October 9, 2012

Men's ECAC Hockey 2012-13 season preview

By Dan Guttenplan

New England Hockey Journal takes a look at who's gone, who's back and what lies ahead for each of the 12 men's teams in ECAC Hockey. 

BROWN BEARS

In Brendan Whittet’s first season at the Brown head coach in 2009-10, he took his alma mater to the ECAC final four. The team has been on a gradual descent ever since; the Bears finished last in ECAC Hockey last season with a 5-13-4 league mark.

Last season: 9-18-5 (5-13-4 ECAC, 12th)

Who’s gone: Jack Maclellan, F; Bobby Farnham (North Andover, Mass.), F; Jarred Smith, F; Jeff Buvinow, D; Mike Clemente, G

Who’s back: Richie Crowley (Canton, Mass.), sr., D; Ryan Jacobson, so., F; Matt Lorito, so., F; Dennis Robertson, jr., D; Chris Zaires, sr., F; Matt Wahl, jr., D; Garnet Hathaway (Kennebunkport, Maine), jr., F

Who’s new: Nick Lappin, fr., F; Mark Naclerio (Milford, Conn.), fr., F; Brandon Pfeil, fr., D

Keep an eye on … Ryan Jacobson. Jacobson had a breakout freshman season, ranking second on the team in scoring with 12 goals and nine assists. He also took home the James H. Fullerton Memorial Trophy for the first-year player who contributed the most to the team.

Outlook: The Bears have decreased their win total in each of Whittet’s three seasons as coach. After finishing last in ECAC Hockey last season, one that included a winless February, there’s only one way to go.

CLARKSON GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Clarkson was a middle-of-the-road ECAC Hockey team last season, but it could have been a lot worse. Goaltender Paul Karpowich, who has since graduated, made the most saves (638) of any goalie in ECAC Hockey.

Last season: 16-17-6 (9-9-4 ECAC, seventh)

Who’s gone: Paul Karpowich, G; Louke Oakley, F; Corey Tamblyn, F; Jake Morley, F; Nick Tremblay, F; Julien Cayer, F

Who’s back: Matt Zarbo, jr., F; Allan McPherson, jr., F; Gabe Antoni, so., G; Ben Sexton, jr., F; Sam Lebrecque, so., D; Joe Zarbo, so., F.; Cody Rosen, sr., G

Who’s new: Christian Finch, fr., F; Paul Geiger, fr., D

Keep an eye on … Cody Rosen. The senior goaltender saw the least playing time of his college career last season behind Karpowich and Richie LaVeau. Now that the path is clear for Rosen, he will have a chance to show why he was selected by the New York Islanders in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Draft.

Outlook: Casey Jones had a promising first season as Clarkson’s head coach, although the Golden Knights would have liked to finish stronger. The recruiting class headlined by Finch and Geiger is among the tops in the league.

COLGATE RED RAIDERS

The Red Raiders will remember last season fondly. Graduating senior Austin Smith led the nation in goals (36) and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. As a team, Colgate made the semifinal round of the ECAC Hockey tournament.

Last season: 19-17-3 (11-10-1 ECAC, fourth)

Who’s gone: Austin Smith, F; Chris Wagner (Walpole, Mass.), F; Corbin McPherson, D; Kevin McNamara (Chestnut Hill, Mass.), D; Austin Mayer, F; Matt Firman, F; Alex Evin, G

Who’s back: Thomas Larkin, sr., D; Joe Wilson, so., F; Jeremy Price, sr., D; Robbie Bourdon, sr., F; Spiro Goulakos, so., D; John Lidgett, so., F; Nathan Sinz, sr., D; Eric Mihalik, jr., G

Who’s new: Spencer Finney, fr., G; Michael Borkowski, fr., F

Keep an eye on … Thomas Larkin. Larkin, a Phillips Exeter alumnus, is the first two-year Colgate captain since Rejean Bolvin in 1986-87 and 1987-88. The Raiders will need the senior’s leadership in a complete overhaul of last year’s roster.

Outlook: It should be a complete rebuilding project for coach Don Vaughan after the graduation of Hobey Baker finalist Austin Smith, who led the nation last season with 36 goals. The loss of Wagner, who joined the Anaheim Ducks after tallying 51 points as a sophomore last winter, also will be difficult to offset.

CORNELL BIG RED

Cornell earned its 19th NCAA tournament appearance last season after falling just short of an ECAC Hockey regular-season title. Cornell made noise in the NCAA tournament, upsetting top-seeded Michigan in the Midwest Regional.

Last season: 19-9-7 (12-4-6 ECAC, second)

Who’s gone: Sean Collins, F; Locke Jillson, F; Keir Ross, D; Sean Whitney (Scituate, Mass.), F

Who’s back: Greg Miller, sr., F; Dustin Mowrey, jr., F; Joel Lowry, so., F; Brian Ferlin, so., F; Nick D’Agostino, sr., D; Andy Iles, jr., G; John McCarron, so., F; Joakim Ryan, so, D; John Esposito, sr., F; Kirill Gotovets, jr., D

Who’s new: John Kinsley, fr., F; Gavin Stoick, fr., D

Keep an eye on … Brian Ferlin. The Big Red will have plenty of talent on the blue line and in net; Iles started all 35 games last season. However, scoring could be a challenge. Returning ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year Ferlin will look to improve upon his numbers (seven goals, 10 assists) of last season.

Outlook: There’s no reason to believe Cornell can’t compete for the ECAC Hockey title and a 20th NCAA tournament invitation after graduating just four seniors from last season. Remember, this is a team that was just minutes away from reaching the Frozen Four last season.

DARTMOUTH BIG GREEN

The Big Green have never made an NCAA tournament during Bob Gaudet’s 16-year tenure as coach. However, that could change in the next few years. Last season, Dartmouth’s freshman class was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season.

Last season: 13-16-4 (8-11-3 ECAC, ninth)

Who’s gone: Doug Jones, F; Nick Walsh, F; Connor Goggin, D, James Mello (Rehoboth, Mass.), G

Who’s back: Matt Lindblad, jr., F; Dustin Walsh, sr., F; Tyler Sikura, so., F; Brandon McNally (Saugus, Mass.), so., F; Eric Neiley, so.; Eric Robinson (Foxboro, Mass.), D; Mike Keenan (South Weymouth, Mass.), sr., D; Cab Morris, so., G

Who’s new: Nick Bligh (Milton, Mass.), fr., F; Jack Barre (Fairfield, Conn.), fr., F; Connor Dempsey (Winthrop, Mass.), fr., F

Keep an eye on … Tyler Sikura. As a freshman, Sikura tied for the team lead in scoring (11 goals, 14 assists) and headed a freshman class that contributed more scoring production than any other freshman class in ECAC Hockey. Sikura, McNally and Neiley figure to improve with a year of college hockey under their belts.

Outlook: On paper, the Big Green have enough offense to earn a first-round bye (top-four seed) in the ECAC Hockey tournament. Goaltending is a question mark with Morris entering the season with seven games of experience.

HARVARD CRIMSON

The Crimson put themselves back on the map last season, rebounding from a 12-21-7 season in 2010-11 to earn a first-round bye in the ECAC Hockey tournament. It didn’t end there as the Crimson held a third-period lead over Union in the championship game before falling short.

Last season: 13-10-11 (8-5-9 ECAC, third)

Who’s gone: Alex Killorn, F; Ryan Grimshaw, D; Eric Kroshus, F; Daniel Moriarty, F; Colin Moore, F

Who’s back: Danny Biega, sr., F; Marshall Everson, sr.; F; Patrick McNally, so., D; Alex Fallstrom, sr., F; Colin Blackwell (North Andover, Mass.), so.; F; Dan Ford, jr., D; Connor Morrison, sr.; F; Brendan Rempel (Willington, Conn.), sr., D; Raphael Girard, jr., G

Who’s new: Jimmy Vesey (North Reading, Mass.), fr., F; Brian Hart (Cumberland, Maine), fr., F; Greg Gozzo, fr., F

Keep an eye on … Connor Morrison. The senior could be the league’s comeback player of the year after missing 27 games with an injury last season. The wasted junior year came on the heels of a sophomore season in which he was fourth on the team with 19 points, including 14 assists.

Outlook: Coach Ted Donato (Dedham, Mass.) is being credited for having one of the league’s best recruiting classes. Add that to the fact that Morrison and Rempel will return after missing much of last season due to injuries, and the Crimson should challenge Union and Cornell for an ECAC Hockey title.

PRINCETON TIGERS

Depth was an issue for the Tigers last season. Although they had top-tier players in the conference in Andrew Calof and Michael Sdao, they could not keep up with the stronger teams in ECAC Hockey. Only two players on the team finished with a positive number in the plus-minus category.

Last season: 9-16-7 (6-12-4 ECAC, 11th)

Who’s gone: Derrick Pallis (Medfield, Mass.), D; Marc Hagel, F; Brodie Zuk, F

Who’s back: Andrew Calof, jr., F; Eric Meland, sr., F; Rob Kleebaum, sr., F; Sean Bonar, jr., G; Jack Berger, so., F; Michael Sdao, sr., D; Jeremy Goodwin, jr., D; Mike Condon (Needham, Mass.), sr., G

Who’s new: Mike Ambrosia, fr., F; Michael Zajac, fr., F; Kevin Liss, fr., D

Keep an eye on … Andrew Calof. If anyone in the conference could provide something similar to the next-level breakout season Austin Smith had at Colgate last year, it’s Calof. He was ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year as a freshman and Princeton’s leading scorer last season.

Outlook: Princeton had four players eclipse the 20-point mark last season — Calof, Berger, Kleebaum and Sdao. All will return. With Calof and Sdao, Princeton may have an All-ECAC forward and defenseman.

QUINNIPIAC BOBCATS

Head coach Rand Pecknold (Bedford, N.H.) signed an extension through the 2016-17 season on the heels of a 20-win season, giving him plenty of job security. On paper, Quinnipiac has the players to compete with anyone in the league this season.

Last season: 20-14-6 (9-8-5 ECAC, fifth)

Who’s gone: Scott Zurevinski, F; Yuri Bouharevich, F; Dan Clarke, G

Who’s back: Connor Jones, jr., F; Matthew Peca, so., F; Kellen Jones, jr., F; Jeremy Langlois, sr., F; Loren Barron, sr., D; Zack Currie, sr., D; Zach Tolkinen, jr., D; Zach Davies, sr., D; Eric Hartzell, sr., G

Who’s new: Jordan Samuels-Thomas (Windsor, Conn.), fr., F; Zach Lyczyk (Charlton, Mass.), fr., F

Keep an eye on … Matthew Peca. As a freshman, Pecas passed out a team-high 31 assists along with eight goals. At one point in the season, he recorded a point in 11 consecutive games. He also set a team record by factoring in 11 consecutive goals.

Outlook: With the Jones brothers, Peca and Hartzell returning, the Bobcats have four of their best players returning from a 20-win team. A first-round bye in the ECAC Hockey tournament should be the goal.

RPI ENGINEERS

RPI coach Seth Appert admitted last season that, during RPI’s glory years from 2009 to 2011, he slacked in the recruiting department. He reaped what he sowed in the first semester, going 3-16-0. The Engineers finished the regular season 6-4-2 in their last 12 games.

Last season: 12-24-3 (7-12-3 ECAC, 10th)

Who’s gone: Mike Bergin, D; Patrick Cullen, F; Joel Malchuk, F

Who’s back: Brock Higgs, jr., F; Nick Bailen, sr., D; C.J. Lee, sr., F; Ryan Haggerty (Stamford, Conn.), so., F; Jacob Laliberte, so., F; Bryce Merriam, sr., G; Marty O’Grady, sr., F; Matt Tinordi, jr., F; Zack Schroeder, so.; F; Mark McGowan, so., F

Who’s new: Mark Miller, fr., F; Mike Zalewski, fr., F; Chris Bradley, fr., D

Keep an eye on … Nick Bailen. Bailen’s numbers saw a dip during his junior season, and not coincidentally, RPI suffered as a result. If he can match the production of his sophomore year (eight goals, 28 assists) rather than his junior year (seven goals, 15 assists), he’ll be the best defenseman in the conference.

Outlook: RPI had a respectable second semester last season. With a stronger recruiting class than RPI has had in a few seasons, the team should start building toward another NCAA tournament appearance.

ST. LAWRENCE SAINTS

Coach Joe Marsh (Lynn, Mass.) retired after missing all of last season on medical leave. The legendary coach had an enormous impact on the St. Lawrence program, although the team struggled over the last two seasons. Coach Greg Carvel will look to turn the program around.

Last season: 14-19-3 (10-11-1 ECAC, eighth)

Who’s gone: Coach Joe Marsh; Jacob Drewiske, F; Pete Child (South Burlington, Vt.), D

Who’s back: Greg Carey, jr., F; Kyle Flanagan, sr., F; Chris Martin, so., F; George Hughes (Westwood, Mass.), sr., D; Kyle Essery, jr., F; Patrick Doherty (Hanover, N.H.), so., F; Justin Baker, jr., D; Patrick Raley, jr., D; Matt Weninger, jr., G

Who’s new: Kyle McDonald (Hanover, Mass.), fr., G; Alex Hagan, fr., F

Keep an eye on … Greg Carvel. It’s time for Carvel to put his stamp on a program after returning to his alma mater last fall. Carvel never had that opportunity last season as he served as an interim coach, along with Mike Hurlbut, when Marsh was on medical leave. There is no question it’s Carvel’s team now.

Outlook: Having some closure on last season’s coaching instability should translate to more success on the ice for St. Lawrence. Carey (15 goals, 22 assists) and Flanagan (14 goals, 23 assists) return as the scoring leaders from last season.

UNION DUTCHMEN

Union was perhaps the best story in hockey last season, advancing to the Frozen Four under first-year coach Rick Bennett (Springfield, Mass.), losing to Ferris State in the national semifinals. The feat would seem nearly impossible to duplicate for a school of 2,200 students.

Last season: 26-8-7 (14-4-4 ECAC, first)

Who’s gone: Kelly Zajac, F; Jeremy Welsh, F; Nolan Julseth-White, D; Brian Yanovitch (Mansfield, Mass.), F

Who’s back: Daniel Carr, jr., F; Wayne Simpson (Boxboro, Mass.), sr., F; Troy Grosenick, jr., G; Kyle Bodie, sr., F; Mat Bodie, jr., D; Josh Jooris, jr., F; Shayne Gostisbehere, so., D; Matt Hatch, jr., F

Who’s new: Timothy Boyle (Highham, Mass.), fr., D; Nick Cruice, fr., F

Keep an eye on … Troy Grosenick. As a sophomore, Grosenick was 22-6-3 with a 1.65 GAA, and he led his team to the national semifinals. It may be difficult to repeat this season without Zajac and Welsh, who accounted for 86 points last season.

Outlook: The loss of Welsh, who left before his senior year to play professionally with the Carolina Hurricanes, is huge when compounded with Zajac’s graduation. It makes you understand how difficult it can be for a school of 2,200 students to play for a national championship. Everything has to go right.

YALE BULLDOGS

Yale took a huge step back last season after spending the previous three among the elite teams nationally. Picked by many to win the conference title, the Bulldogs never really threatened, playing .500 hockey all season.

Last season: 16-16-3 (10-10-2 ECAC, sixth)

Who’s gone: Brian O’Neill, F; Kevin Limbert, F, Kevin Peel, D; Nick Jaskowiak, D; Chad Ziegler, F

Who’s back: Andrew Miller, sr., F; Kenny Agostino, jr., F; Antoine Laganiere, sr., F; Jesse Root, jr., F; Clinton Bourbonais (Colchester, Conn.), jr.; Tommy Fallen, so.; D; Colin Dueck, sr., D; Jeff Malcolm, sr., G

Who’s new: Matthew Beattie, fr., F; Cody Learned (Amherst, N.H.), fr., F; Rob O’Gara, fr., D; Charles Orzetti, fr., F; Stu Wilson, fr., F

Keep an eye on … Jeff Malcolm. The Bulldogs need to have better goaltending this season. Last season, Malcolm posted a 10-11-2 record with a 2.77 GAA. If Nick Maricic takes Malcolm’s job this season, it likely will mean the Bulldogs are struggling again.

Outlook: The Bulldogs have three 30-point scorers returning in Andrew Miller (seven goals, 29 assists), Kenny Agostino (14 goals, 20 assists) and Antoine Laganiere (19 goals, 14 assists). This isn’t the 2010-11 team that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but with solid goaltending, it can be a contender in ECAC Hockey.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of New England Hockey Journal

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