The leaves have fallen, the frost is on the pumpkin, the clocks have been set back, fall semesters are well underway, and that can mean only one thing: Fire up the Zamboni, it's time for ECAC hockey!
The ECAC kicked off league play this weekend as it traditionally does, with the Harvard-Brown game. And the Crimson, who swept their travel partners last year, once again got the first two points of the ECAC season, as freshman Rob Millar had two goals and Jeremiah McCarthy three assists in the 5-3 Harvard win. It was the first official action of the season for both clubs as each had defeated the Polish Olympic team in an exhibition, Harvard by a 3-0 score and Brown 5-2.
The six Ivy squads in the ECAC traditionally begin their season with an exhibition or two, and then move straight to league play. This year, though, things have been a little different. Defending ECAC and Ivy Champions Cornell have started with a couple of exhibition shutouts, blanking Team Poland 7-0 and Waterloo 5-0, and the Big Green of Dartmouth nipped Ottawa 5-3 in their exhibition opener, but then began their NCAA schedule with a 3-0 shutout of Army. Princeton played two exhibitions, edging the Poles 4-3 and downing Air Force 5-2, before shooting down the Falcons again 3-1 in a game that counted. Last year's cellar-dwellars from Yale, meanwhile, have eschewed exhibitions altogether, engaging only in a scrimmage against Brown.
The other six ECAC schools have been busy with nonconference action in the meantime. Last year's regular season champs Vermont, ranked number two in the nation, are off to a 4-0 start, downing New Hampshire, Boston University, Miami of Ohio and Lake Superior State. The Golden Knights of Clarkson, picked to finish second in most ECAC pre-season polls, swept Ohio State and pasted the Poles in an exhibition before being swept this weekend by Denver to drop to 2-2. The Engineers of Rensselaer have started the season strong, performing well in a loss to BU and beating Northeastern and Army to go 2-1. Colgate is likewise off to a 3-1 start against Hockey East foes, falling by a goal to Maine before beating New Hampshire, Merrimack and Providence. Joe Marsh's St. Lawrence Saints, one of last year's surprise stories, are off to a rough start at 0-4 after being swept at St. Cloud and losing at home to Lake State and Miami. And finally the Union Skating Dutchmen are 1-2 in non-league play, with a shutout win over Hockey East champions Providence sandwiched between losses to UNH and Merrimack.
Next weekend the ECAC season begins in earnest, with a full slate of twelve league games: Princeton and Yale travel to the North Country to face Clarkson and St. Lawrence; Cornell and Colgate visit Brown and Harvard, and Vermont and Dartmouth host RPI and Union.
With the ECAC hockey report, I'm Joe Schlobotnik.