ECAC Hockey Season Preview

Story posted October 4, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Connor Griffin

ECAC Hockey is about to get underway, and if the end of last year’s season is any indication of how this season will go, then hockey fans are in for a treat. The 2019 ECAC Hockey championship game was a thrilling conclusion to a remarkable season. It took 75 minutes of play, but the Clarkson Golden Knights were finally able to seal the deal with a 3-2 victory to take home the Whitelaw Cup. It was Clarkson’s first conference championship in over a decade.

The Golden Knights retain a handful of key players from that championship squad. Perhaps the most notable returner is forward Devin Brosseau, who scored the first two goals in the conference championship game and delivered the assist on the game-winner. He was named Most Outstanding Player of the conference tournament. Brosseau is joined on the attack by last year’s leading goal scorer Haralds Egle. Showing a lot of promise for the 2019-20 season, Egle was the lone Golden Knight to be voted a preseason All-Conference player by the media.

Even though Clarkson returns a great deal of talent and experience, the Golden Knights were edged out of the No. 1 spot in the ECAC Hockey preseason media poll. The team taking their place is none other than the team that they bested in last year’s conference championship: Cornell.

Cornell enters this season with an absolutely loaded roster. Out of the six preseason All-Conference players, half of them don the carnelian red. Junior forward Morgan Barron returns after leading the team in both goals and points last season. Senior Yanni Kaldis, the Big Red’s leader in assists a year ago, looks to helm a strong defensive unit. Junior Matthew Galajda returns in net as one of the top goaltenders in the country. The Big Red tallied 185 points in the preseason media poll—23 points more than the second place Golden Knights.

Only one point behind Clarkson in the rankings comes Quinnipiac. The Bobcats had a disappointing end to their 2018-19 campaign, losing in the quarterfinals of the ECAC Hockey Tournament. Forward Odeen Tufto, known for his impeccable speed and agility, had a team-best 27 assists and 42 points. He takes on a bigger leadership role after being named an assistant captain for this upcoming season. Of course, the main leader of the team is the program’s 26-year head coach Rand Pecknold. When you have the third-winningest active head coach leading you into every game, you’ve always got a shot.

After Cornell, Clarkson and Quinnipiac, there’s evident separation from the rest of the conference. Head coach Ted Donato leads a hungry Harvard roster. Donato, who won a national championship as a Crimson player, aims to lead his alma mater to a sixth consecutive appearance in the ECAC Hockey Tournament semifinals. Dartmouth is also coached by an alumnus. Bob Gaudet is set to begin his 23rd season as head coach of the Big Green. Last year, he was inducted into the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey Hall of Fame due in large part to how consistent Dartmouth has been as a program during his tenure.

A team to watch out for as a sleeper is the Bears of Brown University. They had a rough start to their schedule last year but were able to recover heading into the midway point of the season. The Bears were a solid 12-6-2 in the 20 games prior to their loss in the ECAC Hockey Tournament semifinals. Even though they were humiliated 6-0 in that game by Cornell, the fact that they were able to slip into the tournament as the eighth seed and make it to the tournament’s final four was tremendous in itself. The Bears did defeat Quinnipiac twice to take home a win in the quarterfinals, and they duked it out with some of the conference’s best throughout the regular season, proving that Brown has the capability to knock off the top dogs. Every position on the depth chart has experience, along with some young players ready to burst onto the scene. It will be interesting to see if the Bears can play spoiler even more than they did last year.

The 2019-20 ECAC Hockey season gets underway on Saturday, Oct. 5.

 

Connor Griffin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email cfg6@psu.edu.