Heading into the last weekend of the Regular, I am not sure even true ECAC fans could have pictured just how close things are at the top. But here we are, as Cornell leads Quinnipiac and Harvard by a lone point, while Clarkson is just two points back of the Big Red. Cornell controls its own destiny, at the top, but with a tough game at Clarkson on Saturday, a lot could go wrong for the team from Ithaca. In a sense, because the Golden Knights own the tiebreaker, the Big Red could go from winning the Cleary Cup, to the four seed in just one game. Luckily for the Red, they have SLU on Saturday, which should assure them at least a bye.
Quinnipiac travels to Brown and Yale, while Harvard is in the capital region for a pair of games. Quinnipiac would hold singular tiebreakers on Cornell and Harvard, while Clarkson owns the singular tiebreaker on each of the other three in the top-4. Cornell would hold the singular tiebreaker on Harvard. Three-way tiebreakers would be a bit more complicated, but are a legitimate possibility. How cool would it be to see a four-way tie at the top, though. In that scenario, the cup is shared, but the seeding is ever important. Yale still can get a bye and are two points back of Clarkson, but the Knights would hold the tiebreaker, with its superior record against the other teams in the top-4.
This weekend is important for all of the above in regards to the pairwise, as well, as all but Quinnipiac are bubbilicious. Clarkson is 12th, Cornell is 13th and Harvard is 14th. Yale probably will need to win the ECAC tournament to get into the dance, as it is 24th in the pairwise.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts of the week:
Quinnipiac and Clarkson are opposites in one interesting way
If one looked on paper for Saturday night’s Clarkson visit to Quinnipiac, one probably would have picked the Golden Knights to pull out the win (which they did). Interestingly enough, Clarkson plays well on Saturdays and are 12-3-0 on that day, while they are 7-6-1 on Fridays. On the other hand, Quinnipiac is an astounding 12-1-1 on Fridays. So, Hypothetically, it probably would have been an easy choice to see this.
But what causes this is always an interesting question because it is actually more common than you think. Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold has told his student media that “immaturity” within his team has been one of the main causes. Personally, I think he is selling himself out a tad, because that seems like great coaching to me. The record is showing the value of coaching a team that wasn’t expected to be very good at all because when prepared they are practically unbeatable. The turnaround, Saturdays, is probably where most expected them to be, a largely .500 team. Clarkson on the other hand is a big, heavy team with great conditioning and a little older. So, it would make sense they would be better on the second night of a weekend.
The numbers in this are interesting, as Quinnipiac gives up over a goal more on Fridays (1.36) than on Saturday (2.44) and score over a half of a goal more on the first night of the weekend (4.00-3.38). Clarkson on the other hand gives up about three quarters of a goal more on Fridays (2.21) than on Saturday (1.69), while it scores 3.38 on Saturday versus 2.79 on Friday. These are strange stats and honestly it will be interesting to see if these hold tune in the tournament. The Bobcats are 5-0-1 on Fridays against the ECAC top-eight and on Saturdays they are 0-5-1.
Cornell Holds its Own Destiny in its hands, but if it falters at all Quinnipiac does
Cornell’s simple task this weekend is to win two games. If it can do that it will be Cleary Cup champions and the number one seed in the ECAC. But beyond that, if it falters it is in trouble and could easily fall back to fourth. A loss to Clarkson would be detrimental as well, as that would give the Golden Knights the tiebreaker on the Big Red because they have more, league wins.
The Big Red have dealt beautifully with injuries to key players, but have fallen on rougher times of late. A loss to RPI last week is a major setback, because if they would have beaten or tied the Engineers this weekend would have made it a tad easier on them. The Big Red, however, has a hapless SLU team on Friday, which should mean it has a bye. But everything is on the line on Saturday at Cheel Arena.
Quinnipiac is the biggest beneficiary with a Cornell falter. It owns tiebreaker on Harvard and Cornell, if either of them end up tied. Like the stat above says, Saturday probably will be a big challenge. Harvard of course hopes both lose and it can get two wins.
Harvard has gotten better and better
Everyone knows Harvard has a ton of talent, but the improvement from day one to today is pretty noticeable. What was once an iffy defensive team, has turned into one of the best, most consistent in the ECAC. Harvard has gotten a ton of scoring from Adam Fox and a super-talented group of young forwards in recent weeks and are eighth in the country in scoring, potting home 3.33 per game. The offense is carried mainly by the best power play in the country, but the 5-on-5 play has been better in recent weeks as well.
Harvard was nowhere near the ECAC race at the beginning of the year, but now they have a big chance to win a Cleary Cup. Yes, they will be down their top goalie in Michael Lackey, but with that defense Harvard should be competitive going forward. Look no further than Saturday night’s shutout of Yale, which helped lead Harvard to CHN Team of the Week Honors. They are 5-1-0 in their last six games.
We all know the Crimson are dangerous on the big ice in Lake Placid and I assume they will get there, so look out.
Other, Quick-fire Thoughts
Colgate is 2-0-1 in their last three games and got a weekend sweep over the weekend. Maybe, they are finally the tough team to play, I thought they would be?
Union was outscored 8-2 this weekend by Colgate and Cornell. The Dutchmen continue to falter and fall deeper into the abyss. They are still an enigma.
Dartmouth and Brown will have first round home series’, while Harvard should have a bye/host a QF series. Josh rejoices with the relatively local choices, it could be worse.
Princeton should still be better than they are and I don’t care they have just one line.
Adam Fox is really good and Nico Sturm should be second in the ECAC player of the year race. Chase Priskie is on the conversation, but most of his production is on the power-play and he is a +1 in league play. Priskie has more of a conversation in the national picture, than in the ECAC.
- St. Lawrence
Quinnipiac 4 Brown 3
Harvard 5 RPI 1
Clarkson 4 Colgate 2
Cornell 6 SLU 0
Dartmouth 4 Union 3
Princeton 5 Yale 3
Yale 3 Quinnipiac 2
Harvard 4 Union 1
Clarkson 4 Cornell 1
Dartmouth 4 RPI 2
Brown 5 Princeton 3
Colgate 3 St. Lawrence 2
- Harvard 30
- Clarkson 29 (Clarkson holds tiebreaker on league wins)
- Cornell 29
- Quinnipiac 28
- Dartmouth 25 (Dart owns tiebreaker with 2-0 H2H record)
- Yale 25
- Brown 23
- Gate 19
- Union 18
- RPI 16
- Princeton 14
- SLU 6