By: Anton Khodakov
What better time for our first power rankings of the year than the day of the season’s first conference match-up? Harvard visits RPI tonight to open up ECAC play. Here are our rankings with non-conference records on the season so far.
1. #10 RPI (4-1-0)
The Engineers almost went undefeated in the second half of last season and came very close to making the NCAA tournament. They’re good bets to reach that goal this year. Jason Kasdorf is back in net after his award-winning rookie season, as are Brock Higgs, Ryan Haggerty, Curtis Leonard, and a host of last year’s breakout players.
2. Union (1-2-2)
The big loss comes in net. Troy Grosenick has left after his junior season to join the AHL’s Worscester Sharks. Freshman Ale Sakellaropoulos has started four of the games so far. He benefits from the ECAC’s best group of blue liners, led by Mat Bodie and Shayne Gostisbehere.
3. Dartmouth (0-2-0)
A surprise pick to earn a first-round bye, the Big Green return several talented offensive players, none more so than Tyler Sikura. Eric Robinson and others will have to step up to fill the whole left by Matt Lindblad. Both halves of last year’s goalie plateau, Cab Morris and Charles Grant, are back.
4. St. Lawrence (4-2-0)
The offense begins with Greg Carey, one of the best players in college hockey and a Hobey Baker favorite. But the Saints may boast the best freshman class in the conference outside of Harvard’s. Watch for Gavin Bayreuther to make a big difference on the blue line.
5. #14 Cornell (2-0-0)
Last year’s late run proved too little to turn a disappointing season around. This year the Big Red are back in the conversation for the conference title. Netminder Andy Iles and all-conference defenseman Joakim Ryan are back, but a healthy Cole Bardreau might prove the difference.
6. #11 Yale (1-1-0)
The reigning national champions lose Andrew Miller, Antoine Laganiere, and goaltender Jeff Malcolm to graduation. Malcolm will prove the hardest to replace. The Bulldogs have great depth across its forward and blue line groups, but Keith Allain will want to find stability in the crease early.
7. Brown (2-0-0)
The Bears made a surprising run at the conference championship last year behind the insane play of goaltender Anthony Borelli. He has graduated, but Brown returns almost everyone from last year and should be a tough, gritty matchup for anyone on the ice. Can Matt Lorito lead the conference in goals scored after his second place finish to Carey last year?
8. #7 Quinnipiac (6-1-0)
The best team in the ECAC last year loses nine lineup regulars to graduation. Can Rand Pecknold reorganize his team fast enough to repeat last year’s success? A lot will depend on the Jones twins and the performance of sophomore Michael Garteig in net. Freshman Sam Anas already has six goals through seven games.
9. #17 Clarkson (6-1-1)
The Golden Knights have shot out of the gate in 2013. We’ll see if the success holds up against tougher conference competition. A young group of defensemen will need to mature quickly in front of a freshman and sophomore goaltender in Steve Perry and Matt Lewis. So far Clarkson is only allowing 1.47 goals per game.
10. Colgate (2-4-1)
An emotional 2012-2013 for the Raiders centered on the departure and return of top defenseman and team leader Spiro Goulakos. He is back and healthy, as is most of last year’s otherwise mediocre squad. The Spink twins will need to shoulder the offensive load even more considerably now that Robbie Bourdon is gone.
11. Harvard (1-0-0)
Once again, the Crimson bring in a number of talented, goal-hungry freshman in Alexander Kerfoot, Sean Malone, Luke Esposito and others. They will fight for top-line and power-play time with last year’s breakouts. The giant question mark will be the defense, worst in the conference last year. With Danny Biega gone, can Dan Ford and company improve rapidly enough to bring the Crimson out of the ECAC cellar?
12. Princeton (1-1-0)
Andrew Calof is back, but otherwise, the Tigers should struggle to find the back of the net this year. To make matters worse, Eric Meland and Michael Sdao, quietly one of the conference’s best defensive pairings last year, have graduated. Princeton will be counting on a lot of unexperienced fresh faces to step up.