URL for this frameset: http://www.elynah.com/tbrw/tbrw.cgi?1998/ecac.980225.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)
The weekend started on a surprising note as the six home teams went 5-0-1 Friday night, outscoring their guests by an average tally of 6-2. The visitors managed to pull out half of Saturday's games, but it still added up to three home sweeps, two of them in surprising places.
The battle between first-place Yale and second-place Clarkson saw the Elis take a 2-0 lead, but then the Knights answered with the next five goals, including Senior Buddy Wallace's first career hat trick, en route to a 6-3 victory. The following night Clarkson found themselves tied with Princeton late in the third period, but Ben Maidement scored with a minute and a half to go and Eric Cole added the empty-netter for a 5-3 win. Senior Chris Bernard seems to have wrested Clarkson's starting goalie job from all-ECAC classmate Dan Murphy, and is now 7-0-1 in league play and 9-0-1 overall. Over in Canton, St. Lawrence were the only home team not to win Friday, managing a 4-4 tie with Princeton. Mark McGrath had a hat trick for the Saints, including the game-tying goal in the middle of the third period. Erasmo Saltarelli had 36 saves for the Tigers while SLU's Eric Heffler stopped 37 shots, including five in overtime. Saturday was a different story as Heffler gave up six goals on 28 shots through two periods before being replaced by Jeremy Symington in a 7-2 loss to Yale.
Cornell faced adversity on their road trip. The banged-up Big Red fell 5-1 to Brown Friday, and with the score tied 1-1 thirteen minutes into the second period at Harvard, senior netminder and two-time ECAC Tournament MVP Jason Elliott went down with a knee injury. This was the possibility Cornellians have been dreading since backup Jean-Marc Pelletier left for the pros last summer after two seasons. Freshman Ian Burt, who'd seen his only non-exhibition action two weeks ago in relief in the 11-0 massacre at Yale, was thrust into a tie game with the Red's archrival. But fate smiled on Cornell that night, as Harvard were assessed a five-minute major for a cross-check along the boards. Not only did that prevent Burt from facing a shot in the second period, but it allowed Cornell to score twice on the powerplay. Between the Cornell defense blocking numerous third-period shots, and Burt saving 13 himself, the Crimson were kept off the board until the final seconds and Cornell held on for the 3-2 win. Burt, with a career record of 1-0, now finds himself in the starting position as Elliott awaits an MRI on his knee. Colgate, meanwhile, got no help from Providence, being shellacked 6-1 by Harvard and 6-2 by Brown. The Red Raiders have now gone 1-4-2 in their last seven games. Brown, on the other hand, ran their recent league record to 7-1-1 with the weekend sweep. Damian Prescott had three points in each of the two victories, was named ECAC Player of the Week, and became the first Bruin with back-to-back 20-goal seasons in over two decades.
Gutterson Field House in Burlington, Vermont has been a much-feared building in recent years, but with the departure of Tim Thomas and the French Connection the Cats could only muster three points in their first eleven home games. Friday night started the same way, with the RPI Engineers taking a two-goal lead into the first intermission, but UVM tied the game in the second and exploded for four goals in under three minutes in the third. In all, the Cats scored seven straight goals en route to a 7-3 win. Vermont completed their first home sweep of the season with a 3-2 win over Union. Andrew Allen had 48 saves on the weekend and was named the ECAC's Rookie of the Week. Down in Hanover, the weekend started on a thunderous positive note as the Big Green of Dartmouth outshot Union 39-23 in an 8-1 whitewashing of the Dutchmen. Dryden Award winner Trevor Koenig let three of the first six Dartmouth shots go in and spent the remainder of the weekend on the bench. The Green seemed en route to a sweep of their own when David Whitworth put them up 3-2 on Rensselaer with just over two minutes left in regulation, but Matt Garver tied the game again with just 40 seconds on the clock and Pete Gardiner got the third straight 4-on-4 goal halfway through overtime for the 4-3 RPI win. Scott Prekaski made 46 saves for the Engineers and was named the ECAC's Goaltender of the Week.
Clarkson keep their title hopes alive with the weekend sweep, while Colgate drop out of the top three and the race for home playoff berths stays tight. Ivy League Champions Yale have clinched at least second place, Clarkson sixth. Rensselaer are guaranteed a playoff spot, and Colgate have a magic number of one point with St. Lawrence to do the same. At the bottom, Vermont climb into position to take the final playoff berth, while Union are one point from elimination. (ECAC magic numbers and more can be found in "The ECAC Race in a Nutshell".)
ECAC Ivy W- L-T PF-PA-PR Pct W-L-T PF-PA-PR Pct 1 Yale 15- 3-0 30- 6- 8 .833 7-2-0 14- 4- 2 .778 2 Clarkson 12- 4-2 26-10- 8 .722 3 RPI 9- 6-3 21-15- 8 .583 4 Colgate 9- 7-2 20-16- 8 .556 5 Brown 9- 8-1 19-17- 8 .528 4-5-0 8-10- 2 .444 Cornell 9- 8-1 19-17- 8 .528 6-4-0 12- 8- 0 .600 7 Harvard 8- 9-1 17-19- 8 .472 3-5-1 7-11- 2 .389 8 Princeton 6- 8-4 16-20- 8 .444 3-5-1 7-11- 2 .389 Dartmouth 7- 9-2 16-20- 8 .444 2-4-0 4- 8- 8 .333 10 Vermont 6-10-2 14-22- 8 .389 11 St. Lawrence 5-11-2 12-24- 8 .333 12 Union 2-14-2 6-30- 8 .167
For the first time this season, the ECAC has two teams in the top ten, as measured by the US College Hockey Online Poll. Joining #6 Yale, Clarkson return to the poll at #9, while Cornell and Colgate each managed one vote in the poll. In the statistical measures related to the NCAA selection criteria, Clarkson rocket ahead four spots in the Ratings Percentage Index and six in the pairwise rankings, while Colgate sink like a stone:
Team RPI Rk PWR Rk Yale .575 #6 19 #5 Clarkson .549 #9 16 #7 Colgate .522 #15 10 #14 Cornell .515 #17 6 #19 Princeton .499 #24 4 #21 RPI .495 #25 5 #20 Harvard .489 #28 Brown .484 #29 Dartmouth .466 #32 1 #23 Vermont .437 #36 St Lawrence .423 #38 Union .350 #43
Yale creep up from sixth to fifth in the PWR, but they still lose the all-important comparisons with New Hampshire and BU, and thus would not receive an NCAA first-round bye if the season ended today. As of this week, Clarkson would also make the tournament, but now Colgate would not.
Fans in Central New York will be seeing Red this weekend as RPI and Union visit Cornell and Colgate. The Dutchmen in particular have been a thorn in Cornell's side, winning the last two battles with the Red, and owning a 2-1-2 advantage over them in the past two years while going 15-36-6 against the rest of the ECAC. Meanwhile, Brown and Harvard look to do to Clarkson what they did to Colgate, as the Golden Knights, along with St. Lawrence, travel to Southern New England this weekend. And finally, Yale and Princeton visit Dartmouth and Vermont. Friday night's Elis-Big Green contest sees the Bulldogs try to avenge one of their three league losses, and Saturday's Yale-Vermont tilt at Gutterson will be broadcast live on the New England Sports Network as this week's ECAC Game of the Week.