Archive for the 'ECAC' Category

Close Battles Aplenty in ECAC’s Final Weekend

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Going into the final weekend, the Cleary Cup is Cornell’s to lose. For Union to catch them, the Big Red would need to lose in a sweep. Beyond the top of the standings, the races are close. Cornell, Union, Clarkson and Harvard will own the byes, but positioning is up for grabs. The only way Union can win the Cleary Cup would be a win against Colgate on Friday night, a Cornell loss for a second time this season against lowly RPI, and a victory over the Big Red at home on Saturday. It is possible, but Saturday will probably end up pretty insignificant, and then we will think of what could have been.

In terms of positions 2-4 in the standings, Union has a four-point lead on Clarkson and would need to lose a sweep to forfeit that spot. Clarkson has the tiebreakers on the Dutchmen with two wins against them this season. The more interesting battle is for third and fourth, but does it really matter? The Golden Knights and Harvard are separated by a lone point. Clarkson has Princeton and Quinnipiac at home, while the Crimson travels to Brown and Yale. Harvard does own the tiebreakers.

The battle for positioning at the top is not the only entertaining part of this weekend: Only three points separate positions 5-9. Dartmouth is currently in fifth and is probably pretty close to a lock to the first home-ice spot. It has a big game against Yale on Friday night, which is two points back in a tie for seventh. Colgate is a point back of the Big Green in sixth, while Princeton is also in the driver’s seat for a home-ice series next weekend tied with the Bulldogs in seventh.

Dartmouth and Yale will provide the only matchup between teams within the 5-9 band, which is quite remarkable given the number of teams involved. They will faceoff on Friday night at Ingalls Rink in New Haven in what should be an energy-charged game. Yale probably has more on the line given its position and the fact it has Harvard on Saturday night. The Big Green won the reverse fixture, 3-1, in Hanover. The game will also feature the return of Yale coach Keith Allain, who will be back from his role as assistant coach of Team USA.

Quinnipiac is hot on the trail of all these teams and is the only team not in the top 9 to have a chance for home ice. It is a lone point back with games against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. The Bobcats swept the home weekend against the two and will be looking to do the same on the road. If it does so, one would assume they would be at home. The Bobcats have made the league’s championship weekend every year for the last five seasons, last missing it when Atlantic City hosted in 2012. QU has finished in the top 8 of the ECAC every year since 2005-06, its first season in the league.

Brown, Rensselaer and St. Lawrence will finish 10-11-12 in the league and will travel for the first round.

Some random thoughts

No Clear-cut favorite and early picks for the Tournament

Yah, Cornell has been good, but does it have enough possession? Can it get enough shots? Does it have the experience to win in the tournament? Time will tell for the Big Red, I suppose. I personally think if I had to pick a matchup for the Championship game based on how the matchups play out, it would be Clarkson and Harvard. Joe Meloni hit the nail on the head in his piece on Clarkson this week… Despite a 1-5-3 mark in its last nine games, the Golden Knights have been snake-bitten and played bad hockey. The bounces just aren’t going their way. The possession is still there and the top-line, which has been really quiet, will wake up. It is not too late. In terms of Harvard, two words-Ryan Donato. The Crimson defense is also really good, and so is Merrick Madsen.

Still picking Harvard to win it, so sue me everyone or just attack me on twitter at @JoshSeguin24 (honestly, I like it). The scoring has come around and with Donato back it should be fun.

The first round is going to be really interesting, but so will the quarters.

Given how close the 5-9 band of teams are, the first round should pack a lot of interest. Also, St. Lawrence is a team I would watch and the one that could pull an upset. Yah the Saints have had a rough season, but considering the drama that plagued them all season is gone… one should assume the recent better play will continue. In terms of the next round, look out for Princeton and Colgate as lower ranked teams that could make Lake Placid. The Raiders have Colton Point and we all know the story with goalies and tournaments. The Tigers, on the other hand, may have shaky defense and goaltending. But, man, can they score goals and quickly! Quinnipiac is also dangerous because of the experience. Should make for an interesting three weeks.

ECAC, Harvard and Yale a Clear Winner at the Olympics

The ECAC boys scored 7 of the 11 goals for Team USA in South Korea. Harvard’s Ryan Donato had five goals for the Americans, while Mark Arcobello and Brian O”Neill each had goals for the red, white and blue. Kudos to Yale coach, Keith Allain, as well. Not only did he get good press for himself and his program, his former players also played big roles. Both O’Neill and Arcobello played phenomenal hockey, while Broc Little also had a good showing. Ted Donato, of course, is a winner too. After his reactions to his sons’ goals, who wouldn’t want to play for the man? He did himself a lot of good and got great publicity for his program by just showing up. Overall, the tournament was a win for the league.

Playoff hockey is a week away, lets rejoice and be glad.

I will end on that note – no need to say anything else. Enjoy this weekend’s games!

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: 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…)

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: 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…)

Injury Riddled St. Lawrence Struggling with Depth

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Entering Brown’s Meehan Auditorium and taking a look at St. Lawrence’s line chart on Saturday night, I was struck by one thing and one thing only- On that line chart, the Saints had just three forward lines and three D-pairs, which is something I had never seen before in my career of covering DI college hockey. It has always been normal to see a team missing maybe one on that chart and dressing 17 skaters, instead of the normal 18, but seeing a team short three bodies is something I cannot think of. I am sure it happened a lot in the old days, but today it just never happens that way.

In retrospect, the line chart had just eight forwards listed as Philip Alftberg was playing a wing and he is a natural defender. Going deeper, eight of the fifteen were freshmen and only two of the forwards were upperclassmen. The fact half the lineup were freshmen would cause any team to struggle, but coupled with the depth issues it is just a disaster.

Depth is so key in college hockey and not having it often times leads to even more problems, so to see a team have so many injuries is something that is just uncommon. On Saturday, I felt SLU was giving their all and Mark Morris was coaching enough to show there is hardly an issue with either of those aspects, but the numbers game just was not in their favor. In fact, I will go as far to say being so short is just not competitive and if the injuries are long term, it will be a long season in Canton. It is normal for a team to be missing guys, but to be down 7 of 15 forwards is just tough.

Morris didn’t want to talk on Saturday, understandably so. Morris called me on Monday, and called this season “one of the most challenging seasons I have ever experienced.” Those are strong words considering how long he has been coaching at a high level. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC, 11/14

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Another weekend, another set of surprises in the ECAC. As I was watching results pour in over the weekend, I couldn’t help but to think to myself how topsy turvy the league is setting up to be. Quinnipiac fell twice in the capital region, falling to 0-4-0 in ECAC play, while Harvard is 2-3-0. On the flip side of those two is Union, who I picked 10th in preseason. The Dutchmen are now 5-1-0 in the ECAC play and have looked good in the process. Its only loss was to Clarkson last week, while it has defeated RPI twice, St. Lawrence, Quinnipiac and Princeton. Like the Dutchmen, Colgate is off to a surprising start and is 3-0-1 in ECAC play and is on an overall seven game unbeaten streak. The Raiders have also won their last three games and I will talk about this success below.

Cornell is the only defeated team left in the nation, at 6-0-0. The Big Red were expected to be up in the top echelon of teams but they are looking the part of one of the better teams in the ECAC. This success, is setting up for a huge showdown against long-time ECAC rival Clarkson. The REAL Golden Knights are also off to a great start, with a 4-0-0 record in the league. Honestly, these two teams have looked like the best teams but it is still early.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts of the week… (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC, 11/7

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Now that all ECAC teams have played games, there are certainly some interesting trends. Who would have guessed after the first full weekend of play that Quinnipiac would 12th on the table and 0-2? If you said you expected it, I would say you’re lying because since the Bobcats entered the league over a decade ago, it has not been 0-2 in the league. I will discuss their troubles below and a lot of it stems from the same questions that were asked in the preseason. Dartmouth, after a rough 5-0 loss in its ECAC opener against Harvard responded well and won both its games over the weekend.  Cornell is 4-0-0 to begin the year and had an impressive road sweep of Quinnipiac/Princeton on the weekend.

Because it has been a pair of weeks since I last posted, I wanted to talk about the Pairwise and the inter-conference record of the league-surprisingly it isn’t all doom and gloom. As early results poured in, it seemed as though the ECAC was going to have struggles. But as I have delved into the numbers further, the league’s record is 45-49-11 in non-conference play. If one subtracts St. Lawrence’s 1-7-0 mark in non-conference play, the league would be 44-42-11. This is right on par with last season and the current .481 record is fourth best among the conferences. With many of the better teams being Ivy League schools, that mark should only improve as the season heads into the holiday non-conference game binge.

Before I get to my three thoughts, I will mention I am going to Belfast for the Friendship Four tournament Thanksgiving weekend. So be on the lookout for my thoughts of that trip, as I am really excited about it and will probably post a travel blog on the experience in Northern Ireland… Until then here are my three thoughts of the week:

Below the break: Quinnipiac’s Goal Scoring problems, Cornell’s Big Sweep, Clarkson Recovers, team-by-team thoughts/power rankings (more…)