The first weeks of the regular season are past us and for the non-Ivy league schools some trends are taking shape. We are about a week and a half away from when the Ivy League schools begin play. Harvard and Cornell will each open their seasons on Friday October, 28th against Arizona State and Merrimack, respectively. Conference play will begin the next weekend, with Quinnipiac/Clarkson probably the best matchup in the first week. This weekend there will be many intriguing non-conference matchups, which I will delve on later in the week in my weekend preview blog.
The league as a whole had a good weekend in non-conference and some younger players are coming forward, while some newer trusted hands are also breaking out. While the league has no one that remains undefeated, St. Lawrence and Quinnipiac again look poised to be near the top. SLU after a struggle in the opener, has looked lights out in the past three games, winning going away in each. Clarkson has been a tad inconsistent over the first couple weeks. Colgate, is having some expected bumps early on, RPI is surprisingly as well. Quinnipiac has been hit or miss in the early going and Union has had a decent start to the year with a win and a loss at Michigan, with a win and draw against AIC and Sacred Heart over the weekend. Clarkson split its two weekends against Hockey East foes. All told over the first two weekends ECAC teams have gone 9-9-4.
Each week, or most weeks because we all get busy, I will be posting my thoughts on the things I see as noteworthy around the league. I will thank you in advance for reading them. Always feel free to send me a comment on twitter @JoshSeguin24 if you so wish. Make Sure to check out of the ECAC preview package, which includes a feature on Colgate’s New Rink and Roster Changes for the coming season.
For now, without further ado, here are my thoughts for the week on the ECAC.
St. Lawrence’s Offensive Explosion
We all knew SLU was going to have a defensive core that was not only good in its own zone, but were also going to be great at moving the puck. So far that has largely materialized and SLU’s defense is again highly involved in the offense. What we did not expect, however, is to see SLU’s offense as a high flying scoring machine, which it has been in its last three games. I felt, as many felt, that losing three centers would put a dent on offensive numbers and possibly cause some possession issues. Those concerns have largely been been put to bed in the last three games, as the Saints have outscored its opponents 16-6.
After a struggle in its opener against Penn State, the Saints came out with a vengeance the next night scoring the first four goals en route to a 6-3 victory. Over the weekend, they picked up a pair of lopsided wins against UNH and Merrimack to say maybe their biggest question mark was going to become a strength. It is always tough this time of year to wonder how good a team is. SLU was good at home last year, so it is probably safe to say the weekend is a bit inflated, but still we are talking about two Hockey East squads that always deserve respect.
Watching SLU on Friday against UNH was like watching a well-oiled machine. Its cycle was working well, its breakouts extremely well, and it all around dominated a young, but talented UNH team. St. Lawrence found the back of the net twice on the power-play, going 2-7. It also dominated the metrics of the game in a large way and for a team that could have been expected to have a feeling out process under a new coach it hardly looked the part. For a team that has a new coach, in Mark Morris, the Saints have seemingly picked up right where it has left off the last two seasons, as a balanced scoring unit. Honestly, the Saints look as strong, if not more dangerous than they have in the past three seasons.
Although the offense is led from the back by defensemen Gavin Bayreuther, Nolan Gluchowski and Eric Sweetman, the Saints offense has been really balanced the last few seasons. In the first four games this year, 17 different skaters have points, 12 have goals and everyone on the team is a + player. At even strength, the Saints have outscored opponents 15-5 this year. While it is early, the scoring is a good sign for the Saints. We all know how good Kyle Hayton and that defense is…
RPI’s New Man in the Net and No Reason to Panic for the Engineers
In my Watch List, in the ECAC preview package, I put Cam Hackett in it just because I felt as though the Engineers goaltending was something to watch as the season moved forward. Although, I made the mistake of putting Hackett over transfer Chase Perry, which I apologize for, as Perry has started each of the three games RPI has played this season. I figured both would get time, but I had no inkling that Perry would get the nod over Hackett, who was an ECAC-All Rookie selection last season. It happens I guess in prognosticating the season and I suppose we all make mistakes.
Perry is an NHL draft pick, so there is some talent to work with. He is also a transfer from Colorado College, but came into the season largely as a question mark because he hasn’t played at the college level, yet. So far this season, Perry’s numbers have been less than stellar. In three games, the sophomore has allowed 13 goals (4.83 GAA) and has a .886 save percentage on the year. One should still expect a battle for minutes, especially if these numbers continue.
RPI’s problem has largely not been on goaltending however, as the Engineers’ troubles with possession are seemingly back again. In each of the past two years, RPI’s corsi numbers have been below 46. Last year, was a 44, which exacerbated and put a lot of pressure on the defenders and Kasdorf. This season, the Engineers have a corsi-for of 41.4% and a corsi-close of 34.1% in three games. While those numbers are a bit inflated because of a game against a dominant North Dakota team, it has been outshot 115-85 on the year, including being outshot 38-14 against North Dakota.
RPI will be better this season, but lets give it credit for playing in two of the most difficult arenas in the country to open the season. Being honest here, when Maine is rocking it is a mad house, ditto North Dakota like always. The numbers and an 0-3 start may seem bad now, but if they are still this way in a couple of weeks than there may just be trouble in Troy, right now though RPI is 0-3 in the three toughest games of its campaign. No reason to panic here.
Quinnipiac’s Goaltending Still up in the Air
Quinnipiac’s goaltending was always going to be a question mark this season. After the steady hand of the Michael Garteig graduated in the offseason, the Bobcats were going to have a big hole to fill. Whether that hole would be filled by freshman Andrew Shortridge or transfer, Chris Truehl is still a question-mark to this day, as both have seen action in the first two weekends.
It was assumed that Turehl would be man opening night and he was. He got the two games at home on opening weekend and had a good weekend with a win and a tie against Northeastern, a solid offensive team with skill that can score. It all started well in the third game against Maine, having a shutout thru two periods, but it all feel apart in the latter stages. Truehl and the Bobcats allowed Maine to comeback from down, 2-0 and 3-1, to force overtime. The Black Bears would win two minutes into the overtime to shock QU. When the dust had settled, Truehl had allowed four goals in just 17 minutes of real time.
The next night, it was Shortridge in the net who picked up a win in his debut, in a 3-2 QU victory. Shortridge made 20 saves, but saw just 22 in limited action as the Bobcat defense was much better the second night. He never appeared rattled in a tough environment, which Maine certainly is and over the weekend Maine was a mad-house as one of the better teams in the country was in town. Both nights were officially sellouts, by the way. Maine scored twice, but he settled down. Against both RPI and QU in the first game, it used quick strikes to get itself back in the game and to take the lead. He curbed that, which is notable because Maine had been so good at doing it.
Who gets the start against Connecticut on Wednesday remains up in the air. One could assume Shortridge, but Truehl was the first on the list in the first three games. Rand Pecknold is tough to read, so odds are it will be unknown until gameday. More importantly, who gets the start at Boston University on Saturday is an even bigger question, in a matchup of power programs. That game should be a dandy this weekend, if you are looking for something to do on Saturday.