URL for this frameset: http://www.elynah.com/tbrw/tbrw.cgi?1998/ecac.980107.shtml
(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)
Going into the ECAC season, the RPI Engineers looked like the team to beat, having been chosen to finish first by nine of the twelve participants in the ECAC Coaches' Poll. Going into the new year, RPI found themselves with just a .500 record in the league; in the Engineers' expected place at the top were the Yale Elis, picked by the coaches to finish tenth. Back in November, the Bulldogs handed Cornell, the last unbeaten team in the nation, their first loss, and have led the ECAC ever since. This weekend the two squads met in New Haven, and kept moving in opposite directions. Yale rolled to a 4-1 victory, and managed to stave off Union 6-5 the following night to complete the weekend sweep. The Engineers, meanwhile, managed to squeeze a single point out of the weekend, tying Princeton 2-2 while being outshot 35-16. The Tigers, were themselves completing a three-point weekend, having defeated Union 3-1 the night before.
The other weekend series gave the University of Vermont a much-needed shot in the arm. The Catamounts had struggled since graduating star forwards Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin, along with all-American goaltender Tim Thomas, were swept in their own tournament last weekend, and were still looking for their first league win. They got off the schneid with a 4-2 win at Brown in which a pair of Bruin goaltenders combined for an anemic 16 saves, and then headed over to Harvard. The teams were knotted at two goals a piece entering a wild final minute of regulation. Jerry Gernander scored at 19:09 to put the Cats up 3-2. Harvard pulled their goalie follwing the ensuing faceoff and went on the attack six-on-five. Thirty seconds later, UVM goalie Andrew Allen got a stick on a Crimson pass from behind the goal, and the puck slid the length of the ice into the empty net, the first goal scored by an ECAC goaltender in recent memory. But it gets better. Down 4-2 with sixteen seconds to go, Harvard kept attacking and managed to score with one tick left on the clock. This meant that Allen's goal was the gamewinner in the 4-3 Vermont victory. Between a 54-save weekend and his offensive output, Allen was awarded the ECAC's Rookie of the Week and Goaltenter of the Week honors. UVM's travel parner Dartmouth, coming off the ECAC's only tournament title of the season, came back to Earth, falling 4-3 to Harvard and dropping a 6-5 overtime decision at Brown despite a hat trick by Scott Peach. Brown had led 5-3 with five minutes in regulation and, as they've done all season, let it slip away. This time, though, Bruno pulled one out as Damian Prescott assisted on the gamewinner for his fourth point of the night. Prescott's three goal, three assist weekend earned him the ECAC Player of the Week designation.
The ECAC's nonconference schedule for the week was actually kicked off last Monday with RPI and Yale (remember them?) competing in the RPI Invitational tournament. The results were pretty similar to those of the Syracuse Invitational nine days before, with each team knocking off a Division I Independent (in this case ECAC refugee Army, blanked 4-0 by the hosts and 3-2 by the Bulldogs) and falling to a western team (here Lake Superior State, who trounced Yale 5-0 and used a 3-on-5 goal to take the title game 3-1). There was a bright spot for the ECAC Tuesday night, though, as Princeton stunned BU, the top-ranked team in the nation, 3-2.
Colgate went on the road for a couple of contests with Hockey East teams, being destroyed 7-1 by UMass-Lowell before rebounding to down Providence 3-2. And finally, in a weekend of exhibition games at the Gryphon Invitational in Guelph, Ontario, Cornell fell 4-2 to the hosts before defeating Wilfrid Laurier 5-2 and Waterloo 4-3. Backup netminder Ian Burt had both of the wins for Cornell, while two-time ECAC Tournament MVP Jason Elliott gave up three goals on seven shots in one period of the loss.
With most of the other top teams idle, Yale used the weekend sweep to open up a four-point lead on the competition. Meanwhile, Vermont's first two league wins catapult them out of the cellar and to within a game of .500.
ECAC Ivy W-L-T PF-PA Pct W-L-T PF-PA Pct 1 Yale 8-1-0 16-2 .889 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 5 Harvard 5-4-1 11-9 .550 3-2-1 7-5 .583 6 Princeton 3-3-3 9-9 .500 1-2-1 3-5 .375 7 RPI 3-4-1 7-9 .438 8 Vermont 2-3-2 6-8 .429 9 St. Lawrence 2-4-1 5-9 .357 10 Union 2-5-1 5-11 .313 11 Brown 3-7-0 6-14 .300 2-4-0 4-8 .333 12 Dartmouth 1-5-1 3-11 .214 0-3-0 0-6 .000
Princeton's upset win over Boston University highlighted the non-conference slate, and kept the Tigers unbeaten outside the conference. Otherwise, it's business as usual: two wins over Army, two losses to Lake State and a split against Hockey East.
One non-conference note: apparently the Ice Breaker tournament willbe considered an exhibition by the NCAA, so we've wiped Clarkson's losses to Wisconsin and BU off the slate:
Hockey Major Minor non- Total ECAC East CCHA WHCA Indy Indy DivI N/C Brown 0-2 0-1 0-1 0-4 Clarkson 1-1 2-1-1 0-1 1-0 4-3-1 Colgate 2-1 1-1 0-1 1-0 1-0 5-3 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 3-0-1 3-0 6-0-1 RPI 1-0 1-2 0-1 2-0 1-0 5-3 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 0-1 2-0 3-2 ECAC HE CCHA WHCA Major Minor Non-I Total Totals [1-1] 12-20-4 6-10-1 0-7 10-2-1 4-0 1-0 34-40-6 "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.
Despite their weekend sweep, Yale remain in ninth place in the US College Hockey Online Poll, the only ECAC team in the top ten, although Colgate, Clarkson and Princeton also received votes. By the numbers, Yale has the eighth best Ratings Percentage Index in the country at .577, followed by Colgate one place back at .573. In the pairwise rankings, based on the criteria which will be used to seed the NCAA tournament, Yale is ranked seventh in the nation and Colgate tenth. If the season ended today, both would make the field of twelve, and in fact Yale would probably receive the second seed in the East, and a first-round bye, since they win pairwise comparisons against every Eastern team except BU.
The same eight teams remain in conference play this weekend, with Vermont trying to gain momentum as they and Dartmouth host Yale and Princeton. The other league series see Brown and Harvard visit Union and RPI. The Rensselaer-Brown game Saturday will be the second ECAC Game of the Week, once again televised by the New England Sports Network. (The first also involved Brown, hosting Harvard back in November.) Game time is 7pm Eastern, 5:00 for those of us in the Mountain Time Zone.
The non-conference slate this week features a visit to Long Island by Cornell and Colgate, who will face off Saturday at the Nassau Coliseum. This game, which will not count towards the standings, is the first of three straight against the Red Raiders for the Big Red. Colgate, on the other hand, will squeeze in a non-conference tilt at Merrimack Sunday. And finally, up in the North Country, St. Lawrence and Clarkson host New Hampshire and Mass-Lowell in four more ECAC-Hockey East games. The ECAC is eight games down in the series, and a full series in a couple of tough rinks just South of the Border may be just the thing.