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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)
This weekend saw a half-slate of conference games in the ECAC as the teams evened up their schedule at twelve games a piece in preparation for the last five weeks of the season. And if this weekend's games are any indication, fasten your seatbelts folks, 'cause it's gonna be a wild ride.
The one full travel partner series was in Central New York. In a rematch of last year's ECAC championship game, Cornell were outshot 30-15 by Clarkson, and had to kill off a 5-minute major in the third period, but managed to hang on to win 2-1, the same score as in the title game. Colgate also overcame adversity, this time the absence of senior goaltender Dan Brenzavich, serving a game disqualification from the Cornell game. Shep Harder stopped 27 shots as the Red Raiders tallied four unanswered goals for the 4-1 victory.
Saturday saw the second and third place teams battle in Hamilton. Colgate led 3-2 in the final minute, but Clarkson's Buddy Wallace scored with 26 seconds left in regulation to force the 3-3 tie. Back in Ithaca, Cornell had their hands full with last-place St. Lawrence. In fact, both teams had their hands full of each other as referee Scott Hansen let numerous obstruction offenses go uncalled. The Saints took a 3-2 lead in the second on a three-on-two set up by one of those plays. Cornell's best chance to tie came in the third when the SLU defense were caught with their hands full of the puck in the goal crease and the Big Red were awarded a penalty shot. But Eric Heffler saved Ryan Moynihan's backhand attempt, and the Saints scored a fifth goal on one of many freak bounces off the Lynah Rink boards and held on for the 5-4 upset win.
There were also three travel partner games Saturday. Yale trailed 2-0 to Princeton with just over two minutes left in the second, but scored three unanswered goals to prevail 3-2 and solidify their hold on first place. Dartmouth trounced Vermont 6-1 in the only blowout of the weekend, and in Rensselaer it was Big Red Freakout night as RPI hosted Union. The Dutchmen, embarrassed by their 7-2 home loss to RPI two weeks ago, came out with something to prove, and took the Engineers to overtime. Two minutes into the extra session RPI's Eric Healey put a shot onto the side of the net. His teammate Mark Murphy, thinking it had gone in, threw his hands up and was viciously speared by Union captain Charlie Moxham. Moxham got a five-minute major and a game disqualification, but Union managed to kill off the last three minutes of overtime to preserve the 3-3 tie.
The ECAC took a couple of non-conference games from Hockey East as Dartmouth spoiled Tuesday's opening of the Tsongas Arena with a 2-1 overtime defeat of UMass-Lowell, and Brown kept the Mayor's Cup from Providence 6-3 on Saturday.
The standings become a little easier to work out with each team having ten games left on its schedule. Colgate's three-point weekend leaves them in second, but still three points behind Yale, and things are very tight in the middle of the pack, with the fourth place team as close in points to last place as to first.
ECAC Ivy W-L-T PF-PA Pct W-L-T PF-PA Pct 1 Yale 10-2-0 20-4 .833 4-2-0 8-4 .666 2 Colgate 8-3-1 17-7 .708 3 Clarkson 7-3-2 16-8 .667 4 RPI 5-4-3 13-11 .542 Cornell 6-5-1 13-11 .542 4-1-0 8-2 .800 Harvard 6-5-1 13-11 .542 3-2-1 7-5 .583 7 Princeton 4-5-3 11-13 .458 2-3-1 5-7 .417 8 Brown 4-7-1 9-15 .375 2-4-0 4-8 .333 Dartmouth 4-7-1 9-15 .375 1-4-0 2-8 .200 St. Lawrence 4-7-1 9-15 .375 11 Vermont 3-7-2 8-16 .333 12 Union 2-8-2 6-18 .250
The interconference schedule for the ECAC is complete outside of the two Beanpot games, and it was less than a banner year for the dirty dozen, finishing with a losing record against every other league. The one bright spot was Princeton, who went undefeated and got a big win from BU.
Hockey Major Minor non- Total ECAC East CCHA WHCA Indy Indy DivI N/C Brown 1-3 0-1 0-1 1-5 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 2-1 0-1 1-0 4-2-1 Dartmouth 4-0-2 1-0 0-1 1-0 4-1-2 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 1-2 2-0 1-0 6-4 SLU 0-2 0-3 0-2 1-0 1-7 Union 0-1 0-4 1-1-1 1-1 2-7-1 Vermont 2-4 1-2 0-1 3-7 Yale 2-1 0-1 3-0 5-2 ECAC HE CCHA WHCA Major Minor Non-I Total Totals [1-1-2] 17-21-4 8-12-1 0-9 9-0-1 7-1 1-0 42-45-8 "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. All of the ECAC's "minor indy" games this year are against the "emerging programs of Niagara and Nebraska-Omaha.
Yale move from tenth back into ninth place in this week's US College Hockey Online Poll, and are still the only ECAC team in the top ten. Colgate leads the list of teams also receiving votes, and Cornell and Clarkson also showed up on at least one ballot. Here's how the ECAC teams stack up statistically according to the Ratings Percentage Index and pairwise rankings, based on the NCAA selection criteria:
Team RPI Rk PWR Rk Yale .559 #9 15 #8 Colgate .553 #10 12 #11 Clarkson .521 #17 6 #17 Cornell .517 #19 7 #13 Princeton .510 #20 4 #19 Harvard .484 #26 RPI .480 #28 2 #20 Dartmouth .448 #33 0 #22 St Lawrence .432 #35 Brown .432 #36 Vermont .423 #39 Union .367 #41
If the season ended today, Colgate and Yale would both qualify for the NCAAs, and probably compete in the East Regional in Albany. In fact, despite being only eighth in the overall pairwise rankings, the Elis are the second best team according to pairwise comparisons in the East, and would thus earn a first-round bye.
Monday sees a non-conference game for Harvard, as the Crimson face Boston College in the first round of the 46th Beanpot tournament. Through a scheduling quirk, it's actually the third game this season between the two schools. BC prevailed 4-3 in overtime at home, and they tied at 6 in the consolation of the Badger Showdown. The Beanpot will be televised on WABU-68 in Boston, and the Harvard-BC contest is the late game, at 9 Eastern.
Then it's on to a full conference weekend, the first of five to close out the season. The big series, Cornell and Colgate visiting Yale and Princeton, features the top two teams in the league, not to mention the top three in the Ivies. Satellite TV viewers across the country can catch some ECAC hockey on the New England Sports Network as RPI and Harvard face off at 4pm EST in the latest ECAC Game of the Week, part of a four-game travel partner series in New England which also features Union and Brown. And finally, in a series moved to the North Country to make up for the games displaced by the ice storm last month, Clarkson and St. Lawrence host Vermont and Dartmouth.