ECAC Hockey picks: Jan. 15-19

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

Friday, Jan. 15

Clarkson at Dartmouth
Coming off of a 3-1 win over St. Lawrence on Tuesday, the Golden Knights will head to Hanover to take on Dartmouth, a team that finally seems to be finding its stride. The Big Green cured their offensive ails in a 5-2 win over Holy Cross last Sunday, holding a 6-8-1 record heading into the middle of January. Both teams struggled in their first-half campaigns and will be looking to build on some recent success.
Clarkson 3, Dartmouth 2

No. 18 St. Lawrence at No. 7 Harvard
This should be one of the games of the weekend in ECAC play. St. Lawrence has struggled after the break, bringing a three-game losing streak into this weekend’s matchup against the No. 7 Crimson. The Saints have scored only three goals in their last three games and given up 10 along the way. Harvard, on the other hand, has played two one-goal games against top opponents Boston University and Quinnipiac. For Harvard, the Saints should be a nice change of pace.
Harvard 4, St. Lawrence 1

No. 8 Cornell at No. 20 Rensselaer
Cornell continues to climb the standings, both nationally and within the conference. After an embarrassing 8-0 loss to Ohio State in late December, Cornell has responded with two big wins over previously ranked Merrimack. RPI is 1-1-1 in January thus far, and has only slightly moved up in the top-20 rankings. It’ll look to solidify its position.
Cornell 3, Rensselaer 0

Colgate at Union
Don’t look now, but the Dutchmen might be in full turnaround mode. The team holds a 9-7-5 record heading into mid-January, and while the 5-0 loss to Quinnipiac sticks out, it’s hard to blame for the blowout loss against a team that has been doing that to anyone it has played. Colgate, however, continues to struggle. Last weekend’s 5-1 win over Maine snapped a four-game losing streak, which included a 3-1 loss to Maine the previous night and a 7-5 loss to Brown in December. These teams look like they’re moving in different directions.
Union 4, Colgate 1

Brown vs. No. 12 Yale (Friday in New Haven, Saturday in Providence)
It’s been an abysmal year for Brown, which has struggled to find consistency on both ends of the ice. But if the Bears can hang their hat on something, it’s the team’s 4-3 win over Providence in early January. It seems, at least, Brown can play with college hockey’s top opponents. It’ll need some of that magic against No. 12 Yale, which comes into Friday’s contest 4-1-1 in its last six games. The Bulldogs tied Michigan Tech 1-1 last Sunday and will look to rebound against the suffering Bears.
Yale 2, Brown 0

Saturday, Jan. 16

No. 18 St. Lawrence at Dartmouth
If the Big Green are going to have any chance of turning their season around, it’s Saturday against No. 18 St. Lawrence. The Saints look like they’re ripe for the taking, losers of their last three games. Dartmouth finally seems to be gaining some traction after an inconsistent first half. Saturday’s game, at least, will illustrate what Dartmouth is capable of.
St. Lawrence 3, Dartmouth 3 (OT)

Clarkson at No. 7 Harvard
The Golden Knights will have their warmup against Dartmouth on Friday before taking on a hungry Harvard team on Saturday. Unfortunately for Clarkson, this weekend’s matchups for the highly ranked Crimson seems primed for a sweep given Harvard’s two losses to BU and Quinnipiac.
Harvard 5, Clarkson 3

Colgate at No. 20 Rensselaer
Another game of two teams moving in very different directions. Colgate has amassed 14 losses this season, snapping its four-game losing streak to Maine last Saturday. The Raiders also have allowed 74 goals this season, the most in the ECAC. RPI, newly reacquainted with the top-20 rankings, should have no problem adding to that list.
RPI 4, Colgate 0

No. 8 Cornell at Union
It’s an intriguing matchup, though on paper it might not look like it. Cornell has slowly climbed the leader boards all season long, while Union seems in the midst of a late-season turnaround. For the Dutchmen, it’s a test to see how far they’ve come.
Union 4, Cornell 3

Tuesday, Jan. 19

No. 2 Quinnipiac at Maine
The Bobcats have the weekend off before taking on lowly Maine in a midweek showdown. The over-under for this game might be astronomical, but the Black Bears are hoping the long layoff will make the Bobcats rusty.
Quinnipiac 5, Maine 0

Previewing Clarkson and St. Lawrence

It may be a mid-week game, but that shouldn’t diminish the rivalry between Clarkson and St. Lawrence when the teams meet tonight at 7 p.m. at Cheel Arena.

It’s the 201st all-time meeting between the teams, with the Golden Knights holding a 121-68-11 series lead. However, the Saints are on a 3-1-1 stretch against Clarkson, including a 3-0 win on Nov. 13.  The Golden Knights are still looking for their first conference win, while St. Lawrence is 4-2-1 in league play, but was swept by non-conference opponent Northeastern last weekend. Despite that, I think the Saints have been stronger on both ends of the ice this year and should get the win. St. Lawrence wins

As Quinnipiac makes a statement, Harvard stumbles

Here’s a look at the weekend in ECAC Hockey:

Quinnipiac makes statement

The Bobcats thrived under the spotlight of Madison Square Garden, building a 4-0 lead over No. 5 Harvard and shaking off the loss of that advantage to win 5-4 in overtime on Saturday night. If you needed another reason to think that Quinnipiac was not the dominant team in ECAC Hockey this season, Saturday’s win was your message in a bottle. The No. 2 Bobcats are 19-1-3 so far. With the fewest losses in the country and a goaltender, Michael Garteig, that continues to impress, it’s hard to imagine any team in the ECAC catching up in the next few months.

Harvard slides, Cornell rises

On the other side of the coin, Harvard couldn’t make it all the way back for a win in Saturday’s game in New York. For a team that continues to seed high in the regular season rankings, Harvard’s 8-3-3 record is not exactly impressive and two losses to ranked opponents last week didn’t help its cause. Comparatively, Cornell continued to impress, knocking off formerly ranked Merrimack twice.

Dartmouth, Union begin turnaround

The Big Green entered the new year with a 3-7-1 record as one of the bottom-feeders in the ECAC. But 11 days into January, Dartmouth has gone 3-1 in its last four games, including a 3-0 victory against Merrimack and a low-scoring, 1-0 loss to Vermont. Union has enjoyed a similar resurgence, going 4-1-1 in its last six games with victories over Massachusetts, Merrimack and Vermont and a 4-4 tie with Princeton. While first halves haven’t been kind to these two programs, it’ll be interesting to see what they can do in the coming weeks.

ECAC Hockey picks: Jan. 8-10

Last time: 1-0

Overall: 28-12-8

It was an eventful Thursday night in ECAC Hockey, as Princeton and Rensselaer played to a 3-3 tie, Quinnipiac rolled over Union 5-0, and Boston University rallied for a 6-5 win over Harvard.Here’s a look at the rest of the games scheduled for this weekend. All start times are 7 p.m., unless noted.

Friday, Jan. 8

Merrimack at Cornell
Merrimack has been in a bit of a tailspin lately, as the Warriors have one win over its last ten games dating back to Nov. 13. The Big Red are coming off an 8-0 loss to Ohio State on Dec. 29. Those eight goals were more than Cornell had allowed in its previous six games prior to that. Cornell should rebound against a Merrimack team that has had trouble scoring goals this season. Cornell wins

Colgate at Maine
I keep on waiting for a breakout from the Raiders. While Colgate might not have the depth to be a top-four team in the ECAC, they should be playing better than they are. A win against a struggling Maine team might not be much, but its a start. Colgate wins

Northeastern at St. Lawrence
With the season halfway done, the Saints’ 10-5-2 mark is the program’s best record at the midway point since the 2005-06 season, when St. Lawrence was 11-5-1. Meanwhile, the Huskies have struggled thus far, scoring 2.3 goals per game while allowing just over three. That doesn’t bode well against a St. Lawrence team that has been strong on both ends of the ice. St. Lawrence wins

Union at Princeton
The Dutchmen saw their seven-game unbeaten streak come to an end with an ugly 5-0 loss Thursday at Quinnipiac. Union should rebound against the Tigers, but I think this will be a close game. Union wins

Dartmouth at Vermont
These old ECAC rivals meet on a night when Vermont will honor former player Martin St. Louis, who recently concluded a lengthy NHL career last season. The Big Green’s 5-7-1 record isn’t very impressive on its own, but Dartmouth has won two in row and is currently ranked 23rd in the PairWise. Goalie Charles Grant has been playing well lately, and that should be the difference against a Vermont team that has really struggled to score this season. Dartmouth wins

Yale at Arizona State, 10 p.m., ET

The Bulldogs head west to take part in the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic, facing host Arizona State at Gila River Arena. The Sun Devils have the pieces in place to be a contender down the road, but it’s been a mostly bumpy first season in Division I so far. Yale wins

Saturday, Jan. 9

Merrimack at Cornell
I think the Big Red finish off the sweep. Cornell wins

Colgate at Maine
Black Bears rebound for the series split. Maine wins

Northeastern at St. Lawrence
Sure, the Huskies tied Quinnipiac last weekend, but I think the Saints take care of business for the second night in a row. St. Lawrence wins

Quinnipiac vs. Harvard, 7:30 p.m. (Rivalry on Ice at Madison Square Garden).
Harvard’s defense was exposed Thursday night, as the Crimson allowed three goals is under three minutes late in the third period in a 6-5 loss to Boston University on Thursday. Harvard didn’t muster much against Quinnipiac when these teams met in November. It might be able to score a few more goals this time around, but the Crimson’s defensive struggled might hurt them against the Bobcats. Quinnipiac wins

Sunday, Jan. 10

Connecticut/Michigan Tech vs. Yale, 2 p.m. EDT (consolation) or 5 p.m. EDT (championship)
The Bulldogs will play the winner of the Connecticut/Michigan Tech game that will be held Saturday. Regardless of the opponent, I think Yale heads home with a sweep. Yale wins

Holy Cross at Dartmouth
Holy Cross has been strong on both sides of the ice this season and should have enough to get by the Big Green. Holy Cross wins

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

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