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Signs of life?

To cut to the chase, Rensselaer is still at the bottom of the league, and isn’t looking like anything close to a contender at this time.

That said, the Engineers have scored a modest yet significant seven goals in their last three games: a 2-0 win at RIT, and last Friday’s 5-3 loss at Princeton and Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Quinnipiac. While the results are depressing, those seven goals equal the total offensive output of the team’s previous 10 (ten! [¡diez!]) games.

It certainly helps that attackers Brock Higgs, Marty O’Grady, Matt Tinordi and Jacob Laliberte are back in the lineup, but the continued absences of rookie Matt Neal and junior Greg Burgdoerfer are still being felt out in Troy.

The cherry-clad paranoiacs out there might have a new patch of anxiety to roll around in out in the Meadow of Worry, as the eight goals surrendered last weekend match the most allowed in an RPI weekend all season, given up in twin 4-1 defeats at home against Colorado College in late October.

The new tough tandem in town

The league’s coaches are tentatively circling their calendars for this year’s version of the “toughest weekends”: surprise surprise, it’s Cornell and Colgate.

They’ve been a tenacious one-two punch before – and not so long ago, either – when the likes of Tyler Burton, Jesse Winchester and Kyle Wilson supported goalie Mark Dekanich in Hamilton, and Cornell… well, everyone knows that the players are robots in Ithaca, so assigning them names – like, say, Matt Moulson, Byron Bitz, Ray Sawada, Topher Scott, or David McKee – would be totally arbitrary and ridiculous. But in any case, in 2005-06 the Raiders and Red finished 1-2 (technically 1-3, since Colgate tied for the Cleary Cup with Dartmouth), barely eking out the Green and fourth-place Harvard Crimson for most points among travel partners.

Since then, the North Country cousins (in ’06-07), the felines (Princeton and Quinnipiac, in ’07-08 and ’08-09), and last year’s Capital District duo have claimed the crowns for most challenging deuces. Cornell and Colgate combined for the most points of any such set in 2009-10 as well with a 2-4 finish, and after a relatively down year for the pair last year, they are right back on top with a combined 12-3-1 league record over a third of the way into the ECAC schedule.

The western New Yorkers will have to hope they hold the pace over the next month and a half, while their next conference foes – Quinnipiac and Princeton, on January 13 and 14 – are hoping for quite the opposite.

Bears repeating

No, this actually isn’t a note about Brown (though I’ll shoehorn in an impressed gawk at Bruno’s 6-4 home upset of Yale on Saturday). I know many of you probably figured it would be, and if you were one of them, thanks for reading my stuff: you’re the ones who would know what a sucker I am for terrible puns in my sub-heads.

This is actually about Harvard and Colgate, two teams who finished last season scoring averages of 2.26 and 2.55 goals per game (overall), respectively. This year? 3.44, each.

The Crimson have already tallied eight goals from four (of their six skating) freshmen, accounting for just barely more than a quarter of their 31 goals. Colgate on the other hand has only noted four rookie goals: three from Joe Wilson, and one by Joe Lidgett. The big difference? Well, Austin Smith seems to be doing pretty well these days… what’s he up to? Eighteen goals in 16 games? Note to the Raiders: ever heard the phrase, “live by the sword, die by the sword”?

(Hint: Smith’s production is the sword.)

Keep an eye out for rookie writer (well, he’s a rookie to this beat, at least) Nate Owen’s first ECAC Hockey column on Wednesday morning!

  • KAW

    Here’s the key statistic for me: Western has outscored opponents 14-3 in the first period. If they strike first, then they can both silence the Yost crowd and get in Hunwick’s head. (Michigan’s loss this season and Western’s playoff win last season both involved Hunwick melting down.) I think if the Broncos step it up in the first period they can control the weekend with a strong defense.

    • CIS

      Agreed, though last year it was partly a result of Michigan not respecting WMU enough.  That won’t be the case now.  However, getting Hunwick and his Napolean Complex on tilt will make it very hard for Michigan to get control of the game(s).

      • Guest

        That’s “Tiny Jesus” to you. :)

  • Kuhn&Friends

    I appreciate your disclaimer Paula about the WMU UM game and I do hope you are wrong. If nothing else this week and the explosion of your boards have shown us UM and WMU have the two most rabid fan bases in the CCHA.

    • KAW

      I think the hostility of both rinks proves that.

      • David

        Did Western make another lame website to show the college hockey world that they matter?

        • CIS

          Wow.  That was totally unnecessary.  Now, Timmy, you won’t make any friends acting like that.

        • TA

          maybe..but they just ended the 19 game winning streak at YOST..

        • 81GRRBRONCO

          Davey………We used the website in the summertime.  Now that the Hockey Season is here, we’ll let our team’s play provide the evidence that we’re not going away.

  • CIS

    Paula,

    That is a good article, thanks.

  • Hunwick doesn’t like to get rattled…they did that at the playoffs; crash the net, get that agressive body up front.. the little things. He’s only 5’7″ and he needs the defense to give him the room to play the puck and the Broncos can take advantage and try to score just outside the crease. KAW you have it right…..score early, score often,score in close…and for hockey sake don’t give them an inch, we don’t want to lose in one of the 12 second overtime games like last year.GO BRONCOS.

  • KAW

    UM 4-3, 4-2
    NOPE! Wrong again.

  • Kuhn&Friends

    remember remember the 5th of november….sweep hopes still alive

  • Go Broncos

    If WMU wins again tonight, it will be the first time EVER Western has achieved a sweep at Yost arena.  Here’s to a history making night!

  • streaker

    Woof woof woof. No WMU sweep this time. Hats off to the Broncos, dominated the weekend, earned at least three points.  

  • Davyd83

    Paula, please keep picking Northern Michigan to lose. Your picks would have them 2-8-0 on the season. You have them 1-5-0 at home where they are undefeated (3-0-3). 

  • Curious?

    Why is it so hard for you guys to give Colgate any Credit for the accomplisments achived so far this year without ending in a cheap shot? Oh Ye of little faith!

    • How is it a “cheap shot” to fret over Colgate’s currently mono-dimensional offense?

      • Maine-iac

        The compliment (Colgate’s offense) comes out as back-handed (IMHO), with your Note: and your above reply.  Colgate has 3 of top 6 goal scorers in ECAC play and 5 of top 18.  Chris Wagner is tied for 2nd in ECAC with 5 goals … the same or more than the leaders of 9 of the ECAC’s other 11 teams, I think.  No … not mono-dimensional.  Yes, clearly headed by Austin’s terrific season.

  • Sshablak

    Unreal…You do have something against Colgate !!

    • Anonymous

      Hey, all he’s saying is that most of the scoring is coming from one guy. Think about it this way. Aren’t you worried what happens to your team if Smith gets hurt? Yeah Wagner has been playing well, but it’d likely be the difference between your current 2nd place standing and maybe fighting for your fourth place spot. You guys wouldn’t be bad by any means, you just wouldn’t be top of the ECAC either in all likelihood.

    • I have nothing against anyone in this league, though it’s funny that people think I do. I just call ’em like I see ’em, and when one player – in this case, Smith – accounts for 40 percent of your (league) goals (and a third of the Raiders’ overall goals), it indicates a few things: it’s a great season for Smith, obviously, and Colgate is surely giddy over his production so far. But it also shows that even with all the opponents’ eyes on Smith, the ‘Gate’s other forwards have been unable to capitalize to the tune of significant secondary goal-scoring.

  • burgie12

    Princeton and Yale are travel partners?

    It was the Princeton-Quinnipiac set both years, by the way.

  • red133883

    I think Colgate’s scoring is a two headed horse.  Wagner and Smith.  Look at how many assists Wagner has, they work well together.

    • NotHarvard

      Teams have primary offense and secondary offense.  1st line is doing their part Smith-Wagner-Wilson. Mayer-Firman-Prockow are also doing their part and coming on strong.  When Bartliff gets that will also add to scoring depth.  TO say nothing of all of the D and both goalies.  Sully, If Gate had on Harvard uni’s they’d be the number 1 team in the country in your book.