Another week in the books, but this one lacked big surprises. Cornell got back on track with a pair of wins, like I predicted they would. So did Union. I argued that both teams will still be good regardless of results in one week, and it seems both have come true to their identity. Union picked up a pair of wins against Clarkson and SLU, at home, while Cornell held serve against Brown and Yale. Quinnipiac got tripped up by Dartmouth, which provided the Bobcats their first loss, and Rensselaer went 1-1 after win against SLU and a loss to Clarkson.
It is much too early to talk about standings and stuff, but it is interesting to see RPI at the top after the struggles they have had in recent seasons. Dave Smith has instilled confidence in that group, which is only growing. A 6-0 setback to Clarkson on Friday was tough but the Engineers provided a good bounce-back in a 3-2 win against SLU. The pairwise is literally the same, you can look at it but it means zilch until about Christmas.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts:
Clarkson has Lots of Good, Young Talent:
Despite being without head coach Casey Jones all weekend, the Golden Knights put on a show on Friday against arch-nemesis Rensselaer. Freshman Josh Dunne scored his fourth goal of the season, while sophomore Kevin Charyszyn scored a pair in a 6-0 rout. The Golden Knights’ offense has been really good thus far despite replacing a pair of good players in Josh Dickinson and Sheldon Rempal. Scoring at a clip of 3.29 goals per game, they are doing so on the backs of a young core. Freshmen and sophomores have accounted for 13 goals, while no senior has lit the lamp yet this year.
I mentioned Dunne above and it is for good reason. I have watched a few Clarkson games in recent weeks and he is already really good. He provides a different wrinkle for Jones, as he is a tall centre that is a tireless battler for the puck and he is really good at both ends. His four goals is the second most among freshmen and he has added to Clarkson’s depth in the middle of the ice. I also like Brian Hurley, who seems like he can move the puck from the backend, which was a need coming into the season for Golden Knights Adam Tisdale and Nick Campoli have also showed flashes of being really talented youngsters. We should remember Clarkson’s sophomore class is still stacked, despite the shock departure of Dickinson in the offseason. Jack Jacome has six points, already, while Grant Cooper has provided a pair of goals and three assists. Charyszyn got off to a slow start, but he too looks to have taken a step.
With such a young core, it seems the Golden Knights have the chance to be better at the end of the year than they are now. Interestingly enough, two of three losses have been to Penn State and another to Union. They have played tough teams, so one should assume many wins are coming in the upcoming weeks.
Dartmouth’s Ineptitude against Princeton is Baffling:
Let me preface this by saying, Dartmouth is a damn good team this year and they were decent last year. But when they play Princeton, they become bad for whatever reason. In their last three games against the Tigers, the Big Green have been outscored a staggering, 22-6. On Friday, the Tigers strolled through Hanover and went on a Sunday cruise, leaving with a 7-1 win.
Whatever the reason, it is just a strange matchup for Dartmouth, which is probably a top-4 team this season. The next night, The Big Green skated to a 5-1 win over previously undefeated Quinnipiac. The defense looked much improved while its offense, which was dormant against Princeton, came alive. Dartmouth will score a ton of goals, so any goaltending and defense will be gravy and could push them over the top.
On the topic of Sunday cruises, like Princeton has had in its last two trips to Thompson Arena, Hanover New Hampshire is a nice place to go on a Sunday cruise. I kind of miss my trips to the western part of my home state while I am in England.
Harvard’s Defense and Goaltending need to Improve:
In three games, the Crimson have allowed 16 goals. Quite simply, giving up 5.33 goals per game is not good and it won’t win hockey games. Honestly, I am dumbfounded that this Harvard defense is giving up this many goals. The likes of Adam Fox, John Marino, Reilly Walsh and Jacob Olson are, if you ask me, one of the deepest groups of defensemen in the country. Yes, replacing a goalie is always tough, but when a team is giving up this many goals, it isn’t just on the goaltending.
One of the things that has become evident to me: Maybe the balance on the blueline is just not right. There is a lot of offensive-minded play in that defense corps. Fox is first in the nation in points per game and is averaging a staggering 2.67 points per contest; he has eight points in three games. Harvard has always played a wheel and deal style, which is biting them this season. An interesting stat on this is that Harvard has a 60% corsi-for in its three games, which isn’t bad. But it shows situationally the Crimson just haven’t been good.
The Crimson need to be better in their zone and I am sure Donato is working tirelessly this week to correct the inconsistent in-zone play.
Other Random Thoughts:
Quinnipiac is a decent side, but what do we really know about them? The combined record of the teams they have beat is 14-23-2, with UConn and Vermont having a combined seven of those. The best team they have seen all year, Dartmouth, put five past them on Saturday. Union this coming weekend and Cornell the week after should tell us a lot about the Bobcats.
Congrats to Dartmouth coach Bobby Gaudet on his 400th NCAA win. Bobby is a good human and is very deserving. Also of note, the New Hampshire hockey hall of famer is one win away from equaling Eddie Jeremiah’s Big Green record of 307 wins. I loved his comment last year, when he said he didn’t even deserve to be put in the same breath as Eddie. Shows how modest he is with the success he has had. Oh, I will say it, this year provides Gaudet another crack at that elusive ECAC championship.
Union is a really good hockey team and its response this weekend was a good one.
RPI is first in the ECAC, yo, if you predicted that at any point in the season I give you props, but you can put your hand down because you didn’t pick that.