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ECAC Hockey Goaltending Preview

Matt Dewkett

With the last four national champions having starting goaltenders with save percentages of .930, .929, .933 and .937, it cannot be understated how important the position is to a team's overall success.

ECAC Hockey is in good hands at the top with several well established goaltenders looking to add to their already impressive resumes.

Then there is a group a rung down of goaltenders hoping to solidify themselves as legitimate starters in the league.

Only one team, defending ECAC Hockey Champion Harvard, will be forced to have a starting goaltender with virtually no experience at the collegiate level.

Chiseled Vets

Alex Lyon, Yale

The junior from Baudette, Minn. is the top returning goaltender in the league. No other goalie is as reliable of a workhorse as Lyon, who has played in all but four games since arriving in New Haven. He has good size and is a prototypical modern era, butterfly goaltender. His 1.62 goals against average and .939 save percentage last season both ranked first in ECAC Hockey. Keith Allain's team appears set in goal with Lyon and has two pretty good backups in fellow junior Patrick Spano and rookie Sam Tucker out of Choate.

Kyle Hayton, St. Lawrence

It's not often one could consider a sophomore to be in the upper echelon of experienced goaltenders in a league, but that is the case with the Denver, Colo. native. The 2014-15 ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year went 20-13-3 as a freshman, picking up the decision in all but one game. His .937 save percentage meant a world of difference as the Saints improved their overall team defense. Greg Carvel's team gave up 56 less goals in 2014-15 than it did the previous season.

Charlie Finn, Colgate

The junior from North Vancouver, BC has a career record of 37-18-8. As a freshman he helped propel the Raiders into the NCAA Tournament. He was just as good last year, but injuries caught up to Don Vaughan's team. Finn is well prepared to once again spearhead Colgate's NCAA Tournament bid.

Jason Kasdorf, Rensselaer

The 2012-13 ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year missed virtually all of his sophomore season and struggled in back of a sketchy defense last year. The Buffalo Sabres prospect is a big goaltender who could be a difference maker for Seth Appert's Engineers this season if he is healthy and back in freshman year form. Out of all the veteran goaltenders in the league, Kasdorf's future performance is the biggest unknown.

Still Something to Prove

Mitch Gillam, Cornell

Don't let the .500 record in his first year as the full-time starter fool you. His 1.99 goals against average and .927 save percentage were both more than respectable numbers. The junior will have to be every bit as good this season as the Big Red lost three of its top five scorers.

Michael Garteig, Quinnipiac

Since taking over for Hobey Baker Award finalist Eric Hartzell two years ago, the senior has faced questions despite decent numbers. In two years as a starter, his save percentage has always been .910 or above, but naysayers have pointed to the Bobcats' dominance in the possession game. Garteig has been shaky at times and has let in his share of soft goals, but he's an adequate goaltender in this league if he gets the support he needs.

James Kruger, Dartmouth

The senior played second and third fiddle to the departed Cab Morris and classmate Charles Grant over his first two seasons in Hanover, but he took the starting job and ran with it last year. He was 13-9-4 with a 1.98 GAA and .926 save percentage. Kruger will be relied on heavily this season as the Big Green lost their top three returning scorers. You can bet longtime coach Bob Gaudet will have a tight leash on Kruger with Grant waiting in the wings.

Colton Phinney, Princeton

The junior from Chatham, NJ suffered from a lack of goal support, to borrow a baseball term. He was 4-22-3, but had a .910 save percentage. The Tigers' offense should be a little improved this year, but if year two under Ron Fogarty is to go better, Phinney will need to be solid.

Greg Lewis/Steve Perry, Clarkson

The senior and junior duo have had their ups and downs the past two years and neither goalie has consistently proven they can be among the upper echelon in the league. Each have had their moments in the sun, but the Knights will need Lewis or Perry to be sharp this season. It will be an older and more experienced team in front of them than this past season.

Tim Ernst/Tyler Steel, Brown

Both junior goaltenders are likely better than their statistics would suggest, but the Bears' young defense didn't provide much help last season. Injuries and inexperience resulted in poor puck possession and untimely turnovers. Expect better numbers and more wins for the duo this season.

Learning on the Job

Merrick Madsen/Michael Lackey, Harvard

Madsen, a sophomore, and the freshman Lackey have one combined game of collegiate experience between the two of them. Both are NHL Draft picks that are well regarded. Madsen played a year in the USHL after graduating from Proctor while Lackey is a NTDP product who also received interest from BU and BC after de-committing from Princeton.

Alex Sakellaropoulos/Jake Kupsky/Joe Young, Union

The Dutchmen will have some their work cut out for them, figuring out what the situation in the crease will be. Sakellaropoulos saw some ice time with mixed resulted last season. Kupsky comes in from the NAHL after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the San Jose Sharks. Young looks like the longshot to be the starter, but he had a solid year with the Junior Flyers in the USPHL.


Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.