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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)
RPI proved they know how to perform for the TV cameras this weekend, as they played their second and third straight games before a national satellite audience, winning all three. Friday night the Engineers fell behind 2-0 to Clarkson in the tech schools' annual alumni satellite broadcast, but used six unanswered goals, including an empty-netter, to pull out the 6-2 victory, avenging an 11-0 loss in Potsdam back in November. Clarkson senior Dan Murphy stopped only 11 shots, while Sophomore Scott Prekaski made 42 saves for Rensselaer, and was named the ECAC Goaltender of the Week for that one game's performance. Prekaski's classmate Joel Laing got the start Saturday in RPI's platoon, and stopped 33 St. Lawrence shots as five second-period goals powered the Engineers to the 7-4 win in Empire Sports Network's ECAC Game of the Week. (RPI had defeated Harvard in last Saturday's Game of the Week on the New England Sports Network.) RPI forward Allain St. Hillaire had eight points on the weekend, including a game-winning goal and a game-winning assist, and was named the ECAC's Player of the Week.
Over in Schenectady, Union's Trevor Koenig gave Prekaski competition for goalie of the week. Friday night he came in in relief of Leer Shtrom after the Junior gave up four goals on 18 shots against St. Lawrence. Koenig stopped 22 shots in the better part of two periods, surrendering only a 5-on-3 tally, but the Dutchmen trailed 5-0 after two, and fell 5-2. Saturday night Koenig made a team-record 55 saves, but Clarkson managed one shorthanded, one 5-on-4 and one 5-on-3 goal to pull out the 3-1 win, and the Dutchmen were swept on the weekend. For their part, the Knights outshot their opposition 102-41 but came away with only a split.
The other weekend sweep came from Yale, who took four points at home as the two all-Ivy travel partnerships squared off. The Elis were 3-1 winners Friday thanks to two Jeff Hamilton goals, and completed their first sweep of Harvard in 19 years with a 5-3 win over the Crimson. The Elis have now won five straight ECAC contests, seven overall, and are a perfect 12-0-0 (10-0-0 ECAC) in the friendly confines of the Yale Whale. Over in Princeton, the Tigers roared out to a 5-1 second period lead over Harvard and held on for the 7-3 win, but surrendered three second-period goals to Brown to drop Saturday's contest 4-1.
In Central New York, the league's weakest travel partnership, Dartmouth and Vermont, made the third-toughest road trip in the East, visiting Colgate and Cornell. The Big Green of Dartmouth were the big surprise with a three-point weekend. The Green led Colgate 2-0 in the second Friday night, but the Red Raiders tied the game twice, with Rob Mara's power play marker in the penultimate minute of regulation salvaging the 3-3 tie for Colgate. Saturday night the Big Green took it to their chromatic counterparts the Big Red, outshooting Cornell 39-21. Dartmouth took a 2-0 lead, allowed the injury-riddled Red to knot the contest at two, and then pulled away for the 5-2 triumph. Friday night in Ithaca Vermont found themselves up 1-0 after two thanks mostly to the efforts of netminder Marty Phillips, who had 36 saves on the game, but the Big Red solved Phillips twice in 61 seconds in the third, and added an empty-netter to prevail 3-1. Cornell's Jason Elliott had 24 saves and a game-winning assist. The Catamounts fell by an identical 3-1 score Saturday, as Colgate scored two goals in a second period in which they outshot UVM 15-2 to complete their own three-point weekend.
Yale are currently pulling away with the regular season race. Friday they clinched a playoff berth and on Saturday wrapped up home ice in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. In addition, they have cemented at least a share of the Ivy League title. Only Clarkson, Colgate, RPI and Cornell remain in mathematical contention for the ECAC regular season crown, and the Bulldogs could potentially wrap that up this coming weekend. As for the rest, Clarkson is within a hair's breadth of clinching the playoffs themselves, while the fight for fifth place is intense. (For more on the playoff race, check out "The ECAC Race in a Nutshell".)
ECAC Ivy W- L-T PF-PA-PR Pct W-L-T PF-PA-PR Pct 1 Yale 14- 2-0 28- 4-12 .875 7-2-0 14- 4- 2 .778 2 Clarkson 10- 4-2 22-10-12 .688 3 Colgate 9- 5-2 20-12-12 .625 4 RPI 8- 5-3 19-13-12 .594 5 Cornell 8- 7-1 17-15-12 .531 5-3-0 10- 6- 4 .625 6 Princeton 6- 7-3 15-17-12 .469 3-5-1 7-11- 2 .389 Harvard 7- 8-1 15-17-12 .469 3-4-1 7- 9- 4 .438 Brown 7- 8-1 15-17-12 .469 3-5-0 6-10- 4 .375 9 Dartmouth 6- 8-2 14-18-12 .438 2-4-0 4- 8- 8 .333 10 St. Lawrence 5-10-1 11-21-12 .344 11 Vermont 4-10-2 10-22-12 .313 12 Union 2-12-2 6-26-12 .188
With the Beanpot concluding the ECAC's interconference activity (at least until the postseason), we can look at the final records for ECAC teams against other conferences. Some teams, such as Princeton and Dartmouth, made out well, but on the whole the ECAC had a rough year, with losing records against all the other conferences, including a clean sweep by the WCHA. No ECAC squad has beaten one from the Western league since the end of 1996.
Hockey Major Minor non- Total ECAC East CCHA WCHA 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 2-0-2 1-0 0-1 1-0 4-1-2 Harvard 1-4-1 0-1 1-5-1 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 WCHA Major Minor Non-I Total Totals [1-1-2] 17-22-4 8-12-1 0-9 9-1-1 7-1 1-0 43-46-8 "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 hold steady at sixth place in the US College Hockey Online Poll, with Clarkson and Colgate among the also-rans. Yale improved their statistical position, moving from seventh to sixth in both the Ratings Percentage Index and pairwise rankings, based on the NCAA selection criteria:
Team RPI Rk PWR Rk Yale .584 #6 17 #6 Colgate .545 #11 12 #11 Clarkson .529 #13 9 #13 Cornell .519 #16 6 #17 Princeton .509 #19 5 #19 RPI .493 #26 3 #21 Harvard .485 #27 Dartmouth .469 #30 0 #23 Brown .465 #31 Vermont .423 #38 St Lawrence .416 #39 Union .352 #42
However, Yale now loses the pairwise comparison with New Hampshire, and as a result would not earn a bye in the NCAAs if the season ended today. They would of course qualify for the tournament, as would Colgate. Clarkson remains just behind Ohio State for the twelfth and final tournament slot.
All eyes will be on the North Country this weekend, as Yale and Princeton visit Clarkson and St. Lawrence. When the ECAC's top two teams take the ice Friday it will be not a battle for first place, but Clarkson's last opportunity for a realistic shot at catching the Bulldogs. Saturday night's ECAC Game of the Week, Princeton at Clarkson at 7pm Eastern on Empire Sports Network, looks to have serious playoff implications. Brown and Harvard play host to Cornell and Colgate in a series with both playoff and rivalry significance, and finally Dartmouth and Vermont entertain Union and RPI, with the Dutchmen and Catamounts fighting for their playoff lives.