What a weekend for ECAC teams last weekend and in all honesty we have come to expect it. This weekend will see the first week of conference games, as all 12 teams will begin its run at an ECAC regular season crown. We will also see the final banner night of the season, the most important one, as Yale will begin its home slate with a game against St. Lawrence. All in all we will see just how deep the ECAC conference is; it should prove to be a great weekend of games around the conference.
With a another great weekend of non-conference play a few more trends have taken hold within the conference. From the success I keep talking about to Brown’s success at the Liberty Invitational there are many things happening here are the three I deem most important this weekend:
ECAC is the early season king of conferences
Yes, I am a bit biased but the early season has been a downright success for ECAC teams in non-conference action and its success should be no surprise. On Saturday night, ECAC teams went 6-1-0 in non-conference action taking the world by storm. Within those six wins were three wins over arguably the top two conferences in the country Hockey East and the NCHC; the ones that often call the ECAC four different letters (which won’t be mentioned). We all cringe when we hear it but we should all just quietly laugh the next time we hear it said, as what matters is what happens on the ice and the teams have done nothing but impress.
Cornell swept Nebraska Omaha on the road in a weekend series, while Clarkson continued its strong play by sweeping Colorado College at Cheel Arena. These performances were rather impressive as it improved the ECAC’s record in non-conference action to a national best 26-11-4 (.683 win percentage). The nay-sayers will point to an impressive 11-0-2 record against the Atlantic as the reason but when one delves into the inter-conference records their case should be immediately disproven, as the NCHC is 2-2-0, Hockey East is 7-2-0 and the Big Ten is 5-2-1 against the same conference. The conference’s MO this season has been winning the games it should. It has done that and much more in the early going.
The only conference with a winning record against ECAC teams is the WCHA, which has a 6-4-2 record in twelve games. The ECAC also has a record of 7-3-0 against Hockey East teams but many more of those games will be played later in the season. In my opinion, top to bottom you won’t find a more complete league than this one right now, which figures to make the conference season brutal. It usually is but this season could really be a great one to be a fan.
I wrote about Clarkson two weeks ago as part of the ECAC preview, when it began its season 3-1-0 but its hot streak has continued thanks to its early clutch play. Yes, Clarkson is 4-0-1 against Atlantic teams, but this weekend was definitely quite impressive with a weekend sweep of Colorado College, whom is usually a consistent contender year in and year out. The wins didn’t tell the whole story, as on the weekend it outshot the Tigers 73-39.
Last season, Clarkson struggled to a nine win season going 3-14-0 in one goal games but this season has seen a reversal of fortune. So far, Clarkson has a 3-0 record in games decided by just a goal including the heroics of Saturday night, which had to feel good for a team that struggled so mightily last year. Colorado College and Clarkson were tied 0-0 in the late stages of overtime, when Joe Zarbo ripped a shot past the CC goaltender with 9.9 seconds left to go in the overtime. Those shots wouldn’t have found there way to the back of the net last season but this season it did. It was Tech’s second straight one goal win over the Tigers. See video of the late goal below:
The Golden Knights are just three wins away from its total of nine from last season. It has already far surpassed its non-conference record from a year ago, a year where they went 1-7-4 in non-conference, with its lone win against league rival St. Lawrence. But now comes the true test for the now clutch Golden Knights. whether its success will translate into a good year within the conference is something to be seen. I think it will, as the experience up and down the lineup has become ever evident. Only time will tell though.
Brown was mighty impressive over the weekend, but lets not get ahead of ourselves as it was only games one and two on the year. But there were far too many positives on the weekend to just ignore, in terms of what we thought in the preseason.
On Friday night, Brown defeated Yale 4-1 behind a great goaltending effort from Marco DeFillippo, who saved 31- out of 32 shots he saw. On Saturday, freshman Tyler Steel had the show saving 28 of 31 shots that he saw. DeFillippo has had some good performances in the past and Steel comes in well touted, so goaltending should remain solid this season. But it was its offensive production that should have Brown fans excited for this season.
Matt Lorito has been the guy for Brown over the past two seasons, but the now junior may have found a bit of help as sophomore Mark Naclerio had an impressive weekend that most good players would dream of. Naclerio had seven points on the weekend, on three goals and four assists. His presence could be the second scorer that Brown appeared to need coming into this season. Lorito will still be the guy but if Brown can develop guys such as Garnet Hathaway, Nick Lappin and the aforementioned Naclerio into goal scorers, Brendan Whittet may just have the team that could get the Bears over that hump they almost got over in the ECAC tournament last season. Over the weekend these two facts were glaring ones.