Three Things I Think: ECAC 1/5

Posted by: Josh Seguin

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.

Hayden was a great representative of the ECAC at the World Junior Tournament

Scoring just a goal probably doesn’t seem great at the World Junior Championship, but John Hayden proudly held the ECAC banner in Canada and did so admirably. It was great seeing the young Yale product excel in the tournament. His net-drives and willingness to fight for position in the offensive zone showed exactly what the ECAC is all about. Hayden was also an assistant captain for the US in the tournament, so his role was a large one. If anything it seemed Hayden thrived in the role.

Hayden was the ECAC’s only representative in the tournament, on a US team that was heavily dominated by college hockey representatives. His return will be a welcome one for the Bulldogs, although his team went 2-0 without him. The junior tournament can often be a boom or a boon when players come back, but if any coach can set a player’s mind in the right direction it is Keith Allain. I think, Hayden will come back a better player after the experience. Hayden returns as the leading scorer for the Elis and has the ability to produce much more going forward. He should be in the lineup against Northeastern on Tuesday.

Yale’s consistency

Don’t look now, but the second ECAC team in the top 15 of pairwise is Yale. I have talked about the Elis most of the season, but it is starting to gain consistency in recent weeks. Last week, Yale beat Holy Cross, a real solid Atlantic team, and it beat Vermont, who is solidly in the top ten of the Pairwise rankings. This weekend it has another test when it faces Harvard at the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden but before it can attend to that it has a game against Northeastern on Tuesday.

Yale continues to be the only team that has beaten Harvard this season, as its Ivy counterpart is 10-1-2 on the season.  The Bulldogs have defeated Colgate, Holy Cross, Harvard and Dartmouth on the road this season. Its 4-1-0 road record is good for the eighth best road win percentage, nationally, and it has outscored its opponents 14-6 in those games.

Personally I think Yale is the second best team in the conference right now, it has been the only one that has kept up with Harvard. If one wants to look at teams in the second half to watch, they are it. So far it has beaten other top teams in Harvard, Dartmouth and Colgate. Those teams are the top 4, along with Yale, in my mind. Of course a lot can change over he course of a season but right now Yale’s nature makes them a favorite to head to Lake Placid in March.

Dartmouth Puts on a classy tournament, there is a reason it gets top notch teams

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend one of the great college hockey holiday tournaments, at Dartmouth. Although weather kept me from the rink on Saturday, it was snowing and there was about two inches of ice on my car by the time the game was over, I was able to watch all four games. Denver, Boston College and Brown were the other participants in the tournament along with the host Big Green. It was a great tournament that included close games and even a shootout in 1 -1 tie between Denver and Dartmouth on Friday night. Saturday didn’t disappoint, as a late Boston College goal sealed the tournament for the Eagles.

This is the third consecutive year I have attended this tournament. I live in New Hampshire, which makes it easy to attend but the hockey and hospitality keeps me going. Every year Dartmouth has great teams, this year happened to sport the best of the crop in terms of  teams. Denver is going to be a tournament team, Dartmouth is a great ECAC team and Boston College is just you know Boston College. Brown will be fine, although they were outmatched for much of the weekend. I will have more on them later this week in a feature. I like that ECAC teams test themselves and this was certainly a showcase for both the Bears and Big Green.

In a time when many tournament’s struggle to fill its rinks, Dartmouth does not. Both nights were packed and Friday night when the Big Green took on Denver, the place was full to the brim. It provided one of the better ECAC atmosphere’s I have seen this season. Comparitively to other tournaments, Dartmouth’s is a large success. There is a reason the Ledyard Bank Classic is successful, the locals support it and they realize great hockey when they see it. Kudos to them, they represent the league right and the ECAC is proud that this tournament is probably the most successful holiday tournament in the country.

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