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College Hockey:
Hockey Haven, longing for last year, and upstate upswings

Believe it or not, we (ok, most of the teams we follow) have already played more than a quarter of their ECAC Hockey schedules. Time flies when you’re having fun/pulling your hair out, dunnit?

Hockey Haven holding serve

Quinnipiac (5-0-1)and Yale (2-0-2) remain the league’s only unbeaten teams. Yale is winning by playing clean (nine penalty minutes a game), getting consistent goaltending from a rookie rotation (.916/2.51 combined), and with opportunistic scoring (3.71 goals per game). QU is dominating on the penalty kill (92.2 percent, second in the nation) and leads the nation in team defense, allowing barely one and a half goals per game. The Bulldogs have only played four league contests, whereas most of the conference has played a half-dozen, so let’s look closer at the flambe-hot Bobcats, for now.

The Hamden club is 11-0-1 since its season-opening loss, scoring three or more goals all 12 of those games while holding opponents to a goal or fewer seven times and never giving up more than three. Sam Anas is tied with St. Lawrence’s Matt Carey for the national lead in freshman goal-scoring (eight), and leads the Bobcats in goals to boot. Michael Garteig – with Cornell’s Andy Iles, the only two goalies in the league to play every minute for their teams – is making Eric Hartzell a distant memory with a .924 save percentage and a 1.53 GAA (second nationally to Harvard’s Raphael Girard). The team is big (average roster height: six feet even), fast and strong, leading to a league-best 5.54 power plays a game. Rand Pecknold’s freshmen may be the best rookie class in the country, statistically, with 14 goals and 35 points. (As a tangent, rookies Derek Smith and Brayden Sherbinin became the only two players in Quinnipiac history to score on their first shots, in their first shifts, of their NCAA careers.)

Color me stupid, because this QU team looks every inch as dangerous as last year’s. Oh, and per league precedent, the Bobcats may already be only eight points from a home-ice playoff series.

More on Yale as they establish their street cred. For now, a perplexing brief from Chip Malafronte of the New Haven Register reports that senior forward and All-Frozen Four tournament team member Clinton Bourbonais has left the Bulldogs program for unknown reasons; Keith Allain has no comment.

What a difference a year makes

If QU and Yale are inside partying like it’s 2012-13, Dartmouth is the sad neighbor peering longingly through the window. The last unbeaten team in Division I last fall, the Big Green (0-8) are in a nauseating race with Alabama-Huntsville (0-10) to not be D-I’s last winless program this season. (No, they aren’t scheduled to play each other.)

The Big Green Problem? Defense, killing penalties and goaltending. In eight outings, the team has only held foes to three goals – never fewer – twice. The team’s goals-against average is 5.07, while mustering fewer than two and a half goals a game itself. The Green are giving up a goal nearly once for every three penalty-kills (.314), completely overshadowing a tremendous power play unit that is scoring at a 29 percent clip. Finally, the team’s overall save percentage is .825, even without the two empty-net goals against.

I don’t know how to fix this, I’ll tell you that. For everyone’s sake, though, let’s hope Bob Gaudet’s got another trick or two up his well-worn sleeves.

Four!

Golf season is over, but homonymous cries of “four” are ringing out in Schenectady and Hamilton this weekend.

Union swept Capital District rival Rensselaer in the Route 7 Rivalry [(tm) Ken Schott?], improving to 5-1-1 since a disappointing 1-2-1 start. Senior Daniel Carr leads the club with seven goals and 14 points, and junior goalie Colin Stevens is holding opponents to two goals a game despite a mediocre .899 save rate. Flyers pick Shayne Gostisbehere paced the Dutchmen with two goals and two helpers from the blue line, sinking highly touted RPI to 6-4-2 (2-3-2 ECAC).

Colgate notched an impressive sweep of its own, taking down the North Country clubs on the road. Like Union, the Raiders are in the midst of a rebound run, reeling off a 4-1 record on the heels of a 0-4-1 skid. Sophomore Tylor Spink leads the team with a 7-4–11 line, and goalies Eric Mihalik, Spencer Finney and Charlie Finn are 4-2 in ECAC action despite a sub-.900 save percentage. What will give first in Hamilton: The Raiders hot streak, or its pitiful showing on special teams? The ‘Gate is scoring on fewer than 10 percent of its power plays, while allowing close to one in five on the penalty kill.

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