Archive for the 'ECAC' Category

Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/3

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Separation from positions two through eight is hard come by in the ECAC standings right now, but the only tie in the league is 11th where Princeton and Colgate are tied with eight points. The seven teams between 2-8 have a progressive seven point difference. Harvard has 19 points, RPI has 18, while each of the teams below them have one less point until reaching ninth place Union which is three points behind eighth place Clarkson. Dartmouth and Quinnipiac played an interesting, 7-5 game in Hanover on Friday night and the Bobcats remained undefeated in ECAC play. Right now Quinnipiac, is running away with the league (6pts up) and it is time to acknowledge that fact.

I think the biggest question going forward is not the title race, but whether or not Quinnipiac can finish the season with less than two losses on the season in league play. Both of these numbers would be historically significant, because the league has only seen less than two losses ten times, with most of them happening before the 1980’s arrived. The last team to have one loss in ECAC play, was 1984-85 RPI. That RPI team went 20-1-0 in the ECAC, losing its first game to St. Lawrence and then ran the table with 20 straight wins. There has been only one team in ECAC play that went undefeated, which was 1969-70 Cornell that went 21-0-0. That Cornell team is often the bench mark of college hockey, as it also holds the distinction of being the only team that finished a season undefeated, 29-0-0. Although Quinnipiac also has more ties, finishing with  less than two losses would be a monumental feat to say the least. The Bobcats have played 14 games and are 11-0-3 with eight games remaining in the ECAC. It has been a historic run for Quinnipiac thus far, who are 20-1-5 overall this year.

The national picture has gotten better in recent weeks, despite teams dropping. Quinnipiac is the clear number one in the pairwise and will be even if it starts dropping games, while Harvard is seventh. Those two are joined by Yale, Rensselaer, Dartmouth and Cornell in the top 16. All four of those teams are in jeopardy with losses over the next few weeks, as Dartmouth and Cornell are 15 and 16, while Yale and RPI are right in front of them at 13 and 14. If the tournament, started today four league teams would be in, while two others would just miss out. All in all, this is fine but we also know how much of a grind the ECAC is. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/26

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

The league standings started to take shape over the weekend and some teams certainly made the most of their opportunities against teams near them. Harvard outclassed Cornell at Lynah on Saturday, which saw them build on a good win at Colgate on Friday night. Dartmouth continued its resurgence with a weekend sweep opposite of Harvard, while Clarkson and Yale picked up three points. Quinnipiac still has a wide margin in the league standings, followed by Harvard, RPI, Yale and Dartmouth. The Big Green are now 7-1-0 since the break and are on a current five game winning streak, including four against conference opponents.

Over the weekend I got to visit the two Central New York rinks and had a good time in doing so, certainly both share interesting histories and a certain charm. It is always tough to see old barns close, like Starr, and I really enjoyed that rink. Cornell of course had quite the atmosphere for the Harvard game, but it was quelled fast as Harvard never looked challenged by the Big Red.  Cornell is winless in its last four and is dropping fast, as its offense has sputtered in recent weeks. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview 1/22

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Looking down on a good college hockey game between RPI and Quinnipiac while writing this, I cannot help but think of all the great ECAC games I have seen the last couple of weeks. This weekend there will be eight league games, while Quinnipiac, Princeton, Union and RPI all have Friday ad Saturday off from league games. Union and RPI will play their annual Capital Region Mayor’s cup game at the Times Union Center, in front of 8,000 or so college hockey fans. The game will be a Times Union Center dress rehearsal for when it hosts the NCAA East Regional in late March.

The standings are close and every game matters from this point on out. Harvard and Cornell will play their annual game in front of a packed Lynah crowd on Saturday night, which I will be checking out for the first time. Dartmouth has looked good in recent weeks and will play a big game with Cornell on Friday. With very little separation from second all the way down to the bottom, every game should be good from here on out.

RPI and Quinnipiac played an entertaining tie on Thursday night. Sam Anas, which is usually the case when I am in the building, scored a goal with 9.4 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Quinnipiac remains unbeaten in league play, with three ties on its record against RPI, SLU and Clarkson. The Bobcats have a long blemish on their overall record and remain in first place in the all important Pairwise rankings. They next play at Dartmouth on January 29th. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/17

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

The second half of the ECAC season is off to its usual tough-nose nature. All teams came back from the break improved, with Dartmouth and Brown most improved. Quinnipiac continues to lead the league by a wide margin, now seven points, as its top competition of Harvard and Cornell have each dropped games in recent weeks. RPI now sits in second, followed by Cornell and Harvard. Those three teams are separated by a mere three points, while Yale is a mere point behind them four points out of second. The league standings are tight and it will make for a phenomenal second half. RPI and Quinnipiac will meet on Thursday night

Nationally, the league has dropped off a bit but it is because the league is so strong from top to bottom. Clarkson has picked up two wins against top teams, SLU and Harvard. Cornell dropped a game against RPI on Friday and picked up a tie against Union. The ECAC has four teams in tournament positions, with each of them in the top 10. It also has nine teams in the top 27 of the Pairwise and six in the top 19. Quite frankly, on a given night every team can beat any other in the ECAC. This is what makes the league great. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview 1/15

Friday, January 15th, 2016

This week, the ECAC returns to full conference play, with Princeton and Quinnipiac having the weekend off. There are many intriguing matchups on the docket, but to me the game of the week is RPI and Cornell on Friday night. RPI has struggled of sorts of late, while Cornell has continued its strong play. Harvard and SLU will also meet on Friday night, with both teams carrying losing skids and in need of wins. A lot of teams can do themselves good in both the conference and national picture, but some teams need wins more than others. SLU and RPI would be most beneficial to the national picture if they could pick up sweeps, while teams like Harvard and Cornell could further their position in the league standings. All told, it should be a pretty good weekend of action throughout the league. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/12

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Harvard struggled defensively last week, but its offense is still the most talented in the league. Despite a poor showing in the first period against Quinnipiac at Madison Square Garden, where they left trailing 4-0, the Crimson were able to come all the way back to force overtime. Quinnipiac got a goal from Derek Smith in a seeming fitting ending on the World’s Most Famous Stage. Struggles were abounded in non-league play, as SLU was swept by struggling Northeastern, while Colgate split with Maine in Orono.

This weekend marks the return of ECAC play for most league teams, while Quinnipiac and Princeton have the weekend off. Quinnipiac has a commanding lead in the standings, but it is not as large as it appears. Its lead over Cornell sits at nine points and it has a ten point lead on third place, RPI. But both the Big Red and Engineers have games in hand. Cornell has four games in hand, while RPI has three games on the Bobcats. Five points separate Harvard in fourth place and Union in tenth place. The battle for the last bye and home ice positioning looks to be as close as it usually is. but then again it is still early, with most teams yet to hit the halfway mark of the league slate. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/6

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

The ECAC keeps winning in non-conference play and in recent weeks it has picked up in regularity. Last weekend both Harvard and Dartmouth took home holiday tournament titles, while Union also went undefeated at the Ledyard Bank Classic and missed out to its conference rival on goal differential. Brown took down one of the best teams in the nation, defending national champion Providence, looking good in the process. RPI also split a non-conference series with Miami. Clarkson did the same against Bowling Green. All told, the league is now second in inter-conference record with a .620 winning percentage against the other leagues.

ECAC  teams have played strong schedules, partly because they have played each other but it is furthered by the fact it has played strong non-conference schedules. Dartmouth played a pair at Michigan, Brown played Providence twice, Quinnipiac hosted St. Cloud twice and so on and so forth. This helps the overall strength of schedule and because the league has won a good portion of these games, the ECAC is doing really well in the Pairwise. Quinnipiac and Harvard are one and two in the Pairwise, while four other teams join them in the top 15. All told, there are six teams in NCAA tournament positions (QU, Harvard, Cornell, Yale, SLU, RPI), five league teams in the top 10 of Pairwise and eight in the top 20. You can see how strong the schedules have been in the league, in CHN’s Krach ratings.

The most interesting addition in the top 20 is Dartmouth, who played a murderous schedule in the first winter and is 5-7-1, but because of its strength of schedule it is right in the thick of a tournament bid if it goes on a run in the second half. It could be a monumental year for the league in terms of the NCAA tournament and how many teams make it, if the trends continue. There will be no easy games in the second half of the conference slate. It seems as though there is a high probability of at least five teams, but six is a possibility. The worst case scenario seems to be four. (more…)

Ledyard Bank Classic: Day 1 Notes

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

Union and Dartmouth both picked up wins, over Merrimack and Robert Morris respectively on Saturday night. Because the Ledyard Bank Classic has predetermined matchups, the format is setup with a point system (2 points for a regulation/ot win, 1 point for a shootout win) with goal differential being the tiebreaker if one or more teams are tied. Dartmouth and Union do not play on Sunday night in a de facto championship game, so we will be relying heavily on the system put in place.Union defeated Merrimack 3-2, while Dartmouth defeated Robert Morris, 5-1.

Union received goals from Matt Wilkins, Nick Cruice and Brett Supinski, which included two power-play tallies. Merrimack took the momentum in the third period but were never able to recover from being down two goals entering the third. Dartmouth took a scoreless game after a period and ran away with it late. It outshot the Colonials 37-18 and recieved goals from five different skaters. Hypothetically Dartmouth has the advantage going into Sunday night’s matchups, after winning by four. The Big Green face Merrimack, while the Dutchmen face Robert Morris. (more…)

ECAC First Half Review

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

As always, the ECAC is not where we thought it would at this point in the season. Yale isn’t the dominant defensive team we thought it would be, Harvard’s offense is second to Quinnipiac, Cornell (I picked them 11th in preseason dumb ehh?) looks like a team to be reckoned with come March and well who thought RPI would ever have a nine game unbeaten streak?

The ECAC standings are extremely tight heading into the second half, with Quinnipiac having 14 points and Cornell close on its heels at 13. Cornell’s only ECAC league loss came to Quinnipiac, in a game it had a three goal lead and couldn’t hold on. Harvard and RPI are tied for third at 11 points, while St. Lawrence and Yale round out the top six with nine and eights points respectively. Any of those six teams are contenders at this point, because the bottom half have been less than stellar, or as I would like to say there is a step down in quality.

One of the biggest ECAC storylines of the first half is the quality of hockey being played throughout the league. The inter-conference record has been sparkling, although it has come down a bit in recent weeks. The .632 winning percentage in non-conference play has the league setup well in terms of the pairwise, as currently five teams are in NCAA tournament positioning. Quinnipiac sits first in the all important Pairwise rankings, while Harvard, Cornell, St. Lawrence and Yale sit sixth, seventh, 11th and 13th in those rankings. Even RPI sits in good positioning, as it is 17th in those rankings. Last year, the NCHC had a .652 inter-conference record and it had six teams in the tournament. Even more important for the ECAC as a league, it has a 24-16-3 against the two best conferences in the country, the NCHC and Hockey East. Maybe the ECAC is the best right now? Ya, lets see how the non-league games go in the next few weeks.

Well and to finish off I would like to say Happy Holidays to all. Hope all of you have an enjoyable holiday, no matter what you celebrate. See you in a week or so for my annual trip to Hanover’s Ledyard Bank Classic. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview: 12/3

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Another full slate of league games awaits us this weekend, as the schedule is a tad more manageable this weekend in comparison to last week’s full slate of non-conference games. Yale hosts Quinnipiac in the game of the week, as the two New Haven area rivals renew their acquaintances at the Whale. Last season, the matchup was as close as possible with two ties in its two meetings. Quinnipiac is still undefeated at 13-0-2, which the best start since Colorado College started 15-0-2 in 1995-1996. St. Lawrence at Cornell is another highlight of Friday night, while RPI and Harvard will play for the second straight week after the Crimson took home the Shillelagh Tournament title back to Cambridge, with a 4-0 win, on Saturday.

Each weekend is crucial within conference play. RPI and Quinnipiac remain tied at the top of the standings with 10 points. The top 7 are separated by just four points, with Brown rounding out the bunch at seven. The conference still has six teams in the top 16 of the Pairwise and wins within league play are so important, because there isn’t a bad loss within the league because of a .648 win pct. in inter-conference play. There are many great matchups this weekend. as always I urge you to hit a rink to see your favorite team play. Also see this week’s Three Things I Think, for more of my thoughts. (more…)