ECAC Hockey Report, Week of 1998 March 16

© 1998, Joe Schlobotnik (archives)

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Recent Action: ECAC Playoffs

(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 ECAC's five first-round series were held this weekend, and no one advanced without difficulty.

Second-seeded Clarkson got a bit of a scare from #9 Vermont, pulling out a 2-1 overtime win Friday, but then building a 3-0 lead Saturday en route to a 5-3 victory. Senior Chris Bernard stopped 38 shots in the first game, but let in three of the nineteen shots he faced Saturday before being replaced by classmate Dan Murphy. The Knights are now a perfect 13-0 in playoff games at the Cheel Center.

#5 Harvard, who had to sweep their final weekend to claim home ice, fell behind 3-0 to #6 Colgate in the first 22 minutes of game one, and trailed 4-2 with just over ten minutes to play. Then a string of Red Raider penalties allowed the Harvard to tally three 5-on-3 goals in under three minutes for the 5-4 win. The Crimson had no such difficulties Saturday, parleying their 3-0 lead into a 4-2 decision to sweep the series.

The biggest surprises of the weekend came in New Haven, where the Yale Bulldogs, winners of the regular season crown, fell behind 3-2 in the third period to tenth-place St. Lawrence. The Elis, with Alex Westlund pulled, knotted the score with just under a minute on the clock. There was no scoring in the five-minute overtime period, so the game went in the books as a 3-3 tie, and the two teams took the ice Saturday night with a point apiece, either one prepared to take the three-point series with a win. That team appeared to be St. Lawrence, who scored the only two goals of the first period while Eric Heffler made 27 of his 48 saves. Thirty-nine minutes later, the Saints again held a 3-2 lead with a minute to play. But once more the Elis scored a 6-on-5 equalizer, this time just 52 seconds from elimination. Again the overtime was scoreless, despite a minute and a half of 4-on-4 play at the end, and another 3-3 deadlock sent the series to a third and deciding game. This time it was the Bulldogs with the one-goal third period lead, but they added two goals in 20 seconds just past the fifteen-minute mark to seal the 4-1 victory and take the series four points to two, the hard way.

Seventh-place Princeton travelled to Meehan auditorium to take on third-seeded Brown in one of the more anticipated series, and while it couldn't match the double-overtime Game Three from 1995, it didn't dissappoint. The visitors broke a 2-2 deadlock Friday night with 5:01 left in the third for the hard-fought 3-2 victory. Bruno bounced back Saturday with a 6-0 taming of the Tigers, scoring upon all three Princeton netminders. In the deciding game, it was Princeton on a roll, amassing a 3-0 lead and going on to win 5-3, with Jeff Halpern notching a five-point game. The Tigers took the series two games to one, and advanced to Lake Placid with an upset for the third time in four years.

But the most hard-fought series of all was clearly that between third-place RPI and #8 Cornell. Senior Jason Elliott was back between the pipes for the visiting Red, after missing the past two weekends with a knee injury. Friday night's contest was tied at four late in the third by Engineer Brad Tapper's third goal, but Cornell's Darren Tymchyshyn scored the game-winner just 17 seconds later to give the guests the 5-4 victory. Saturday night RPI sophomore Joel Laing took his turn in the goaltending platoon with classmate Scott Prekaski, but his heroics in the net were overshadowed by a bit of controversy. It seems unlikely that the outcome of a 3-0 game could hinge on one play, but this one did. With 8 minutes remaining in regulation, Cornell trailing by one and needing only a tie to send them on to Lake Placid, Darren Tymchyshyn got a shot past Laing. It appeared to many to go into the net and bounce out, but the goal light only flicked on for a split-second, and the officials, judging that it had only hit the post, did not whistle the play dead. While most of the Cornell skaters were celebrating, the Engineers took off on a 3-on-1 rush which ended in a Danny Riva goal. Cornell pulled Elliott with just under three minutes remaining, but could not break the shutout, and Pete Gardiner capped the victory with an empty-netter. Laing and Elliott faced off again in Sunday's rubber game, and while RPI converted their first three power plays en route to a 3-1 first intermission lead, Cornell closed the gap twice. Ten minutes after Jeff Oates tied the score at 4 a piece at 5:23 of the third, controversy struck again. Oates sent in a shot from the point, which seemed to deflect off Frank Kovac's high stick and into the net. Referee Mike Noeth ruled that the puck had been sent in cleanly by Oates, giving the Junior four goals on the weekend, surpassing the three he'd scored during the entire regular season, and Cornell the one-goal lead. Rensselaer attacked for the final six minutes of the game, but Elliott held them off, ending up with 21 saves in the third period, and Cornell advanced four points to two with the 5-4 triumph.

The National Scene

Clarkson pass Yale this week in the US College Hockey Online Poll, moving from eighth to sixth while the Elis slipped a place to #7. Clarkson also outdoes Yale in the Ratings Percentage Index and pairwise rankings, based on the NCAA selection criteria:

 Team           RPI  Rk  PWR  Rk
Clarkson       .573  #6   15  #5
Yale           .557  #9   12  #9
Harvard        .501 #21 
RPI            .501 #22    3 #18
Princeton      .496 #24    2 #20
Cornell        .487 #27 
Brown          .486 #28 
Colgate        .482 #29 
Dartmouth      .456 #33 
St Lawrence    .455 #34 
Vermont        .443 #36 
Union          .383 #42 

Yale have already qualified for the NCAA tournament as the ECAC regular season champion. If the season ended today, Clarkson would not only qualify, but would receive a first-round bye as the top Eastern seed. However, if things go badly for the Knights, and all four conference tournaments are won by darkhorses, Clarkson could be shut out of the tournament entirely. Yale can claim an automatic bye with an ECAC tournament championship, while Cornell, Harvard or Princeton would gain an automatic bid by winning the ECACs. Rensselaer are technically still a Team Under Consideration, but they are low enough down in the rankings that their season is over.

Upcoming Games

Only five teams and five games remain in the ECAC season, as Lake Placid host the first ever ECAC Final Five tournament. Cornell faces Princeton in a 7:30 (EST) play-in game Thursday night. Friday at 4:00, the winner of that game faces top-seeded Yale, with the other semifinal pitting Harvard and Clarkson at 7pm. Saturday sees the consolation at one in the afternoon, followed by the ECAC Championship Game at four. The semifinals and the title game will be carries live on both the Empire and New England Sports Networks. In addition, between Yale, Clarkson, Cornell and Harvard, all five games should be carried over the internet via either RealAudio or NetShow.

Last Modified: 2019 July 24

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