URL for this frameset: http://www.elynah.com/tbrw/tbrw.cgi?1998/ecac.980304.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)
Just when you think you understand the ECAC, Union doubles its league win total for the season with a road sweep, 6-0 at Colgate and 1-0 at Cornell. Dutchman netminder Trevor Koenig, who set the ECAC's consecutive shutout streak at 198:44 last season, has now gone exactly 120 minutes without surrendering a goal. The Union senior, whose club was still mathematically eliminated from postseason play this weekend, has just enough time to break his own record in the season's final weekend. RPI also pulled off the three-point weekend as Cornell and Colgate continued their downward spiral with only three points between them in the last two weekends. Cornell freshman Ian Burt, starting in place of injured senior Jason Elliott, held the Engineers to only one goal in nearly two and a half periods before giving up three in under five minutes as Rensselaer erased a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3. The following night RPI also managed a three-goal third-period comeback, trailing 4-1 in Hamilton before pulling out a 4-4 tie.
League-leading Yale continued to squander their advantage with a one-point weekend at home, tying Dartmouth 2-2 and then falling 4-3 to Vermont. These were the first tie and first loss given up at home by the Elis this season. Over in Princeton, things looked rosier, with the Tigers improving their playoff prospects with a three-point weekend, tying Vermont 4-4 and downing Dartmouth 5-3.
Clarkson didn't miss out on the opportunity to catch up with the Bulldogs, as the Knights swept on the road, 3-2 over Brown and 5-1 at Harvard. Chris Clark was named ECAC player of the week for his three weekend goals, including the gamewinner with six seconds left in Providence. St. Lawrence used John Poapst's overtime goal to prevail 3-2 against Harvard, but a 4-2 loss to Brown left the Saints with only a split as they try desparately for a shot at the last playoff spot.
This is the weekend when all of the ECAC's regular season brass rings will be given out. The top ten teams still make the playoffs, but thanks to the new playoff format, the top five will get home ice in the first round. The top three will be assured of avoiding the Thursday night game in the ECAC tournament, and the regular season champion will get an automatic bid to the NCAAs and the knowledge that if they go to Lake Placid, their first opponent will already have played the night before.
After Yale seemed to be walking away with the regular season title, three points in two weekends have left the Elis just a point above the Golden Knights. If the two teams should end up tied, they split their two head-to-head games, so the winner of a tie-breaker would depend on which other teams made the top four. At any rate, the two teams will finish one-two. RPI got one point out of four in each of the season series with Brown and Colgate, so they need two points this weekend to wrap up third place without help. The middle of the pack is tight enough that the right combination of results would lead to a six-way tie for fourth place (Colgate and Cornell would get the home-ice spots in that event). Union, despite their four-point weekend, are relegated to last place, but St. Lawrence can still grab the last playoff spot. In the event of a tie, they lose a tie-breaker with Dartmouth but would go down to top-four with Harvard or Vermont.
ECAC Ivy W- L-T PF-PA-PR Pct W-L-T PF-PA-PR Pct 1 Yale 15- 4-1 31- 9- 4 .775 7-2-1 15- 5- 0 .750 2 Clarkson 14- 4-2 30-10- 4 .750 3 RPI 10- 6-4 24-16- 4 .600 4 Brown 10- 9-1 21-19- 4 .525 4-5-0 8-10- 2 .444 Colgate 9- 8-3 21-19- 4 .525 6 Cornell 9-10-1 19-21- 4 .475 6-4-0 12- 8- 0 .600 Princeton 7- 8-5 19-21- 4 .475 4-5-1 9-11- 0 .450 8 Vermont 7-10-3 17-23- 4 .425 Harvard 8-11-1 17-23- 4 .425 3-5-1 7-11- 2 .389 Dartmouth 7-10-3 17-23- 4 .425 2-5-1 5-11- 4 .313 11 St. Lawrence 6-12-2 14-26- 4 .350 12 Union 4-14-2 10-30- 4 .250
Bottom line: the top three teams have clinched home ice, while the current top seven will all make the playoffs. If you want to have fun with the ECAC tiebreakers, "The ECAC Race in a Nutshell" might be a useful tool. Follow this link for an analysis of the playoff possibilities.
In case you've forgotten, the tiebreakers in the ECAC (after total points in all games) are:
If three or more teams are tied, go down the tiebreakers until one of them separates one or more teams at the top. The rest of the teams start over with the first tie-breaker, regardless of how they did the first time through.
If you want even more details on the tiebreaking procedure, the ECAC has put out a page clarifying the issues involved. (Huzzah! Huzzah!)
Yale, thanks to their one-point weekend, drop from sixth to seventh in the US College Hockey Online Poll, while Clarkson climb a spot to eighth. RPI were the only other ECAC team to receive votes in the poll. Yale and Clarkson's moves in the poll are echoed by those in the Ratings Percentage Index, although Clarkson slip a place in the pairwise rankings, based on the NCAA selection criteria:
Team RPI Rk PWR Rk Yale .560 #7 17 #7 Clarkson .559 #8 17 #8 Colgate .508 #19 8 #16 RPI .504 #21 5 #20 Princeton .501 #22 4 #21 Cornell .494 #27 2 #22 Brown .485 #28 Harvard .476 #30 Dartmouth .468 #33 0 #24 Vermont .452 #34 St Lawrence .428 #37 Union .376 #42
If the season ended today, Yale and Clarkson would both qualify for the NCAA tournament on the basis of their pairwise comparisons with other teams under consideration. (One of the two will gain the automatic bid for winning the ECAC regular season.)
The major jockeying for playoff position in the middle of the pack will take place in Northern New England, where Dartmouth and Vermont play host to Brown and Harvard. Yale will try to hang on for the regular season crown in the Capital District as they, along with Princeton, visit Union and RPI. Finally, Cornell and Colgate try to halt their respective tailspins as they go on the dreaded North Country Roadtrip to take on St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
It's a good weekend to follow the ECAC from afar, as all six of Friday's contests could be available over the internet via RealAudio, while Saturday's Cornell-Clarkson game will be shown live at 4pm Eastern on Empire Sports Network as the final ECAC Game of the Week.