Archive for the 'ECAC' Category

Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/15

Monday, February 15th, 2016

The most surprising result of the weekend was obviously Quinnipiac dropping its first league game, but it was inevitable that it would drop a game. The Bobcats still have a comfortable lead in the ECAC standings, up five points on New Haven rival, Yale. The Bulldogs are hard charging to the race and it has become the team that we thought it would be in the preseason. it has five straight wins and has just one loss in its past 14 games. Harvard, who sits in third is two points back, dropping a game against RPI on Friday and rebounding on Saturday.

St. Lawrence had the most impressive weekend in the league, as it became the giant slayer in finally taking down the league undefeated Bobcats who had just a loss entering the week. The weekend sweep moved the Saints into the  final bye position and leaves it two points clear of Dartmouth and RPI who share the fifth place spot. Clarkson and plunging Cornell are the other two teams in contention for the byes, as the Golden Knights are three points back and the Big Red are four points back. It seems unlikely that either of those teams can recover, because it would have to gain points and pass 3-4 teams to get the bye. Union, who sits five points behind eighth is the only team that can mathematically get to eighth from the bottom four, but it is unlikely. Colgate, Brown and Princeton are assured of travelling the first round of the ECAC tournament. (more…)

Quinnipiac’s First Conference Loss Almost Seemed Inevitable

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

It was bound to happen and in all honesty Quinnipiac’s first loss in the ECAC has been brewing for some time. The Bobcats probably should have lost a few games in recent weeks. There was the miracle goal with 9.8 seconds left against RPI, which probably was put in by an Engineer defender, that provided a tie in that game. Then there was the comeback against Dartmouth from down three goals in the third period, which wasn’t all that special but more of a bloodbath. Before those games it was a win against Princeton, where it trailed by a pair in the second period.

To say the Bobcats were playing well, would have been a wrong assumption, but the fact they got this far without a conference loss is notable and an accomplishment. Since the break, whether it be complacency or overconfidence or peaking too early, QU just hasn’t been the team that it was in the first half of the season. (more…)

Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/9

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Another interesting week hit the ECAC over the weekend, as Quinnipiac continued to remain unbeaten and Clarkson continued its hot streak. Quinnipiac, Clarkson and Yale have a combined for just two losses in their last 30 games. Those three teams are making hay within the league standings, with Quinnipiac running away with the lead. Harvard has struggled recently and it is now tied with Yale for second in the league, seven points behind the Bobcats for the league lead.

One of the interesting aspects of the ECAC standings right now, is that the top eight is pretty much figured out. Clarkson and Cornell are in a tie for seventh, with 17 points. That mark is six points up on ninth place Union. Although it is mathematically possible for a team from the bottom four to catch up with the top eight, it seems unlikely with just six games remaining in the regular season. This should make the battle for the top four and the byes all the more interesting, as positions two to seven in the standings are separated by just four points. One should look at Yale and Clarkson as the favorites to take two of the top four. This would leave the other position to Harvard, Dartmouth, RPI and SLU. The Engineers, Saints and the Big Green are currently tied for the fourth position. Without further ado here are my thoughts for the week. (more…)

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…)