Quinnipiac made a big statement over the weekend with a sweep of Colgate and Cornell, while Princeton faltered twice on the same trip. This weekend Clarkson also had a really good weekend against Michigan Tech, sweeping the Huskies of the WCHA out of the North Country. The other North Country team, SLU, picked up a much-needed win against Minnesota on Friday night in a great turnaround after its loss to Mercyhurst.
We are another week into the season, but the standings are still a mess. Although QU sits at the top with eight points, the uneven nature of the schedule means that Cornell is two points back, with a pair of games in hand. Dartmouth is also two points back and has played one less game. Interestingly enough, while QU has played six league games, the two north country schools have played just two. I wouldn’t write off Clarkson from being near the top at the end because they have played four less games and they have looked really good, at times, which I will talk about below. As I keep reminding everyone, look at standings and pairwise with a load of caution until, say, Christmastime.
Below find my thoughts for the week:
St. Lawrence Needed that:
I really hope St. Lawrence used the last line of my blog last week and put it on their wall, because their play on Friday exemplifies their capability. A week after being utterly dominated by Mercyhurst, not much was expected of the Saints in Minnesota against the Gophers. But a hail Mary was answered and the Saints pulled one out in overtime. It was a big one for SLU, which has struggled to put together wins in recent seasons. Getting a win against Minnesota at Mariucci should be a big boost to a team that has struggled to gain momentum. One could argue: This might have been the biggest win of the Mark Morris era, which has painstakingly teetered with disaster over the last few years.
Alex Gilmour opened scoring at 15:31 into the game, while Carson Dimoff and David Jankowski made it 3-1 late in the second period. Minnesota scored a pair in the third to force overtime, but the Saints weren’t to be denied as Michael Ederer won it in the extra frame. Ederer is one of just three seniors on the Saints roster, which is one of the youngest in the ECAC.
Although this season has had more hiccups than great play, it seems SLU moved past the drama that mired last season. Mark Morris is a good coach and now that he has his players in the program, he should be able to mold them before the end of the season. A win in Minnesota might have been a confidence booster, but could it preview the season? Could the Saints just be a young team that ebbs and flows? I suppose time will tell.
Quinnipiac with a big Sweep:
The last time Quinnipiac left Ithaca, there was no doubt they were the second best team on the ice. But as the offseason set in, the Bobcats vowed change was coming. It appears early this season that is, indeed, the case, as QU has grown into a team that can challenge any on any given night.
I said last week that the Cornell and Colgate weekend will tell us a lot about them. I vow to say we have learned quite a bit. Although, the Colgate win isn’t all that impressive, the Cornell one was. The Bobcats got behind, 2-1 in the second period, but tied it at 2 just 27 seconds into the third. Goals at the beginning of a period tend to rattle opposing teams and they give the scorers a boost. Quinnipiac received a lucky bounce on Joe O’Connor’s game-winner with the puck going off the dasher and off the skate of Matthew Galajda. But don’t talk to me about luck; a team makes its own luck. QU kept itself in the game in a hostile building and it came out with a win that could propel it this year. Mightily impressive considering nine months earlier, the Bobcats lost to the Big Red 9-1 on a cold, March night.
Quinnipiac spent all of preseason talking about the culture being better. It could have said this is a really good team that is versatile with a plethora of talent on the back-end. I write a ton about culture and character, but skill and effort win hockey games. Last year QU didn’t have much of either. And this year, the Bobcats are just better everywhere on the ice. They are also a confident bunch of blokes; hence they are 9-2, first in the ECAC and seventh in the Pairwise. Yah, much of the meat is still to come in their schedule, but they are back to the team they always were under Pecknold: They beat the teams they should.
Quinnipiac has a pair in Orono, Maine against the Black Bears this weekend. If you can get to Orono, I suggest it; it is a must for any college hockey fan.
Clarkson Takes a Pair from Michigan Tech:
Clarkson has been up and down all year, but a pair of wins against Michigan Tech was a big weekend for Casey Jones’ team. The Golden Knights scored first in each game, only to have Michigan Tech come back to tie it. But the Knights won both games 3-1 and never trailed in an impressive weekend. Jake Kielly was good, but the defense sparkled in both games. The Golden Knights allowed just 52 shots over the weekend series and most of those were from the outside areas of the ice. Another interesting stat for the weekend was the fact that Clarkson had six different scorers during the weekend. If Clarkson can get consistent defense and goaltending, it should be a scary team going forward. One thing to note, as I did above, the Golden Knights have four games in hand on Quinnipiac and should be able to get itself in the race for the championship. They can score, but whether they can get enough possession is something that will be interesting to track going forward. Last weekend they had just 46 shots, scoring on 15 percent of shots.
After writing about Princeton’s Ryan Kuffner, I am afraid the usual Seguin-Curse is alive and well. Sorry to the Tigers.
Colgate had a nice win against Princeton on Friday night. It struggled to persist against Quinnipiac on Saturday. Colgate struggles to score. Gate may just be the team they were predicted to be, but still has a defense that could surprise. Remember, they are struggling through injuries and are lacking depth.
Cornell is 3-1 in the ECAC, but I still feel the balance could be an issue. A 5-1 win over Princeton is nice, but wins over Yale and Brown, ehh.
Enjoy Turkey for me, I guess in the UK they don’t celebrate. Happy Thanksgiving Mates!