With the stretch run in offing, the league is still insanely close in key spots. Cornell has built a three-point edge in the league standings as they are unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 games, dating back to a loss against Dartmouth in late November. Colgate, who also has other big results, defeated the Big Red in overtime a few weeks back. The run from positions 2-8, however, is really close as six points separate Quinnipiac from Union in eighth place. Positions 2-5 are separated by just a pair of points, while Brown finds itself a meager three points out of a bye (yes that Brown).
The top-team’s had plenty of success in non-conference and have the ECAC is reaping the rewards, as four league teams would currently make the tournament with all four being in the top-13 of the all important pairwise. This does not include both Union and Yale, who are 20th and 23rd, respectively in the pairwise. Both have long shots, but Union has some big wins that has propped it up all season. It has become evident that the league could be wide open in the tournament, which could mean a team outside these six could win the Whitelaw, like Princeton did last season.
Brown Deserves a Ton of Credit, don’t Ignore its Win at Quinnipiac
Brown went into Quinnipiac on Saturday and not only beat the Bobcats, but they were by far the better team. Yah, Quinnipiac dominated the shot count, as they normally do, but the Bears were better in every aspect of the game. Brown frustrated the Bobcats in the first period, as QU poured on the pressure but the big thing was, there were few big chances in those shots. The Bears got a second period goal from fellow New Hampshire native, Brent Beaudoin and put the game out of reach with a pair of big goals in the first minute of the third.
The Bears absolutely frustrated the Bobcats on Saturday night and they deserve a ton of credit. It is much like they did with other opponents this season and why Brown is only three points out of a bye in the ECAC. Since the break, Bruno is 9-4-0 with a pair of losses to Providence and a loss each to Clarkson and Yale. They have been one of the best teams in the ECAC since the dawn of the second half, which should be lauded.
The fact the Brown Bears are three points from a bye is really surprising because they were picked 12th in both preseason polls. The Bears haven’t had a top-six finish in the ECAC since it finished sixth in 2005 and haven’t picked up a bye since 2004. Although, the bye may seem a stretch finishing with its best position since 2005 would be a step up for the program.
Also, I don’t want to hear Quinnipiac overlooked them and this and that. Give them respect; it’s not really an upset when a team is just four points behind you in the standings…
Two Teams To Watch
Bob Gaudet in his postgame chat with the media on Saturday night went on for about five minutes about how his team is playing really well and how most teams wouldn’t want to play them in the tournament. Although, the Big Green are winless in their last three, they heavily outplayed/outshot all four opponents. On Saturday night, Dartmouth was by far the better team against Union but fell, 3-1.
An interesting note on Dartmouth is that they are ninth in the country in possession stats, with a 54.7% corsi-for, and they are 11th in shots on goal margin per game played. Dartmouth has tons of skill up front, but are often letdown by goaltending and defensive mistakes. Wins against Cornell and Quinnipiac show there is potential there, but they will need to play better in key moments to have any chance come ECAC tournament time.
The other team I would watch for in the ECAC tournament is Union. The Dutchmen are currently eighth in the ECAC, but have big wins all over its schedule that says it should be a threat. Darion Hanson seems to be Rick Bennett’s new go-to goaltender, but only time will tell. His numbers have been really good and warrant it.
St Lawrence is in a World of Trouble
Two weeks ago, I saw St. Lawrence at Harvard and it was very concerning. SLU allowed a trio of early goals and ended up being down 6-0 before half the game was even over. In a sense, it was easy to see that Harvard could have scored more, but took the foot on the gas after the sixth goal. This is nothing new for the Saints, as they have struggled all season and have been dominated on most nights.
Two weeks ago, following that Harvard game, I had a chance to have a long conversation with head coach Mark Morris and I suggest you read it. In that he claimed injuries were a big deal, but at the end of the day every team deals with injuries and some of them are still good. Yes, SLU has had more than some, but the question should be asked why they keep having such a high number? Of course, the other popular excuse for coaches is youth, but look at teams like Quinnipiac, like Harvard, or many others that are still good with youth. You have to win and compete with kids in college hockey.
Anyways, the defense let Harvard waltz in the zone in that game but it was nothing new. The Saints have the worst shots on goal margin in the country, by far, at -16.5. In fact, only Alabama Huntsville is with them in negative double-digits. They allow 40 shots per game, well 39.57, with the next worst mark being Huntsville’s 36.19. They also allow over four goals per game, have a -2.11 goal margin, generate just 23 shots a game and have a 38 % corsi-for.
The stats are staggering for the Saints and I feel for Morris, at times, but then again I don’t. Yes, the recruiting was hampered last year, while being under investigation but the level of improvement just isn’t there this season and last. The Saints are just in a world of hurt right now, which it doesn’t seem is getting any better in the coming years.
Cornell is really good but I worry for them if they play another similar team that plays a good defensive structure.
Quinnipiac gets frustrated if they don’t dominate possession and can’t find the net. A game against Dartmouth early in the year and its loss to Brown this weekend were carbon copies of each other.
RPI’s Dave Smith posts teaching videos every week on his twitter account. I suggest everyone take a look, they are really good. I linked this week’s on creating time and space.
Don’t ask me who will be in Lake Placid, yet, it can be any of 11 teams.
- St. Lawrence
Friday: Cornell 4 Brown 3, Gate 2 Yale 1, Clarkson 5 Dartmouth 3, Harvard 8 SLU 1, Union 4 QU 2, Princeton 3 RPI 1.
Saturday: Cornell 5 Yale 2, Brown 4 Gate 3, Clarkson 4 Harvard 2, Dartmouth 6 SLU 2, Union 3 Princeton 2, QU 5 RPI 2.