Inside College Hockey
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Mike Eidelbes (1:30 PM)
Good afternoon and welcome to another edition of college hockey talk on 'The Show'. Today we'll focus on the ECACHL as Ken Schott of the Schenectady Daily Gazette will join us momentarily. Until then, we'll answer questions from other conferences.
Mike Eidelbes (1:32 PM)
Hey...Ken's here. Let's get right to all these great ECACHL questions.
Mark, Boston, MA
Ken - as a longtime observer, is the ECAC finally headed in the right direction under its new leadership? What do you see in terms of victories, failures and opportunities based on the events since the end of last season?
Ken Schott (1:35 PM)
I like the direction the ECACHL is going under acting commissioner Steve Hagwell. Nothing against the previous commissioner, Phil Buttafuoco, but I think he had too much on his plate to focus on the hockey league. You look at the league this year, and it's possible four teams could make the NCAAs.
Ken Schott (1:36 PM)
I also like the addition of Quinnipiac, though I would have liked to have seen expansion out west to either Mercyhurst, Niagara or both. Thanks for the question, Mark.
Dustin (Lynchburg, VA)
Ken, How do you feel when people relegate the ECAC to a second tier status, and question teams like Cornell because "they get a free ride playing in the ECAC"? It might not be as strong as the other three conferences, but there are some legitimate teams there.
Ken Schott (1:40 PM)
You could have said the ECAC was a second-tier league in the last couple of years because it was lousy in non-conference play, but that wasn't the case this season. The league won the inaugural Commissioners' Cup and posted some very impressive non-league wins. I don't think Cornell gets a free ride at all. Having just seen the Big Red Saturday, they are a legitimate NCAA title contender.
Ken, can Yale turn around its program? Does it need a coaching change (I know this will only happen if Taylor decides to leave)? What keeps the Bulldogs from being as competitive as the other Ivies?
Ken Schott (1:43 PM)
Yale needs defense and goaltending. The fact that they lost two key defensemen last season and recruited just one has hurt them this year. Sure, Yale can turn things around. They just need to strengthen the defense.
Is Dave McKee a great goalie who gets very few chances because of his defense, or is he a serviceable goalie behind a great defense? Earlier this season, I thought he was the latter, but lately I've began to think he may be a great goalie. In the first game against Colgate he made some of the greatest saves I've ever seen.
Ken Schott (1:46 PM)
Hi Josh. Having watched the Union-Cornell game Saturday at Lynah, I have to say that McKee is a great goalie. Even though the Dutchmen have had trouble scoring lately, they had some quality chances against McKee. I know David mishandled a couple of them, but he was quick to pounce on the puck before Union could get second and third opportunities. McKee certainly ranks up there as one of the great goalies at Cornell, which has produced a number of superb netminders.
Ken Schott (1:47 PM)
Thanks for the question.
Hurley (New York, NY)
Ken, do you see programs like St. Lawrence and Clarkson returning to national prominence after several off years?
Ken Schott (1:50 PM)
Sure I do Hurley. It always goes in cycles. The Saints have had some good scoring, but the goaltending hasn't been consistent, which was a big factor in their back-to-back ECACHL titles a few years ago. Clarkson has been a major disappointment to me this season. I thought the Golden Knights, coming off their surprising playoff run last year, would be at least a top five team in the league this season. But the scoring has been a problem. Shawn Weller hasn't scored since his two-goal debut against Niagara back in October. But George Roll will get the program back on track, once he gets the bulk of his recruits in there.
Jesse I. (Cambridge)
Ken, if you could pick one player currently in the ECAC to build your team around (no goalies) - who would you pick? What about from the last several years?
Ken Schott (1:51 PM)
Excellent question Jesse. You make it a difficult decision as to what skaters I can take. I think I would start with Cornell's Matt Moulson up front. He's big, and he can score. On defense, Harvard's Noah Welch would be on my team. From the last several years, certainly RPI's Matt Murley and Marc Cavosie would be on my list.
Ken Schott (1:52 PM)
And of course, Martin St. Louis would be a decent player to have! Thanks, Jesse.
Ken, do you think either Harvard or Cornell is too reliant on special teams? I know they're so important in the playoffs, but aren't these teams vulnerable if the power play goes cold?
Ken Schott (1:54 PM)
I don't think so Gurman. All Cornell and Harvard need is one or two goals, and then they can rely on their defense and the goalies (McKee and Dov Grumet-Morris) to shut the opposition down. Both teams are too talented.
Ken Schott (1:54 PM)
It would take something monumental for them to collapse in the playoffs.
Nate Ewell, Inside College Hockey (1:55 PM)
I've got a quick one for you, Ken. Who would be your pick for coach of the year in the ECACHL?
Ken Schott (1:58 PM)
Tough question there, Nate. You can certainly look at Cornell's Mike Schafer because his team is once again on top, and Harvard's Ted Donato is doing an outstanding job in his first season, and the Crimson seem to be a happier team, too.
Ken Schott (2:00 PM)
But my choice right now would be Vermont's Kevin Sneddon. The team's turnaround in his second year at Vermont has been incredible. No one saw this coming. Having known Kevin since he started as an assistant coach at Union in 1993, I would love to see him get it. Plus, it would be a nice going away present for him when Vermont moves to Hockey East next season.
Nate Ewell, Inside College Hockey (2:00 PM)
Time for one more for Ken ...
Pat, Ithaca NY
Hi Ken, What are your Frozen Four picks this year and do you think Cornell has the talent to win a national title?
Ken Schott (2:02 PM)
Putting me on the spot, eh, Pat? LOL My Frozen Four picks are Boston College, Denver, Michigan and Cornell. I think Cornell does have the talent to win it all. I thought the Big Red had the talent to win it all two years ago, too. It certainly would be nice to see an ECACHL team win the NCAA title for the first time since Harvard in 1989.
Ken Schott (2:05 PM)
Thanks, everybody. This was a lot of fun. I know there are plenty of passionate hockey fans out there. And I know the sport has taken a beating recently with the NHL lockout. I've been around hockey for over 30 years, watching the Flyers while growing up in Philadelphia to my five years covering the AHL's Hershey Bears (1985-90).
Ken Schott (2:07 PM)
But I really enjoy covering college hockey. The fans are tremendous, although some places need to clean up the language. The atmosphere is incredible, something you don't get these days from watching the pros play. You, the fans, keep this sport going with your support. This is what the sport needs right now. Keep supporting your team, but more importantly, keep the passion for the game.
Ken Schott (2:08 PM)
I'd like to thank Nate and Mike for having me here, and hope I can come back next season and chat with you again!
Nate Ewell, Inside College Hockey (2:08 PM)
Thanks Ken! Thanks everyone for the great questions and we'll see you next week on The Show! On to Mel Kiper ...