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ECAC Hockey picks: Dec. 27-31

It doesn’t seem like there are as many holiday games this year as in years past, but I’m too lazy to look that up, as it’s essentially immaterial to the issue at hand: Predictions! Wee!

As always, exhibition games don’t get picks, because I haven’t the foggiest reckoning about the opposition.

Friday, Dec. 27

Russian Red Stars at Yale 7:00 Exhib

Saturday, Dec. 28

Princeton vs. Maine 4:05 Florida College Classic (Estero, Fla.)
The Tigers are hoping to sneak up on a few foes to open the second half now that some battered bodies are back in playing form. Maine is 9-6-1, having beaten some well-regarded opponents but slipping here and there to, well, Vermont mostly. The Black Bears can score (3.44 goals per game), and Maine’s special teams are considerably better than Princeton’s. Frankly, the biggest question mark isn’t Maine, but rather Princeton: Who will be back, and how will they play? Will this be a whole new team, or are we still a few weeks away from such a judgment? Maine is the safe bet here, 4-2.

Clarkson at Vermont 7:05 Catamount Cup
It should go without saying that every team will be aiming to make a splash as it steps back on the ice following the holiday break, but this will be especially true of these two. Both teams entered the break hot (even though UVM entered on a loss), each side plays six non-conference games before resuming league play, and each has feasted on those non-league opponents (UVM is 4-1-1 outside Hockey East; ‘Tech is 6-1-1 against non-ECAC foes). Special teams should make for interesting viewing, as Clarkson’s strength is its power play (22.1 percent), while UVM’s far better on the kill (90.1) than the advantage (14.5). As they say, something’s gotta give. I’m liking the Knights’ odds here, as the Catamounts are barely average (5-4) at home this year… 3-2 Knights.

New Hampshire vs. Cornell 7:35 Florida College Classic (Estero, Fla.)
Maybe it’s the latitude. Maybe it’s the temperature, the humidity, the plane ride… maybe it’s something in the water… but despite participating year-in and year-out, Cornell just has not been successful in Estero. The Big Red are 6-9-3 in the Florida College Classic in the last decade, having not swept the tournament since 2003-04. (To be fair, Cornell did win the tournament twice since – in 2005 and 2008 – by way of shootouts.) This year, the Red run into perhaps as streaky an opponent as one could find this year, in New Hampshire. The Wildcats are 9-9-1, but their season to date includes – nay, consists of – two wins to start (including an exhibition), six games without a win (0-5-1), six W’s in a row, followed by two losses, two more wins, and two more losses. This is a team that enjoys the ride, it would appear. Who knows which Wildcats we’ll see on Saturday, but suffice to say that by the end of the weekend, Cornell will probably wonder why they keep signing up for this trip. UNH, 4-2.

Sunday, Dec. 29

Holy Cross at Yale 4:00
The Crusaders have only posted consecutive wins once this year, against Sacred Heart and Army. Yes, HC beat Boston College in Boston, but this should be a mismatch by the final buzzer. 5-2 Yale.

Massachusetts vs. Quinnipiac 4:00 UConn Hockey Classic (Hartford, Conn.)
This could be interesting… or not. QU smacked UMass around 6-1 in Hamden a month ago, so this game is all about the potential revenge factor. I’m not sure the Minutemen, at 6-12-2, have it in ‘em. 4-1 Bobcats.

Clarkson vs. Massachusetts-Lowell 4:00 Catamount Cup (Burlington, Vt.)
UML was famously ranked the top team in the nation entering the season, and while it took ‘em a while, it appears the RiverHawks found a groove over the last month before the break. At 10-2-0, there were few squads hotter at the seasonal time-out. The RiverHawks open with Canisius in Burlington before playing three straight games against Clarkson, including two in Massachusetts. This is a big-time opportunity for each team to open 2014 in style, as most eyes around college hockey are aware of the successes enjoyed by each program this year. The difference may be found on special teams, where Clarkson’s penalty kill (78.7 percent) looks suspect; UML’s PP (23.3) could swing the series. 3-2 UML.

Cornell vs. Princeton 4:05/7:35 Florida College Classic (Estero, FL)
Tough to pick Princeton, given how little we know about the current health and well-being of the Tigers. Cornell with the edge, giving the Big Red yet another .500 finish at the Florida College Classic. 4-2 Cornell.

Providence at Dartmouth 7:00 Ledyard Bank Classic
Dartmouth is not as bad as its record, but Providence is conspicuously a step or two ahead of the Big Green. A disappointing tournament for Dartmouth, I’m fearing. 5-2 Friars.

Russian Red Stars at Harvard 7:00 Exhib

Monday, Dec. 30

Air Force at Dartmouth 4:00/7:00 Ledyard Bank Classic
Here is a more manageable opponent for the Big Green, but it will by no means be a walkover. Air Force has been flirting with the rankings for much of the year, especially during a 7-1-1 run spanning October and November. Dartmouth’s power play has been humming at nearly 24 percent, but the Green will likely need more than a fancy PP unit to get by the Falcons. 3-2 Dartmouth in a squeaker.

Quinnipiac vs. Connecticut 4:00/7:15 UConn Hockey Classic (Hartford, Conn.)
QU looking to wrap up a tourney win against whoever the opponent may be; I just figure it will probably be UConn. 5-2 Bobcats.

Tuesday, Dec. 31

Russian Red Stars at Colgate 4:00 Exhib

The “snowball effect” goes both ways

Good news, everyone!

(Anyone who read that with Professor Farnsworth’s voice in mind, well done.) Union finished the week 2-0-1, taking two league points from Dartmouth on Wednesday and all but sweeping No. 1 St. Cloud on the road this weekend. A huge pair of results that are sure to knock the Huskies off their one-week perch and boost Union near the Top 5.

“All-in-all, for the adversity this team faced with the tough stretch of games, the players did a great job and I’m proud of them,” coach Rick Bennett said, as quoted by Ken Schott of the Schenectady Daily Gazette. “It was a good road trip,” he continued. “If you had told the coaching staff before the trip that we would come away with a win and a tie against the top team in the nation we would have been pleased. But we are far from satisfied.”

Union is making a serious run, now unbeaten in 10 games (9-0-1) and 11-1-2 since starting the season 1-2-1. At the top of the ECAC standings through nine games, the Dutchmen have two points and a game in hand on second-place Quinnipiac. Yeah, it’s too early to start calculating “magic numbers” and all that, but it has nonetheless been an impressive 2013 half of the 2013-14 season for the Garnet & White.

Holiday downers

Rensselaer, Colgate and St. Lawrence – on the other hand – had weekends to forget. RPI lost and tied No. 20 Denver in Troy. The Raiders were swept at home by what had been a four-win Massachusetts club (now 6-11-2). The Saints, once looking like a top-10 team, have lost seven of their last nine games… including Saturday’s 5-1 loss at Vermont.

This leaves ECAC Hockey with nine teams entering the holiday break on a down note: Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Quinnipiac, RPI (exhibition win over US National Development Team notwithstanding), SLU, and Yale all concluded their pre-Christmas schedule with losses and/or winless skids.

Haggerty, Girard and the rest

Statistical tidings following this game-light weekend:

• RPI’s Ryan Haggerty continues to lead the nation in goals (18) and goals per game (1.06). He is the only player with a goal a game… besides Cornell goalie Mitch Gillam, who has one goal in one game.

• SLU star Greg Carey, meanwhile, leads the country with 36 points and 1.89 points a game. He also has 13 goals, good for a four-way tie for second with Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau, younger brother and Saints teammate Matt Carey and Quinnipiac freshman Sam Anas.

• Union junior Shayne Gostisbehere is one off the national lead in shots on goal, with 86. Oh yeah, reminder: He’s a defenseman. No other blueliner in the nation even has 60 shots on goal, much less 80; Gostisbehere is also more than a shot-per-game ahead of any other defenseman in the country.

• Harvard senior Raphael Girard leads Division 1 with a .948 save percentage.

• QU’s Michael Garteig leads the country in minutes played – 1,146:53 – but there is just one goalie who has played every non-open-net minute for his team, and that is Holy Cross’ Matt Ginn.

• Clarkson keeper Steve Perry is third nationally with a 1.72 GAA.

• QU (+1.58) and Union (+1.33) are the only league teams to boast goal differentials over +1 goal per game.

• SLU leads D-I with a 29 percent power play. Wow. Cornell (26.9 percent) and Union (25.8) round out the top three.

• QU (90.9 percent) and Harvard (90) boast terrific penalty kills, too.

• Finally, the Bobcats and Dutchmen are 1-2 nationally in shot margin per game. Quinnipiac averages more than 14 shots per game than its opposition; Union, more than nine additional SOG’s.

ECAC Hockey picks: Dec. 13-15

Overall: 34-23-3

Not a ton of games this weekend, as most teams have concluded their schedules for the first semester.

Here’s a look at the final weekend of play prior to the holiday break. All games start at 7 p.m. unless noted.

Friday, Dec. 13

Denver at Rensselaer

There’s plenty of connections between these teams. Denver head coach Jim Montgomery was an assistant at RPI from 2006-10, while  RPI head coach and former Denver assistant Seth Appert got his first win as Engineers’ head coach against the Pioneers on Oct. 20, 2006. That’s the only highlight for RPI in the all-time series between the teams, as the Engineers are 1-11 against Denver, their worst mark against any Division I school. On the ice, it should be a good matchup between RPI’s high-powered offense led by Ryan Haggerty and Brocks Higgs, and Denver’s stingy defense, anchored by senior goalie Sam Brittain (.944 save percentage). Denver might not be lighting up the scoreboard this season, but RPI will need to avoid getting complacent with the lead, something they’ve done at times this season. I’m taking the Pioneers, but a couple goals by Haggerty could easily prove me wrong. Denver wins

Union at St. Cloud State, 8:37 p.m. ET The Dutchmen (eight) and the Huskies (seven) own two of the three longest active unbeaten streaks in the country. Union hasn’t been perfect during that stretch, but it’s hard to argue with the results not only during the streak, but since the end of October. Both teams have gotten it done in different ways: Union bring the scoring punch, while St. Cloud has allowed the fewest goals per-game in the nation. The red-hot Huskies are “only” 3-1-2 at home compared  to 8-0 on the road, but it’s hard to pick against them, even as well at the Dutchmen have played lately. St. Cloud wins

Saturday, Dec. 14

Massachusetts at Colgate, 4 p.m.

The Raiders have had a fairly tough out-of-conference schedule, but have been pretty solid in conference play, despite rotating Charlie Finn, Spencer Finney, and Eric Mihalik in net. Finney and Mihalik have seen most of the playing time lately, with Finney coming on strong recently, but Mihalik having the better overall season. Regardless of who is in net, Colgate shouldn’t have too much trouble with the Minutemen after sweeping them in Amherst last season. UMass has struggled to score and the Minutmen also allow 3.5 goals per game. Colgate’s top two lines should get plenty of chances, but now might be a good time to try and get some production from the rest of the lineup. Colgate wins

Denver at Rensselaer

RPI is 7-1 on Saturdays this season, thanks to 12 goals by Ryan Haggerty. I’m not picking against that trend.  Rensselaer wins

St. Lawrence at Vermont

Two things stand out to me about this game. First, who will win the matchup between the Saints’ top-
ranked power play and the Catamounts’ fifth-ranked penalty kill? Second, can St. Lawrence’s defense hold? The Saints are giving up 3.61 goals per game, while Vermont hasn’t lit it up on the scoreboard, but has been solid defensively. I’ll take the better defense in this matchup. Vermont wins

Union at St. Cloud State, 8:07 p.m. ET

One night after having their unbeaten streak snapped, look for the Dutchmen to return the favor to the Huskies, and head into the break with a win. Union wins

Sunday, Dec. 15

Massachusetts at Colgate, 2 p.m.

I don’t see any reason why the Raiders shouldn’t complete the sweep. Colgate wins

A North Country sweep and a tie at the top

Clarkson has piled up the wins over the first half thanks to a stingy defense. But this weekend, the Golden Knights showed they could win shootouts too, sweeping rival St. Lawrence by scores of 5-4 and 4-3.

The Saints led in both games, but Clarkson scored three unanswered goals over a six-minute span Friday, while the Golden Knights erased a 3-2 first-period deficit Saturday at a sold-out Appleton Arena. Friday’s game at Cheel Arena featured the third-largest crowd ever in Clarkson history.

With the two wins, Clarkson is now on a 7-0-1 run against St. Lawrence. The Golden Knights are also third in the ECAC with a 6-2 record, although they have two games in hand over first-place Quinnipiac. Clarkson is off for the holidays, resuming the second half against Vermont in the Catamount Cup on Dec. 28.

A winless weekend for the Bobcats; Dutchmen on fire:  It’s been a while since Quinnipiac has a weekend with a zero in the win column. That’s what happens when you rattle off unbeaten streaks of 21-and-13 games over the last calendar year.

But the Bobcats came home from the Capital Region with only one point, thanks to a 3-3 tie at Rensselaer Friday, and a 6-4 loss at Union Saturday.  The last time Quinnipiac didn’t get at least one win in a two-game weekend was Nov. 18-19, 2011, when the Bobcats lost at Colgate and Cornell.

The six goals allowed Saturday at Union were the most Quinnipiac has given up since a 6-3 loss against Harvard on Feb. 3, 2012.

Meanwhile, the Dutchmen extended their winning streak to seven games. Union is 9-1 over its last ten games, and is tied for first place with the Bobcats, with two games in hand.

The Dutchmen face Dartmouth Wednesday night before heading to St. Cloud State for two games this weekend.  The Huskies are on a seven-game unbeaten streak of their own, and were ranked No. 2 in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll entering the weekend.

Individual highlights abound:  Teammate Ryan Haggerty may lead the nation in goals, but RPI forward Brock Higgs is having quite a season of his own so far. The senior has a career-best 11 goals in 16 games this season, including this highlight-reel score against Princeton Saturday.

Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig became the second league goalie is under two weeks to score a goal.  While not as noteworthy as Cornell goalie Mitch Gilliam’s empty-netter Nov. 26, it’s still an unusual feat. Garteig was given the goal after review of the game film from Saturday’s matchup with Union. Dutchmen defender Shayne Gostisbehere tipped the puck into his own net, and it was determined that Garteig was the last Bobcat player to touch it.

ECAC Hockey picks: Dec. 6-11

Friday, Dec. 6

All games at 7pm
Harvard at Brown
What do we make of Harvard? The Crimson scored a season-high six goals in a 6-3 win at New Hampshire last Tuesday, then dropped a 2-1 flame-out at Dartmouth on Saturday. Frankly, Harvard looks allergic to offense: Every time the Crimson score a bunch, they follow it up with bupkis. Brown, on the other hand, hasn’t held an opponent below three goals since the season opener, and hasn’t scored more than twice in four outings. Trends are favoring Harvard here. 4-2 Crimson.

St. Lawrence at Clarkson
North Country clash, and I can’t wait. The Saints have fallen on hard times of late, dropping four of six (2-4)… SLU just can’t put it together, pairing offense and defense simultaneously. The Golden Knights have won three of four and boast one of the nation’s best records (10-3-1), so this weekend’s battles may truly pit one of the best team games (Clarkson) against a couple of the most dynamic individuals in the country (SLU’s Carey brothers). The Saints won’t sell it that way, but that’s the way the networks would sell it… if only they’d broadcast from Up Yonder just once. Clarkson at home, 4-1.

Quinnipiac at Rensselaer
This weekend’s QU road trip poses – in my estimation – the most engaging matchups of the weekend, outside perhaps the SLU-Clarkson contests. Both RPI on Friday and Union on Saturday are legitimate NCAA contenders, and the Bobcats are certainly shaping up as one of those as well. The Engineers are struggling lately to get on the right side of the differential, outscored 13-6 in three straight losses prior to a 5-2 win at Mercyhurst. A week off mends bumps and bruises, and allows Seth Appert & Co. to plan in depth for Quinnipiac. The Bobcats are mired in their worst stretch so far this year (a dreadful 1-1-1 over their last three!), but let’s not forget the 12-0-1 streak the ‘Cats put together prior. Recent history favors QU, but after the bye week, nothing would surprise me on Friday in Troy. 3-2 Bobcats.

Princeton at Union
The Tigers haven’t held a foe to two goals since October, and only twice all year. They’re decimated by injuries, running a short bench, and playing skaters out of position. Union has won five straight, scoring – respectively – 3, 4, 4, 4, and 5 goals in those victories. Advantage Union. 5-2.

Dartmouth at Yale
The Big Green secured their first win of the year last weekend, outlasting Harvard, 2-1. That’s not a lot of goals, and it was the first time all season that an opponent failed to score at least three times. I’d put money on Yale scoring at least three times: The Bulldogs have done it in eight of their 10 games this year (6-2-2). 4-2 Yale.

Saturday, Dec. 7

Princeton at Rensselaer 4pm
RPI hasn’t demonstrated the lights-out potential that many of us predicted during the offseason, but the Engineers are nonetheless in degrees better shape than Princeton at this point in the season. See aforementioned notes about Princeton to understand why. 4-2 RPI.

Dartmouth at Brown 7pm
This pits two teams with aspirations beyond their records, in Providence. I like Bruno’s tenacity, and the way both sides are playing, I’d say the talent levels are within spitting distance of each other. Home ice wins out, in a proverbial toss-up like this. 3-2 Bears.

Clarkson at St. Lawrence 7pm
Rivalry game… There’s no new evidence or data to pick from since writing Friday’s pick, so I’ll side with SLU on the rebound, 3-2.

Quinnipiac at Union 7pm
The Bobcats beat the Dutchmen thrice last year, including the 5-1 whupping in the East Regional Final. Union will likely be rolling in hot, in front of the home fans, and I’m going to be honest: I’m taking emotion over data for this one. I like the Dutchmen to exact a pound of revenge from the Q this weekend. 5-2 Union.

Harvard at Yale 7pm
Rivalry! There’s no question that Yale is the better team, playing better hockey, and Ingalls never rocks the way it does when the Crimson come to town. 5-1 Bulldogs in crowd-pleaser.

Colgate at Cornell 7pm
Each team’s lone game this weekend, the Big Red and Raiders are enjoying modest rolls. The Red are 4-1 in their last five; Colgate, 5-2 in their last seven. Cornell took three points from the ‘Gate last year, and are 4-1 at Lynah this season. Colgate has been giving up more goals than Don Vaughan would like, and Cornell’s D has been pretty solid… signs point to a Big Red win. 4-3 Cornell.

Wednesday, Dec. 11

Dartmouth at Union 7pm
I hate making picks without a lot of information, so perhaps I should wax poetic on the importance of diction and the devaluation of a nuanced appreciation for connotation in modern academia… or not? 4-1 U.

Hot hands and holiday trimmings

Dutchmen running hot

Now riding a five-game win streak after sweeping Penn State in Happy Valley, the Dutchmen are keeping things tight at the top of the ECAC Hockey standings. Despite playing two fewer games than Quinnipiac, Union is three points behind the Bobcats with two games in hand. Oh hey, look at that: The Bobcats and Dutchmen play next week in Schenectady. That’s fortuitous, no?

The Daniels (Carr and Ciampini) have 13 goals between them, leading a squad scoring over four goals a game in league play. What’s scary is that the defense and goaltending – already holding conference opponents to 2.17 goals per game – can do much better. No. 1 goaltender Colin Stevens has a terrific 2.01 league GAA, but his save percentage is only .898. That’s not a competitive figure for a very competitive team.

Ryan Haggerty: Still quite good

We haven’t noted it in a while, but yes, Rensselaer junior forward Ryan Haggerty is still pretty ok at hockey. He has only been held scoreless in three games (out of 13), and has yet to be blanked in consecutive outings. On the other hand, Haggerty has seven multi-point games – including three three-point games – and five multi-goal games for a 15-5–20 line. Haggerty also leads Division 1 with seven power-play goals, he is the only player in the country with more than a goal per game, and he is also three goals ahead of the nearest competitor for raw total goals (a three-way tie).

Oh yeah, St. Lawrence’s Greg Carey (11-18–29) is alright, too. This concludes your early-season Hobey watch.

Leftovers

•Dartmouth is finally off the schneid (whatever that means) with its first win of the year, a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Ivy rival Harvard on Saturday. The Big Green out-shot the Crimson 35-23, but had to kill six penalties in order to wrap up Win No. 1 (1-8-0).

•In Hockey East-ECAC rivalry games, Boston University downed Cornell in Manhattan again in the fourth installment of Red Hot Hockey. BU is now 3-0-1 against the Big Red at MSG. Elsewhere, Providence edged Brown 3-2 in the Mayor’s Cup. In non-rivalry HEA-ECAC contests, Yale eked by Merrimack in New Haven; up the road, Quinnipiac slammed Massachusetts, 6-1.

•Harvard freshman defenseman Kevin Guiltinan leads the country with 3.27 blocked shots per game. Keep an eye on him – he’s hard to miss.

•Quinnipiac senior Connor Jones leads D-I in shots (76) and leads the ECAC in overall plus-minus (+15). He is one reason the Bobcats lead the nation in raw shots-on-goal, too (598).

•SLU is the national leader in power-play goals (22).

•RPI’s 14.3 percent shooting percentage is the best in the country.

•Clarkson’s 55.3 percent faceoff win rate is, also, the best in the country.

ECAC Hockey picks: Nov. 29-Dec. 1

Overall 28-18-3

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. It’s a short break for much of the ECAC, with several teams resuming play this weekend. All games are 7 p.m. unless noted.

Friday, Nov. 29

Princeton at Michigan State, 7:05 p.m.

Princeton snapped Quinnipiac’s 13-game unbeaten streak last time out, and heads to Munn Ice Arena for its first game against the Spartans in 33 years. Michigan State is on a three-game losing skid while averaging under two goals per game on the season, while getting subpar performances on both special teams units.  Look for the Tigers to capitalize on that. Princeton wins

St. Lawrence at North Dakota, 8:37 p.m. ET

The Saints can score on almost anyone, but the real question will be how many goals they can prevent. North Dakota’s offense hasn’t been lighting it up this season, although they have scored three or more goals in four of their last five games. North Dakota wins

Saturday, Nov. 30

Harvard at Dartmouth

This is the ECAC’s only conference game on the weekend. Harvard is on a solid run of late, while Dartmouth is still looking for its first win. The Crimson’s duo of Raphael Girard and Steve Mihalek have both been strong in net, while Harvard’s penalty kill is one of the best in the country. I’m not sure if the Big Green will be able to generate enough offense, regardless of who is in net. Harvard wins

Brown at Providence (28th Annual Mayor’s Cup)

Brown is in the midst of a three-game losing streak heading into a matchup with No. 4 Providence.  The Bears have a way of stymieing skilled teams like the Friars, who play a similar style to Quinnipiac, based on Wednesday night’s game against the Bobcats.  Still, the Bears will need to generate some offense if they want to get past Jon Gillies and the Providence defense, who are giving up just two goals per game.  Providence wins

Massachusetts at Quinnipiac

These teams are almost polar opposites, at least statistically. The Minutemen are being outscored by around a goal-and-half per game, while the Bobcats are outscoring opponents by roughly the same margin. Quinnipiac likes to control the puck and get it up ice quick. I’m not sure if the Minutemen will have an answer for that. Quinnipiac wins

Merrimack at Yale

This is the first meeting between these teams in 15 years. The Warriors have really struggled this season, while Yale has gotten off to a strong start thanks to a balanced offense and solid production from freshman goalies Alex Lyon and Patrick Spano.  I don’t see any reason to pick against the Bulldogs, especially at home. Yale wins

Cornell vs. Boston University, 8 p.m. (Red Hot Hockey at Madison Square Garden)

Cornell is on a four-game winning streak heading to the biennial meeting between these two teams at Madison Square Garden. Big Red goalie Andy Iles will look to start a new streak after giving way to freshman Mitch Gilliam Tuesday night, snapping the senior’s 80-game consecutive start streak.  Iles, along with a potent Cornell power play, should be the difference against a BU team that is at .500 this season. Cornell wins

St. Lawrence at North Dakota, 8:07 p.m. ET

The Saints should come home with at least one win…I’m just not sure if I’m picking the right night. St. Lawrence wins

Union at Penn State

Union returns from its exam break to travel to Penn State, a team they hosted almost a year ago during the Nittany Lion’s first year of Division I competition. The Dutchmen swept that series, but didn’t play particularly well, leading to a bit of a dry spell that carried over into the second half. Union should be well-rested and sharp; the two points are there for the taking. Union wins

Sunday, Dec. 1

Princeton at Michigan State, 1:05 p.m.

The hosts should rebound from Friday’s loss with a win in a rare 1:05 p.m. Sunday college hockey game. Michigan State wins

Union at Penn State

I think the Dutchmen will wrap up the sweep and head back into conference play on a five-game winning streak. Union wins

 

 

 

 

Here’s video of Cornell goalie Mitch Gillam scoring in his collegiate debut

Think Mitch Gillam is going to remember his first collegiate start?

Yeah, probably.

The Cornell freshman allowed two goals in a win over Niagara on Tuesday but what will be remembered years from now is the empty-net goal he scored.

Gillam, a Peterborough, Ontario, native, spent the last two seasons with Chilliwack of the BCHL and watched senior Andy Iles start each of the Big Red’s first 10 games this season.

He made a pretty good impression when he finally got the call, and put himself in the record book.

Princeton breaks through

Talk about a comeback.

Quinnipiac had only allowed three goals in a game three times this season entering Saturday’s matchup against Princeton. But the Tiger shocked the Bobcats at TD Bank Sports Center, scoring three times over the final 10:38, including twice in a 1:04 span, to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 win.

The loss snapped the Bobcats’ nation-best 13-game unbeaten streak. Quinnipiac had several defensive lapses that finally caught up to them, including a brutal Matthew Peca turnover that Andrew Ammon jumped on for the game-winning goal. Still, give credit to the Tigers, who jumped off the bench as the final horn sounded.

“To get four goals on a team that’s that defensive, it’s huge,” Princeton head coach Bob Prier said. “Pretty proud of the guys for the way that they battled, just the plays they made under duress, maybe that’s what we needed, to be down by a couple and just realize, ‘Hey, we’re just going to have some fun, make some plays and see what happens.’”

Freshman Colton Phinney made 32 saves for his first career win, including several big ones in a scoreless first period, as well as denying Peca on a shorthanded breakaway later in the game.

“He was composed and he outplayed their goalie [Michael Garteig], and that was something we needed,” Prier said.

Even after the loss, Quinnipiac still has the No.1 scoring defense in the country, although head coach Rand Pecknold wasn’t pleased with the way they played Saturday.

“They’re systematic and they’re so safe with the puck,” Prier said of the Bobcats. “They rarely turn it over; it’s always up the boards. Their puck support is incredible; you can tell the chemistry they have.”

There’s potential good news on the horizon for Princeton, as forwards Andrew Calof,Tyler Maugeri and Ben Foster could return from injuries in the next couple weeks, although Prier said nothing was set in stone.

Connecticut streaks snapped

Just as Princeton finished its improbable comeback Saturday to end Quinnipiac’s 13-game unbeaten streak, Cornell held on to beat Yale 2-1, snapping the Bulldogs’ seven-game unbeaten streak. That streak was the third best in the country, trailing only the Bobcats and Ferris State. Still, Yale appears to be in good shape heading into the holiday break. The Bulldogs hosts Merrimack this Saturday, then close out the pre-Christmas schedule with struggling Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend.

Freshmen Patrick Spano and Alex Lyon have split time in net, and each newcomer has been solid so far. The Bulldogs look to have a solid group of forwards as well, despite the mysterious departure of senior Clinton Bourbonais last week. Senior Jesse Root and freshman Mike Doherty, and junior Carson Cooper each have eight points in nine games, while  Anthony Day has average a point-per-game in his seven contests, although the junior didn’t play this weekend.

Cornell picking up steam

The Big Red’s win over Yale Saturday was their third win in a row, moving them to 6-3-1. More importantly, Cornell got back top center Cole Bardreau, who had been out with an injury since the Big Red’s season-opening sweep at Nebraska-Omaha. The sophomore had three points in a 5-1 win over Brown Friday, and now has six points in four games this season.

Cornell had a power-play goal in each game this weekend, and the Big Red are first in the nation with a 30.61 percentage on the man advantage. Cornell hosts Niagara in a non-conference game Tuesday before facing Boston University Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

 

 

ECAC Hockey picks: Nov. 22-27

Friday, November 22

Yale at Colgate
This is suddenly shaping up as the most compelling game of the weekend. Yale (2-0-2) and QU (5-0-1) are the only remaining unbeatens in league play, but the Raiders (4-2-0) are making an early run up the ladder and can establish some late-autumn street cred with a take-down of the champs. The Bulldogs better have some bite in their game, having played only once in the last two weeks (Saturday’s 5-1 win over Sacred Heart). This game had better be a sell-out, Raiders fans: The last time a defending national championship team played in Hamilton was [insert long-ago date here]. Not this millenium, in any case. I’m taking Yale, but with hesitation: 3-2 Bulldogs.

Brown at Cornell
The Big Red return home after a disappointing 1-2-1 road swing, hoping to re-discover some of its recently missing offense. Cornell scored only 10 goals in its last five games, and five of those were at St. Lawrence last Saturday. Brown is still a bit of an unknown, and it’s borderline stupid to predict anything other than a close game when Bruno is involved… especially when it’s an Ivy League affair. In the end, something’s got to give: Brown is struggling to hold opponents under three goals; Cornell is battling to bury that many. Picking a 3-3 tie is weak, so let’s say 3-2 Cornell.

Quinnipiac at Princeton
There is really no good reason to pick against QU right now, especially when it’s Princeton on the docket… the Tigers’ only wins this year have come against Dartmouth, and both of those were in the Garden State. 5-2 Bobcats.

Rensselaer at Mercyhurst
The Lakers are only 1-5-1 outside Atlantic Hockey, but are 3-1 at home overall, and Rensselaer is in no position to overlook any opponent following last week’s home-and-home sweep against Union. RPI is loaded with talent and experience, and Scott Diebold is playing well as the No. 1 following Jason Kasdorf’s (potentially) season-ending injury. This is wake-up time for the Engineers, who have yet to play like the league’s top team that some preseason polls predicted. 4-2 RPI.

St. Lawrence at RIT
RIT is 1-6-2 this year, and 0-3 at home. These games are SLU’s, should the Saints step up and take them. 4-1 Saints.

Saturday, November 23

Brown at Colgate
Raiders will either be rolling, or looking to rebound come Saturday night. Either way, I like their odds at Starr. 3-2 ‘Gate.

Yale at Cornell
Another marquee game, Yale currently appears to be in better shape than the Red. Cornell and goalie Andy Iles have played eight games, allowing either two or three goals in all eight, but as previously stated, the offense has yet to find a groove. Yale’s goaltending has been better, its offense has been more reliable, and that will be a tough match-up for the home side. 4-3 Blue.

Princeton at Quinnipiac
Round 2 should look a lot like Round 1… if not worse, since we’re in Hamden. 5-2 QU.

Rensselaer at Mercyhurst
Again, if RPI is the team many of us thought it would be, now is the time to open the throttle. 4-2 Engineers.

St. Lawrence at RIT
Amazing how many sweeps I’m predicting this weekend, but I’m being honest. Given what we’ve seen on the ice, SLU should take both games in a relatively dominant manner. 4-2 SLU.

Tuesday, November 26

Niagara at Cornell
The Purple Eagles are 0-5 outside Atlantic Hockey and 0-5-1 away from home. This is another on-paper mismatch, and paper’s all we’ve got to go on right now. 5-2 Big Red.

Harvard at New Hampshire
Harvard has shown flashes of talent and proficiency, but boy was that Boston College loss a beat-down. UNH is rising at the same moment that Harvard is tumbling… 4-1 Wildcats.

Wednesday, November 27

Providence at Quinnipiac
One of the best games in the nation over the next two weeks pits two top-five teams in Hamden on the day before Thanksgiving. The Friars are 9-1-1 entering this weekend; QU, 11-1-1. PC goalie Jon Gillies holds an otherworldly .949 save rate and a 1.59 GAA; QU’s Michael Garteig, .924/1.53. This is going to be a heavy-hitting, low-scoring, size-em-up-and-knock-em-down kinda game. I’m salivating already. 2-1 Bobcats in a thriller.

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