(Connor Coar, Aidan Sheedy, Jason Bupp/Chronicle; Photoillustration by Cameron Levasseur)
(Connor Coar, Aidan Sheedy, Jason Bupp/Chronicle; Photoillustration by Cameron Levasseur)

ECAC Hockey preview: Quinnipiac a step ahead of peers

ECAC Hockey proved its strength on the national stage in 2022-23. For a conference berated for its supposed subpar competition, it qualified four teams to the NCAA Tournament, one toppling the 2022 national champion, another becoming the reigning national champion. The other two would probably prefer to forget their tournament performances, but nonetheless, they made it there, and 2023-24 has the potential for just as much success. 


I’ve broken down each of the league’s 12 teams below in order of projected finish, highlighting everything you need to know before the season gets underway this week. 


Biggest loss: Yaniv Perets

  • Despite graduating nine skaters, including the program’s all-time games played leader (Ethan de Jong) and a two-time All-American (Zach Metsa), the Bobcats’ biggest loss is undoubtedly in net. Perets entered Hamden as an unknown and left two-and-a-half years later as the most decorated goaltender in Quinnipiac history with an NHL contract to boot. 

Biggest addition: Andon Cerbone

  • Cerbone returns to his home state of Connecticut after a 63-point, Clark Cup-winning season split between Omaha and Youngstown in the USHL. An ability to create separation with defenders and creativity with the puck, not to mention an elite clutch gene, has Cerbone poised for a breakout freshman season that, to an extent, could measure up to forward Sam Lipkin’s from a year ago. Incidentally, Lipkin and Cerbone were teammates on the 2022 Chicago Steel, who also won the Clark Cup. 

Bottom line: 

  • For the second-straight offseason, Quinnipiac saw the most roster turnover in ECAC Hockey. But like a year ago, the Bobcats brought in a plethora of talent to fill that void. The team’s biggest question is in net, where the departure of Perets sets up a goaltending battle between freshman Matej Marinov, a top three netminder in the USHL last season, and senior Vinny Duplessis, who had elite stretches backing up Drew Commesso at BU. 


Biggest loss: Sam Malinski

  • Cornell parts with its top pairing of Sam Malinski and Travis Mitchell, who each graduated and signed NHL deals in the offseason. Both were stalwarts for the Big Red’s lockdown defense, not to mention team captains. But Malinski’s value is a tick higher for his offensive prowess, which included a 10-game point streak during his senior season.

Biggest addition: Ryan Walsh

  • Cornell boasts a talented 10-man freshman class this fall, five of whom are NHL draft picks, including Walsh, who was taken by the Boston Bruins in the sixth round of this year’s draft. The 6-foot-1 forward broke the single-season franchise point record for the USHL’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders, notching 79 points in 61 games, good for second in the league. After a breakout year in the USHL, Walsh could step into a significant offensive role with the Big Red in the absence of graduated forwards Ben Berard and Max Andreev, among others. 

Bottom line:

  • Some of the pieces may be different, but structurally Cornell remains the same this season. The Big Red will blow out few opponents, but the hard-nosed, defense-first style that head coach Mike Schafer employs will keep them competitive in every game and likely in position for another NCAA Tournament berth come March. 


Biggest loss: Alex Campbell

  • An All-ECAC First Teamer in 2021-22, Campbell is a proven offensive threat that Clarkson will have difficulty replacing. Despite a 26-point season this past year as a junior, Campbell couldn’t stop the Golden Knights from sputtering out, and departed to Northeastern for his senior season. 

Biggest addition: Jack Judson

  • Producing from the defensive end is a point of emphasis for Clarkson. Losing graduate student Tommy Pasanen and sophomore Jordan Power to the transfer portal makes the addition of Arizona State transfer, graduate student Judson even more important. The White Rock, British Columbia, native posted 16 points in 37 games last season, third on the Sun Devils’ blue line. 

Bottom line:

  • Last season was disappointing for Clarkson. Despite significant roster turnover following a 21-win 2021-22, the Golden Knights were poised to compete but came up short, finishing a game below-.500. A wide-open conference this season gives them a chance to flip the script with a similar, yet more experienced roster. Despite losing Campbell, Clarkson regains the services of graduate student forward Anthony Romano, who missed half of the previous campaign with injury. It also gained more depth out of the portal than it lost with the additions of Judson, graduate student forward Eric Ciccolini from Michigan and junior forward Jesse Tucker from Michigan State. 


Biggest loss: Matthew Coronato/Sean Farrell

  • Coronato and Farrell are a package deal. The former an elite sniper, the latter a gifted playmaker and the 2023 ECAC Hockey Player of the Year. Both left the confines of Cambridge to join NHL clubs North of the border, leaving a sizable hole in a Harvard offense that has to cope with the loss of its top-four scorers. 

Biggest addition: Ben MacDonald 

  • A 2022 third-round pick of the Seattle Kraken, MacDonald was just shy of a point per game with West Kelowna in the BCHL last season. His physicality and heavy shot should translate well into the college game. MacDonald is also the son of Harvard royalty, former Crimson captain and 1989 Hobey Baker Award winner Lane MacDonald. 

Bottom line: 

  • Harvard needs offense. The loss of Farrell, Coronato, Alex Laferriere and Henry Thrun to the NHL, Ryan Siedem to Notre Dame and John Farinacci to graduation among other departures removes more than 60 percent of the team’s point production from 2022-23. The Crimson have just one rostered senior skater this season and will need to rely, as they so often do, on the production of young talent such as MacDonald, sophomore forward Joe Miller or junior forward Alex Gaffney. 


Biggest loss: Don Vaughan

  • After 30 years behind the bench at Colgate, head coach Don Vaughan retired following the 2022-23 season, going out on a high note with the Raiders first Whitelaw Cup as ECAC Hockey Tournament champions in his tenure in Hamilton. 

Biggest addition: Brett Chorske

  • Chorske was in and out of the lineup in two seasons with Colorado College, appearing in just 40 games, but still managed to produce nine points in 21 games as a freshman. With two years of collegiate experience under his belt and the Raiders losing their three top scorers in the offseason, Chorske has an opportunity to break out in a new environment this year. 

Bottom line:

  • Colgate’s ECAC Hockey title defense will not be easy. First-year head coach Mike Harder takes the helm of a team that will have to evolve with the departure of forwards Alex and Colton Young (39 and 28 points, respectively) and Matt Verboon (35 points). However, the Raiders lost little depth scoring, and should be able to compete in what is poised to be a balanced conference with the continued ascension of seniors Ross Mitton and Nick Anderson, among others. 

St. Lawrence

Biggest loss: Emil Zetterquist

  • Despite a losing record and sub-.900 save percentage, the absence of starting goaltender Emil Zetterquist is a brutal loss for a St. Lawrence team with no clear replacement. Senior Grant Adams, the Saints only returning netminder, has two career starts to his name. 

Biggest addition: Ben Kraws

  • Arizona State transfer Ben Kraws comes to The North Country for his graduate season with his third collegiate team. Kraws was the starter for the Sun Devils in 2021-22, recording a .907 save percentage and 2.97 GAA in 27 games, but appeared in just six games last season backing up Northeastern transfer T.J. Semptimphelter. 

Bottom line:

  • St. Lawrence scores by committee, that will not change this season. It returns 11 skaters who recorded 10+ points a year ago, the most in ECAC Hockey, including senior defenseman Luc Salem, an All-ECAC Second teamer in 2022-23 with 27 points. The Saints were a few goals removed from a trip to Lake Placid last spring, a breakout performance in net could put them over the edge. But struggles between the pipes and a repeat of last year’s meager offensive production could sink St. Lawrence into the depths of the conference standings. 


Biggest loss: Connor Murphy

  • Murphy had a less-than-stellar senior season in net with Union in 2022-23, but his talent was evident in the two years prior, leading to him signing a contract with the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers at season’s end. Sophomore Kyle Chauvette looks to be the next man up. Chauvette appeared in 10 games a year ago, posting a .910 SV% and a 2.87 GAA. 

Biggest addition: Drew Sutton

  • A skilled two-way forward, Sutton recorded 64 points in 60 games to help lead the NAHL’s Oklahoma Warriors to the Robertson Cup. His quick release and intuitive vision will be a great addition for a Union team who’s youth was its bright spot in 2022-23.

Bottom line:

  • Head coach Josh Hague enters year two with a new mascot and hope for a new and improved iteration of Union hockey. The Garnet Chargers, formerly known as the Dutchmen, struggled at times last season, winning just two road games en route to a bottom-five finish in the conference. But Hague has more experience under his belt, as do now-sophomores defenseman Josh Prokop and forward Nate Hanley, who finished one-and-two in scoring for Union as freshmen. Budding underclassmen stars and a plethora of returning veterans give the Garnet Chargers a chance to climb the standings with the right culture and system implementation. 


Biggest loss: Ryan Mahshie

  • Leading the Engineers with 15 goals last season, Mahshie’s presence will be missed on RPI’s top line. The 6-foot-3-inch skilled power forward transferred to UConn for his fifth year of eligibility, removing a key piece from an already below average offense. 

Biggest addition: Ryan Brushett 

  • A grad transfer from UMass Lowell, Brushett recorded 10 points in his second and final season with the Riverhawks in 2022-23 despite injuries. His only two full seasons at the collegiate level (2021-22 and 2018-19) have seen production around 20 points. If healthy, Brushett should be able to easily fit into the Engineers top six and plug some of the holes left by the departure of Mashie and TJ Walsh.

Bottom line:

  • Despite losing Mahsie and Walsh, RPI returns a very similar offense in personnel to last season. Sophomore Sutter Muzzatti projects to be a star and continued production from seniors Austin Heidemann and Jakob Lee among others should sustain roughly the same goal production. The difference maker for this team could be in net, where junior Jack Watson looks to recover from a sophomore slump. Watson was stellar as a freshman, posting a .922 save percentage and 2.39 goals against average, but struggled in year two, his SV% dropping to .895 and GAA to 3.08. 


Biggest loss: Pito Walton

  • The graduation and subsequent transfer of defenseman Pito Walton to Northeastern is a massive blow to the Tigers on both sides of the puck and yet another example of how the Ivy League denying the COVID eligibility exemption for the classes of 2022, ‘23 and ‘24 has impacted the success of the league’s less prominent teams in recent years. Walton was a defensive stalwart for Princeton a season ago, leading the team in time on ice and shots on goal (89) and defensemen in points (21).

Biggest addition: Kai Daniells

  • Of Princeton’s seven incoming freshmen this season, forward Kai Daniells looks the most impressive. The 20-year-old Canadian was fifth in the BCHL in scoring last year, posting 71 points in 54 games. Daniells willingness to battle around the crease and look for rebounds, combined with his elite puck handling, should translate well to the collegiate level. 

Bottom line:

  • Princeton seems destined for another year of mediocrity in 2022-23. The Tigers had a promising start a year ago, but a 3-10 end to the season sank that ship. They return the talents of senior Ian Murphy (30 points) and sophomore Brendan Gorman (20 points) up front and the scoring touch of junior Noah de La Durantaye (17 points) on the back end, but the loss of Walton and fellow captains Liam Gorman and Spencer Kersten likely place Princeton toward the bottom of the conference yet again. 


Biggest loss: Cole Donhauser

  • Yale didn’t lose a tremendous amount of talent in the offseason, but Donhauser’s graduation is significant for a team already lacking in goal scoring. He was third on the Bulldogs with six goals last season. 

Biggest addition: David Andreychuk

  • Andreychuk shares the name of a Hockey Hall-of-Famer, but is looking to cement his own legacy with the Bulldogs. The 21-year-old led the NAHL in scoring with 75 points last season and could be a much needed spark to the nation’s worst offense in 2022-23. 

Bottom line:

  • Yale’s problem is offense. The other facets of its game are not awful. It’s not bad defensively. In net, junior Luke Pearson is one of the best goaltenders in the conference and senior Nathan Reid is a solid No. 2. Yale just can’t put pucks in the net. 1.8 goals scored per game each of the last two seasons and an abysmal power-play percentage speak volumes to the Bulldogs’ ineffective systems. There’s talent on this roster, it’s up to head coach Keith Allain and his staff to effectively harness it, or history is doomed to repeat itself. 


Biggest loss: Luke Krys

  • Brown’s best defenseman and skater last season, Krys transferred across town to Providence for his fifth year of eligibility. A smooth-skating quality defender with a high compete level, the absence of Krys’ impact will be felt on the Bears’ blue line. 

Biggest addition: Ryan St. Louis

  • Son of NHL great Martin St. Louis, Ryan St. Louis played the 2021-22 season with Northeastern, but after producing just two points in 38 games, he spent last season in the USHL with Dubuque, where he finished fifth in the league in scoring with 72 points in 58 games. He should replace some of the offense lost by the Bears in the offseason. 

Bottom line:

  • Brown hasn’t finished in the top half of ECAC Hockey since 2004-05, that streak won’t be broken this season. If anything, the Bears may have gotten worse in the offseason, losing 40% of their scoring from a year ago as well as their starting goaltender. The additions of St. Louis and others such as freshman defenseman Ethan Mistry have the potential to make an impact, but there’s little chance this team wins more than 10 games. 


Biggest loss: Tanner Palocsik

  • In addition to wearing the “C” in his senior season, Palocsik also led the Big Green in scoring from the blue line. His absence leaves a big void to fill in a young and inexperienced Dartmouth defensive core. 

Biggest addition: Nikita Nikora

  • With silky hands and a powerful shot to match, Nikora could be a spark to ignite some offense for Dartmouth. The russian-born forward posted 12 goals and 52 points in 60 games in his first junior season with Springfield in the NAHL last season. 

Bottom line:

  • Dartmouth was statistically the worst team in Division I in 2022-23. The Big Green finished dead last in Pairwise and in the ECAC, winning only five games, three of which were against Yale and all of which were against bottom-five conference opponents. The good news: they were rarely blown out, only losing five games by four or more goals and none by more than five goals mostly thanks to freshman goaltender Cooper Black. The bad news: They might have gotten worse in the offseason. Among others, Dartmouth lost Palocsik to graduation and top-three scorer Matthew Hubbarde to the transfer portal, while bringing in seven freshmen, none of whom project to be immediate game-breakers.
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