Another weekend, and all I have to say is we better buckle up for a fun last four weeks of the season. At the top of the standings, the top five are separated by just four points with Union sitting on top and Quinnipiac in second. Cornell entered the picture over the weekend, as the only team to pick up four points with a weekend road sweep of Yale and Brown. The Big Red are now unbeaten in its last nine games and more importantly unbeaten in ten consecutive conference games, it began the season 1-3-1 in ECAC games. Colgate, was the disappointment of the weekend as it had entered the weekend winners of six in a row but lost both games on the road to Brown and Yale.
Consistency from here will win a team the conference title but the positions below it are ever important as well. With the standings as bunched up as they are from the top to fifth, it also means the fight for the final first round bye could be classic. There should also be a pretty good battle for the home ice spots, as positions six through ten are separated by just six points. All in all the last four weekends should prove to be some of the best hockey of the season, as it should be. There is tons on the line for most of the teams within the conference. Here are my thoughts for the week:
Colgate Needs Consistency to Gain Respect Nationally
I touched on this topic in my Takeaway of Colgate and Brown from Friday night, but I will take it further. Colgate has some fine results this season, with two victories over Ferris State, a win against Union, a win over Clarkson and a shootout victory against Minnesota but it also has some results that would make most shake their heads. While losing is losing and winning is winning, its the fashion that Colgate loses is something of a concern to me.
On Friday night, I was able to catch Colgate live for the first time this season. To say I was underwhelmed is an understatement. I have seen Colgate on film and have been able to catch them on web-stream a few times. It had never been as bad as it was on Friday night against the Bears but then again looking at some of its many blowout losses it probably has.
In its losses Colgate has given up 4.91 goals per game, while scoring 1.82. That doesn’t tell the whole tale because it has given up more than six goals on three occasions. Friday night against Brown seemed to be an unwillingness to do the things necessary to even be in the game and it started early. It was a complete team effort, or lack thereof. It was defeated 5-2 but it could have been worse, as it allowed odd man rush after odd man rush.
A 7-0 loss to Bowling Green stands out as arguably its worst of the season but it also has two losses against a UMass team that has struggled mightily this season. I argued a few weeks ago that it was too early to jump on the bandwagon and after this weekend I still think that. Colgate is a good, young team but to be taken seriously, nationally, more consistency and willingness to play every night is needed.
Harvard Has a Big Opportunity and Scouting Northeastern in the Beanpot
Harvard has been downright inconsistent this season and faces a turning point in its season. On Friday night, the Crimson got off to a rare good start against Princeton, scoring three goals in the first period en route to a 3-2 victory. The win was its first in five contests and the win set it up nicely, confidence-wise, heading into its biggest opportunity so far this season, the Beanpot.
Hockey East enthusiasts will write-off Harvard, and already have. Northeastern and Harvard might be the best game of the tournament. It is actually a great matchup for the Crimson, as the it should be able to possess the puck and get shots at the Northeastern net. People look at Northeastern as a team that is highly ranked in the Pairwise, but if the Crimson can be patient and take quality shots they can win the opening round game against the Huskies.
Northeastern has one of the most efficient offenses in the country and like Harvard is very young. But Harvard has a marked advantage, if you ask me, and that is its in-zone defending that at times Northeastern has some adventures. I can be wrong or right, but if you want a defense in this one I would pick Harvard’s experienced defense over its opponent’s.
At some point, this team will gel and pull off some big wins it certainly has the talent, you are probably sick of hearing me see this. The Beanpot is its biggest opportunity to start and there should be no reason why Harvard can’t play 60 minutes or get a good start. For alums of the famed school, this may be the one and only opportunity Ted Donato has to make amends before the season ends, an ending that may or may not be pretty.
Anyone Can Beat Anyone
On Friday night, Union was down three of its better players and St. Lawrence took advantage. Entering Friday, the Saints were winless in nine games and had not won a game since late November. On paper it was still a mismatch even though Union was missing guys from suspensions and a coach. Credit St. Lawrence, though, as it did everything it needed to to win the game.
It is pretty cool to cover a sport where the bottom teams can beat the top teams. There have been many teams this season that should have been won by one team, but the game was won by the team down on its luck and in the standings. In recent weeks, St. Lawrence has probably been at the bottom of the league in terms of how they were playing. Last week I had St. Lawrence at 12 in the power rankings and Union at two, when they probably should have been one.
Earlier in the season, Princeton defeated Quinnipiac and many Q fans wondered how it happened. In today’s College Hockey, the talent gap is pretty minimal in the top conferences and in the ECAC 1-12 is closer than it is in any conference in the country. On any given night any team can beat another. St. Lawrence may have been an underdog on paper, but it really wasn’t in terms of talent. I will also argue there are no upsets in the ECAC conference, and I will stick to that thought because any team in the bottom can beat Union, Quinnipiac or Cornell on some nights.