Another weekend in the books and some big surprises from the ECAC, as Union pulled off the sweep of its capital region rival and the North Country went 1-3 against Cornell and Colgate. Not that any of those were very surprising because right now any team within the first 10 positions could end up at the top come the end of the season. Parity is reigning supreme throughout the conference with no team except for Quinnipiac proving to be dominant. But then again it appears that the Bobcats are at the same level that they were last season at this time. It is really scary to think about that I suppose if you’re another team in the ECAC. Here are the noteworthy thoughts of the week.
Could Quinnipiac really do it again?
Last season, the Bobcats won the ECAC by five games over RPI and had an in-season unbeaten streak of 21 games. Don’t look now but the Q is past the halfway mark of the streak with a current unbeaten streak of 12 games. The streak began after its season opening loss to Alaska-Anchorage. Unfortunately the Bobcats hardly have wiggle room in the ECAC standings, as Union sits on its heels only a point behind.
At points this season, I have almost felt that this streak for Quinnipiac is more impressive than the streak it had last season mainly because of the competition it has seen within it. The Bobcats won two huge games early in the streak to UMass-Lowell and it also tied Yale last weekend. Dotted within the streak were also impressive, dominant performances against some good teams, in Brown, Cornell and Colgate.
This Quinnipiac team has in all senses of the word dominated teams in the early going. Quinnipiac takes on average 35 shots per game, while allowing a paltry 20 shots per contest. It also has outscored its opponents 3.46-1.53 and has allowed more than two goals in a game just twice, quite the impressive numbers. This weekend the Q could push its streak to 14 and then a big showdown with Providence College waits in the balance the day before we all eat Turkey. For all intensive purposes I think this QU team could match it or exceed that unbeaten streak if it can get past Providence next week. Deja Vu might just be happening, albeit a little early in the season.
Maybe I Was Tough On Union
I have been one of the biggest doubters of Union this year and right now I am being proved seriously wrong by a team I thought lacked the scorers it needed to have a great season. What is funny about this is that I have been one of the biggest believers of the program in the Rick Bennett era and I am guessing now will be the time to say maybe Union can still win without its top end talent that it once had. It is winning the same way it has in the past few years, by playing great defense, coupled with timely scoring.
Any team with two of the best defenders in the country has a chance to win hockey games; Union has two of the best in Mat Bodie and Shayne Gostisbehere. Gostisbehere got banged up in the last game but should be fine to play next weekend. Both are great at both ends of the ice and are forces for the Dutchmen.
Since Colin Stevens returned to the lineup, the Dutchmen have lost just one game, going 5-1-0 in the process. His return has brought new life to a team that struggled in goal in his absence but really the turnaround has not been in goal as much as it has been finding the back of the net at the other end. It has scored 25 goals in six contests and only Colgate has found a way to beat them. Union currently sits in a tie for third in scoring, nationally, so I guess without top flight, big name scorers Union is still winning. Union will enjoy a week off this weekend, while a lot of other teams are playing on strange days because of Thanksgiving.
Colgate is Getting Average Defense and Goaltending, Which Could Be Scary
One thing that stands out to me when I look at the Krach rankings is the fact that Colgate has played the third toughest schedule in the country. It has proven that it can compete and beat teams that might be a little better than it is. Colgate came within one of a really good SCSU team, giving them two whale of a games in a weekend series a few weeks back. It also has wins against Ferris State who is 8-2-1 on the season, Union and most recently Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
In my ECAC preview I stated that if the Raiders got any defense whatsoever they could be a scary team in the ECAC. Yes there have been some inconsistent moments, allowing seven goals three times, but since a 7-2 loss against a Quinnipiac team that is dominating everybody Gate has allowed more than three goals just once in five games. In that stretch,it has gone 4-1-0, with its lone loss to a really good Rensselaer team.Last weekend to me was its most impressive weekend of the season sweeping the North Country teams’, St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Both of those teams were ranked in the top three of my Power Rankings last weekend.
Colgate has underachieved on the offensive side of the puck but came on in a big way over the weekend, scoring nine goals. The Spink twins and Kyle Baun make up a legitimate scoring threat on the top line but it doesn’t end there as Gate has talent up and down its forward lines. When its offense is clicking it is fun to watch and if the defense can be even average, as it has been in recent weeks, Colgate becomes a team to watch going forward. It currently sits in a tie for third in the ECAC. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has staying power in that position.
Bonus: Appert Calling Gostisbehere the best player in the country is not an unfounded comment
RPI coach Seth Appert said in an interview on Saturday night that “Shayne Gostisbehere is the best player in the country.” In my opinion, he is definitely up there and probably at the very least in the top two or three defensemen in the country. Guys like Johnny Gaudreau and Greg Carey seem to stake claims on that title, though. Then again it is comparing apples to oranges when comparing forwards to defensemen.
Defensemen usually don’t put up high goal and point numbers so fans and media immediately discount them; we shouldn’t there are some great ones out there. I guess the only comparsion to Johnny Gaudreau, for Gostisbehere, is Union’s shellacking of BC in the regionals last year.
In all honesty, the cry and controversy of Appert’s comments to some is unfounded because there is no doubt Gostisbehere is a great defensemen, as Guadreau and Carey are great forwards. I have heard some on twitter and social media make comments about it, in all honesty though how do you compare? If anything I agree with the comment, as you won’t find a better two way player on any team in the country.
Watching Gostisbehere play one can realize why Appert would make such a comment. He should be in the Hobey battle come the end of the season, but it is an uphill battle for any defensemen. For now though, lets take the quote in stride and watch. Appert makes a good point though, I guess it is all in what you value more; a great forward or great defensemen. Personally. defensemen should be much more valued, as they are in mugh lower quantity.