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College Hockey:
Who’s holding the target now?

Players of the week

Player of the week: Danny Biega, Harvard

Harvard’s sophomore blueliner scored three goals and six points in three games this week, helping the Crimson take a desperately needed four points at Cornell and Brown. Biega began the weekend with the game-winning power-play goal in Ithaca, added Harvard’s lone goal at Colgate on the power play on Saturday, and made it three for three with another power-play, game-winning goal at Brown on Tuesday night. Biega is seventh in the league in conference points and leads ECAC Hockey defensemen in league scoring with nine goals and 21 points.

Honorable mention: Rob Kleebaum, Princeton (4-0-4, +1, hat trick vs. Yale); Kelly Zajac, Union (3-1-4 at Clarkson and SLU); Andrew Miller, Yale (1-3-4, +2 at Princeton)

Rookie of the week: Greg Carey, St. Lawrence

This frequent phenom did most of his damage on Friday, scoring twice in the Saints’ 5-3 upset of RPI. His power-play goal in the first period gave SLU the lead for good, and he gave his Canton comrades a bit of an extra cushion with the game’s next goal, as well. He added an assist in the loss to Union, placing him 10th in the league in conference scoring with 19 points, and his goals boosted him to double-digits and a fifth-place standing among all ECAC snipers with 10.

Honorable mention: Andrew Calof, Princeton (1-2-3, +2 vs. Brown and Yale); Kenny Agostino, Yale (1-2-3 at QU at Princeton)

Goalie of the week: Ryan Carroll, Harvard

Carroll’s second outing of the week, a 2-1 win at Brown, put the senior ahead of the pack for this honor. In stopping 63 of 67 shots against Cornell and Bruno, Carroll improved his league save percentage to .920 and diminished his ECAC goals-against average to 2.91 in nine starts.

Honorable mention: Eric Mihalik, Colgate (4 goals against, 64 shots vs. Dartmouth and Harvard); Ryan Rondeau, Yale (5 goals against, 71 shots at QU and Princeton); Andy Iles, Cornell (2 goals against, 33 shots vs. Dartmouth); Kyle Richter, Harvard (2 goals against, 28 shots at Colgate); Keith Kinkaid, Union (5 goals against, 55 shots at Clarkson and SLU)

Who’s the real class of the league?

It didn’t happen all at once, but it’s a bit startling nonetheless: with only two games remaining, Union is in the driver’s seat in the race for the regular-season crown. Whither Yale, we wonder?

The Bulldogs and Dutchmen are clearly the class of the league: Union’s 33 points and Yale’s 32 are two perfect weeks’ work ahead of Cornell and Dartmouth (24 points each). They are the two highest-scoring teams in the conference, and two of the top three defenses (Union’s 41 goals against are the fewest in ECAC Hockey; Dartmouth is second with 42 against, and Yale third, with 44).

So there’s little argument that the Blue and Dutch are anything but the top two squads heading into the playoffs. The question that has no clear answer yet is, who should be considered the favorite?

I’m not here to answer that, only propose a few points of consideration.

Union has only lost twice since the holiday break, while Yale has dropped four decisions since Christmas. More tellingly, Union has out-scored opponents 61-32 in those 16 games, and beat all comers by a 57-11 score in 14 conference contests in that stretch. Yale hasn’t exactly slogged through the second half, but the Bulldogs’ unique form of domination looked a little less, well, dominant as the calendar flipped: The Elis have a 60-35 goal differential in their last 15 games, but that spread shrunk in league play to 50-32 in 14 games.

Is the burden of bearing a year-long target wearing on the Bulldogs? Are teams saving their best shots for Yale, while Union has yet to develop that very elite form of respect? This is a meat-grinder league, and as Union head coach Nate Leaman told me last week, sometimes you can play your very best and still not win in this conference. I don’t know which team is better, or which side will carry the banner for ECAC Hockey come tourney time.

The one thing I do know is, it’ll be a lot of fun watching them sort it out on the ice.

My Top 20

Not much change in the teams, just some jostling at the top… very little room for error in the Top 10 right now.

1. Yale
2. North Dakota
3. Union
4. Boston College
5. Merrimack
6. Minnesota-Duluth
7. Denver
8. New Hampshire
9. Rensselaer
10. Miami
11. Dartmouth
12. Michigan
13. Notre Dame
14. Wisconsin
15. Princeton
16. Western Michigan
17. Boston University
18. Nebraska-Omaha
19. Maine
20. Cornell

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  • Tiger

    Your obsession with Harvard is disgusting.

    • Kdiff77

      Everything about Harvard is disgusting.

      • Puck

        Harvard is brutal

  • Green

    I agree with above comment

  • alan

    go union

  • Richard Strada

    What happened to Yale? Union and Yale seem similar in terms of speed and back checking. From what I have seen, the Union Goal tending has been the difference.

  • Johnny1212

    Please post your “Picks”  record!  Or why bother with them

  • BrainFreeze15

    Just got back from the WIS-MIN game. Though MIN was clearly quicker tonight, WIS was more physical and just plain out worked the Gophers. With 3 sophmores finding the back of the net for the Badgers and freshman goalie Rumpel turning away 24 shots, WIS was too much for Kent Patterson and the Gophers, which managed a late power play goal with just over one minute remaining.
    Despite the Badgers poor looking record, three of their five losses came in overtime on the road, also throwing in a tie away from home. They swept then #4 North Dakota, which probably doesn’t say too much now, and the handled the #1 Minnesota Gophers like they belong in the top ten. MIN shouldn’t hang their heads for losing to an unranked WIS team on the road in one of the biggest college hockey rivalries we know. 
    The Badgers need to keep up their intensity the next few weeks with series against, 
    Colorado College and Minnesota Duluth coming up. If they can sweep and split the big dogs while taking “easy” wins against the likes of Mercyhurst, RIT, Bemidji State, etc. They can set themselves up nicely for the playoffs.

  • Paula Weston

    I’d be happy for RIT if it hadn’t come at the expense of FSU.  *sigh*

  • http://twitter.com/chrislerch Chris Lerch

    I’m not sure taking a top seed to overtime is considered choking. Yale and Vermont were favored to win those games.

  • Scott

    Chris, One more non-conference AHA win Army 3-2 over RPI Friday @ UConn Classic.

  • Spidermonkey86

    Where’s Cornell? You have AF ranked and don’t even have one most well balanced teams on there. Typical homer. 

  • http://twitter.com/chrislerch Chris Lerch

    When Cornell beats a good team, I’ll vote for them. Let’s see how they do at CC next weekend. AFA beat CC…will Cornell?

  • Arlan Marttila

    I got to 82-0 by counting all games for UW + Mark Johnson versus everybody but UMD and Minnesota. Thus, games with Bemidji State, Minnesota State, North Dakota, Ohio State, and St. Cloud State were counted.

  • HockeyGuy9898

    Scsu your a homo.

  • deth

    Nice display of homophobia hockeyguy9898, also it’s you’re not your.  You must be a real winner.

  • Guest

    You know Air force has a history of choking in OT in the NCAA Regionals right?  Plus their players won’t see a lick of NHL or AHL ice.

  • komey

    Air Force also is ranked higher in the RPI and Krach.  The only thing RIT has over Air Force is that the Tigers won their only meeting to date. 

  • RITAnon

    That’s not because they are bad players or incapable of playing at those levels. It’s because they are choosing to go fight and possibly lose their lives in defense of their country. 

  • Falcons

    losing to top seeded yale last year in OT was a choke? air force dominated that game. they were the better team. Yale won on a soft goal that took a weird bounce off of Torf. Unless you were there, like i was two rows off the ice, then you dont have a clue.

  • LtPowers

    Head-to-head is pretty important.