The news of the weekend had to be St. Lawrence ending Quinnipiac’s 21 game unbeaten streak. The Saints and Rensselaer are now the two hottest teams in the ECAC, as St.Lawrence is 7-2-2 in their last 11 games and RPI is on a six game winning streak. Quinnipiac got back in the win column on Saturday, as they defeated Clarkson 2-1.
Positions two through six in the standings are separated by just 2 points and Rensselaer with their four point weekend leapfrogged a few teams to jump into second place all their own. Clarkson and Princeton also have a chance at a bye as they sit four points behind second place and three points behind Union and St. Lawrence for an ever important top four position. Top four teams get a first round bye in the ECAC tournament, while positions five through eight get home ice in the first round. Check out the standings to see where your favorite team sits in a close race for the byes and home ice.
If the tournament were to start today, Quinnipiac would be the top ranked team in the NCAA tournament, per the Pairwise rankings. The ECAC would also have Yale (12) in the tournament and that would be it. Union sits in 16th but Merrimack leads Hockey East so they would be the presumed winner of the auto-bid, as they sit outside the top 16. Rensselaer and Dartmouth also sit on the bubble, but on the outside looking in.
1. Quinnipiac (22-4-4, 15-1-2) – Last Week 1
Quinnipiac clinched the Cleary Cup on Friday night, despite losing to St. Lawrence. Two weeks remaining and the Q has the regular season title wrapped up. That is quite the accomplishment, but I suppose it is time for the Bobcats to start a new streak to really prove they are worthy still of all the number one rankings they hold. Of course being the best team at this point does not always mean they will be the best team come the end of the season. That fact is up to them, as they have to prove all the nay-sayers wrong.
2. Rensselaer (14-11-5, 9-6-3) – Last Week 2
Rensselaer picked up another four points last weekend sweeping Brown and Yale at home. The Engineers have won six games in a row, and eight of their past nine. In that six game winning streak, goaltender Jason Kasdorf has allowed just seven goals. He now sits in second in the two major goaltending stat categories in the ECAC (GAA and Save percentage). His play has been a huge part of the turnaround that the Engineers have put together. Rensselaer now finds themselves in second place by all their lonesome one point up on St. Lawrence.
3. St. Lawrence (15-11-4, 8-6-4) – Last Week 4
The Saints are 7-1-2 in their last ten contests and picked up their biggest win of the season last Friday night as they became the first ECAC team, in conference play, to defeat Quinnipiac. Greg Carey is picking up due looks in regards to the Hobey Baker race, finally. He led the Saints to the 2-1 victory, scoring both goals in the contest. St. Lawrence also picked up a huge performance from goaltender Matt Weninger, who made 31 of 32 saves on the night. The Saints backed up their performance on Saturday night, defeating Princeton 3-2. St. Lawrence now finds themselves in a tie for third with Union only one point ahead of teams searching for the final bye.
4. Union (15-10-5, 8-6-4) – Last Week 5
Union’s on again off again season continued last weekend, as they picked up two much needed wins on home ice. Friday night the Dutchmen defeated Yale 4-2 and on Saturday they defeated Brown 2-0. Union came into the weekend losers of two in a row. Are they finally ready to make a run? At some point all that talent in their own zone has to make noise… Union sits in a tie for third place in the standings.
5. Yale (13-9-3, 9-8-1) – Last Week 4
I steady trickle down effect has continued for the Bulldogs this week, as they fall one more spot to fifth. Last weekend the Bulldogs were swept on the road against Union and Rensselaer. The Bulldogs have just two wins against teams that are above them in these rankings and both them were St. Lawrence much earlier in the season. Yale has lost four games in a row, all games in which Jeff Malcolm continued to be on the mend. Malcolm is 12-4-2 on the season, while Maricic and Wilson are a combined 2-5-1. His return, whenever it may be, will be a huge one. Yale now find themselves outside looking in, in respect to the byes as they sit in a tie for fifth place one point out of a bye weekend.
6. Brown (9-11-5, 5-8-5) – Last Week 6
Luckily for Brown, the three teams behind them were also swept on the weekend, but I will make the case for them because both of the teams they lost to were in the top of these standings. I dont really believe in mulligans, but this ends up being one. Brown is 6-3-5 at home, while 2-7-0 on the road. A much improved road record will be really important for them going forward. Brown now sits in ninth place in the standings, two points out of a home ice spot in the first round.
7. Colgate (13-13-4, 5-10-3) – Last Week 8
I really need to explain moving Colgate up despite getting swept by teams behind them in these rankings, because quite frankly I believe they are a snake-bitten more than a bad one. The Red Raiders were a far superior team than Harvard on Friday night, despite losing 3-1. On Saturday night, the same issues that plagued them against Harvard in the second period plagued them throughout the contest. Offensively they are arguably tops in the ECAC, but defensively and in net they are a work in progress. I really should be moving them far down because of that, but they are young; if they can put the game together in both ends they are really scary. Colgate now sits in a tie for 11th place, four points out of a first round home berth.
8. Dartmouth (12-9-4, 8-7-3) – Last Week 9
Dartmouth picked up a much needed win on Saturday night against Colgate, but lost at home against Cornell on Friday night. The loss was their third on home ice, and was hardly an impressive loss as Cornell sits in eleventh place. Key injuries to players such as Matt Linblad are wrecking havoc on a great season. Dartmouth now sits on the outside looking in in regards to the NCAA tournament. It is always much tougher to get back into the top 16 than it is to stay there. It is not impossible they make tournament, but with only a 5-6-2 record against TUC’s it will certainly be an uphill battle. Also remember that usually a team from outside the top 16 gets an autobid, so it really becomes the top 14 or 15 that get a spot. Dartmouth is in a tie for fifth place, one point behind a bye.
9. Clarkson (8-15-7, 7-8-3) – Last Week 10
Clarkson moves up a spot this week as they picked up a road split. Clarkson defeated Princeton on Friday and lost a 2-1 contest to top ranked Quinnipiac. The latter is a result they should be quite happy with, but its not a win I suppose. Clarkson sits in a tie for seventh place and are two points ahead Brown for home-ice advantage in the first round.
10. Princeton (9-12-4, 7-8-3) – Last Week 7
The Tigers have lost four of their last six contests and have been swept two of the past three weekends. Last Friday, Princeton was defeated by Clarkson by a score of 3-2, while on Saturday they lost to a hot St. Lawrence team by the same score. Entering the weekend, Princeton was 6-2 on home ice so the weekend home sweep was the first of the season for them. Princeton sits in a tie for seventh place, two points ahead of Brown for home-ice.
T 11. Harvard (7-15-3, 4-12-2) – Last Week 11
Harvard finally picked up a win in conference play on Friday night against Colgate. The win was their first in ECAC play since a 4-1 victory over Cornell on November 16 and was their first win on home ice since November 10. Harvard has been playing well recently. Raphael Girard has been performing and the defense in front of him has been better of late. Putting it together is something that could be a positive for the Crimson.
T 11. Cornell ( 9-13-3, 5-10-3) – Last Week 12
I guess it is tough to move Cornell up in these rankings because they tied Harvard on Saturday. I will put neither team in the final spot this week and just say they are tied for eleventh. Both teams had three point weekends and both beat a team above them in the rankings, so for just this week Cornell and Harvard are on even keel. Someone win next time please. Cornell defeated Dartmouth on Friday night. Cornell is in a tie for tenth place with travel partner Colgate, four points behind home ice.