The ECAC is home of both the current women’s (Clarkson) and men’s (Union) D-1 National Champions. The ECAC has produced the past two D-1 National Champions.
F Mike Vecchione – SO – UNION
F Dan Ciampini – SR – UNION
F Jimmy Vesey – JR – HARVARD
F Sam Anas – SO – QUINNIPIAC
D Pat McNally – SR – HARVARD
D Jeff Taylor – SO – UNION
G Mitch Gillam – SO – CORNELL
Harvard has stormed out the gate to a #5 national ranking lead by Vesey, McNally and SR goaltender Steven Michalek. Defending national champion Union has struggled to find consistency, but looks to be heating up, nobody is looking past the 3 time defending ECAC champions. The most improved player for Union is SO defenseman Jeff Taylor (92′ – Dubuque (USHL) – Albany Academy). Taylor is the Dutchmen’s go-to player on a PP that also features Vecchione, the nation’s #2 leading scorer and SR Daniel Ciampini. Union’s excellent recruiting tactics seem to have paid off once again as FR Spencer Foo (Bonnyville Pontiacs – AJHL) looks like a strong candidate for the league’s rookie of the year award. The only other freshman who can compare to him statistically is Quinnipiac’s Landon Smith (Colorado Thunderbirds – Salmon Arm – BCHL).
Back to defenseman Pat McNally (6’2-190), 4 years ago McNally was the best player in New England prep hockey and lead Milton to a championship (along with current Yale (D) Rob O’Gara). In his senior year at Milton, in 28 games McNally racked up 22 goals, 29 assists, good for 51 points. In his freshman season at Harvard he was named to the ECAC All-Rookie team with 6-21-28 in 34 games. Apparently, McNally was booted from the hockey team during the 12′-13′ season for academic dishonesty in a government class. McNally is a tremendous player, he was Vancouver’s top pick in the 2010 NHL Draft (4th round) and would have went much higher if not for the fact that his Harvard commitment scared a few teams off. That said, it will be interesting to see what happens with McNally at the end of this season. Most likely he will end up spending some time in the AHL with the Utica Comets and then be given a pretty good chance to crack the Canucks roster next season. I think that McNally is an extremely unique prospect who has the size, skill level and intelligence to be an everyday NHL defenseman.
If McNally is the best offensive defenseman in the ECAC, Jeff Taylor is only a few strides back. Taylor, only a sophomore is from upstate New York and grew up near Albany. He traveled to play for the Syracuse Stars organization prior to suiting up at Albany Academy where he played with current Dutchmen Tyler Hynes and Colin Stevens. Taylor spent a year in the USHL prior to arriving at Union, where he played a key role in the Dutchmen’s NCAA Title run. Taylor was rewarded for his efforts by being selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 7th round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Taylor’s greatest strength is his intelligence with the puck and ability to find the open guy from the point. It was expected that he would play a bigger role with the Dutchmen this year since superstars Shayne Gostibehere (Philadelphia Flyers) and Mat Bodie (New York Rangers) signed with NHL teams, but I don’t think anybody expected him to contend for the league scoring title.
Another prospect scouts have to be intrigued with is Cornell sophomore goaltender Mitch Gillam. Being the starting goaltender at Cornell is a pretty good indication that you are an NHL prospect. The last four starting goalies for Cornell were : Andy Iles, Ben Scrivens (All-American, NHL) David McKee (All-American, Hobey Baker finalist) and David LeNeveu (All-American, Hobey Baker finalist, NHL). Ithaca’s own Andy Iles held down the job for four years and was excellent, he might not get a fair chance at the NHL in part because a lack of size, but he was certainly an excellent NCAA goaltender. Gillam played for Berkshire prior to joining the Chilliwack in the BCHL where he started for two seasons and won 50 games for the Chiefs. In his freshman year he sat behind Iles and appeared in 2 games, gave up 3 goals, but scored one of his own. Gillam, a Peterborough, ONT native, has average size (6’0-180), but unbelievably quick reflexes. One drawback on Gillam, he’s a 92′, to put that in perspective, the departed Andy Iles was also a 92′ and he started for the Big Red four years ago.