ECAC Finals Notebook
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
For the Fans
Inside the Pepsi Arena, Cornell, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Colgate battled all weekend for the right to be called ECAC Champions. But outside, when they weren't cheering on their favorite teams, the fans and the community were able to enjoy the ECAC Fan Fest taking place on the streets outside the arena.
This year's fan festvival, like those in previous years, helped improve the atmosphere surrounding the tournament and was characterized by good food, great entertainment, and crowds gathering in tents to get their faces painted, to play air hockey, or to simply mingle with other fans.
The ongoing weekend entertainment on South Pearl Street, directly outside Pepsi Arena, featured stilt walkers, jugglers, and even pep bands representing the four schools competing this weekend. The festival allowed fans to participate in interactive games, as well as to visit face painters and caricature artists.
The ECAC Fan Fest, organized by the Sports Foundation of the Capital Region, has in fact been a trendsetter of sorts. On Thursday at the ECAC Awards Banquet, Pepsi Arena officials discussed the fact that the fan festival was in essence the first of its kind, and that now, arenas that bid for NCAA Regionals must provide similar events as those seen on the streets in Albany this weekend.
Next weekend, Pepsi Arena will host the East NCAA Division I Men's regional, and of course, fans can expect a similar dose of entertainment - both inside and outside the arena.
2002. 2004. 2006. A pattern for Harvard seems to be emerging.
Five straight years in the championship game, and the Crimson has won the Whitelaw trophy in all the even-numbered years. How...odd.
In 2002, the Crimson downed Cornell in double overtime, thanks to a Tyler Kolarik goal. In 2004, Kenny Smith's game-winner with 38 seconds to play lifted Harvard to a championship victory over Clarkson. And on Saturday night, the Crimson scored five times on the power play to defeat the defending league champions, Cornell.
This season's 2006 ECAC championship arguably represented their most dominant title run of the three, despite being the first four seed to win the crown since Cornell accomplished the feat in 1996. The Crimson scored 28 goals in the tournament - a new ECAC record.
The 4-goal win over the Big Red also represented the most lopsided ECAC final since 1995.
F - Jimmy Fraser, Harvard F - Dan Murhpy, Harvard F - Kevin Du, Harvard D - Dylan Reese, Harvard D - Ryan O'Byrne, Harvard G - John Daigneau, Harvard
ECAC Men's Championship Most Outstanding Player: John Daigneau, Harvard
Said Harvard coach Ted Donato about Daigneau, "It may got overlooked, but John Daigneau, last night in the first period, made two or three saves before the game really got out of hand. And tonight, I think he made some great saves early in the game to keep them off the board and then late in the game to not allow them to come back.
"I think John has played superbly, not only tonight, not only in this tournament, but all year. That's a credit not only to his talent but also to his character."
Quotes of the Day
"Certain teams in our league have a better opportunity in scheduling than others. A lot of it's proximity. Some teams are automatically in tournaments that affords them that opportunity." — Colgate coach Don Vaughan, perhaps making a not-so-subtle reference to the Beanpot while discussing a possible reason why it's sometimes difficult for Colgate to improve its chances at an NCAA tournament bid.
"We were so much better than that, and for Mike [Devine] to come back the way he did, that showed a lot of character. He really wanted to play today." — Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, on his goaltender's response to yesterday's 10-1 loss to Harvard.
"Umm, what was the question?" — Harvard goaltender John Daigneau, who was caught napping (not literally) during the Crimson's press conference. Luckily for his team, he was alert during the championship game, backstopping Harvard to its third title in five years.
"This is a spot where we feel comfortable." — Donato, hoping that Harvard will be placed in the East regional, to be held next weekend in Albany's Pepsi Arena. The NCAA tournament bracket will be announced Sunday at 11am.
"I think that award is more of a representation of us as a team than of me as an individual." — a humble Daigneau, on being named the tournament's most outstanding player.
"It's a good motivating factor to be ready for next weekend and start a new season. A 4 game season." — Cornell coach Mike Schafer, looking ahead to the NCAA tournament.