Archive for the 'Commentary' Category

Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, Feb. 14

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

The race for the top of Atlantic Hockey is really heating up. Canisius managed to stay in first despite splitting the weekend with Army, but Mercyhurst – with two wins and an OT loss, and Holy Cross, who lost twice this weekend, are nipping at their heels.

The Griffs are now 15-13-2 overall on the season, while the Lakers are 15-11-4. The Crusaders are 12-13-7.

Robert Morris’ Brady Ferguson continues to lead the conference in scoring, with 42 points (15-27) in 30 games. Canisius’ Dylan McLaughlin has 39 points in 29 games, and RMU’s Alex Tonge has 35 points (12-23) in 30 games. Holy Cross’ Scott Pooley is also averaging a point-per-game with just two weeks left in the regular season.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings as of February 13, following the noontime Air Force vs. Sacred Heart game, with each team’s number of remaining games:

  1. Canisius (4)
  2. Mercyhurst (4)
  3. Holy Cross (2)
  4. Robert Morris (4)
  5. RIT (4)
  6. Army (4)
  7. Air Force (4)
  8. Niagara (2)
  9. AIC (3)
  10. Bentley (3)
  11. Sacred Heart (4)

(more…)

ECAC Notepad 2/7

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Heading into the stretch run in the ECAC is always a love-hate relationship for me as a reporter.

The good teams always drop games they should win and the teams that have been struggling usually come up with big results.

Over the weekend it began as Clarkson fell to Quinnipiac and Princeton, while Cornell fell to Rensselaer. It was a weird weekend, but outcomes like this are not abnormal as ECAC teams tend to beat up on themselves.

Clarkson and Cornell have some leeway in terms of the pairwise, but more losses like they had last weekend will be damaging. The Big Red also announced this morning that Mitch Vanderlaan will be out for the regular season, but it sounds like there is hope for a playoff return.

This weekend Clarkson and Cornell will face off in Potsdam in what could be the biggest game of the stretch run. The Big Red enjoys a three-point lead in the ECAC standings on the Golden Knights. Cornell is fourth in the Pairwise after its loss to RPI, while Clarkson has dropped in recent weeks from a peak of two down to seven. It was inevitably a big game, but it probably won’t impose the influence it could have been a few weeks ago when both were ranked in the top four in the country.

Clarkson has a two point lead on Union in third and three points on Harvard in fourth. The Crimson have a gulf of four points on Colgate in fifth, but also have one less league game. Two points separate Colgate in fifth and Princeton/Dartmouth in seventh, while Quinnipiac is three points back of fifth. Another big game this weekend will be when Yale hosts Quinnipiac on Friday night, as the Bulldogs sit in ninth just one point back of the Bobcats in eighth. That race should be fascinating to watch going forward.

For now, here are my notes for this week:

Below the Break: Ryan Kuffner has been scoring at a high rate, is Quinnipiac back on Track, Colgate relies on Colton Point, Clarkson’s struggles, RPI and Harvard will be fine. (more…)

Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, Feb. 5

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Just three weeks remain in the Atlantic Hockey regular season, and it’s still anyone’s conference to win. After a split weekend, Canisius and Holy Cross remain tied with 28 points, though the Griffs have the extra edge (14-2-2) that’s putting them in first with more games left to play.

With a pair of wins this weekend, Robert Morris is just two points behind, with Mercyhurst a pair behind them.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings as of February 5, with the number of games each team has remaining:

  1. Canisius (6)
  2. Holy Cross (4)
  3. Robert Morris (6)
  4. Mercyhurst (7)
  5. Niagara (4)
  6. Army (6)
  7. AIC (4, incl. 1 non-conference)
  8. Air Force (7)
  9. RIT (7)
  10. Bentley (5)
  11. Sacred Heart (7)

(more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/18

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Nearing the midway point of the ECAC season, there are two teams that are a combined 18-1-1 in league play. Those two teams, of course, are Clarkson who is 10-0-0 in the ECAC, while Cornell is 8-1-1. The parity, or lack thereof, in the league this year is concerning to me. It sure seems that Clarkson and Cornell are going to be a runaway pair, which I will discuss below. Of course the St. Lawrence situation is tough and they have yet to win a league game. I assume they will before the end of the year, but time is running out to do so.

In terms of the pairwise, Clarkson and Cornell are solid and if the tourney started today both would be one seeds. Clarkson moved as high as the top spot over the weekend, but Notre Dame took that spot back when all the results came back in. Both, the Golden Knights and Big Red will have a tough time keeping those lofty positions because of the league’s record in non-conference play, if they were to lose games down the stretch. Clarkson has a better chance to keep it because it has five wins against teams in the top-17 of pairwise, not including its win against Cornell. I would also look for Harvard to maybe get in the picture in the coming weeks, which I will also discuss below.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts for the week, some predictions for the weekend and power rankings.

Below the Break: Lack of Parity in the league, Harvard Set for a Run, Princeton hasn’t been the team I thought they would be (more…)

Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, Jan. 14

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

It’s been a busy calendar year so far for the Atlantic Hockey conference, including 10 games between January 12-13.

This past weekend, Mercyhurst, Holy Cross and Air Force all skated away with pairs of wins. Meanwhile, Niagara, RIT and Sacred Heart failed to find success this weekend.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings, as of January 14:

  1. Canisius
  2. Holy Cross
  3. Niagara
  4. Army
  5. AIC
  6. Robert Morris
  7. Mercyhurst
  8. RIT
  9. Air Force
  10. Bentley
  11. Sacred Heart

(more…)

Friday Thoughts Around the ECAC and Union’s Bennett Goes Off

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

Last night, a lot happened in the ECAC, and I figured I would give an update on some of my thoughts heading into a full slate of Saturday games.

Clarkson is now the top ranked Pairwise team in the country after its, 4-1, win against Union on the road. The Golden Knights have won 13 games in a row and are now 9-0-0 in league play. Clarkson is first in the standings and has a three-point lead on Harvard/Cornell. Union fell to fourth in the standings, while Colgate is right on its heels. There is a steep divide between the top five teams and Dartmouth in sixth, with a four point difference.

Clarkson Rolls On. Who ends the Winning Run?

Each time I see Clarkson, I feel as though they only get better.

Despite having some rough patches in the second period on Friday night, the Golden Knights stood behind goaltender Jake Kielly and pulled away in the third.

No matter what Union threw at them, I never thought they were losing that game and it seemed like they were comfortable.

The Golden Knights are deep at forward, have great goaltending, work hard and their defense is exemplary at both ends of the ice. Teams with this much balance go far in the tournaments and one should think Tech should continue on this roll. There is so much to like about this team and if you listen to Union coach Rick Bennett, he would tell you the same: (more…)

Three Things I Think: Atlantic Hockey, Jan. 3

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Atlantic Hockey returned from its break with a handful of games on Friday, Dec. 29 and Saturday, Dec. 30 to finish off the 2017 calendar year. Many teams faced non-conference action over the past few days, including games against Minnesota, Colorado College, Ohio State and Clarkson.

Here are the Atlantic Hockey standings, as of January 3:

  1. Canisius
  2. Holy Cross
  3. Niagara
  4. Robert Morris
  5. RIT
  6. Army
  7. AIC
  8. Bentley
  9. Mercyhurst
  10. Air Force
  11. Sacred Heart

(more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/1

Monday, January 1st, 2018

A few weeks ago, nobody would’ve suggested St. Lawrence could head three hours east and win the Catamount Cup. But over the weekend the Saints did just that.

A win against Vermont was a positive development for the team that went 1-14-1 in the first half. The fact it was able to beat UMass-Lowell the next night showed that anything can happen in college hockey and anyone can beat any team.

Considering what that program has gone through, this win will go down as a bright spot in a season that has largely gone south. Below, I will talk about whether this outcome is a sign of things to come or whether it might be a mirage.

Dartmouth and Princeton also had good weekends, as the Tigers picked up two ties against St. Cloud State while Dartmouth had a win/tie against UNH and Minnesota-Duluth, respectively. I will talk about Princeton below, but I will wait on Dartmouth for a feature later this week. Both Harvard and Yale had up-and-down weekends, while Union and RPI struggled to the tune of two losses.

The weekend’s results continued the rocky non-conference results that the ECAC has put together this season, but the saving grace has been Cornell and Clarkson; they have been impressive. That is why both teams are currently in the top-4 of the pairwise, while others have fallen back. The league has played a tough non-conference schedule, as a whole, and has fared decently well against top teams.

Without further ado here are my thoughts of the week.

Below the break: Great Response from Yale, Princeton needs to build on last weekend, Can St. Lawrence sustain it? (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 12/7

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Seeing it has been some time since I have checked in with this, I figured I would get back in the swing of it just before the break. Now that we are almost at the holiday break, many trends have taken hold and there certainly seems like a few tiers have developed within the conference. Union and Clarkson sit at the top of the conference with 12 points, but the Golden Knights are unblemished at 6-0-0 in league play and have two games in hand on the Dutchmen. Union has been a surprise in the first half of the season and have gotten contributions from a lot of new faces. Cornell and Colgate also fit into the top tier, as the two have big wins and have just looked the part of being near the top. The Big Red are currently third with 10 points, while the Raiders are right behind with nine.

Brown has more wins in just 12 games this season than it did all of last year. It also has more ECAC wins, four, than it did last season. The Bears are tied for fifth with Harvard and Yale. The Crimson have been surprising, given the talent on the team and have a few tough losses. Another team I will mention is Princeton that has also largely underachieved.

If the NCAA tournament started today, the ECAC would have just two teams in it. Clarkson is third in the pairwise, while Cornell is fifth. Colgate is just outside the picture in 17th and Union is off the pace in 26th. This is largely caused by a poor inter-conference record by the league. Although the league has played a tough schedule, the .426 mark is hardly good for the coefficients. Clarkson and Cornell have largely been the best teams in non-conference play and both are reaping the benefits of it.

Without further ado here are my random thoughts of the last few weeks.

Below the break Clarkson’s young nucleus, Union’s New Charges, RPI fans should trust the process. (more…)

Friendship Four in Belfast is Quite the Experience

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

I was skeptical of the Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland a few years ago when it was introduced to the college hockey landscape, and honestly many coaches and programs didn’t want to subject their teams to the travel, either. But three years have passed and over the weekend I quickly learned why Hockey East and ECAC coaches should be flocking in droves to do this. It has become one of the most successful holiday tournaments.

The Friday afternoon match that pitted Clarkson and RPI saw probably 4,000 people. Most of the crowd was comprised of school children from local schools that hosted the players during the week, where the teams taught them about hockey and why it is a great sport to play. (more…)