I figured that I would change the format a bit this week in celebration of Thanksgiving because there are a lot of things that ECAC fans should be thankful for this holiday season. Let us not forget though, while we are eating Turkey with family or enjoying some football with loved ones, that some teams (St. Lawrence and Princeton in the ECAC) are a long away from home or campus. Also many of the players that we cover and watch on a daily basis won’t be spending it with their families because they love playing the sport we all love watching.
This weekend there were many surprises in the conference, as Princeton snapped Quinnipiac’s 13 game unbeaten streak while both Rensselaer and St. Lawrence had head shaking losses to Atlantic Hockey teams. Cornell was the only team to sweep the weekend, defeating both Brown and Yale. It will be poised for a move up the ECAC Power Rankings this week. With Yale and Quinnipiac dropping games on the weekend there are no longer any undefeated teams within ECAC conference play, so now comes the fun I suppose. What are you thankful for? Here is a list of what I think ECAC fans should be thankful for.
On a Given Night Any Team Can Beat Another
There have been so many great games within the ECAC conference this season that it has been tough to pick out just which ones have been the great ones, but Saturday night provided us the biggest surprise of the young season. Princeton trailed Quinnipiac, 3-1, with nine minutes, 22 seconds remaining but the Tigers came all the way back from the deficit; scoring three unanswered goals to take home a win over the once unbeatable Bobcats.
The win was hardly expected, as Quinnipiac had been steamrolling opponents in recent weeks, while Princeton had defeated just Dartmouth on the season for its two wins. If any defeat had been more unexpected around College Hockey this season, it was probably this one. Quinnipiac sat near the top in and Princeton sat in a tie for last place in Krach. But as has become the norm in the ECAC any team can beat another and this weekend proved that.
This is definitely something to be thankful of. I would expect Dartmouth will start beating some of the good teams in the league, as they will be better than they have showed in the early going. Over the weekend, the eighth place team in my Power Rankings beat the second and the aforementioned Tigers took down of the top ranked team. For Princeton though a win such as what they did on Saturday has the ability to change its season. I assume we should expect those surprises to happen often within the ECAC this season.
There Are So Many Great, Young Players in the ECAC This Season
It is never unexpected when young players show up on the scene and produce in high numbers but this year has provided us with two budding stars in the making, as both Sam Anas and Matt Carey have arrived on the scene in the ECAC. Not only will those two compete for ECAC Rookie of the Year, but as freshmen both have legitimate shots at the player of the year award as well.
Quinnipiac’s, Sam Anas, sits second in ECAC scoring with 20 points and second in goals with 10. But not to be outdone, St. Lawrence freshman, Matt Carey, sits in fifth with eight goals and nine assists. Both players also sit in the top 12 nationally in scoring and both will be forces going forward. Both have a knack of being in the right places at the right time. Another forward that has been very good on the season is Union’s, Michael Pontarelli, but he has trailed off in recent weeks and has just seven points on the season. There are tons I haven’t mentioned but up front there are some great young players.
On the defensive side of the puck there are a plethora of good, young defensemen and goaltenders. The goaltending class around the league is pretty good, as Michael Garteig (a sophomore but playing his first games), Alex Lyon (Yale) and Steve Perry (Clarkson) have all burst on the scene to be in the top seven of goaltenders within the league. All three of them have GAA’s south of 2.29, which is quite respectable for a young player. Connor Clifton (QU) and Gavin Bayreuther (SLU) are among the defensemen I have seen this season that have impressed.
With so many young players the league is poised for a great a future, and a fun rest of the year as these players will only get better with experience. There are more than I mentioned, so be warned if your favorite is not on there he probably belongs there. Just be thankful that there are so many quality, young, budding stars.
There is a Lot of Offense in the League
Six teams around the league average more than three goals on the season and three are averaging more than 3.5. It has been a fun year to watch ECAC games, as on a given night any team can put up a big number. St. Lawrence and Yale put on quite a show early in the season but the Saints have been doing it most of the season as its 3.86 goals scored per game sits fourth in the country. Rensselaer and Union sit right behind them in fifth and sixth nationally.
On a given week, I see both Hockey East and ECAC games. In my opinion, ECAC games have become more wide open than its opposition conference, which is better for the fans and provides a better show. In recent years I suppose the conferences have switched. Don’t get me wrong, teams like Clarkson are still defensive in nature but watching them up against a Yale and Union is fun. Colgate is another team that is very offensive in nature, but it like St. Lawrence plays a dangerous line. St. Lawrence learned the tough way over the weekend in a 6-4 loss to RIT.
For Clarkson, it will have its big rival St.Lawrence the weekend after next. One of the most intriguing aspects of that game is that it will feature two totally different styles of play, look for both of those games to be fantastic hockey games. But on any given night a fan should expect goals and tons of them, so lets be thankful.
Last But Certainly Not Least You Should Know What I am Going to Say
Lets also be thankful for Yale bringing home the ECAC’s first national title since 1989. The win was bitter sweet for the Bulldogs and at least we have another postseason to look forward to this season. With the depth in the league, the quality of the teams at the top and the offensive prowess of the teams at the top, with the necessary defense it could be two in a row. Until then we should still be relishing the fact Yale comes to every ECAC rink as the defending champs, it is undoubtedly a thankful, beautiful site. And that banner at Ingalls looks fantastic.
I want to wish all my ECAC followers a very Happy Thanksgiving. Make sure to eat tons of Turkey or whatever mom, dad, the wife or the husband makes for you. Also I will have midweek hockey from Durham, NH (Harvard at UNH) and Quinnipiac (PC at QU).
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JoshSeguin24 for all the latest ECAC scores and news on game nights.