Close Battles Aplenty in ECAC’s Final WeekendPosted by: Josh Seguin
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!