dartmouth's games last week. First, he scored twice and finished with three points against Yale to help Dartmouth snap an 0-11-1 mark against the Bulldogs, which dated back to 2008. He also broke a 1-1 tie against Brown with 5:45 left in the third. He leads the nation with three game-winning goals and 1.25 goals per game.

Game of the Week

Union at Harvard, Nov. 9

A rematch of last year's ECAC Hockey Championship, Harvard will be looking to settle the score. The Crimson fell to the Dutchmen 3-1 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. after leading 1-0 at the 4:52 mark in the third period.

Power Rankings

1. Cornell (3-0-1): Big Red coach Don Vaughan was satisfied with a 1-0-1 weekend against Colgate with the tie coming on the road.

2. Union (5-1-1): The Dutchmen bounced back from an uncharacteristic tie against UConn Oct. 27 to score 11 goals in a weekend set against RPI.

3. St. Lawrence (5-1-0): Flanagan has gotten the accolades so far this season, but St. Lawrence goalie Matt Weninger ranks third in the nation in GAA and second in save percentage.

4. Colgate (4-4-1): The Raiders jumped to a 2-0 lead over Cornell Saturday night. They also held the Big Red to a combined first-period shots on Friday and Saturday night combined.

5. Harvard (2-1-0): The Crimson took a 5-1 loss to Yale Saturday. What's next on the schedule? Home games against Union and RPI, then games at Cornell, at Colgate and at Merrimack, and home against UMass Lowell. A few wins will do wonders for their Pairwise ranking.

6. Dartmouth (3-0-1): The Big Green are 5-0-1 including their preseason scrimmages. They also have an Ivy League Showcase title.

7. Quinnipiac (3-3-1): The Bobcats have lost two in a row -- to Colgate and American International, respectively. They need to turn it around in a hurry.

8. Yale (2-1-1): The Elis posted an impressive 5-1 victory over Harvard Saturday, but last year's trend -- win one, lose one -- has continued this season.

9. RPI (1-3-2): The Engineers have allowed 15 goals in the last three games -- all losses.

10. Brown (1-3-0): The Bears lifted themselves out of the power-ranking basement with a victory over Princeton in the Ivy Showcase.

11. Princeton (0-2-0): The Tigers have scored four goals in four games -- disappointing for a team that had the most productive freshman class in the conference last season.

12. Clarkson (0-4-3): Clarkson has yet to earn a victory when the last five games included a home game against Holy Cross, two at home against Niagara, and two at Canisius. 

Dan Guttenplan can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @thx4playing.