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ECAC Hockey picks: Jan. 7

It’s a busy schedule for ECAC Hockey this weekend, highlighted by Quinnipiac and Harvard meeting at Madison Square Garden Saturday. Here’s a look at Thursday’s games, with the rest of the picks coming late tonight. All games are 7 p.m. unless noted.

Thursday, Jan. 7

Boston University at Harvard

The Crimson have been red-hot for the better part of two months, as its only loss of the season came on Nov. 13. Harvard  won the Mariucci Classic last weekend, while Boston University is playing for the first time since Dec. 12. It might be tough for Terriers to get up to speed following the lengthy break. Harvard wins

Rensselaer at Princeton

The Tigers have played Quinnipiac and Holy Cross tough the last two times out. Those are two quality opponents, but so are the Engineers, who split at Miami last weekend. Senior goalie Jason Kasdorf started both of those games, but freshman Cam Hackett has been impressive in net as well this season. With Tigers’ goalie Colton Phinney having an impressive year in his own right, I think this will be a low-scoring game that should go RPI’s way. Rensselaer wins

Union at Quinnipiac

Union is in the midst of seven-game unbeaten streak dating back to the end of November, but will face a tough test the Bobcats. If Quinnipiac plays like they did in the first period against Princeton last Wednesday, it could be a long night for the Bobcats. But I think Quinnipiac will avoid its first-period struggles and come out ready to play against the Dutchmen. Quinnipiac wins

 

League continues to shine in non-conference play

It’s the start of January, which means it’s time to start giving the PairWise more consideration. ECAC Hockey’s strong showing in non-conference (51-31-8, second to the NCHC). As a result, the conference currently has six teams in top-16, including the top two seeds in Quinnipiac and Harvard. Conference play should drop some of those teams, but it’s been a very strong season for the league so far.

Harvard, Dartmouth take home tournament trophies  

Two tournaments and two trophies for the Crimson, who rallied to beat host Minnesota 4-3 in the Mariucci Classic Championship Saturday night. Kyle Criscuolo tied the game with an extra-attacker goal with under a minute remaining, and then won the game 2:39 into overtime. Criscuolo was named the tournament’s MVP, and was joined on the all-tournament team by forward Seb Lloyd and goalie Madsen Merrick.

After winning the Shillelagh Tournament in November, Saturday’s win gave Harvard two tournament wins for the first time in the program’s 118-year history. It was also the first time the Crimson had won at Minnesota since 1950.

The historical win comes as Harvard enters a tough stretch, starting with Boston University at home Thursday. The Crimson follow that with a game against Quinnipiac at Madison Square Garden Saturday, and then travel to St. Lawrence and Clarkson the next weekend.

Of course, the biggest in-season tournament of the year will take place next month for Harvard. The Crimson are set to meet Boston College in the opening game of the Beanpot on Monday, Feb. 1.

As for Dartmouth, the Big Green hosted the Ledyard Classic this weekend and won it for the first time since 2008, beating Merrimack 3-0 Sunday after winning against Robert Morris on Saturday. It’s the first time this season Dartmouth has won two games in a row.

The tournament has pre-determined matchups, and both Union and the Big Green went 2-0, but Dartmouth won thanks to a higher goal differential.

Bears take down No. 1

Brown handed Providence its second loss of the season Sunday, beating the Friars 4-3 in overtime on a goal by freshman Tommy Marchin. It was the second and final game of the Mayor’s Cup between the in-city rivals. Providence beat Brown 4-1 on Dec. 10, and won the Cup thanks to a 7-5 goal differential in the two games.

It was an impressive win for the Bears, but it also showcased Brown’s inconsistency this season. The Bears beat Colgate 7-5 on Dec. 29 in the Catamount Cup, but then were shutout the next day by Lake Superior State.

On Sunday, Brown outshot Providence 46-34, with goalie Tim Ernst making 31 saves. Those are good signs, but more importantly, the Bears had three players – Andrew Doane, Josh McArdle, and Charlie Corcoran – score their first goal of the season.

Secondary scoring will be important for the Bears down the stretch. The top line of Marchin, Nick Lappin, and Mark Naclerio has combined to score 24 of Brown’s 41 goals this season. Lappin leads the way with 10, while no other skater outside of that line has more than two.

Union on a roll

A seven-game unbeaten streak, including five wins in a row, has the Dutchmen currently positioned at 18th in the PairWise.

The offense has been clicking for Union, as it has scored at least three goals in every game during the stretch. I already it mentioned last week, but keep an eye out on the Dutchmen in the second half. Union has an uninspiring 2-5-1 record in league play, but seems to be putting it together at the right time.

ECAC Hockey picks: Jan. 2-5

Here’s a look at upcoming ECAC Hockey games (see holiday tournament picks here):

Clarkson at Bowling Green (Saturday-Sunday)

The Golden Knights begin their second half looking for better results. Clarkson is 7-8-2 in its first half with an abysmal 0-for-35 on the power play over 11 games. The past two months have not been kind to Clarkson, posting a 1-7-1 road record that has guided the team to the bottom of the ECAC Hockey standings. A game against No. 12 Bowling Green, which was unbeaten in its last nine games before a loss to Western Michigan on Wednesday, will certainly be a test for a Knights team that looks to get back on track. Chances are good they’ll have to wait at least another week to do so.

Picks: Bowling Green 6, Clarkson 2; Bowling Green 3, Clarkson 2

Rensselaer at Miami (Saturday-Sunday)

If there was a streaky team in the ECAC’s first half, it would be RPI. The team entered late December with a 10-6-3 record, 4-1-3 within the conference. But the Engineers’ first half was littered with stretches of good and stretches of not-so-good, culminating in an 0-2-1 stretch against Harvard and Dartmouth and a 2-0 sweep of Arizona State in early December. RPI will be looking for more consistency starting with two games against Miami.

Picks: Miami 3, RPI 1; RPI 4, Miami 0

Princeton at Holy Cross (Saturday)

While the Tigers are right where most people thought they’d be at this point in the season, Princeton has shown some flashes of brilliance. A 4-2 win over Yale on Dec. 6 takes the cake, an impressive win over one of the ECAC’s top teams with high aspirations. Since then, however, Princeton has gone on a four-game losing streak with two losses to ECAC leader Quinnipiac. Holy Cross seems like the right team to break that streak, and another step toward relevancy for a team that has been a long-term project for second year head coach Ron Fogarty.

Pick: Princeton 3, Holy Cross 1

Quinnipiac at Northeastern (Saturday)

The No. 3 Bobcats have been one the best teams in the country this season, posting only one loss and a 17-1-2 record through 20 games. Far and away the favorite to win the ECAC title, Quinnipiac enters the second half looking for more of the same. A matchup against streaky Northeastern presents a different kind of challenge. But given the Bobcats’ performance of late, it’s hard to imagine Quinnipiac getting off on the wrong foot against an unranked team.

Pick: Quinnipiac 3, Northeastern 0

Providence at Brown (Sunday)

Providence was college hockey’s final undefeated team one year after winning the national championship. That is, until Cornell spoiled the Friars’ undefeated bill earlier this week in Florida. Brown, comparatively, is in an entirely different competitive conversation than the Big Red this season — one of the ECAC’s most surprising teams. Although Brown has earned its fair share of success, Providence is playing on another dimension. The Friars beat Brown 4-1 back on Dec. 10, and this one should be no different.

Pick: Providence 5, Brown 1

Yale at Massachusetts (Tuesday)

The Bulldogs continue their trip through college hockey’s meat grinder with a Tuesday night meeting with UMass. Yale is 3-3 in its last six games, including a 3-2 win over Boston University and three straight losses to Providence, Quinnipiac and rebuilding Princeton. It’ll get back to work against a UMass team ripe for the taking — losers of its last six games and without a win in its last 10. Yale should glide through this one.

Pick: Yale 3, UMass 2

ECAC Hockey holiday tournament picks, Jan. 1-3

Here’s a look at ECAC Hockey teams in holiday tournaments this weekend:

Harvard at Mariucci Classic

The Crimson finished their first half with a 3-1-2 stretch, including two straight ties to Union and Rensselaer. While the effort hasn’t been totally unexpected, Harvard seems like a team that should be better than its record may imply. The team is ranked seventh in the country, and the Crimson’s 6-1-3 record certainly doesn’t scream disappointment. But results like the 4-4 tie to struggling Union and a 4-1 loss to Quinnipiac do raise red flags. Nevertheless, Harvard’s appearance in the Mariucci Classic should be a cake walk against three unranked opponents.

Picks: Friday — Harvard 6, Ferris State 1; Saturday — Harvard 4, Minnesota 2

Dartmouth, Union at Ledyard Classic

Both Dartmouth and Union have struggled in their first-half performances, the former much more so than the latter. Dartmouth is 3-7-1 in 11 games, posting an abysmal 42 goals against. Some of the Big Green’s losses have been uglier than others, including a 7-0 loss to Michigan and a 6-2 loss to Quinnipiac. Union, on the other hand, seems to have at least leveled the ship heading into its holiday break. The team sits at an even 7-6-4, has won its last three contests and is 4-1 in its last five. One of those victories, on Dec. 5, was a 3-0 shutout of Union’s hosts this weekend. Lucky for Dartmouth, the Ledyard Classic won’t house a rematch.

Picks: Saturday — Union 3, Merrimack 2; Robert Morris 2, Dartmouth 0; Sunday — Union 4, Robert Morris 1; Merrimack 5, Dartmouth 0

ECAC Hockey holiday tournament picks: Dec. 28-30

Here’s a look at holiday tournament games involving ECAC Hockey teams early this week:

Cornell at Florida College Hockey Classic

The Big Red face a tough challenge heading into their post-holiday stretch at the Florida College Hockey Classic in Estero, Fla. Cornell enters the tournament against two powerhouses in No. 4 Boston College and No. 1 Providence, as well as Big Ten foe Ohio State, kicking things off on Monday in an afternoon game against the defending-champion Friars. Cornell hasn’t faced Providence yet this season, but the Big Red have shown a knack for showing up in big moments, playing ECAC powerhouse Quinnipiac to a 5-4 overtime loss in early November along with a 0-0 tie to Yale and a 3-3 tie to Boston University later in the month. No. 1 Providence will present a whole different test, but given the Big Red’s track record so far they should put up quite a fight.

Picks: Monday — Providence 3, Cornell 2 (OT); Tuesday — Cornell 4, Boston College 2

Clarkson at Three Rivers Classic

It’s been a roller coaster ride of a season thus far for Clarkson, which enters the break treading water above .500 with a 7-6-2 overall record. The Knights are 2-2 in their last four games, including two wins at home over NCAA newcomer Arizona State. Goal-scoring has come and gone for Clarkson this season, and against a team like No. 8 UMass-Lowell, they’ll be even harder to come by. Then again, this team played No. 3 Quinnipiac to a 1-1 tie on Nov. 20 and followed that performance with a 3-0 loss to rebuilding Princeton. Case in point.

Picks: Monday — UMass-Lowell 5, Clarkson 2; Tuesday — Clarkson 3, Robert Morris 1

Brown, Colgate at Catamount Cup

The last time these teams met, things got ugly, much more so for Colgate than for Brown. The Raiders left Northern Ireland with one goal and 12 goals against in games against the Bears and Northeastern. Before then, Colgate and Brown played to a 1-1 tie in Providence on Nov. 20. This season hasn’t exactly been kind to either team, but it seems clear at least that Brown has Colgate’s number this season. Maybe the holiday break has helped the Raiders regroup.

Picks: Tuesday — Colgate 3, Brown 2; Wednesday — Brown 4, Lake Superior State 1; Vermont 4, Colgate 2

Picking the ECAC: Dec. 20

Last time: 7-3-2

Overall: 27-12-8

There’s only one game scheduled for this weekend, as Vermont travels to Union for a 4 p.m. matchup against the Dutchmen on Sunday.

The Dutchmen are on a four-game unbeaten streak and haven’t lost in regulation since Nov. 6. Vermont split a home-and-home series with a good St. Lawrence team last weekend, but has generally struggled  for much of the season. Despite their youth, I think Union has offensive talent to end the first half with a win. Union wins

Bobcats perfect no more

It took eighteen games, but Quinnipiac finally has a loss. The Bobcats fell 4-1 to Boston University in the first-ever meeting between the teams on Saturday, snapping a seventeen-game unbeaten streak to start the season. The loss also broke a three-game shutout streak for Quinnipiac and goalie Michael Garteig.

It’s a tough way to head into the break, but it shouldn’t take away from a tremendous first half for the Bobcats.  Quinnipiac opens the second half with a manageable stretch of games before facing Harvard at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 9.  Despite a narrow one-point lead over Cornell for first place in the ECAC standings, I see the Bobcats as the favorites for the Cleary Cup at the season’s midway point.

Yale back on track

Friday’s win over Boston University was nice for Yale in the sense that it stopped a three-game losing streak and sent the Bulldogs into the break on a winning note. But the result might have been secondary to Alex Lyon’s return in net. The junior goalie was injured during warm-ups last Saturday and missed that night’s game against Princeton. 4

For a team that has struggled to finish its scoring opportunities, losing Lyon for any stretch of time would have been devastating. Instead, Lyon returned and stopped 27 saves against the Terriers, the team that beat Yale in overtime in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

Rensselaer wraps up impressive first half

What a difference a year makes. After heading into last year’s winter break on a five-game losing streak, RPI hits this season’s break on a three-game unbeaten streak after sweeping Arizona State over the weekend.  The Engineers are 10-6-3 so far after winning 12 games all of last season. RPI hit that mark despite losing senior goalie Jason Kasdorf for a month due to injury. However, freshman Cam Hackett didn’t miss a beat filling in for Kasdorf, and gives RPI one of the strongest goalie combinations in the league heading into the second half

ECAC Hockey picks, Dec. 11-12

Here’s a look at this weekend’s games involving ECAC Hockey schools:

Arizona State at Rensselaer (Friday and Saturday)

RPI is winless in its last three games, including a 2-1 loss to Dartmouth and a 0-0 tie to Harvard last weekend. Two games against Arizona State, winless in its last four, might be just what the doctor ordered to help RPI with its offensive woes before Christmas vacation.

Prediction: Rensselaer 3, Arizona State 1; Rensselaer 2, Arizona State 0

Boston University at Yale (Friday)

Game one of two between ranked powerhouses this weekend. No. 15 Yale comes into this matchup pretty desperate, falling in its last three games, including a 4-2 loss to Princeton last Saturday. No. 12 Boston University is coming off a split with Vermont, but is a respectable 8-5-3 so far this season. Something has to give Friday night. Maybe the fact that this is a rematch of last year’s Northeast Regional matchup, a 3-2 Terriers win, will help light the fuse.

Prediction: Yale 4, Boston University 3

Union at Massachusetts (Friday)

The Dutchmen may have finally turned things around. Union is 3-2-1 in its last six games, including a convincing 3-0 win over Dartmouth and an impressive 4-4 tie against Harvard last week. A test against UMass will certainly give us a good indication of if they’ve started to turn things around.

Prediction: Union 3, UMass 2

St. Lawrence vs. Vermont (Friday and Saturday)

The No. 13 Saints enter the weekend before Christmas break with a 9-4-2 record, including a 2-1 loss to Cornell and a 6-3 win over struggling Colgate last weekend. The Catamounts have had their own share of problems, coming into this weekend with a 4-10-2 record and a struggling offense that has scored only 10 goals in the last five games. St. Lawrence should have no problem taking this home-and-home series.

Prediction: St. Lawrence 5, Vermont 2; St. Lawrence 6, Vermont 3

Princeton at Penn State (Friday)

Holding a 4-8 record isn’t as bad as it looks when you’re in full rebuilding mode like Princeton is. But wins against Brown and Yale last week certainly raised the eyebrows of more than a few. The 4-2 win over Yale was particularly impressive, as the Tigers took a 2-0 lead into the third period and extended it with two late goals to seal the victory. Colton Phinney was great, making 37 saves in the win. Penn State will offer a different challenge, but it’s a good chance for Princeton to string some wins together heading into Christmas break.

Prediction: Princeton 3, Penn State 1

Dartmouth at New Hampshire (Friday)

It’s hard to get a read on whether Dartmouth is floundering or if it’s just inconsistent. The 3-0 loss to Union last Sunday was ugly, but it followed an impressive 2-1 win over RPI. The Big Green are 3-6-1 so far, and a matchup with New Hampshire could honestly be a disaster or an impressive victory given the way this team has played this season.

Prediction: Dartmouth 3, New Hampshire 0

Boston University at Quinnipiac (Saturday)

Game of the week, in many respects. No. 2 Quinnipiac continues to climb the rankings as its 15-game unbeaten streak gets longer and more impressive. In fact, it’s the longest winning streak to start a season in NCAA Division I since Colorado College opened up the 1995-96 season 15-0-3. No. 12 BU will be coming off an emotional rematch against Yale on Friday. It looks like the Bobcats have them right where they want them. It seems like they always do.

Prediction: Quinnipiac 4, Boston University 1

Quinnipiac, Cornell keep on rolling

Here are three things gleaned from the weekend:

Quinnipiac, Cornell keep on rolling

The No. 3 Bobcats made easy work of their ECAC Hockey opponents this weekend, finishing off No. 10 Yale and Brown in consecutive 3-0 victories. It marks the second and third straight shutout for Quinnipiac goaltender Michael Garteig, who has posted a 1.13 GAA and a .952 save percentage over 17 games this season. No. 15 Cornell stayed hot as well with two wins over No. 13 St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Quinnipiac will play Boston University on Saturday, while Cornell will begin its holiday break with seemingly all momentum on its side.

Clarkson, Yale still sliding

It’s hard to get a good read on No. 10 Yale this season. An impressive finish one weekend seems to lead to disaster the next, a back-and-forth that seems unlike what many expected out of a team that many considered one of the ECAC’s strongest. The Bulldogs dropped their second and third straight games against Quinnipiac and Princeton this weekend, including an ugly 4-2 loss to the rebuilding Tigers on Saturday in which Yale found itself in a 2-0 hole in the first period and never recovered. For Clarkson, struggles have become a season-long slide. Two wins against Arizona State are the Knights’ only two wins since Oct. 24 against Western Michigan. A team that started off the season at a strong 6-1 has since fallen out of the rankings.

Harvard takes a step back

Coming off successful games against Notre Dame and Rensselaer, the No. 8 Crimson took a step back this weekend with two ties to Union (4-4 on Friday) and Rensselaer (0-0 on Saturday). Harvard is 6-1-3 overall, 4-1-3 in the ECAC, and it’s not due to lack of goaltending. Merrick Madson has been the best goaltender in the conference, posting a 0.98 GAA and a .966 save percentage through seven games. A sophomore for the Crimson, Madsen seems to be the lone consistent bright spot for his team this season. The problem, it seems, lies with Harvard’s secondary scoring. Sure, Jimmy Vesey has 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists), but only two other players have hit double digits. Harvard will begin its holiday break this week, looking for a second-half surge come January.

ECAC Hockey picks: Dec. 4-5

Last time: 5-2-4

Overall:  20-9-6

It’s the last full weekend of conference play prior to the holiday break. Here’s a look at the games set for this weekend. All matchups start at 7 p.m. unless noted.

Friday, Dec. 4

Quinnipiac at Yale, 6:35 p.m.

The Bulldogs have only beaten the Bobcats once since 2011, but it came in the 2013 national championship game. The teams tied 2-2 in both matchups last year. Quinnipiac is off to a 13-0-2 start to the season, the best for any Division I team since Colorado College in 1995-96. Goalie Alex Lyon has been his usual standout self for Yale, and the Bulldogs offense has picked up a tick from last year, but it’s tough to pick against the Bobcats. This game will be broadcast by the American Sports Network, and carried on NESN+ in the New England region. Quinnipiac wins

Princeton at Brown

The Bears are on a respectable 2-1-3 run, while Princeton has two wins on the season. Tigers goalie Colton Phinney should slow down the Bears offense, but I think Brown squeaks by. Brown wins

St. Lawrence at Cornell

Each team has been rock solid in both zones, giving up under two goals a game while averaging around three per game. It should be an interesting matchup between the Saints’ speed and the Big Red’s size. I’ll give the slight edge to the home team. Cornell wins

Clarkson at Colgate

The last seven games between the Golden Knights and the Raiders have been decided by one goal or less. But Colgate is a off to a 4-10-1 start, and I’m not sure it has the depth to matchup with Clarkson. Clarkson wins

Dartmouth at Rensselaer

The Engineers had their nine-game unbeaten streak snapped by Harvard in the championship game of the Shillelagh Tournament last Saturday, but are still 4-0-2 in league play. It sounds like goalie Jason Kasdorf may be ready to return from injury, but it also sounds like there’s no guarantee he’ll get his starting job back, as freshman Cam Hackett has been solid in his place. Either way, RPI should have enough to beat a Big Green team that is still trying to establish itself. Rensselaer wins

Harvard at Union, 7:30 p.m.

Union is coming off an impressive road win over Merrimack last weekend after posting only one win in its last eight game. I think the Dutchmen will improve in the second half, but Harvard is dangerous offensively while goalie Merrick Madsen is 5-0 with a 0.60 goals-against-average and .979 save percentage. Harvard wins

Saturday, Dec. 5

Quinnipiac at Brown, 4 p.m.

The Bears have actually given Quinnipiac some trouble over the years. But again, I’m not picking against the Bobcats until I have a reason to, and they haven’t give me a reason so far. Quinnipiac wins

St. Lawrence at Colgate

The last time these teams met, the Raiders knocked the Saints out of the ECAC semifinals in Lake Placid. St. Lawrence looks like a good bet to return to the league’s championship weekend, while the Raiders will need to do some catching up in the second half.  St. Lawrence wins

Dartmouth at Union

Neither team has had a great first two months of the season, but I think the Dutchmen have the potential to string together some goals against the Big Green. Union wins

Clarkson at Cornell

These teams have been known for their defense the last few years, but each has added an offensive element so far this season. The Big Red are at home and have put up some solid results that last few weeks. Cornell wins

Harvard at Rensselaer

It’s the second straight meeting for these teams, as Harvard beat RPI 4-0 in the Shillelagh Tournament championship. RPI has been on a great run, but I think the Crimson will be able to generate enough offense to hand the Engineers their first conference loss of the season. Harvard wins

Princeton at Yale

Few teams have had success against the Bulldogs defense and goalie Alex Lyon. I don’t think the Tigers, who are averaging just over two goals per game, will snap that trend Saturday. Yale wins

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