The ECAC Hockey Conference has produced the past two NCAA D1 National Champions. Here is a look at the highlights of 2014-2015 and information of some of the top players.
F - Dan Ciampini – Sr Union – It’s going to be really interesting to see where Ciampini ends up next season. He’ll likely end the year with an AHL team and bounce between AHL and ECHL next season, but there’s a strong argument for giving him a chance. It was Ciampini who lead Union past Boston College in the Frozen Four and he’s an awesome goal scorer. He doesn’t have great size and isn’t particularly fast, but his production will give him a chance to prove himself in the pro ranks.
F – Mike Vecchione – So Union – He’s fast, strong with the puck, responsible defensively, and has a great wrister. Vecchione was originally committed to UNH and as a former Mass. prep star, he came to Union highly touted. He could have a professional opportunity at the end of this season, but might be wise to put in one more season with coach Rick Bennett.
F – Jimmy Vesey – Jr Harvard – He might be the best forward to come out of Harvard since Dominic Moore. He isn’t big, but it’s clear that he’s highly skilled. When Harvard players are NHL prospects, the organization that drafted them knows they are going to play in the NCAA for four years and that will most likely be the case with him.
D – Jeff Taylor – So Union – It’s unfair to compare him with the departed Shayne Gostibehere (Philadelphia) , one of the best defenseman in the history of the NCAA Tournament, but that’s the role he has for Union this season. Taylor is super smooth with the puck, reads the play extremely well, knows just what to do with the puck and puts it there. He was drafted by Pittsburgh following the National Championship run, but as a 7th rounder, they will likely give him another year to develop. They will certainly be keeping an eye on his development over the summer in development camps.
D – Pat McNally – Sr Harvard – McNally was the best player in New England Prep when he led Milton to a championship four seasons ago. (along with Yale’s Rob O’Gara). He’s an offensive skilled defenseman with size who it is rumoured would have gone much higher in the NHL Draft (he was a fourth round selection to the Canucks) if he had not committed to Harvard. He went anyway, had an outstanding season, then something happened. McNally was booted off the team for an academic investigation that involved 280 students in a history class. He earned his spot back on the team and was having another great season, leading Harvard to a #5 national ranking, and then is out with an injury for the rest of the season. Too bad for Harvard, but McNally is ready to be a professional.
G – Mitch Gillam – So Cornell – It’s hard to choose the best goaltender in a conference with so many great ones, but you have to look at the numbers. Mitch Gillam is the best goaltender in the country, statistically. Gilliam is the latest in an amazing line of Cornell goaltenders (Underhill, LeNeveu, McKee, Scrivens, Illes. Every Cornell goaltender is seemingly a solid NHL prospect, Gillam (Ontario) came in a bit older, he played for Berkshire in the prep ranks and two in the BCHL then sat behind Illes. Another factor that doesn’t work in his favor is Gillam is undersized for a pro goaltender. Looks like Cornell has it’s foundation for the next two seasons in place.
F – Sam Anas – So Quinnipiac – Anas is the reigning ECAC Rookie of the Year and an out of nowhere NHL prospect. Anas is a finesse player with decent size for a pro forward, he should be back at Quinnipiac, he’ll return as one of the top pro prospects in the country next season.
F – Kyle Crisculo – Jr Harvard – New Jersey native is undersized and already a bit older, he’ll finish up at Harvard. Crisculo is a great NCAA player though.
F – Matt Peca – Sr Quinnipiac – A 7th round selection of Tampa Bay, he’s pretty small. Then again, Tampa Bay has a history of producing with smaller players. Peca has had a strong NCAA career and should have a spot penciled in for the AHL next season.
D – Devon Toews – So Quinnipiac – Toews is a strong NHL prospect. He has size and he’s developing early as a 94′ who’s already played a full NCAA season. He has NHL attention (4th round, Islanders). He should be back for another season with Quinnipiac, but he’s destined for bigger things.
D – Eric Sweetman – So St Lawrence – This team has two outstanding sophomore defenders in Sweetman and Gavin Baureuther, two similiar players. Sweetman is a Maryland product who excelled in lacrosse. He was solid in the USHL and has produced consistently for St. Lawrence. He’s a two-way defender, but a bit undersized. He’ll be back for one or two seasons.
G – Kyle Hayton – Fr St Lawrence – Yes, St. Lawrence has two very good defenders, but this team was outplayed in a lot of ECAC games and came out on top because of Hayton. At this point, it looks like he will certainly be Rookie of the Year. Hayton had an interesting prep career, he played in his hometown for Shattuck St. Mary’s then two in the USHL. He’s seriously undersized for a professional goaltender. Unless you’re ultra high level skilled and you’re as small as Hayton, you’re not going to have a lot of pro interest. You can’t deny that he is a great goaltender and has put together a great season for a team that wasn’t expected to do much.
G – Alex Lyon – So Yale – Another Minnesota goalie that found a way to the ECAC, Lyon had a few strong seasons with Omaha in the USHL prior to starting as a rookie for Yale. He has decent size, but he’ll be a four season NCAA goaltender.
G – Steve Perry – Soph – Clarkson – A Pennsylvania native, Perry came to Clarkson from Fairbanks in the NAHL. Again, an undersized goaltender, also undrafted, but Clarkson has a good one here.
Carl De Lucia Hockey Blog