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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)
Cornell and Clarkson, the top two teams in the ECAC last year, started this season on vastly different notes: the Big Red swept at home, en route to a 4-0-1 league start, while the Golden Knights dropped two on the road. But since then both squads have undergone changes of fortune, the Red dropping three straight in the league, the last two on the road, and the Knights posting on a 4-0-1 mark of their own in a five-game ECAC homestand.
The Big Red returned home before a national satellite audience in Empire Sports Network's first entry in the ECAC Game of the Week series, facing Colgate in the second of three straight games. As in the first game, the teams ended regulation in a 2-2 tie, exchanging power play goals in the first and even-strength tallies in the second. But this time the deadlock was broken when Cory Murphy intercepted a Big Red pass at center ice and fed Dru Burgess breaking into the Cornell zone. Neither defenseman could catch Burgess as he charged the net and beat Jason Elliott top shelf to give the Red Raiders the 3-2 overtime victory and extend Cornell's ECAC losing streak to four.
Meanwhile, Clarkson went on the road as their weekend series with Dartmouth and Vermont was moved to New England while the North Country recovered from the recent ice storms. The unplanned travel proved no impedement to the Knights, who swept, prevailing 4-3 over the Big Green and 5-4 over the Catamounts to run their conference unbeaten streak to seven games. Their travel partner St. Lawrence could only manage a split, downing Vermont 3-2 and falling 4-1 to Dartmouth.
And in Schenectady, RPI used five power play goals to dismantle Union 7-2, knocking last year's Dryden Award winner Trevor Koenig from the game early in the second period. Koenig stopped only five of the eight shots he faced.
Colgate, Clarkson and RPI all convert some games in hand on Yale, while Cornell slip back to the .500 mark.
ECAC Ivy W-L-T PF-PA Pct W-L-T PF-PA Pct 1 Yale 9-2-0 18-4 .818 3-2-0 6-4 .600 2 Colgate 7-2-0 14-4 .778 3 Clarkson 6-2-1 13-5 .722 4 RPI 5-4-2 12-10 .545 5 Harvard 6-5-1 13-11 .542 3-2-1 7-5 .583 6 Princeton 4-4-3 11-11 .500 2-2-1 5-5 .500 Cornell 4-4-1 9-9 .500 4-1-0 8-2 .800 8 St. Lawrence 3-5-1 7-11 .388 9 Brown 4-7-1 9-15 .375 2-4-0 4-8 .333 10 Vermont 3-6-2 8-14 .364 11 Dartmouth 3-7-1 7-15 .318 1-4-0 2-8 .200 12 Union 2-8-1 5-17 .227
Yale beats Lowell in the ECAC's only non-conference game this week, leaving the senior circuit six games behind its offspring in the season series with six more tilts on the schedule.
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 0-0-1 3-1 1-1 0-1 1-0 1-0 6-3-1 Cornell 0-0-1 1-0 1-0 0-1 1-0 3-1-1 Dartmouth 1-0-2 1-0 1-0 3-0-2 Harvard 0-3-1 0-1 0-4-1 Princeton 3-0-1 1-0 2-0 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 0-1-1 1-1 1-7-1 Vermont 2-4 1-2 3-6 Yale 2-1 0-1 2-0 4-2 ECAC HE CCHA WHCA Major Minor Non-I Total Totals [1-1-2] 14-20-4 6-10-1 0-7 7-1-1 7-1 1-0 36-40-8 "Major Indy" refers to Division I Independents who are eligible for the NCAA tournament, namely Air Force, Army and Mankato State. "Minor Indy" teams are the remaining D1 independents, games against whom do not count towards NCAA tournament selection criteria.
It's getting to be old hat in the US College Hockey Online Poll: Yale hold the ninth spot, only ECAC team in the top ten, while Colgate top the list of others receiving votes. Those are also the only two ECAC teams in the top ten or fifteen according to the Ratings Percentage Index or the pairwise rankings, based on the NCAA selection criteria:
Team RPI Rk PWR Rk Colgate .573 #8 16 #6 Yale .558 #10 14 #10 Cornell .519 #21 1 #22 Clarkson .518 #22 4 #20 Princeton .514 #23 5 #17 RPI .493 #24 2 #21 Harvard .479 #26 Dartmouth .440 #34 Vermont .439 #35 St Lawrence .420 #37 Brown .418 #39 Union .358 #41
If the season ended today, Colgate and Yale would of course be the ECAC's two representatives in the NCAAs, unless a third team could claim the automatic bid for winning the conference tournament.
Only two ECAC contests this week, both battles between travel partners. Cornell travel up to Hamilton Monday to complete their three-game series with the Red Raiders, and Clarkson zip down the road to Canton to face arch-rivals St. Lawrence in what should be the first game in the North Country since the storm hit. The nonconference action starts on Tuesday as Brown visit Northeastern, and then goes into full swing over the weekend: Vermont and Dartmouth play host to the University of Denver; RPI and Cornell travel to the land of the CCHA to play Ferris State and Western Michigan; former ECAC member Army entertain their replacement, Union, and then visit Yale; and Brown play a single game Saturday at New Hampshire.
And looking ahead, fans will get to make the Cornell-Clarkson comparison directly January 30 when the two rivals will face off at Lynah Rink in Ithaca.