An ECAC team won college hockey's ultimate prize for the first time since 1989. The Yale University Bulldogs brought the NCAA Championship trophy back to New Haven, Conn. in April. This offseason was relatively quiet in the ECAC, but here are the top five stories fans need to know as they get college hockey back on their mind.
1. With conference realignment affecting college hockey like it has much of college athletics this summer, no news in the ECAC is big news. The ECAC is the only conference in the country that will move into the 2013-14 season with no imminent changes on the horizon. The CCHA disbanded, the WCHA and Hockey East took on new teams, the Big 10 and NCHC were founded, and Atlantic Hockey is preparing for the departure of UConn after this season.
In addition to a lack of change in the conference shuffle, no ECAC member schools made a coaching change this past year. The ECAC is on solid footing with plenty of opportunity to continue the momentum.
2. Only three ECAC players left school early to sign a professional contract this offseason. Union College lost two of the three, goaltender Troy Grosenick and forward Josh Jooris. The departure of two of the Dutchmen's most influential players puts a damper on Union's chances of repeating as ECAC Tournament Champions. Rick Bennett, and Nate Leaman before him, has put Union in a better position than ever before to deal with such losses. Union should still be one of the top teams in the ECAC, at least challenging for a first round bye in the postseason tournament. Dartmouth forward Matt Lindblad was third ECAC player to forgo eligibility to sign an NHL contract.
3. St. Lawrence senior Greg Carey will be one of the most sought after and scouted college free agents this season. The returning Hobey Baker Award finalist had 28 goals and 23 assists for 51 points last season, the fourth-most points per game in the country. He will lose fellow Hobey finalist and linemate Kyle Flanagan, but the Hamilton, Ont. native should still produce. It is great to see a player stay with his college team in a day and age when many players forgo eligibility to turn pro, including some with a mediocre, at best, chance of making the NHL.
There are several other undrafted free agents that will have the attention of NHL scouts this season, including Yale forward Jesse Root, Dartmouth forward Tyler Sikura and Princeton forward Andrew Calof. Also of note, Colgate announced captain Spiro Goulakos will be returning to the team with his cancer in remission.
4. Harvard has struggled to convert good teams on paper into success on the ice over the past few seasons. The Crimson have a talented squad yet again, and four players reinstated after a year-long suspension for an academic cheating scandal can only help head coach Ted Donato's chances. Goaltender Steve Michalek, a Minnesota Wild draft pick, and defensemen Patrick McNally (Vancouver Canucks), Max Everson (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Mark Luzar are the four players who will rejoin their Crimson teammates this season.
5. The ECAC Tournament is returning to Lake Placid after several years of a failed experiment in Atlantic City, NJ. The league will play its semifinals and finals at the Herb Brooks Arena inside the Olympic complex. Last month the league announced it would again partner with Fox College Sports to air the games.
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- RPI Assistant Hockey Coach Nolan Graham Running for Defending the Blue Line Charity
- US Select 17s Cruise to Gold Medal at 5 Nations Tournament
Jeff Cox is a hockey reporter for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.