The ECAC Hockey League had a banner year in 2013, sending three teams to the national tournament, including overall number one seed Quinnipiac. The Bobcats and in-state rival Yale met in the NCAA Championship game. To top it all off, Keith Allain's Yale Bulldogs won the league's first national championship since Harvard did so in 1989.
With the ECAC poised for another good season, there are a myriad of players to keep an eye on when it comes to Hobey Baker Award candidates, headlined by returning finalist Greg Carey of St. Lawrence.
1. Greg Carey, Sr., Forward, St. Lawrence
Carey is a dynamic player who will attract a lot of attention from NHL scouts this winter as the undrafted free agent finishes his college career. One of four returning finalists from last season, Carey's gaudy numbers could give him a leg up on the rest of the field.
Through three seasons at St. Lawrence, the Hamilton, Ontario native has 128 career points, including the 51 he piled up in the 2012-13 season. His 28 goals last season were more than any other player in Division I, and his points per game total tied for third with linemate Kyle Flanagan.
In addition to being named a Hobey Baker Finalist in 2013, Carey was named a second team All-American and first team All-ECAC.
Carey is just shy of six-feet, but plays a physical game and moves through traffic well. He's a very imposing player on the ice and should end up with a nice entry-level contract after the season.
The only question involving Carey's Hobey candidacy is whether he can maintain the prolific offensive numbers without Flanagan.
2. Andrew Calof, Sr., Forward, Princeton
The former ECAC Rookie of the Year has consistently put up good numbers since arriving at the Ivy League school in 2010. The 2012-13 season was his best yet as the Ottawa, Ontario native tallied 14 goals and 24 assists in 31 games. With his strong junior season, Calof was named to the All-ECAC Second Team.
With 102 points over his first three seasons, Calof is the unquestioned offensive leader of the Tigers as Bob Prier's team looks to climb the standings. Calof, a Chemical and Biological Engineering major, won a Gold Medal in the Macabiah Games this summer for Team Canada. Calof attended the New York Islanders Development Camp in 2012.
3. Kenny Agostino, Sr., Forward, Yale
Agostino scored his 100th career point in Yale's 4-0 victory over Quinnipiac in the NCAA Championship Game in April. The Flanders, NJ native played high school hockey for Delbarton Prep before matriculating to Yale. Originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, his rights were traded to the Calgary Flames at this past season's NHL trade deadline in the Jarome Iginla deal.
Agostino tied for the team lead in points last season with 17 goals and 24 assists. A Second Team All-ECAC performer in 2013, he is a smart player with good wheels who will once again lead the offensive charge for Keith Allain's Bulldogs. A Political Science major, Agostino is a three-time honoree on the ECAC's All-Academic Team.
4. Matt Lorito, Jr., Forward, Brown
Greg Carey was the only ECAC player to score more goals last season than Lorito's 22. Seven of those tallies came in the ECAC Tournament, including a two-goal performance in an upset victory over top seeded Quinnipiac in the ECAC Semifinals.
The Oakville, Ontario native is an undersized forward, but seems to position himself well and has a quick release to on his accurate shot. Many scouts worry his size will adversely affect his ability to translate his game to the next level, but the Chicago Blackhawks felt comfortable enough with him to invite him to their development camp as a non-roster invitee.
Brendan Whittet's Brown team returns all but three regulars on offense, but a serious question is who else can step up to provide an offensive spark. Lorito scored 15 more goals than any other player on the Bears team last year. Lorito is also a terrific student having been named to the ECAC All-Academic Team his first two years.
5. Jason Kasdorf, So., Goaltender, RPI
The reigning ECAC Rookie of the Year, Kasdorf put up superb numbers as a freshman. A 2011 draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets, he posted a 1.62 goals against average and a .935 save percentage for Seth Appert's Engineers team. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native went 14-5-2 while spearheading a second half resurgence for RPI.
His goals against average set a single-season school record and his save percentage was second best. Kasdorf, who had three shutouts last year, attended the Winnipeg Jets Development Camp over the summer.
The Engineers return all but three regulars off a team that went 11-2 to finish the regular season before being bounced in the first round of the league playoffs to Brown. Kasdorf should be a major reason Rensselaer finds a spot high up in the ECAC Standings comes March.
Honorable Mention: Tyler Sikura, Jr., Forward, Dartmouth; Matthew Peca, Jr., Forward, Quinnipiac; Shayne Gostisbehere, Jr., Defenseman, Union
In addition to the top five candidates, Dartmouth's Tyler Sikura has a laser for a shot and could put up big offensive numbers in Hanover this season. Shayne Gostisbehere, a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick, is a veteran of international competition and a dynamic puck-moving defenseman. Several Quinnipiac forwards could garner attention if one moves away from the pack offensively, but Matthew Peca probably has the best chance. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect had a coming out party in the NCAA East Regional Finals scoring a natural hattrick in the first period.
Past Hobey Baker Award Winners from the ECAC
1989 - Lane MacDonald, F, Harvard
1986 - Scott Fusco, F, Harvard
1983 - Mark Fusco, D, Harvard
More from Western College Hockey Blog:
- Hockey East Preseason: Top 5 Hobey Baker Award Candidates
- The WCHA's Top 5 Hobey Baker Candidates
- Bentley's Brett Gensler Tops List of Atlantic Hockey Candidates for the Hobey Baker Award
- UMaine Hockey: Excitement For Red Gendron's First Season As Coach
- Deerfield Academy Forward Trevor Yates Commits to Cornell
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, as well as NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.