After a decent first three weekends for the league, this weekend turned downright scary for teams like Cornell and Union, both of whom were expected to be near the top of the league. Cornell, surprisingly, gave up nine goals to Michigan State in a weekend sweep, while Union dominated both games but got swept by its rival, Rensselaer. It was all a weird weekend for many teams in the league, which included a 13-goal thriller for Dartmouth and Harvard, Brown playing well enough to win both games but getting swept, and Quinnipiac scoring nine goals against AIC on Saturday night.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts for the week:
Rensselaer Gets a Much Deserved Sweep:
For RPI, its sweep of Union marked its first two-win weekend since November of 2015. When you think of that, it is pretty remarkable that they were able to do it against its biggest rival. That being said, for the Engineers it was a weekend of joy that it probably hasn’t felt in a while. RPI did a good job keeping a good Union team at-bay and its two wins came in vastly different fashions. On Friday, Rensselaer got behind Union by a pair early and had just one shot in the first period, but Patrick Polino scored a big goal, just 36 seconds into the second period, that got his team going. Meirs Moore scored ten minutes later to tie the game and Polino gave the Engineers the lead for good, as they picked up the shock upset. They scored on 33 percent of their shots, which is hardly sustainable, but it got the job done. ON Saturday, the Engineers raced out to a 4-0 lead and held on.
For the Engineers, it was a reward for a long year under second year coach Dave Smith. Smith has instilled a professional, workmanlike atmosphere within the team and it seems to be paying off. One should assume the weekend will give them confidence, as they go forward into the season, and one should expect them to be much better this season.
Don’t panic, Cornell or Union supporters, your Teams will Still be Good:
Cornell is still going to be really good, while Union still will be too. Sometimes in the season there are times things just don’t make sense and yes that is exactly what happened over the weekend.
On Friday, Union outshot Rensselaer 35-15, but the Engineers scored on 33 percent of its shots and won. On Saturday, it was much of the same and Union dominated territoriality but still found a way to lose. For the weekend, the Dutchmen had an overall corsi of 68%, which tells me the weekend was an anomaly and that Union was still the better team on the weekend. Whether it be poor situational defending, or poor in-zone marking, almost every team has a weekend like this but for Union, under Bennett, it is still shocking. Union started the season hot, but came back to earth. It happens, whatever, Union will still be one of the better teams in the ECAC.
Now lets take a look at the lads from Ithaca, who met up with an oiled Michigan State team. Of course a team will never use the excuse that they were rusty, but I assume the Ivy schedule came back to bite them. Cornell had yet to play a real game, while Sparty had played for a few a weeks. This effects many things, but it definitely affects how into the game players are, how they approach it and fitness levels. The surprise was that the Big Red never picked it up on Saturday, to play better. The season is long, but the pair of losses will probably end up costly. It would be hard to believe that this Cornell team will be as bad as it showed last weekend. It returned all six defensemen and it returned a goalie, in Matthew Glajada, that was on the shortlist for the Richter award. Cornell had a bad weekend that will put them behind, but I still expect them to be the top dog in the ECAC.
Harvard/Dartmouth play a Classic Shootout:
Honestly, the first game is always weird for the Ivy league teams, but when they play each other in that weekend, it is always fun. That is exactly what happened in the Harvard/Dartmouth opener at Thompson Arena on Saturday night. I think it was pretty clear to most people, coming into the year, that the Big Green would score a ton of goals and maybe struggle on the blueline, but scoring seven and giving up six is certainly an interesting way to prove that. It was eerily similar to another game at Thompson arena that turned into a shootout at the okay corral, during the Ledyard Bank tournament that saw the Big Green and Northeastern score a combined 16 goals. That game, interestingly enough, didn’t find a winner, but Dartmouth picked up a big win on opening on this one. Shane Sellar scored a pair of goals and had an assist, while Will Graber and Drew O’Connor each had 3-point nights. Dartmouth has depth in the forward lines and it showed over the weekend. Expect them to keep scoring…
For Harvard, like Cornell, this game will probably be atypical. The Crimson have a ton of depth on the blueline and will probably give up in the neighborhood of two goals per game. Adam Fox is one of the best defenders in the country, while John Marino and the rest of the crew should be better. Three of their six goals came from the blueline, with Reilly Walsh scoring a pair.Harvard is a tad different this year, which was pretty evident, but if it can continue getting goals from its blueline, it will be a huge force.