Up and down the out-of-town scoreboard, the ECAC saw success over the weekend. Rensselaer picked up a big win on the road against Umass Lowell on Friday night – an important outcome for Rensselaer. The Engineers led the River Hawks on Sunday, but ran out of gas and conceded four in a row in a 5-2 defeat. The steps RPI has taken this year have been impressive, and Dave Smith should be lauded for that. In all, the ECAC went 5-3-0 in non-conference play over the weekend
Both ECAC teams went 1-0-1 in Northern Ireland, with Union winning the Belpot in a 2-1 win over Boston University. Yale picked up a win against in-state rival, Connecticut, by a 6-3 scoreline. Quinnipiac continued its successful year with a sweep at the ever-difficult Alfond Arena against Maine. Odeen Tufto was ECAC player of the week picking up hat trick on Friday night and five points in the game. QU’s youngsters have also performed well, as Ethan De Jong won one of the ECAC Hockey Weekly Awards with a four point weekend. Princeton played in a highly entertaining overtime loss to UMass, and Harvard picked up a win against Cornell at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
No ECAC teams played league games over the weekend, so the standings are unchanged. Yet, both Quinnipiac and Union are now in the top-10 of the Pairwise, with Princeton and Clarkson on the proverbial bubble in 15th and 16th places. Their competitiveness grows convincing, but use caution.
Without further ado here are some thoughts for the week:
Darion Hanson Has Been Really Good for Union:
Questions surrounded Union in the preseason about who would spend more time between the pipes. Darion Hanson and Jake Kupsky split time last year, and both performed well. This season, both began the year the same way as last season ended, each sharing time. But Hanson has taken the job and run with it this season. Hanson won his third ECAC goalie of the week award this weekend and allowed just a pair of goals on 72 shots. He also led Union in the shootout win on Friday afternoon. Hanson’s numbers sparkle this season, as he has helped Union to an 8-3-2 start to the year. His GAA is 10th in the country, best in the ECAC, at 1.80. His .943 save percentage is third nationally.
Hanson has performed well for the Dutchmen. He was fifth in the country in winning percentage last year, at .764 (10-4-0), and when he has started both games in a weekend, the sophomore is 9-1-0 for the two seasons. Hanson made 37 saves in a win against Northeastern, 34 in a game-stealing effort against Quinnipiac, and 39 against BU on Saturday. So when he wins he is usually busy. He has proven he can steal games for the Dutchmen.
I have never been a fan of goalie tandems because they rarely work. Yet it sure seems Hanson has taken his place and run with it.
Harvard Seems to be Righting the Ship:
Coming into the year, I honestly expected a down year for Harvard. Early on that seemed to be the case as the Crimson languished to an 0-2-2 record in its first four games. However, I didn’t expect its defense to flounder; I was more concerned with the offense. But whatever ailed them has apparently evaporated.
After a dominating weekend against a good Arizona State team, this weekend’s game against Cornell was a good sign. Not only did Harvard get the MSG monkey off its back, but it also shutdown Cornell and got a good goaltending performance. Goaltending, as Joe Meloni wrote last week, would present its biggest challenge this year; and goaltending trouble reared its ugly head early-on. However, Harvard’s defense is really talented, and at some point I figured strong defense would help balance weak goaltending. The balance seems to work. Although the jury is still out, Harvard will improve as the season goes on, and that might be scary for teams at the top.
Yale is Better than People Think:
I think one of the takeaways from the Friendship Four in Belfast is Yale’s performance: The Bulldogs deserve more credit than they’ve received. The team carried the play against Union on Friday night and probably deserved to win, but a shootout can be cruel. The Bulldogs did get the tie for pairwise purposes, but a chance to play for an in-season tournament title is fun. The next night, Yale took out its frustration on UConn, winning 6-3.
People forget that Yale was pretty good down the stretch and lost practically noone for that time while adding talent. It also still has a determined Joe Snively, who has done nothing but score in his career. While Yale still has questions at the back and in goal, they can score and have depth up front. The early results haven’t been there, but the more recent ones tell us Yale might be similar to the team that went on a tear late last year.
Other Random Thoughts:
Harvard’s Adam Fox has 17 points in eight games. He’s a defenseman – let that sink in for a minute.
RPI’s puckman jersey needs to stay…not sure if that was something special or if that was just a one-night deal. But man, were they spiffy. If you haven’t seen the jersey, find a picture from that game.
Cornell – well, I don’t know – they are probably better than the record shows. A lifeless game on Saturday against Harvard left coach Mike Schafer looking for answers.
Power Rankings? They seemed to give Union the nod at the top because they have the head-to-head win against the Bobcats and a solid one.
- St. Lawrence
I have two weeks left in the UK and I cannot wait to get to a rink when I get back. Hope you all enjoyed your turkey, I missed that.