Liberty Invitational: Princeton, Yale, Brown and Dartmouth Begin Season

Yale senior forward Kenny Agostino - Justin K. Aller

Yale's Kenny Agostino, Princeton's Andrew Calof, Brown's Matt Lorito and Dartmouth's Tyler Sikura will be the primetime players to watch in this weekend's Liberty Invitational.

When fans gather at the Prudential Center in Newark Friday and Saturday, they will have the opportunity to watch some of the top offensive players in the ECAC.

Brown, Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale will face off against each other in what has become an annual showcase for four of the Ivy League schools playing in the ECAC.

This year the defending NCAA Champions from Yale will highlight the event, but each team has an offensive catalyst that can take over a game.

Yale senior forward Kenny Agostino is the most heralded of the group. The Calgary prospect was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was traded to the Flames last year in the Jarome Iginla deal. His assist in the national championship game gave him 100 points for his career in New Haven.

Agostino isn't overly big, but he plays a strong game with a hard drive to the net. He finished last season with 17 goals and 24 assists to tie with departed senior Andrew Miller for the team lead.

Agostino has long been on the radar since his days terrorizing the rest of New Jersey high school teams while playing for powerhouse Delbarton Prep. He'll have to overcome the loss of Miller, but Agostino has the talent to carry the offensive load.

Two other offensive players to watch for the Bulldogs are senior Jesse Root and freshman John Hayden, a US National Team Development Program alum.

Junior forward Matt Lorito is the unquestioned leader of the Brown Bears offense. Only three players in the country had more goals than Lorito's 22 tallies last season. The Oakville, Ont. native had seven goals in seven ECAC playoff games in 2013.

Lorito, who will serve as an alternate captain, scored 15 more goals and 14 more points than any other player on the Brown roster last year. Other players will have to step up, or Lorito will have to have another monster season for the Bears to have any aspirations of making a deep run in the ECAC Tournament again.

Princeton senior forward Andrew Calof is a preseason Hobey Baker Award candidate. The Nepean, Ont. native is coming off a terrific season that saw him pot 14 goals and add 24 assists. Calof has 102 career points, and is in legitimate position to climb into the top five of the career scoring lists in school history.

Calof had a terrific experience competing in the Maccabiah Games in Israel over the summer. He will have to draw on some of that international experience as he looks to be the leader on and off the ice for a team picked to finish 11th in the ECAC Preseason Poll.

Finally there is Dartmouth junior Tyler Sikura. The Aurora, Ont. native will serve as the captain for Bob Gaudet's Big Green.  The prototypical power forward had 12 goals and 20 assists last season, certainly not gaudy numbers, but anyone who saw him play knows the potential he has. Sikura has a lightning quick release and a laser shot as he streaks down the wing.

Brown and Yale will start the tournament at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon followed by the nightcap between Dartmouth and Princeton. The next night Dartmouth will square off with Brown in the early game followed by Yale and Princeton.

Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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