What an interesting weekend around the conference as every team near the top of last week’s rankings took home a loss. Only Cornell took home two wins on the wacky weekend. RPI and St Lawrence had head-shaking losses to Atlantic teams on the weekend, which should have dropped them in the rankings but Harvard, Brown and Dartmouth have done nothing to prove to me they should move up. Make sure to read this week’s edition of Three Things I Think, which Turns out to be Three Things To be Thankful For this week, in celebration of Thanksgiving.
One of the biggest changes this weekend is that I have begun to take into account strength of schedule within the conference schedule as one of the biggest criteria. This week there were some honest changes that occurred because of it, mainly Yale moving down despite losing to a tough Cornell team; I will explain why when we get there. I am a couple off days early in my posts this week mainly because I will have two midweek games, Harvard at UNH on Tuesday and Providence at QU on Wednesday.
For the next few weeks I am doing a trial run on getting opinions, as it is always nice to get a second opinion when it comes to these things. This week’s special guest, SLU Blogger, actually had a list quite similar to mine only differing near the bottom of the pylon. He is the newest of the blogs so I figured I would let him go first in challenging me and seeing how close he could come to matching mine. His link is here and you can follow him on Twitter, @sluhockeyblog. One of the advantages of covering the ECAC is the plethora of great bloggers around the league who may have a differing opinion than myself. His rankings will be in the parentheses beside mine and without further ado here is my weekly take:
1 (1). Quinnipiac (12-2-1, 6-1-1) – Last Week 1
One of the biggest surprises over the weekend was that the Bobcats lost its first game since opening night. The loss probably would not have been shocking if not for the fact it was playing at home against a team that had beaten just Dartmouth on the season, Princeton. The Bobcats had a big enough lead on the competition to not drop them in the rankings but I like many have to be worried about trends. The Bobcats took home a 3-0 road win against the Tigers on Friday night.
One of the biggest things that the Q has done in the last two years is that it has held leads and not relinquished them, which was not the case on Saturday night, as the Bobcats held a two goal lead within the last ten minutes of the contest and relinquished three unanswered to give away the loss. the loss should be one of few and it needs to recover fast because Providence College will enter Hamden on Wednesday night in what is sure to be one of the biggest non-conference matchups of the season.
2 (2). Union (6-3-2, 5-1-0) – Last Week 3
Union was the beneficiary of positions 2-4 being so close that a loss at Lynah moved Yale down a bit on the week. Union had two impressive wins against RPI last weekend. It returns to action for a pair of games this weekend against Penn State, which will be Saturday and Sunday tilts. Union is unbeaten in six of its last seven games, with the lone loss being to an inconsistent but good Colgate team.
3 (3). Clarkson (10-3-1, 4-2-0) – Last Week 4
Clarkson was also idle last weekend and will have this weekend off as well. It will be part of arguably the biggest ECAC series of the season so far in two weeks, when it and North Country rival St. Lawrence square off for a pair. Personally I wish I could make it up there that weekend.
4 (4). Cornell (6-3-1, 4-3-1) -Last Week 8
One of the things that I came across in my research earlier today was that I had Cornell too low for as tough of a conference schedule as it has played. Likewise it becomes the biggest mover this week with a weekend sweep of Yale and Brown. The Big Red’s conference losses have come to the three teams that sit above them in these rankings, and they do not have a bad loss on its schedule so far. Say what you wish about the possession and shooting issues, but the Big Red are hanging tough with the teams above them and beating everyone below them. Clearly they should be here to stay.
5 (5). Yale (5-2-2, 3-1-2) – Last Week 2
I am in no way penalizing the Bulldogs for losing at Lynah, as most great programs go there and also have the same result, I am more looking back at its wins and can’t find one with quality, other than say a win at home against Clarkson. Yale will ultimately end up back at the top of these rankings. But two wins against Princeton, a win against Sacred Heart and a win against Colgate are not prone to keeping it at the top. It also has the so called “bad loss” on its record, which occurred against Brown. That is the ultimate difference in the poll right now and why Yale moved down three with a loss; Clarkson, Union and Cornell don’t have that bad loss.
The Bulldogs are 1-1-1 against the teams above them in this poll, including its loss to Cornell on Saturday. On Friday night, it ran away from Colgate in a 5-2 win over the Raiders. Yale has plenty of time to prove its might, it took the whole season last year.
6 (6). Colgate (7-7-1, 5-3-0) – Last Week 5
Gate seems to be in a world of its own in position six, as teams below it have no case to be above them and teams above it have seemingly made their cases to be above them. Colgate is getting better by week and really it could be scary good come the end of the season. Friday night, though, was a setback for the Raiders, as Yale rolled it 5-2 on the night but on Saturday it defeated Brown to prove that it belonged in the middle. The Raiders have some impressive wins on its plate in the early going, with victories against Ferris, Union and Clarkson. Those wins are probably building blocks as to what it could actually do in the coming weeks. It just needs to keep improving by week.
7 (7). Rensselaer (7-5-2, 2-3-2) – Last Week 8
I feel like I say it every week but Rensselaer has the talent to be much higher in these rankings, but again this week it had a setback. On Friday night, the Engineers traveled to Erie, Pennsylvania to play Mercyhurst and the Lakers came out on fire defeating them 5-2. RPI recovered on Saturday night but the damage had been done with its pairwise, as it dropped from 10th to 24th in the ever important rankings that determine the NCAA tournament. Mercyhurst is hardly the typical Atlantic Hockey team, as it has competed with many of the top teams this season but still a loss by an upper echelon ECAC to them is mind-boggling.
Rensselaer has time to recover and certainly there is plenty of it, but I say this every week and I am beginning to wonder if a serious trend or habit has developed that may prevent that…
8 (8). St. Lawrence (7-5-2, 2-2-2) – Last Week 7
I thought I saw puzzling on Friday night, when Rensselaer fell to Mercyhurst. But on Saturday night my brain was thrown back by St. Lawrence’s puzzling, mind-boggling and downright bad loss to RIT. No offense to the Tigers, as they have been a great College Hockey program for the last five or so seasons, but this version of the Tigers entered Saturday night 1-7-2 on the year and 1-3-0 in Atlantic Hockey. The Tigers have had a difficult non-conference schedule, but St. Lawrence should have went back to Canton with two wins. The Saints defensive play needed a wake-up call and maybe this is what it needed.
It gets no easier for the Saints this weekend as it will travel to Grand Forks, North Dakota for a pair. St. Lawrence is now 1-3 in its last four contests and have allowed 24 goals in its last five games. Its offense is one of the best in the country but asking it to score six goals a game is no easy task. Until I see otherwise, I still think St. Lawrence can right the ship and do great things.
9 (10). Princeton (3-8-0, 2-6-0) – Last Week 11
Princeton seemed to distinguish itself from the 9-12 crowd in these rankings with its signature win against Quinnipiac. Still the Tigers are in a serious hole, though, and it needs wins. This could be season changing in that it was able to find the back of the net against a quality team, but then again there is still work to be done to prove it wasn’t a fluke. Andrew Calof remains out with an injury and when he returns, the Tigers instantly get that much better.
10 (11). Brown (3-5-1, 1-4-1) – Last Week 9
Brown has just one win in its past six contests, after beginning the season 2-0-0 at the Liberty Invitational. Its only win within that time frame was to Princeton but then again since conference play began the Bears have in a sense disappeared. They are still nursing injuries and last weekend it dropped decisions to both Colgate and Cornell. Brown will play in the annual Mayors Cup this weekend against cross-town rival Providence College.
11 (9). Harvard (3-5-1, 2-4-1) – Last Week 10
Harvard was idle over the weekend after losing 5-1 to Boston College last Wednesday. The Crimson are 1-5-0 in their last six contests and are struggling. It will play a game Tuesday night against New Hampshire, a game I will see first-hand in Durham. Action begins at 7:05 and for fans that want to catch a game the game it will be televised live on FCS, nationally, and WBIN in the Boston immediate area.
12 (12). Dartmouth (0-8-0, 0-6-0) – Last Week 12
Dartmouth had a much needed week off last weekend and looks to recover on Saturday with a game against Harvard. Both teams have struggled and I will be at Thompson for all the action.
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