Another interesting week hit the ECAC over the weekend, as Quinnipiac continued to remain unbeaten and Clarkson continued its hot streak. Quinnipiac, Clarkson and Yale have a combined for just two losses in their last 30 games. Those three teams are making hay within the league standings, with Quinnipiac running away with the lead. Harvard has struggled recently and it is now tied with Yale for second in the league, seven points behind the Bobcats for the league lead.
One of the interesting aspects of the ECAC standings right now, is that the top eight is pretty much figured out. Clarkson and Cornell are in a tie for seventh, with 17 points. That mark is six points up on ninth place Union. Although it is mathematically possible for a team from the bottom four to catch up with the top eight, it seems unlikely with just six games remaining in the regular season. This should make the battle for the top four and the byes all the more interesting, as positions two to seven in the standings are separated by just four points. One should look at Yale and Clarkson as the favorites to take two of the top four. This would leave the other position to Harvard, Dartmouth, RPI and SLU. The Engineers, Saints and the Big Green are currently tied for the fourth position. Without further ado here are my thoughts for the week.
RPI’s Student Section is One of the Best Around
Over the last few weeks, I have hit three buildings in the ECAC that I have never been to before. On Saturday night, I was able to take in RPI’s big red freakout at Houston Field House and it is safe to say I was rather impressed. One of the biggest differences between my roots in Hockey East and my current passion of the ECAC, is the fact the ECAC lacks student sections in large numbers. Cornell, was great two weeks ago against Harvard but I just wish I would have been able to see it in full force. Harvard blew the roof off of Lynah and the students just weren’t into it, understandably so after Harvard scored two quick ones. On Saturday, RPI students were out in full force and LOUD.
Rensselaer scored the first goal, and the place went bananas. It started before that, as the fans were loud and crude during Clarkson intros. Ya some may not like the crudeness, but because I am old school I love it. Nothing makes me happier than to see a great student section with a great band and that is what the Engineers have. It is an experience unlike any other in the ECAC, really because only two schools have large, existent student sections in my experience. Quinnipiac is great, but the mix of locals and the new school fandom stuff is just blah to me (Sorry to those students and administrators, I am just old school), there is a difference between new school and old school student sections.
RPI and Cornell belong up there with Maine (in the east there is no comparison to the Alfond when it is on), Boston University, UNH and Northeastern as some of the best student sections in the east. Needless to say I had fun in my first appearance in Troy. I have just one ECAC building to go, Union. Seeing I have been to almost all the buildings in the league I feel as though I can rank atmospheres and student sections and buildings, but maybe I should do that another day, or next week? Let me know what you think on twitter @joshseguin24 . I will take your opinions in to play when I rank in next week’s Three Things I Think.
Clarkson’s biggest difference is its top line
I wrote a feature on Clarkson’s Greg Lewis, so expect that but he isn’t the only reason why Clarkson is looking like a serious threat in the ECAC right now. One of the things I was so impressed with was how much the top two lines have improved for Tech. I loved what the top line of AJ. Fossen, Sam Vigeneault and Christian Powers provided to the Golden Knights. Every time that trio was on the ice it was creating offense and it was a presence in front of the net. This to me, was the biggest difference in Tech now than it was two months ago.
The offense might not be the strength of the Golden Knights, but it is sneaky good right now. Vigneault in particularly has been really good. He is a big center, much like you would expect on an NHL team at 6-5 and 194. His presence is daunting but he also has a bit of speed to his game. Vigneault now has 22 points on the year and ten goals. He has become the catalyst to the offensive attack, which was a minnow up until early January. The Knights have scored 24 goals during its current seven game unbeaten streak, which averages out to over three goals per game.
Clarkson still gets a ton of possession, which it has all along. It is in the top five of corsi and advanced stats, while limiting its opponents to minimal opportunities. The added danger of its top line, improved goaltending and more confidence has gone a long way in making Clarkson a serious threat come March, now wouldn’t it be cool to have Tech in Lake Placid? I think so…
Harvard Struggles again in the Beanpot
Harvard’s struggles in the Beanpot at this point are expected and as each year passes they become more baffling. If the Crimson had a chance to win a Beanpot, it would have probably been this season as its talent level is as high as it has been in a long time. Against Boston College, the Crimson had a lead after the first period but struggled in the second period and dropped the game by a goal. Boston College is good, but they made a usually great offensive team in Harvard, look completely inept at that end of the ice.
In the consolation game, Harvard got trounced, 5-1, by Northeastern. The Huskies are better than their record, but it is probably a game that Harvard wants back. It was Harvard’s chance to get back going in the right direction and it came out flat, giving up three goals in the first period. Harvard also had a chance to lock up the insignificant Ivy League title on Saturday against Yale, but lost a close game to the Bulldogs.
Harvard is still my favorite to win the ECAC, mainly because it seems that team at the top, Quinnipiac, has struggled in the tournament and hasn’t made the final in any years they have been good, like this year. For the Crimson, its defense needs to be better and more importantly Jimmy Vesey needs to be factor. Personally, I don’t think he has been living up to his expectations because he has been wracking up the points, while Harvard has held the lead. He has just one goal, while Harvard trails this season. He is still the favorite to win the Hobey, but an ECAC fan and Harvard fan should expect more. Harvard’s season is dependent on him being the dominant force, like he was last year.