Some impressionistic remarks:
My goodness, how young the Clarkson championship team was. Much of that core remains intact two years later, with a few key exceptions. One of them, Howe, has been capably if not completely replaced by Shea Tiley. Since this is only Tiley’s second season, that she actually has room for growth given her first-year numbers is impressive. Carley Mercer has stepped into the lead scoring role. The Golden Knights continue their reputation for serving as Team Canada south, adding six from the Great White Behemoth including two who saw action with U-18s, and the rest are development camp-level which is nothing to sneeze at. I predict they take the conference.
Harvard is the other school that retains an elite core (Picard has been playing for 8.6 million years now), solid if not spectacular recruits (exception: Zarzecki), and some sophomores who should be coming into their own like Laing. The Crimson were the best overall special teams units in the country last season according to College Hockey Stats. Harvard will contend for the title as well.
Last year’s biggest disappointment outside of Hockey East, Colgate, clearly believed its major hole to be goaltending. It’s picked up a promising first-year plus a backup for that role. But the Raiders were disappointing primarily because the ’14-’15 recruiting class was spectacular on paper, and the fact that as a team they produced 54 goals is not Rando’s fault. This group still has that potential as they age and let’s hope we see it.
Dartmouth returns Stacey, but the recruitment was decidedly meh and Chemago faced almost 800 shots last year. For a goalie whose save percentage is not stellar it would help to cut those down. Brown proudly announced on its website that it landed 17 players on the ECAC all-academic team, which A. of course and B. kind of sadly hilarious. They do feature one interesting new face in Cara Najjar. The team still desperately needs both scoring and goaltending. But look…just go write your American studies paper on the hermeneutics of suspicion.
And then there’s the incalculable loss program, Cornell. Although the odd thing is that they seem to graduate irreplaceable players every single year and still float around the top ten without major wow-factor recruit signings. This year they finally ratcheted up the wow factor again. Sans Saulnier, Jenner, and Fulton, the Big Red pick up three from Canada’s U-18 squad plus some American junior talent. It’s going to take time for the young players to coalesce and the goaltending is solidly middle of the pack (I do wonder if Boughn might be the better choice for them moving forward) so expect Cornell to take a step back next season but be ready for 16-17.
Next time: rounding out the ECAC teams and starting in on the endless amusement (said in a loving way) that is the CHA.