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For the third straight season, the ECAC had three teams in the 12-team NCAA tournament, but unlike the past two years, none of them received a first-round bye when the tournament was seeded. Regular-season champions Yale and tournament champions Princeton went out to the West Regional in Ann Arbor, Michigan as the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively. Meanwhile Clarkson received an at-large bid and were the third seed in the East Regional in Albany.
Friday night the two Ivy representatives were in action out West against at-large representatives of the CCHA. Yale and Ohio State played scoreless for a period, but the fourth-seeded Buckeyes tallied two goals in each of the last two stanzas to send the Elis home 4-0 losers, scoreless in their first sixty minutes of NCAA tournament play.
Princeton, facing three-seed Michigan on the Wolverines' home ice, again managed a scoreless tie through one. Michigan scored midway through the second, and then ECAC tournament MVP Jeff Halpern tied the game with the ECAC's first goal of the tournament in the closing minutes of the period. Then, under a minute into the third, Halpern put what would be the game-winning goal in the net. Unfortunately, that net was his own. Mike Kosick's centering pass was knocked down by Halpern, who then kicked it into his goaltender Erasmo Saltarelli. Once, twice, thrice it bounced off of Saltarelli, and then into the net. The hosts advanced with a 2-1 victory.
That left Clarkson as the only ECAC representative in the tournament, and they took the ice midday Saturday at The Arena Formerly Known as Knickerbocker in Albany, NY. Their first-round opponents were the sixth-seeded Colorado College Tigers, who had upset the then-top-seeded Golden Knights in last year's East regional. This time the Tiger D completely frustrated Clarkson, with netminder Jason Cugnet stopping the few scoring chances to the Knights could muster. CC took a while to build a lead, but managed to take a 3-0 advantage into the third period. Clarkson, who went 0-for-9 on the power play, only managed to avoid the shutout when Buddy Wallace solved Cugnet with just over two minutes to play. Goaltender Dan Murphy was pulled for the extra attacker soon after the goal, but Colorado College held on for the 3-1 win. It was the tenth ECAC loss to a WCHA team this year, and the fourteenth straight since Vermont defeated Wisconsin in a holiday tournament in December 1996.
So, three games into the NCAAs, all three ECAC representatives had been eliminated. It was the first NCAA oh-fer for the ECAC since 1995, but it marked the second year in a row the ECAC was not represented in the NCAA Frozen Four. Michigan and Ohio State both emerged victorious from the West, knocking off top seeds Michigan State (CCHA Champion) and North Dakota (WCHA regular season champion). Colorado College, on the other hand, fell to Hockey East tournament winners Boston College. The Eagles were the only bye team to advance this year, with the Frozen Four filled out by New Hampshire, who finished third in the Hockey East regular season, lost in their conference quarterfinals, and then got by WCHA tournament champions Wisconsin and Hockey East RS champions Boston University in the East Regional's other bracket.
With the ECAC season at an end, we can tally up each team's record in non-conference games, and we see that it was not a stellar year for the ECAC. In the end, though, every team managed to post at least one non-league victory, although St. Lawrence's was against a Canadian school, and doesn't count towards their NCAA Division I record.
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 0-2 1-0 4-4-1 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 0-1 1-0 2-0 6-1-1 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 0-2 3-0 5-3 ECAC HE CCHA WCHA Major Minor Non-I Total Totals [1-1-2] 17-22-4 8-14-1 0-10 9-1-1 7-1 1-0 43-49-8 "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.