Now that many teams have entered the annual holiday break, we can take a look back at the first half and everything that we have learned about the league. It is clear that power has shifted back to the Greater New Haven area, as Quinnipiac is the undisputed top dog in the and Yale will probably end up right on its heels. The Bobcats picked up a split against upstart Massachusetts over the weekend, while the Bulldogs dropped a lone game to the Minutemen.
QU has had most of the success in non-conference action in recent weeks, as the league’s record against the other conferences has plummeted. With many games still to go in the busy holiday stretch, that can improve and it will be integral for the few teams that have tournament aspirations. In terms of the conference standings, they are starting to take shape with Yale at the top with 13 points and Quinnipiac hot on its trails with 12. The Bobcats have a game in-hand, however, and in a cruel set of circumstances we will have to wait until mid-February before the two teams play in Hamden. Dartmouth, as I have nicknamed Jeckyll and Hyde this year, is in third, while Cornell is in fourth.
QU and Union are the only two teams that would be in the NCAA tournament, if it started today, as the Bobcats are 6th in the pairwise and the Dutchmen are in 13th. Yale is just outside in the 17th spot and quickly rising.
Without further ado here are my thoughts of the week:
Will the Real Dartmouth Please Stand Up
I have been covering the ECAC for going on eight years and I am not sure I have seen a first half like Dartmouth’s. The Big Green have beat each of the current top four in the ECAC, not including themselves of course, and they have been impressive in doing so. The Big Green walloped the best of that bunch, Quinnipiac, 5-1 at home, while holding the likes of Chase Priskie and Odeen Tufto at bay. They also beat Yale 3-0 on the road, while they also beat Cornell at home. The combined record of the teams they have beat is 32-15-4. Ok really good, Dartmouth is good.
But it isn’t their wins that is defining their season, it is their losses. The combined record of the teams Dartmouth has lost to is 18-36-15. They have lost to world beaters UNH (X2), Vermont and Brown.
The inconsistencies can be seen with a young backline and it’s glaring. The Big Green are 50th in team defense and have allowed nearly 3.5 goals per game. In the games they have won, which so happen to have been quality wins, the Green have gotten goaltending and defense in those games. IN the others, they have not. Seems cliche, but goes without saying, hockey games are not won by giving up three goals per game. There is also another glaring issue, and that is special teams. They are 50th in the country on the power play (13.3%) and dead last on the PK with a paltry 69% success rate.
Whatever it is, Dartmouth is Jekyll and Hyde. Gaudet usually has things fixed come the second half, but man has it been a strange first half.
Quinnipiac has an Interesting Goalie Situation
There are many reasons why Quinnipiac has been so good this season. Chase Priskie has been arguably the best defenseman in the country, Odeen Tufto is a skilled kid that has been scoring the lights out, while the young kids are stepping up. But probably the single most important thing that the Bobcats have gotten this season, is goaltending.
The Bobcats not only have one goalie, but that have a pair of goalies that are probably deserving of getting starts every night. Keith Petruzzelli got many of the starts in the early going, while Andrew Shortridge has also gotten starts. The two have been lights out, but Shortridge has been making a claim for throne in the coming weeks.
Petruzzelli had a rough start to the year, but a 2.10 GAA and .917 save percentage is a big improvement year-over-year. Shortridge has been lights out in his starts, as he has a national best 0.83 GAA and has a .966 save percentage. Shortridge, a native of Alaska, is also undefeated at 6-0-0.
Obviously, it is an interesting problem for Rand Pecknold to have, but I personally have never been a fan of goalie tandems. The last one to work was probably Maine in their 1993 national championship year. It is commendable what the two are doing, but at some point one will get in a rhythm and need starts. Goalies are weird creatures and maybe the reason why the goaltending was so rough last year was because of this. Andrew Shortridge might not be as touted as Petruzzelli, but it sure seems to me he needs a crack at more starts. He was certainly deserving last weekend against UMass, where he shutout the Minutemen and bailed his team out with save after save. He was left on the bench the next night.
Yale isn’t just the Fighting Joe Snivelys
Yale is first in the ECAC standings for a reason. I had an argument the other day with a fellow writer, who scribes for another publication, as he said Union was higher in the power rankings than Union was. Right now, Yale is the second best team in the ECAC and it isn’t even close.
Yah, Yale has Joe Snively and yes he is really terrific, but the Bulldogs are more than just him. One of the reasons they have been so good is because they have built up some depth in the roster, which they didn’t have just last year. Kevin O’Neil has developed into a nice scorer in his own right, as he has three goals and another eight assists. While the older players are coming into their own right, the Bulldogs also have talented freshmen throughout their lineup. The depth helps possession, which the Elis have had a ton of.This has meant the possession has been good and Yale has won hockey games.
It is easy to forget that Yale had a good run late last season but tailed off. It had minimal losses in the offseason, so this should hardly be shocking. It is such a shame we have to wait another two months to see the Battle of New Haven commence, because I want it now.
Brown is fifth in the ECAC, yo, and three of their nine league games have ended in a tie. The defense is better and it seems like the Bears are really moving in the right direction. I’m stoked, more trips to Meehan Auditorium for me in the coming months. Meehan is a fantastic college hockey facility btw.
Princeton just has no depth. Couple that with a tough schedule in recent weeks and the Tigers have lost seven in a row. It can only go up from here, but the defending champions seem to be lifeless at the moment.
Good on St. Lawrence for beating rival Clarkson over the weekend. It was a big win for that program and it will surely breathe some life in Canton, hopefully.
Clarkson is still growing, but is the ECAC’s second best team in non-conference play with a 6-3-0 record.
The UK has been fun, but I miss college hockey. When most teams play again, I will be back… Sorry for being so scattered with these this semester, I will be better in the second half. Life is kinda hectic and fun here, mates.
- St. Lawrence