Archive for the 'ECAC' Category

Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/25

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Another week in the books and we have hit the last weekend of the regular season. Quinnipiac locked up at least a share of the Cleary Cup last weekend with two ties, while St. Lawrence will be the second seed in the ECAC tournament and still could gain a share if it wins twice, while the Bobcats drop both on the weekend. But that probably won’t happen so don’t think that it will even be a thing. The home ice teams seem to be a lock, but two byes are going to go to the wire. Yale should end up the third seed, but is up just two points on Colgate who it plays on Friday night and Harvard who has the spot. Dartmouth is a point behind both Harvard and Colgate in fifth. Cornell and Clarkson seem to be locks to host first round series’ in two weeks.

The pairwise situation is still marginal at best, as Quinnipiac sits in 11th, while Yale is the only other team in and on the bubble, in 15. Harvard wrecked its chances with an overtime loss to Boston College on Monday, but St. Lawrence would be interesting and close if it continued to win hockey games at the pace it has. The Ivy league is also up for grabs this weekend as Yale would clinch it with a win on Saturday against Cornell, but Dartmouth also has a chance at it if Yale were to fall to the Big Red. Without further ado, here are my thoughts of the week: (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/18

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Quinnipiac has all but locked up the Cleary Cup. It can do so at home against its rival, Yale, on Friday night. Hypothetically it would only clinch a share, but nonetheless to do so in front of your biggest rival is always something special. St. Lawrence is in second place in the standings and in pretty good shape, as it is clear of third place Yale by three points. At that point it gets interesting, as four points separate positions 3-8. Harvard holds the fourth and final bye, which in all honesty it needs to make a run. Dartmouth however is just a point back, while Colgate is two points back of that all important bye. It seems as though, Union and RPI are all but eliminated from contention for the final first round home series. The Engineers are four behind eighth, while its capital region counterpart is five points back.

The national picture is again looking ok for the league, as three teams currently sit in the top 15 of the Pairwise. Quinnipiac is the highest ranked league team, in tenth place. Yale and Harvard are in 14th and 15th respectively, hardly comfortable positioning going forward. Yale could really help itself with a win against Quinnipiac on Friday, ditto Harvard picking up some road wins in the North Country. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview Feb. 13-14

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

The standings are so close that with three weeks remaining any of the teams in the top ten could get a bye in the first round. Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence have run away with the league, as the Bobcats have a three point lead on the Saints and SLU has five points clear of the mess of teams in third place. Behind the two front-runners it is a mess, as four teams are tied for third with two others just a point behind in the standings. The battle for the byes and home ice will come down to the last game of the season in three weekends.

Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence meet on Friday, with the league in balance. St. Lawrence has quietly won seven games in a row, all in ECAC play, while QU is riding an overall four game unbeaten streak and eight in league play. Realistically, SLU is playing the best hockey in the league right now and its 7-1 trouncing of Union shows it but QU is playing some awesome hockey as well, mainly led by its defense. With a win on Friday, Quinnipiac can practically wrap up the league barring a meltdown with two weeks left in the season, while the Saints can make it a battle for the league title in the coming weeks. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/9

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Clarkson Has Visibly Improved in Attack, Hence the Results Are Changing

Clarkson has seen its struggles this year on offense. It was visible why that was the case throughout much of the early part of the season. The attack lacked any sort of confidence and the possession game were hardly present in many of its games. In a series against Merrimack, Tech faltered and didn’t move the puck. At times it looked inept and without structure in that series, it could hardly get through the neutral zone. In all fairness, Merrimack does that to a lot of teams but Clarkson just looked lost at times.

Despite scoring a lone goal against Union, the attack just looked more dangerous. If not for the Union goaltender playing well, Clarkson deserved a better fate than playing to a 4-1 loss. The power play had its opportunities and at even strength Clarkson dominated the metrics of the game. Stevens made the better saves of the game and the Knights shot themselves in the foot with uncharacteristic mistakes and a lack of discipline. Change the lack of discipline and the dreadful start to the contest, it would have looked down the eyes of a weekend sweep. On Saturday, Clarkson scored five goals in a win against Rensselaer.

The improvement on offense is not only passing the eye test, but also has showed up on the scoresheet. In its last five wins, it has scored  21 goals for an average of 4.20 per game. Since the dawn of the second half, Clarkson has scored at a clip of 2.70 goals per game. The 2.70 is near 3/4’s of a goal higher than what they were in the first half, just over 2 goals per game. The problem for Clarkson is to improve consistency and to be dangerous like they looked at times.

Sitting at .500 in the half is hardly what Clarkson fans like, but seeing improvement is something I really enjoyed. Kevin Tansey, before he took the game disqualification, was  the best player on the ice against Union. The disqualification was a sad ending to what I thought was a great game by a very underrated player. His presense in the rush and pinching on offense was something that Clarkson needs more of because it is what it lacks the most in its attack. Clarkson still has the best hard nose, defenders in the league so the improved offense has led to better results. Clarkson has much of a chance of anyone to get a bye and to hold fort as a home ice team. Now with the increased confidence in attack I can see it competing for one of those spots. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview Feb. 6-7

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

From here on out, each league team will play two games a weekend. With only four weekends remaining in the regular season, every game seems to be huge. St. Lawrence is hard charging, having won five league games in a row. Quinnipiac is on a six game unbeaten streak and leads the league by three over the Saints. But the league as a whole continues to be close, as positions 3-9 in the league are separated by a mere four points and 4-9 just two points. Tenth place Union sits just three points behind Home byes, home advantage and the illustrious Cleary Cup all seem to be in play in the coming weeks.

Quinipiac and St. Lawrence have looked like the best teams this half. Those two teams look to be the favorites for the Cleary but I am sure some of the teams below them could compete for the title. Harvard got Alex Kerfoot back in the Beanpot semi, which quite frankly they should be proud of as a group. Sean Malone was also back in the lineup, but wasn’t on the bench for the thrilling end. Yale, Clarkson and Cornell all have struggled to find scoring this season, which makes me speculate whether or not any of those teams can make a run. An interesting one to me is Dartmouth, who swept the Capital Region teams at home last weekend. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/2

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

I was able to take in the Hockey Haven rivalry, penned notably by the New Haven’ Register’s Chip Malafronte, on Saturday night at Yale’s famed Ingalls Rink. You should also check out his column from the game, which talked about how unsatisfying the result was for both sides. I was able to watch two of the better teams in the league fight toe to toe. While Yale was the better possession team and better in the neutral zone, Quinnipiac’s transition game was on full display. This transition led to both goals for Quinnipiac, who may or may not have been the best team on Saturday. I would argue they were a step behind its cross town rival for much of the first two periods and were lucky to leave the Whale with a lone point. Both teams played well in third period, which made for an entertaining last 20 minutes. for me just being in the Yale Whale makes me happy, what a great place to watch a game.

Although I think it is a bit overblown on how big of a rivalry it is, one can tell that Rand Pecknold and Keith Allain just do not like each other. That made for cinema in the first period when Allain caught Pecknold cheating in a player off an icing call, Allain flipped and pointed. Looked as though Allain wanted to say bad things to Pecknold, but in the end the deed was caught and the refs made it good. Other than that there was little hatred in comparison to some of the other more traditional rivalries and for a rivalry game the crowd didn’t seem any more jacked up than it would have been without Quinnipiac in town. And to make matters worse, both bands were in the house but both seemingly had off nights. I guess take that for what it is worth. It may not be up to the level of a BC-BU, Harvard-Cornell, UNH-Maine, or North Dakota-Minnesota but the signs were there that it is almost there. I have heard I will see a totally different atmosphere in Hamden, which I am totally looking forward to.

This weekend I plan on heading to the North Country for my premiere visit to Appelton and Cheel Arenas, barring more snow of course. Right now, the North Country is proving to be the toughest travel partner combo in the league. Clarkson and St. Lawrence played an entertaining game last Saturday night at Cheel Arena, which St. Lawrence was able to eek out a key road win. The win marked SLU’s fifth in a row and Clarkson’s first loss in four games. Both SLU and Clarkson sit in the top four of the ECAC standings, with the Saints in second place and Clarkson tied for fourth with Yale. Tech also holds the tiebreaker with Yale. Of course this gets me thinking to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if both those teams made it to Lake Placid? Personally, I think one of the two actually will but we will see what happens going forward. Better chances than last year for one or both to make it. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/27

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Another week of conference action and the standings are as close as they have been in a while. Quinnipiac continues to lead the league, while St. Lawrence and Harvard are tied two points back. All in all the top six are separated by just six points, while the top ten are separated by ten. The North Country was again a tough place to play over the weekend, as Clarkson and St Lawrence swept Yale and Brown respectively. St. Lawrence has been hard charging this half, I explained why in last week’s edition of this blog. The Saints have now won four games in a row and five of its last six, its lone loss being to Colgate. Clarkson meanwhile has won three games in a row, which followed a three game losing streak. Both those schools have more home games upcoming than they do road tilts, so one should expect the good play to continue in the North Country.

The national picture is again on the bleak side for the conference, but it is not horrible as many of the league teams are lurking on the outside looking in. Harvard continues to sit in the top five of the Pairwise, as it has pretty much from the outset of its season. Yale and Colgate are in 16th and 17th in the Pairwise, while five others are in the top 33. The Crimson have the Beanpot upcoming, which could help the conference with two big non-conference games. All in all, having one team in would be bad, but in the end the league will have tons of opportunities to pick up big victories against each other. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Will the real favorite please stand up

The standings are close and so has the play been in recent weeks. My perceived top three of Harvard, Yale and Quinnipiac aren’t exactly looking as strong as they once were, while upstarts St. Lawrence and Rensselaer are hanging around in the top five of the league looking to pounce. One of the things I have been asking myself in recent weeks is who exactly is the favorite right now? The casual person will look at the standings and see the Bobcats up by four points, followed by Harvard and the rest of the mess in the top eight or so. So I guess Quinnipiac?

I will caution and let you watch the highlights of the Merrimack-Quinnipiac game on Friday. Teams that make mistakes so glaring aren’t usually contenders but Quinnipiac will be there and be better. When it is good, it is really good and when it is ugly, it is very ugly. Harvard was the most consistent team in the first half, while Yale was right with them. The Bulldogs have been constantly consistent this half as well, but Harvard is just 2-2 with a second loss to Yale and a blowout loss to SLU. Based on what I have seen this half I almost want to say Yale is the team to beat. The Elis have two huge weekends upcoming, which can change that.

Rensselaer is an interesting case study and I talked about them earlier in the week. What they do have, is a great defensive core and goaltender in Jason Kasdorf. It is also getting healthy, which is always something that needs to be taken into account. Teams like Colgate, Clarkson and Cornell are also lurking. I have no idea right now beyond what I presented, kind of a weird feeling at this point in the season. I think Yale? What do you guys think? (more…)

Three Things I Think ECAC 1/21

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Some interesting results in the past week, included a statement by St. Lawrence over Harvard. Quinnipiac continues to lead the ECAC by four points, over Harvard, while SLU and RPI sit six points back in third place. The standings as a whole are really close as second to seventh are separated by just four points. This weekend Yale and St. Lawrence play a huge game on Friday, while Rensselaer and Union play in their poorly named Mayors Cup (Should be Mayors’ Cup but I guess it is the Albany Mayor’s trophy despite the schools being in Troy and Schenectady). For now, here is what I think now that is out of the way.

The old Harvard is Back

I have seen two out of four Crimson games this semester and what I see is troubling. The thing that can be seen not only on box scores but from the press box is how Harvard seems disinterested with first periods. Since returning from the break, the Crimson are 2-2 but its first period statistics are downright ugly. The Crimson have been outscored 9-2 in first stanza, in four games. On Saturday, the Crimson looked awful and were outscored 3-0 by St. Lawrence. SLU was the aggressor, while it seemed the Crimson just wanted an easy night quite frankly. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview 1/15

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

An almost full slate of conference games this weekend, as Quinnipiac and Princeton are the only teams no playing an ECAC opponent. Quinnipiac holds a six point lead in the ECAC standings, which will almost certainly evaporate this weekend as its closest competition has two games this weekend.

There are no huge tilts this weekend, within league play. the biggest games on the calendar are the non-conference pair that Quinnipiac plays, when it hosts and travels to Merrimack College. For Pairwise purposes, the game is huge because of how close the season series is between the Hockey East and ECAC conferences. Quinnipiac is also within a game of going below .500 in non-conference. A sweep would make it difficult for them to solidify a spot in the Pairwise going forward.

Can Harvard recover?

Harvard looked, well bad against Yale last Saturday at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The Crimson are better than their performance on national television last week. In all honesty, I had a hunch before the game the Crimson were going to struggle and they did. I was surprised however of how easy Yale made it look against its long time rival. I saw the first Yale, Harvard game in November and it was a great hockey game. Saturday night on the big stage was as lopsided as it could have been. (more…)