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(scores are linked to box scores and recaps on US College Hockey Online, which is not affiliated with The Big Red What? or Joe Schlobotnik)
Eight ECAC teams participated in six holiday tournaments this weekend, garnering three last-place finishes, one third-place tie, two consolation wins, one runner-up and only one championship. The ECAC's lone title came in the Sh*r*t*n/USA*rw*ys Holiday Classic, where Dartmouth triumphed 6-2 over Bowling Green Saturday and then upended Providence 4-1 for the title. Host school Vermont did not fare so well, falling 5-1 to Providence and 3-1 to Bowling Green.
There were also two ECAC teams involved in the Syracuse Invitational Tournament, and Colgate, with a 4-3 overtime victory over Niagara, were the only ECAC squad besides Dartmouth to advance to a tournament final this weekend, falling 6-2 to Minnesota-Duluth in the title game. Clarkson finished third in the tournament, losing 5-2 to UMD and thumping Niagara 5-1 in the Consolation game. The Purple Eagles are 0-4 in division I play this season, all against ECAC teams, but this is the first time they've lost by more than two.
St. Lawrence had a good showing in the Great Lakes Invitational, although the results might not indicate it. They were outshot 47-17 by fifth-ranked Michigan in the first semifinal, but thanks to a Herculean effort by Junior netminder Eric Heffler the game was tied at two late in the third. But Michigan went on the power play with six minutes remaining, and needed only ten seconds of the man advantage to score for the 3-2 win. Michigan Tech lost a similar 3-1 battle with #2 Michigan State in the other semifinal, and by contrast the consolation game was a high-scoring affair. The Saints got out to a 4-1 lead, but the Huskies came back to prevail 6-5 thanks in part to five power play tallies. Once again, SLU were heavily outshot, with Freshman netminder Jeremy Symington posting 39 saves for SLU. In the final, Michigan State ended Michigan's 20-game GLI winning streak with a 5-3 decision, and became the first team in a decade to wrest the title from the Wolverines.
The Cornell-North Dakota rematch in the P*ps* tournament in Grand Rapids, Michigan was not much of a contest as the national champions triumphed 5-1. The Sioux put 46 shots on goal, and the only Big Red tally came in the last six minutes of the game with the score 4-0. Western Michigan were spanked 9-1 by Ferris State in the other semifinal, setting up a battle between the Broncos and their former assistant coach Mike Schafer, now at the helm of the Big Red. The Red pulled out the 3-2 victory thanks to Ryan Smart's goal midway through the third period. As in the NCAAs last year, North Dakota used their win over Cornell as a springboard to the championship, downing Ferris 6-3.
In the Mariucci Classic, Brown gave up yet another lead, seeing host school Minnesota erase a 3-2 second-period deficit and score four unanswered goals for the 6-3 win. The Gophers snapped a nine-game losing streak with the victory. In the conso, Brown faced a Notre Dame team which had also blown a lead and surrendered four straight goals, losing 4-2 to Northeastern in the first semifinal. The consolation game was a different story, as the Irish used four second-period goals to get out to a 5-0 lead en route to the 5-1 defeat of the Bruins. Northeastern triumphed 4-2 over Minnesota in the championship game
Brown's Ivy neighbor and travel partner Harvard also suffered a first-round lost to a tournament host out West, falling 6-3 to Wisconsin in the Badger Showdown. Boston College had lost the early semifinal 3-2 to Northern Michigan, setting up the second BC-Harvard contest this year; the Eagles had prevailed on a last-minute overtime goal back in November. Twice the Eagles seemed on their way to a second win of the year, getting out to leads of 2-0 in the first and 5-2 in the second, but each time the Crimson came back to tie the score by the end of the period. There were no goals in the third period or the five-minute overtime, so the teams left with a 6-6 tie. Harvard and Boston College will meet a third time in the Beanpot semifinals in February. And in the title game, Wisconsin used three straight second-period goals to defeat NMU 4-3 and become the only host school to win a tournament this weekend.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Union continued to have a rough time with the Western Independents, falling 5-2 to Mankato State Friday. The Dutchmen had a 3-2 lead in Saturday's rematch, but Mankato's Aaron Fox scored in the final two minutes to tie it. Union had a potential game-winning goal waved off in the final seconds of regulation, and the game ended in a 3-3 tie, despite Dutchmen coach Stan Moore's pulling goalie Trevor Koenig for the last half-minute of overtime.
Coming out of the holiday break, the surprise leaders are the Yale Elis. Colgate have played solidly all year, while Clarkson and Harvard have rebounded after being swept on the opening weekend. The Big Red of Cornell have lost three straight after their red-hot start, as have Princeton. RPI, picked hands-down to win the league, stand at .500 after being swept in the North Country. Union, who returned last year's ECAC Coach of the Year and Dryden award winner, but graduated half their team, have been exceeding expectations early, while St. Lawrence and Vermont, losing goaltenders to graduation, have struggled so far, especially the Catamounts, still seeking their first league win since the graduation of goalie Tim Thomas and the French Connection. First-year head coach Roger Grillo can boast an upset win over Yale by his Brown Bears, while his predecessor in Providence, Bob Gaudet, is now settling in at the reins of his alma mater, Dartmouth.
ECAC Ivy W-L-T PF-PA Pct W-L-T PF-PA Pct 1 Yale 6-1-0 12-2 .857 3-1-0 6-2 .750 2 Colgate 6-2-0 12-4 .750 3 Clarkson 4-2-1 9-5 .643 4 Cornell 4-3-1 9-7 .563 4-1-0 8-2 .800 Harvard 4-3-1 9-7 .563 2-2-1 5-5 .500 6 RPI 3-3-0 6-6 .500 7 Princeton 2-3-2 6-8 .429 1-2-1 3-5 .375 8 Union 2-3-1 5-7 .417 9 St. Lawrence 2-4-1 5-9 .357 10 Dartmouth 1-3-1 3-7 .300 0-1-0 0-2 .000 11 Brown 2-6-0 4-12 .250 1-4-0 2-8 .200 12 Vermont 0-3-2 2-8 .200
The ECAC had a rough weekend playing the western teams, going 2-3 against the CCHA and a dismal 0-6 against the WCHA. They broke even at 1-1-1 against Hockey East, and even against the Independents could only manage a 2-1-1 record. Here are the interconference records for the season:
Hockey Major Minor non- Total ECAC East CCHA WHCA Indy Indy DivI N/C Brown 0-2 0-1 0-1 0-4 Clarkson 1-2 2-1-1 0-2 1-0 4-5-1(*) Colgate 1-0 1-1 0-1 1-0 1-0 4-2 Cornell 1-0 1-0 0-1 1-0 3-1 Dartmouth 1-0-2 1-0 1-0 3-0-2 Harvard 0-3-1 0-1 0-4-1 Princeton 2-0-1 3-0 5-0-1 RPI 1-0 1-2 1-0 1-0 4-2 SLU 0-2 0-3 0-2 1-0 1-7 Union 0-1 0-4 1-2-1 1-7-1 Vermont 2-4 1-2 3-6 Yale 1-1 1-0 2-1 ECAC HE CCHA WHCA Major Minor Non-I Total Totals [1-1] 10-20-4 6-8-1 0-8 8-2-1 4-0 1-0 30-37-6 (*)Clarkson's losses to Wisconsin and BU in the Ice Breaker tournament may be considered exhibitions "Major Indy" refers to Division I Independents who play 20 games or more against other division I teams, namely Air Force, Army, Mankato State and Nebraska-Omaha. "Minor Indy" teams are the remaining D1 independents, games against whom do not count towards NCAA tournament selection criteria.
The US College Hockey Online Poll returned this week after a two-week absence, but the only ECAC team in the poll, Yale, was idle for those two weeks, and they remain at #9. Colgate and Princeton also received votes, with the Red Raiders just six votes shy of the top ten. On the statistical front, Yale drop a few spots to fifth in the Ratings Percentage Index at .593, while Colgate slip to eighth in the nation with a .576 RPI. Princeton's RPI actually ranks them 20th, two spots below Cornell.
The ECAC's return to league play starts with a battle between the preseason favorite and the current leader as RPI, along with Union, visit Yale and Princeton. Over in New England Harvard and Brown host Dartmouth and Vermont.
But there are also a host of tournament and non-conference games, starting on Monday with RPI's holiday tournament, all four games of which will be carried on WRPI's RealAudio broadcast. The Engineers host D-1 independent Army in the late game, after Yale take on the CCHA's Lake Superior State. The consolation and champion ship games follow on Tuesday, as does a non-league contest in Princeton as the Tigers host Hockey East leaders and national #1 Boston University.
Non-conference play over the weekend sees Colgate visit a couple of Hockey East schools, UMass-Lowell Friday night and Providence Sunday afternoon, and finally on the exhibition front Cornell will play three games at a tournament in Guelph, Ontario. The Big Red will face the host school Friday and Wilfred Laurier or Brandon on Saturday. Possible opponents for Sunday's final round are Lethbridge, Waterloo, Alberta, and York.