ECAC Championships Notebook
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. Below is the ECAC All-Tournament Team, headlined by Princeton goaltender Zane Kalemba, who led the Tigers to their second ECAC tournament championship. The other three teams who participated in the ECAC championship weekend — Harvard, Cornell, and Colgate — saw their season, and their seniors' careers, come to an end.
The senior classes for the Crimson, Big Red, and Raiders are profiled below as well.
F — Jon Pelle, Sr., Harvard
F — Kevin Lohry, Fr., Princeton
F — Michael Kennedy, Jr., Cornell
D — Alex Biega, So., Harvard
D — Mike Moore, Sr., Princeton
G — Zane Kalemba, So., Princeton
ECAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player: Zane Kalemba, So., Princeton
Kalemba recorded three shutouts in the tournament, setting an ECAC record. He also set the ECAC tournament record with his shutout streak of 189:59.
Kalemba stopped 62 of 63 shots during the weekend, including 35 saves against Harvard in the championship game.
"The truth is, I've never seen a performance like that in person," said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky of his star netminder."That's the best goaltending performance that I've had the privilege of being a part of, whether I'm on the winning or losing end of it. He's phenomenal."
Added Crimson forward Jon Pelle, "He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he really works hard. He's tough to beat. He battles, he never gives up on rebounds. He was definitely worthy of the MVP award."
SENIOR CITIZENS: HARVARD
Harvard struggled through a 10-game winless stretch earlier this season. But heading into Saturday's ECAC championship game against Princeton, the Crimson was 8-1-1 in its last 10 games.
The dramatic season turnaround fell just short, as Harvard was upended by Princeton 4-1 in the finals.
Harvard coach Ted Donato, who won a national title with the Crimson in 1989, gave credit for the turnaround to the Crimson senior class consisting of Paul Dufault, Chris Kelley, Dave MacDonald, Tyler Magura, JD McCabe, Alex Meintel, Jon Pelle, Dave Watters, and captain Mike Taylor.
Said Donato, "I'm sure, after the pain wears off, I'll take a real deep amount of appreciation to this senior class, who kind of rescued a season that was kind of floundering a little halfway and really went on a great run. We didn't finish it off exactly the way we wanted to, but from a coaching standpoint, I couldn't be more proud with how our team performed."
Donato further reflected on the class, as these seniors were freshmen in Donato's first year as head coach of his alma mater.
"This group will always have a special importance," said Donato. "They're the first class that I've had going from being freshmen to seniors. This is a group that played in three ECAC championship games, won an ECAC championship [in 2006], won an Ivy title, got us to the finals of the Beanpot for the first time in 10 years. I hope that we look back at this group and really appreciate [their help] getting this program back to where we want to be, year in and year out.
"I told our guys after the game that being a Harvard hockey player, from an old guy looking back, isn't really about goals and assists, or even wins and losses. It's really about choosing to be a certain type of person. Having said that, I couldn't be more proud, or have more respect for, the type of people that our seniors were this season and the example they set for future Harvard hockey players."
SENIOR CITIZENS: CORNELL
The three Cornell seniors who arrived on campus together as freshmen — Topher Scott, Raymond Sawada, and Doug Krantz — each scored a goal during their weekend at the ECAC championships.
On Saturday, Krantz and Sawada staked Cornell to a 2-0 lead en route to a 4-2 win against Colgate in the ECAC consolation game. It was of course the final game for the Cornell senior class, which also includes Chris Fontas, who joined the team as a junior after transferring from Mass.-Lowell.
"It's a tough game to go into, but we really stressed before the game how important it was for us to go out on a win," said Krantz. "We have such a great group of guys, and we just wanted one last chance to go out and go to battle with them, to really try to enjoy ourselves, and have a good time pulling that jersey over our heads for the last time."
After the game, Krantz was joined by Scott and Sawada for an on-ice embrace, a moving private moment for the longest-tenured members on the team.
Another nice moment for Cornell came a few minutes before, when junior Dan DiLeo replaced Ben Scrivens in net. It was DiLeo's first career game, and in the final minutes of the contest, he made three saves on four shots.
Said Cornell coach Mike Schafer, "Dan is a great kid. He's a 4.0 student on our team. A lot of guys on our team who play could take a lesson from how hard he works at the rink day in and day out. We wanted to get him in, just as a reward. He's a great kid, works extremely hard, and is so dedicated. "
SENIOR CITIZENS: COLGATE
The fact that Colgate even advanced to Albany for the ECAC final four was a surprise to many. The Raiders ousted No. 1 seed Clarkson, who will still play in the NCAA tournament next weekend, to advance to the championship weekend. Colgate then gave Princeton all it could handle in Friday's semifinal matchup, before the Tigers finally went ahead in the third period.
One reason for their never-quit attitude was certainly a veteran senior class consisting of assistant captain Tyler Burton, assistant captain Dustin Gillanders, goaltender Mark Dekanich, Ben Camper, Justin Kowalkowski, Matt Torti, Mike Werner, and team captain Jesse Winchester.
Winchester was unable to play in Saturday's consolation game against Cornell due to an undisclosed injury. However, Colgate coach Don Vaughan asked the senior forward to step behind the bench and help with the coaching duties.
Explained Vaughan, "I thought it would be very fitting for our captain. I went up to him about 10 minutes before the game and told him he was making his coaching debut tonight. He thought I was joking, but I wasn't. It was great to have him behind the bench. He got to talk to some of the guys as they were coming off. It was fun to have him there."
After falling to the Big Red 4-2 in the consolation contest, Burton commented on the end of his, and his classmates', career.
"The last game's always sad to see it come to an end," said Burton, who scored 155 points in his illustrious career at Colgate. "It's been a great ride. Our class is a pretty tight class of eight guys. As a freshman, we were at the tournament, and we said goodbye to our seniors. You don't believe how fast it goes. We just told the younger guys to cherish it because it's a special time."
QUOTE OF THE DAY
With time winding down in Saturday's consolation game between Cornell and Colgate, Raiders coach Don Vaughan wanted to reinsert goaltender Mark Dekanich into the game. Dekanich, the team's senior starter for much of his career, had been removed earlier in the game in favor of classmate Justin Kowalkowski.
But as play continued without a whistle, Vaughan decided to have Dekanich and Kowalkowski change on the fly, much like his forwards or defensemen might do.
Vaughan recalled the moment afterwards:
"Mike Schafer came to me after the game, and they weren't quite sure whether it was legal or not because they were trying to figure out how to get their [backup goaltender Dan DiLeo] in. And when he saw us do it, they were like, 'Damn, we should have thought of that!' I actually saw [coach] Mike Keenan do it one time in an NHL game. I wanted Mark [Dekanich] in the net to end the game, but we were afraid the clock was going to run out before that could happen. So, Justin thought we were just going to pull him for an extra attacker, and actually, when he came to the bench and saw Mark coming over the boards, they high-fived each other on the way by and went, 'Great change!'"