The news of the weekend had to be “the Melee,” that occurred at the end of Saturday night’s Union-RPI game at the Times Union Center. A plethora of suspensions were handed out because of the incident. Union probably got the short end of the stick in regards to the players that will miss out, as Matt Bodie, Eli Litchtenwald and Daniel Ciampini will miss two games this weekend, but RPI is also without its star scorer, Ryan Haggerty for its game on Friday. See the full story on the suspensions, here, which also includes other players and a two game suspension to Union coach Rick Bennett by the school. Bennett addressed the media Monday evening.
Don’t get me wrong, I am of the opinion Bodie and Bennett should have gotten more than their two for their respective parts, but the league did a great job in handling the situation in such a timely manner. The decisions that were made, although tough to make, had to be made and the league steered on the conservative side with them. This approach should be applauded but considering the last two games between these team’s have ended up with ridiculousness, as I call it, the league had the opportunity to send a stronger message, which it strayed away from. Will I question this fact? I will refrain, but the message may not have been strong enough to stop these situations from happening again. Lost in the melee was that 7,100 people watched a game in Albany NY, which is always a great for the league and the schools.
As I stated a few weeks ago, the standings were closer than most thought. Colgate again picked up four points in conference, defeating north country teams, Clarkson and St. Lawrence on the weekend. Colgate now sits in a tie for second place with Quinnipiac at 19 points, while Union continues to lead the league with 20 points. Union has a game in hand on the two teams right behind them and Cornell who sits tied in fourth, four points behind the lead. Clarkson has the same number of games remaining as Union and they sit in a tie for fourth with 16 points, four points back. Also check out the Pairwise Rankings, which features four ECAC teams in the top 15 and 6 in the top 18. Without further ado, here is what I think within the conference this week:
Lost in the Mellee, RPI had a strong weekend
Entering the weekend, Rensselaer was on a six game winless streak. It was threatening to derail a season that many thought would be so great, but then again this weekend may have showed its true potential to make a run in the late stages. It might be too late to make a run for the Cleary, but setting itself up for a postseason run might just be what RPI has in mind.
The Engineers defeated Dartmouth in a league game on Friday and on Saturday it arguably put together a solid 60 minute game, defeating Union in a non-league game. The melee that followed the win is what the game will be known for, but the win was impressive in its own right. Scott Diebold made 28 saves in the game, which is a positive sign for the Engineers as him and his defense has struggled at times this season.
The weekend sweep was its first since defeating Sacred Heart and BU in late October. Although RPI defeated two league opponents, the Engineers have yet to have a four point weekend in conference play because the Union game did not count as an ECAC league game. RPI currently sits in eighth place, which comes with a home series in the first round. Staying in the top eighth and moving up into the top four should be the goal going forward.
Yale has been rather inconsistent this season but hey they were last year too
I wrote a few weeks ago about how Yale gets up for big games, but that is hardly the underlying trend in its season. The Bulldogs have been great some nights, but other nights it has seemed to take the night off. Since December 6th, the Bulldogs have not won consecutive games and it has a record of 4-3-2 in that time. On Friday night, the Bulldogs lost to Brown 3-1 on the road but it defeated those same Bears 6-0 on Saturday night at Ingalls.
The defending champs have probably had the quietest post-national title season in recent memory, which in all honesty I am sure coach Keith Allain loves. Its cross-town rival, Quinnipiac, has been more noticed as it was last season as well. When Yale shows up to play it can compete and put up some goals. In its wins, Yale has scored 4.60 per game and allowed a measly 1.60 per game. In its losses, it has given up 3.20 while only scoring 1.20 per game of its own. Interesting stats to say the least in all honesty, actually they are rather shocking.
With all the offensive talent Yale has, the numbers should turn around. Alex Lyon has been solid in the Yale net. Let us not forget how quiet and inconsistent the Bulldogs were for long stretches last season. Ya, how did that turn out? Turned out with them winning the big trophy at the end of the season.
Saints are Marching in the Wrong Direction
It has been a really long time since the Saints have come marching in and left with a win. At this point. the team that has a plethora of offensive talent has just put up some stinkers in terms of defense. It managed to get a tie against Cornell on Friday. The tie got it its first point in conference play since a win against Dartmouth on November 9th. Few teams go without a lone point in conference play for months but that is exactly what the Saints did.
Since its win at Dartmouth in early November, the Saint have two non-conference wins but none since a win at North Dakota on November 29th. When it sets foot on the ice on Friday against Union, St. Lawrence will be mired in two months of attrition and losing. Union will hardly be the team it wants to see, but it may be catching the Dutchmen at the right time as Union will have suspensions to players and its coach to deal with.
The Saints are marching in the wrong direction with a record of 0-9-1 in its last ten contests. It had a strong start, but its defense and coverages have let it down. The difficulties to win, have caused its Hobey candidate, Greg Carey, to fall off the face of that leaderboard. He should still be in the Hat Trick, but Johnny Gaudreau of Boston College is running away fast with the award, rightfully so with his numbers. Although that individual award might be off the table, the Saints still have some offensive talent to put up goals and to steal wins.
As I said about Rensselaer above the same can be said of SLU. The Saints are marching into the playoffs and setting itself up for that should be its ultimate goal for the rest of the regular. But man end the attrition, I like this team and the offense it puts up. There is no doubt to me it is still one of the funnest teams to watch.