Playing for position
Time to fire up the seeding machine and see what we’re looking at with two weeks left. Suffice to say, there are a lot of fantastic races shaping up in ECAC Hockey.
• Union has a four-point lead on Quinnipiac for first; the Dutchmen cannot finish lower than third, thereby clinching a first-round bye.
• Quinnipiac can finish anywhere between first and sixth; the Bobcats will not open on the road.
• Colgate has also avoided a first-round road trip, as they cannot fall beyond eighth place.
• Cornell and Clarkson are tied with 20 points, and are out of the running for the Cleary Cup. Both have a basement of 10th place and a ceiling of second.
• Neither Yale nor Rensselaer can finish higher than second; nor can they finish lower than 11th.
• Brown, alone in eighth for the moment, can finish anywhere between third place and dead last.
• Harvard and St. Lawrence are a point behind Brown for the last home-series spot. They could finish as high as fourth if all the pieces fall in the right place; they could also finish last.
• Dartmouth is officially out of the running for a bye. The Big Green are playing for home-ice in the first round, but even that is an uphill climb: Dartmouth’s ceiling is seventh place.
• Princeton is locked into a first-round road trip, but could improve their draw. Currently last, the Tigers could climb as high as ninth.
Union put some distance between itself and Quinnipiac, earning three out of four points at Cornell and Colgate. When QU stumbled at Brown in Saturday’s lone afternoon game, the Dutchmen knew they had a massive opportunity to put the top seed all but out of reach… that evening’s tie at Colgate wasn’t all that Union could have hoped for, but the four-point lead is significant.
Harvard was one of the other three-point winners, edging Clarkson 1-0 in OT and tying St. Lawrence in Canton. The points elevated the Crimson to within a whisper of eighth-place Brown.
Dartmouth was ECAC Hockey’s only four-point squad last weekend, sweeping the North Country by a 9-2 aggregate. The Big Green are paying for their season-long inconsistency (to put it mildly), but the sweep removes them from the basement and gives the team a legitimate shot at a first-round home series.
Hoped for better
Clarkson took a big goose-egg this week, dropping decisions to Harvard and Dartmouth. Flying high a month ago, the Knights are 2-6 in their last eight and are engaged in a four-team dogfight for the final first-round bye.
Cornell suffered a major setback, dropping both of this week’s games at Lynah and failing to put any space at all between itself the rest of the fourth-place pack. In the same boat as Clarkson, the Big Red are grappling with the Knights, Yale and Rensselaer for one prized spot in the standings.
Colgate hosted twice this week, but only mustered two draws against RPI and Union. The Raiders are all but out of the hunt for the Cleary Cup, and are within one week’s work of the fourth-place pack.
St. Lawrence could be in the middle third right now, but instead took a single point out of two home games and are fighting to stay off the road in the first round.