Now that all ECAC teams have played games, there are certainly some interesting trends. Who would have guessed after the first full weekend of play that Quinnipiac would 12th on the table and 0-2? If you said you expected it, I would say you’re lying because since the Bobcats entered the league over a decade ago, it has not been 0-2 in the league. I will discuss their troubles below and a lot of it stems from the same questions that were asked in the preseason. Dartmouth, after a rough 5-0 loss in its ECAC opener against Harvard responded well and won both its games over the weekend. Cornell is 4-0-0 to begin the year and had an impressive road sweep of Quinnipiac/Princeton on the weekend.
Because it has been a pair of weeks since I last posted, I wanted to talk about the Pairwise and the inter-conference record of the league-surprisingly it isn’t all doom and gloom. As early results poured in, it seemed as though the ECAC was going to have struggles. But as I have delved into the numbers further, the league’s record is 45-49-11 in non-conference play. If one subtracts St. Lawrence’s 1-7-0 mark in non-conference play, the league would be 44-42-11. This is right on par with last season and the current .481 record is fourth best among the conferences. With many of the better teams being Ivy League schools, that mark should only improve as the season heads into the holiday non-conference game binge.
Before I get to my three thoughts, I will mention I am going to Belfast for the Friendship Four tournament Thanksgiving weekend. So be on the lookout for my thoughts of that trip, as I am really excited about it and will probably post a travel blog on the experience in Northern Ireland… Until then here are my three thoughts of the week:
Below the break: Quinnipiac’s Goal Scoring problems, Cornell’s Big Sweep, Clarkson Recovers, team-by-team thoughts/power rankings
Clarkson Recovers in Dominating Fashion
On Friday night, I was watching Clarkson against RPI and I was really impressed with what I saw from Tech. Before I knew it, the Golden Knights were up 3-0 and was off to the races to its fifth win of the year. It was an all-around dominating performance from a team that has all the tools to be one of the best in the ECAC. I figured it might be a year away, but it sure seems with early results that I may just be wrong in that assessment and that Knights might just be able to make the jump that has been expected of them in the last couple of seasons.
One thing I realized is how much its puck movement along the blue-line has improved. The attack starts in its own zone with Terrance Amorosa and Kelly Summers. Both move the puck extremely well; Amorosa has been especially good this year with a pair of goals and seven assists. This has been key, as Clarkson has the goaltending from Jake Kielly to make it a contender.
Then there is the super-sophomore line of Sheldon Rempal, Devin Brosseau and Nico Sturm, which has been really good. The three have combined for 31 points in ten games and over the weekend the three scored four times and had a three assists. Rempal had a hat-trick on Friday night and it seemed to be inevitable it would happen. Last weekend, Clarkson was swept at Minnesota in a tough series that they didn’t look out of place in one bit. The Minnesota weekend was a blip in the radar. With each class, Casey Jones has brought in more talent and it sure seems to be paying dividends now.
Cornell Picks up a Big Road Sweep
Another game I watched on Friday night was Cornell’s game at Quinnipiac. One thing I couldn’t help but think was how vintage and as usual the Big Red looked. At one point, it led the shot count 20-18 or something like that early in the third period. It wasn’t until late in the game that score effects kicked in and the Bobcats were able to get its normal possession game going, but at no point did Cornell seem to flinch at this prospect. It is 4-0-0 to begin the year after a home sweep of Alabama-Huntsville on its opening weekend.
One of the interesting things of the early success is that neither Mitch Vanderlaan nor Anthony Angello have found the back of the net. Instead, the attack has been impressive and relatively spread out. Seven different Skaters have scored at least a goal and four of them have scored two or more. The Big Red have scored 15 goals in its first four contests. It won a 2-1 game at QU on Friday and won a 5-4 up-and-down game against Princeton on Saturday. It sure seems that whatever is thrown at Cornell they will be able to handle it. It has been a good first two weeks for the Big Red. Expect it to contniue.
Quinnipiac’s Goal Scoring has Been the Problem I Thought it Would Be
Two weeks ago the Bobcats were CHN’s team of the week and it sure seemed that it had turned its offense around. After an off week, QU came out pretty flat on Friday against Cornell, got behind by a pair and were never able to recover. Last season, QU was 3-8-1 against the top seven teams in the ECAC and struggled to score in those contests. Those questions lingered in my mind as I put together my ECAC package and I still think it might be an issue. There isn’t an impact guy in its forwards and only a weekend where it saw poor goaltending did it find the scoresheet constantly. In three games against BC, BU and Cornell the Bobcats have scored just four goals.
On Saturday night, QU faced red hot goalie Colton Point of Colgate and it showed. It was held to just a lone goal, its second of the weekend, and it began its ECAC season 0-2-0 for the first time since it joined the league 12 years ago. The most concerning thing about this was it was a home sweep and this weekend it will go out to the Capital Region, never an easy place to play. One has to think Quinnipiac turns it around, but could a fifth place finish again be on the cards this season? Time will tell.
Power Rankings/Quick Thoughts
- Cornell (4-0-0, 2-0-0 ECAC): I love what I saw of Cornell over the weekend. The great defense is there, albeit it was in a shootout with Princeton on Saturday, and the goaltending will only get better with experience. This weekend home vs Dartmouth/Harvard.
- Clarkson (6-3-1, 2-0-0)- An Impressive win against a Union team that had entered Saturday night on a five game winning streak. It outscored RPI and the Dutchmen 9-2 on the weekend and Jake Kielly continues to be impressive. This weekend at Brown/Yale.
- Harvard (2-1-0, 1-1-0): Harvard did not play well on Friday night against Yale and subsequently got stomped on by the Bulldogs. The Crimson are still very talented, but one must remember they are really young. For a while, the results may be uneven. This weekend at Colgate/Cornell.
- Colgate (4-2-4, 1-0-1): The impressive thing about the Raiders is that they already have four ties, so could be one of those years. An impressive 4-1 win against Quinnipiac moves them up the ladder and I am starting to believe. This weekend vs Harvard/Dartmouth.
- Union (5-6-0, 3-1-0): After beginning the year o-5-0, the Dutchmen recovered and got to .500 with its fifth straight win on Friday against SLU. It was overmatched against Clarkson on Saturday, but the recovery has still been great to see. It has a nice lofty position in the ECAC standings, but have played more games than most. This weekend vs Princeton/QU
- Yale (2-2-0, 2-2-0): The Bulldogs looked great in a win against Harvard on Friday, but got hit with the old fashioned trap game against Dartmouth on Saturday. I will still give the Elis credit for its win against Harvard, but losses against Brown and Dartmouth aren’t a good look. This weekend vs SLU/Clarkson.
- Quinnipiac (3-3-1, 0-2-0): I weight league games much higher than non-conference games, which is why the Bobcats dropped down the list. I still think they will be one of the bye teams, but it is going to be close. I certainly did not expect them to be behind the eight-ball this early. This week at RPI/Union.
- Dartmouth (2-2-0, 2-1-0): A tough opening weekend had me thinking uh oh, but a good weekend sweep of Brown and Yale has settled those thoughts. The Big Green have many new faces and are still young. It might be another year where Bob Gaudet has a rough first half, but recovers to have one of the better teams in the league at the end of the year. A sweep is certainly good for confidence, hence the Green move up. This week at Cornell/Gate.
- Princeton (1-1-1, 0-1-1): The Tigers are only here because the sample size is so small. It tied a red-hot Colgate team on Friday, but fell to Cornell on Saturday. This week at Union/RPI
- Brown (1-3-0, 1-3-0): The Bears opened the season with a great win against Yale, but three straight losses have it reeling. I still think Brown should be better this year and it has shown signs of that. This week vs Clarkson/SLU
- RPI (1-4-3, 0-3-1): The league campaign of the Engineer’s season has started out rough. After a sweep at the hands of its arch-rival Union, RPI got outclassed by Clarkson in a 6-0 defeat in a game it was outshot 39-17. The game felt like it could have been worse, but the Engineers held tough. On Saturday it got a tie against SLU to salvage something of its first four league games. This week vs QU/Princeton
- St. Lawrence (1-8-1, 0-1-1) It has just been a rough year Mark Morris’ charges. They should be better than this but nothing has clicked in the early going. This week at Yale/Brown.