Archive for the 'ECAC' Category

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/12

Monday, January 12th, 2015

The national picture looks a lot better this week than it did last week. Despite a mediocre .495 non-conference slate, the conference has four teams in the top 15 of the Pairwise rankings. That is a far cry from last week, when only one team was in the top 15. Last weekend, Yale dominated its arch nemesis, Harvard at Madison Square Garden to move itself up. Harvard remains in the third position.

In one of the most surprising results of the weekend, Brown won the Mayor Cup on goal differential. It lost in overtime on Friday and defeated Providence College on Saturday night, 5-3.  Conference play returned in earnest over the weekend, with eight ECAC tilts. Quinnipiac and Colgate swept the capital region and North Country respectively. Quinnipiac pulled off the feat at home, while the Raiders swept at Appelton and Cheel. The latter is always an impressive feat and it seems as though Colgate is catching fire at this time just like it did last season. Ditto to Quinnipiac, which is one of the hottest teams in the nation since November 1st.

The league standings are still a work in progress, because everyone has played a different amount of games. Quinnipiac has an impressive six point lead, but as I said last week it has played more league games than anyone else. Harvard is six points back, but has three games in hand, while Colgate in third has four games in hand on QU. This weekend the league should start getting closer, as the Bobcats have a non-conference series, while everyone else plays in league. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview 1/8

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

A full slate of games this weekend, as most teams will return to conference play and some will play non-conference games. In the non-conference slate of games, rivalries will take center stage. Dartmouth travels to in-state rival New Hampshire, Brown will play Providence in the Mayor’s Cup and Yale faces off with its historic rival, Harvard at Madison Square Garden.

This could be separation week in the standings for a few teams, but as I caution below don’t take much into the league standings after this weekend because some teams will have more games remaining than others. The national picture will not be mentioned this week, because quite frankly it depresses me (ECAC has just one team in the top 15 and the last three out are from the league.). This weekend will also bring about one of the last chances for the league to do some damage in non-conference play, as four games against teams from the Hockey East are on the docket. Damage needs to be done this weekend because lately that has not happened. (more…)

ECAC Power Rankings: Jan 7

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Another weekend of league-wide struggles in non-conference play has made it difficult to really gauge where the league is and which teams belong near the top. The break is always a good thing for some teams, while for others it turns out to be a bad thing. For Harvard, it seems  that it came it at the wrong time. The Crimson are 10-1-2 on the season, with a win after the break against Rensselaer, but have played a lone game this half. Before a loss to Northeastern on Tuesday night, Yale had won three consecutive games and six of seven contests.

Most teams will return to league play this weekend. Quinnipiac currently leads the standings, but near every team has games in hand on the Bobcats. The national picture for ECAC teams is downright ugly and I will admit it. At the present moment the first three out would be ECAC teams, as Quinnipiac, Yale and Colgate are currently 16, 17 and 18 in the Pairwise rankings. With most non-conference tilts done, the ECAC will need to battle just to get two or three teams in the tournament. Unless some teams like Union and Dartmouth get going,it may be a rough March for the league. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/5

Monday, January 5th, 2015

While I have been eating leftover ham and enjoying the long holiday season, I have left you my readers begging for more in terms of writing. In which case I am sorry, but the return of three things is always something I look forward to. Over the weekend, I was able to see league members Brown and Dartmouth in the Ledyard Bank Classic. As always it was a good experience and one that I truly enjoy year in and year out (more on that below).  For the rest of the league, it was non-conference action, in a weekend that most fans of the conference would like to forget.

This weekend most of the league will head back into ECAC play, with the lone exceptions being Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale and Brown. The Green will play New Hampshire in a nationally televised game on Friday night (NBCSN), while Yale and Harvard will take part in the Rivalry on Ice at Madison Square Garden also on NBCSN, Saturday. The exposure will be great for the league and if you ask me, the league could’t ask for for four better teams to show the league over two weekends. Union also played on national television last weekend in a 3-3 tie at Boston University. (more…)

The Takeaway: Yale Stymies Holy Cross in 3-0 Win

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Worcester, Mass. - For Yale, it could have been a trap game and one of those weird results that often litter the beginning of the second half. But on this night, the Bulldogs held and dominated Atlantic Hockey foe, Holy Cross. The first period was all Yale and they were rewarded for it. Trent Ruffolo opened the scoring for the Elis at 11 minutes 23 seconds, backhanding a rebound home. Yale outshot Holy Cross 19-7 in the first period and took the 1-0 lead to the locker room.

Holy Cross played better in the second period, but penalties proved costly. The Crusaders’, Tommy Dwyer took a five minute major midway through the period. Yale capitalized halfway through the power-play to take a 2-0 lead. Later in the period another ill-advised cross-check to the boards gave Yale another power-play. The Elis again capitalized off the stick of Mike Doherty. Yale led 3-0 into the second intermission. The Bulldogs held serve in the third period for the win and Alex Lyon picked up his first shutout of the season. Holy Cross senior netminder, Matt Ginn, made 37 saves in the loss, while Rob O Gara picked up two points in the win. Yale improved its record to 7-3-2, while Holy Cross dropped to 7-6-4 on the year. (more…)

ECAC Midseason Review and Awards

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

It seemed like just yesterday that I was sitting on a conference call talking with the league coaches in preseason. Of course Seth Appert, as he usually does, gave us the best quote of the day when he said, “The coaches and media are normally wrong with their preseason polls.”  He of course was correct and we all knew that he was correct to begin with, but we still do them to give everyone an idea of where the conference is and who the favorites are.

Heading into the second half, Harvard and Quinnipiac top the standings but any team from 1-10 is in contention for the league. Brown has been the biggest disappointment so far but one could think they are due to pick up a bunch of wins. The top ten in the league are separated by just six points, which should make for phenomenal stretch run. There are some teams at the top half that I think will fall (Clarkson, RPI, SLU), while some may be poised to rise (Dartmouth, Gate, Union, and Cornell). Of course I say that because I have seen most of the teams in the league and have seen them multiple times.

If the NCAA tournament were to start now, the ECAC would have two teams in the tournament. Harvard sits second in the Pairwise rankings, while Yale sits in 15th. Quinnipiac, Dartmouth and Colgate are all in the running. Those three make a group of five ECAC teams in the top 20 in the country, in terms of the Pairwise rankings. That should bode well going forward but there are still a bunch of huge non-conference games in the coming weeks. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 12/9

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Another weekend down and for some teams it is now the winter break, the period of three weeks that most teams have off around Christmas. This to me is the most important time of the year for teams, it is often time a turning point in the year. A key example is Colgate last season, which had a huge second half after a rather mediocre first half.  Consequently it can lead a team in the opposite direction, like Dartmouth just two years ago. The break can either help or hurt a team, so embrace it and hope your team comes out that stronger.

ECAC play has finished for the first half and there are more surprises than there are what most could consider expected. Preseason number one, Colgate has struggled to find consistency in recent weeks and sits in a tie for seventh in the league standings. Preseason number 10, Harvard is the top team tied with preseason number five, Quinnipiac. Clarkson, picked ninth is in third place in the standings. I guess it is safe Seth Appert was right in saying the media and coaches are always wrong in preseason.

Denver and Cornell split at Lynah Rink last week, which for the Big Red is huge. Denver is one of the top five teams in the NCHC, which all were in the top 11 of the pairiwse entering last weekend. I explained in last week’s edition why this series was so big for them and the league. The split kept the ECAC in second place, behind the NCHC in inter-conference records at .559, which is very respectable. Of course the most noteworthy event of the weekend, was the hilarity surrounding the team’s Teddy Bear toss. That made it to deadspin, ESPN, Yahoo and pretty much every news outlet in the country this week. Even Cornell alum Keith Olbermann spotlighted the toss in his hilarious worst persons segment on his ESPN tv show. Any coverage is good and kids saw an ECAC hockey rink on SportsCenter, never a bad thing just we never thought it would be for a Teddy Bear. This will be the last edition of Three Things I Think of 2014, I will be right back at it in 2015. (more…)

ECAC Weekend Preview: 12/4

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

One last conference weekend before the break should shake up the standings even more in the ECAC. With everyone so close from positions 1-9, as a mere five points separate the top nine in the standings, movement up and down should be aplenty. Cornell and Colgate have big non-conference tests this week, as Cornell hosts Denver for a weekend series and Colgate travels to Providence for a lone game against PC. There should be tons of action around the conference this weekend and here is what I think is important to watch this weekend.

Clarkson Looks to find Consistency, while St. Lawrence looks to continue its great play

Whenever Clarkson and St. Lawrence meet on the ice it is a spectacle. It is always heated and being the third meeting of the season should make this game even more event-filled. The Saints took home a 4-0 win from Cheel Arena on November 1st and the two teams tied the night before at Appelton Arena. Those games didn’t mean as much as this one does because it was non-conference, but the season series is still up for grabs. For these teams bragging rights are ever important in the North Country. (more…)

ECAC Power Rankings 12/2

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Because of the holiday last week, I was unable to find the time to do a power rankings but much has certainly changed in two weeks. Colgate’s struggles for consistency have continued, while Quinnipiac’s inconsistency has also come forward. The Bobcats dropped a decision to Clarkson two weeks ago, defeated St. Lawrence and dropped a home decision to UMass. It recovered, but damage has already been done because other ECAC teams had great two week stretches. The league standings tell us nothing about how the league is going because everyone is still too close to call. Quinnipiac sits at the top with ten points, but a four way tie for second place contains Harvard, St. Lawrence, Clarkson and RPI. Colgate, Yale and Cornell all sit within a weekend either three or four points behind.

The conference has been impressive of late in non-conference. Despite Clarkson’s 0-4-0 record against Hockey East and Quinnipiac’s 3-3-0 record against that other eastern conference, the rest of the league has put together quite the impressive 14-2-2 record against the usual “best conference in the country.” Note the quotation marks, because all of my ECAC fans will get the joke in that. Both Dartmouth and Harvard picked up huge wins against Boston University last week, with the Green doing so at home and the Crimson pulling out an overtime decision at BU’s, Agganis Arena. Overall the league is set up for future success in the Pairwise and has the possibility to get more than four teams in the tourney, because of its 35-27-4 record against the other conferences. That mark is good for second among the nation’s conferences. If the tournament began today, both Harvard and Yale would be in comfortably because of their 6th and 11th ranking respectively in the Pairwise. St. Lawrence sits on the bubble, but in, in 15th, while Quinnipiac, Colgate and Dartmouth all sit within distance in the top 20.

As for the power rankings, I am starting to see some trends that make my life easier. Harvard has proven it is the best team in the conference at this point, a thought I have had for a few weeks now but now I am comfortable to say it. Yale is the only team that has beaten Harvard this season and it has won four of its last five games. Its goaltending will get it far this season and its built from the net out nature makes it a dangerous team going forward. Those teams seem to be the clear top two and the rest seem to be really close together behind them. I feel more confident in these rankings than I have at any point this season. The league will again shake out this weekend, as eight conference games and teams will play league games. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 12/1

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Another weekend, another mixed bag of results in non-conference play for the ECAC. Harvard has taken the nation by storm in recent weeks. Last week was its best yet, as it not only knocked off a red hot Boston University on the road but it followed it up with a roadie against Lowell on Saturday night. Cornell picked up a huge non-conference win on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against Penn State, which marked the first game between the programs. Clarkson’s offensive woes continued against Merrimack and they were swept accordingly on the road. Dartmouth also defeated Boston University on Sunday at home, another huge win for the league.

ECAC’s dominance this season of Hockey East foes has continued, but not on the level that the early season saw. Last weekend the league went 4-4-0 against the other conference that usually claims supremacy in the east, but on the season the ECAC is still 16-9-2 against Hockey East opponents. Overall, the conference is 35-27-4 in non-conference, which sets it up as the second best record of all the conferences. Only the NCHC has a better record in non-league play. The only alarming prospect of non-conference play so far is that it only has a winning record against Hockey East and Atlantic Hockey. The sample sizes, however, with the western conferences are really small. So take solace in knowing the best teams in the ECAC are actually doing better against top competition in than in previous years. Harvard’s wins against the Hockey East elite are certainly helping, I must say.

Next week will feature the last weekend of conference play before the winter and exam breaks that usually last near three weeks. It has been a fun half of hockey for ECAC fans and I am sure next weekend will be much of the same. Teams will be looking for positioning and there will be a potential first place matchup, featuring Harvard at Quinipiac next Saturday. All in all the league race couldn’t be any closer heading into the break. (more…)