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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.

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.

ECAC Hockey picks: Nov. 15-20

Overall: 20-14-3

All games are 7 p.m. unless noted

Friday, Nov. 15

Cornell at Clarkson

Clarkson shows no sign of slowing down. The Golden Knights have been outstanding defensively and have gotten balanced scoring through their lineup. Cornell has been shutout in its two of its last three games after a strong start, putting a combined 34 shots on goal in those two games. They’ll have to do better than that against the Golden Knights. One area to keep an eye on: Cornell has strong power play, while the Golden Knights are average on the penalty kill. Clarkson wins

Dartmouth at Princeton

It’s a tossup who needs this game more: the winless Big Green, or the Tigers, who won their opener, but have since lost six straight. I think Dartmouth has a little more depth, but no one is exactly lighting it up for either team, with the exception of Big Green forward Eric Neiley, who has five of his team’s 15 goals on the year. Dartmouth wins

Harvard at Quinnipiac

The Crimson have had some solid stretches in the early going, rallying for a 3-3 tie and posting a 2-0 win in back-to-back games against  Rensselaer. Raphael Girard and Steve Michalek have split time in net, with Girard being virtually lights out in three games, and Michalek more than holding his own. Whoever gets the start will need to be on top of their game, as the Bobcats have been throwing a ton of shots on net while clamping down in their own end.  The Crimson’s freshman class might pay off down the road, but Quinnipiac’s newcomers appear to have fit right in, a big reason for the Bobcats’ early success. Quinnipiac wins

Colgate at St. Lawrence

I think the Saints will win the five-on-five matchup; Greg and Matt Carey are deadly if given room to operate. Both teams have strong power plays, and neither has exactly lit it up on the penalty kill, so whoever can be more disciplined might have the best chance. St. Lawrence wins

Rensselaer at Union

RPI leads the all-time series against its Capital Region rival 45-31-10, but is only 4-18-3 over the last 25 meetings. Union has hit some snags this season, but it’s hard to argue with a 3-1 record through the first two weeks of ECAC play. If they can keep their emotions in check, the Dutchmen should start the weekend off with a win. Union wins

Saturday, Nov. 16

Colgate at Clarkson

Colgate has power-play goals in two straight games, but overall, their unit hasn’t been the same as it was last year. If the Raiders can straighten it out, they could make this game interesting, but Clarkson has been lights out most of the season. Tough to pick against the Golden Knights. Clarkson wins

Harvard at Princeton

The Crimson have allowed an average of two goals a game, while Princeton has scored an average of two goals per game. I think defense wins out. Harvard wins

Dartmouth at Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac has dominated Dartmouth in Hamden, going 9-2 all-time against the Big Green at home. The Bobcats have been relentless on both ends of the ice, and have fired an average of 35 shots on net per game. That’s bad news for a Dartmouth team that is giving up over five goals a game. Quinnipiac wins

Union at Rensselaer 

The Engineers got a little too emotional in last year’s series with Union, taking some costly penalties.  RPI’s has shown signs of being a more mature team this season, and they should feed off a strong home crowd. Rensselaer wins

Cornell at St. Lawrence

This is a nice matchup, as Cornell plays a physical style, while St. Lawrence typically uses its speed to create chances. But the Big Red have plenty of skilled players, while the Saints showed they can be physical when I saw them several weeks ago. I think both teams matchup pretty well. Tie

Sacred Heart at Yale

Rensselaer swept Sacred Heart by a combined score of 13-1 in two matchups earlier this year. The Bulldogs might not be at RPI’s level just yet, but Yale looks poised for another strong season and shouldn’t have much trouble against the Pioneers. Yale wins

Wednesday, Nov. 20

Boston College at Harvard

If the Crimson try to keep up with the Eagles, forget about it. Boston College has plenty of offensive talent throughout its lineup, and has scored five or more goals in nearly half its games entering the weekend.  A strong performance by Raphael Girard could steal a win for a young Harvard team, but Boston College looks to be playing a pretty complete game over the last few weekends. Boston College wins

Quinnipiac almost halfway there

Don’t look now, but Quinnipiac is almost halfway to last season’s 21-game unbeaten streak.

The Bobcats beat Brown Friday before salvaging a 3-3 tie in a national championship rematch with Yale on Saturday. Quinnipiac is riding a ten-game unbeaten stretch since losing its opener Oct. 11, and is now 9-1-1.

It was a year ago this weekend that QU’s aforementioned 21-game unbeaten stretch began with a 3-2 overtime win over Colgate. The Bobcats were 3-3-1 last season before beating the Raiders in overtime, but have gone 36-6-5 over the last calendar year, including the NCAA tournament.

There are plenty of familiar faces from last year’s national runner-up team – Connor and Kellen Jones, Matthew Peca, Jordan Samuels- Thomas, and Danny Federico are all back. But the Bobcats have gotten plenty of contributions from several freshman, most notably leading scorer Sam Anas and defensemen  Derek Smith and Devon Toews.  Sophomore Michael Garteig has played every minute in goal after sitting behind Eric Hartzell last year. In fact, it was Garteig who started the final game before QU’s 21-game streak last season, a 2-1 loss to American International last Nov. 6.

Quinnipiac hosts a pair of struggling teams in Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend, and then has a home-and-home series with travel partner Princeton the next weekend.

I had the Bobcats sixth in my preseason ballot, but that’s quickly looking like an error on my part. Look for Quinnipiac, as well as Yale, to be in the mix come NCAA tournament time.

Big Green trying to get on track

On the opposite end of the spectrum from is Dartmouth, who fell to 0-6 with a pair of losses over the weekend. Dartmouth is outshooting their opponents by an average of 30-28 per game, but are giving up 5.5 goals per game, last in the country.  No one among the trio of Cab Morris, James Kruger or Charles Grant has posted a save percentage above .850.  The Big Green got some bad news this week, as senior forward Eric Robinson was injured during practice and is out for the season.

Dartmouth was the last unbeaten team last season, and had a shot at a first-round bye deep into the year. There’s talent in Hanover, but the Big Green will need to turn it around quickly, especially given the shorter schedule played by Ivy teams.  They’ve been in all but two of their games, so if they can straighten out the defense, things could start going Dartmouth’s way.

North Country duo keeps on rolling

They’ve been doing it in different ways, but Clarkson and St. Lawrence have been two of the league’s better teams in the early going.  The Golden Knights matched their win total from last season with a 2-1 win at Harvard Saturday. That gave Clarkson six wins in one-goal games, after losing seven one-goal contests last season.  A big reason for the Golden Knights turnaround has been an improved defense, as well as the play of goalies Steve Perry and Greg Lewis.

Meanwhile, the Saints have been simply outslugging their opponents, averaging four goals thus far. Senior Greg Carey has 19 points in ten games, while freshman and younger brother Matt leads the team with seven goals.  Freshman Gavin Bayreuther has a rocket shot from the blueline, while veterans Jeremy Wick and Chris Martin have made contributions as well.

These teams meet for a home-and-home series on Dec. 6 and 7.

ECAC Hockey picks: Nov. 8-12

Friday, November 8

Clarkson at Dartmouth 7:00
The Big Green have surrendered 22 goals in four games. Clarkson has given up 21 goals in 10 games. This is gut-check time for Dartmouth, picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the preseason polls, but rapidly plummeting into the basement. Tough to pick against Clarkson here: 5-2 Knights.

St. Lawrence at Harvard 7:00
The Crimson are still a work-in-progress, but three points against preseason favorite Rensselaer are a good start. SLU has jumped out to a 4-2-2 start and is looking to build on a pair of road ties last weekend at Yale and Brown. If Harvard can keep the Carey brothers from doing too much damage, the hosts are in good shape… but with nine combined goals and 23 points in eight games, that’s easier said than done. 3-2 Saints.

Yale at Princeton 7:00
To put it simply, Yale appears to be a class above Princeton at this point. The Bulldogs have already beaten the Tigers once in ‘Jersey, and Princeton’s offense is hard-pressed to score more than two goals in a night so far. All signs point to Blue, 4-1.

Brown at Quinnipiac 7:00
Just as I was about to type “5-3 QU” and leave it at that, I remembered that Brown is a Bobcat brutalizer: Quinnipiac never rolls Bruno, and this tilt should be another tooth-and-nail doozy. That said, tough to ignore QU’s prodigious roll right now, and Consecutive Win No. 9 looks more likely than not. Let’s cut that prediction to 3-2, Bobcats.

Cornell at Rensselaer 7:00
Big test for RPI this weekend, hosting the Big Red and Raiders without starting goalie Jason Kasdorf. The Engineers haven’t exploded onto the national scene as some prognosticators had hoped/expected, but 5-2-1 with twice as many goals scored as surrendered is nothing to scoff at. Cornell will be looking for a bounce-back performance on offense after being blanked at home by QU last weekend, but the Engineers are a pretty stingy team in their own end. Should be tight and low-scoring… feels like a 2-1 or 3-2 game to me. Let’s say 2-1, RPI.

Colgate at Union 7:00
After a rough start, Union hit the reset button before entering ECAC action. The Dutchmen promptly snuffed Dartmouth and Harvard on the road, and now prepare for a middling Raiders club that has only defeated equally unimpressive RIT and Princeton in the last month (2-4-1). Messa has been a tough place to play in recent years, and Union is showing signs of getting its season back on track. Colgate has offered no indication of upset capability yet, so why should I pick ‘em? 4-2 Dutch.

Saturday, November 9

Brown at Princeton 4:00
Brown’s bite, claw and scratch approach versus Princeton’s potential early-season desperation… this has the feel of a tight, low-scoring, heavy-hitting affair. This is the second game in five days for both teams, and it’s one of those uncomfortable afternoon tilts following a night game and – for Brown – a two- (or more) hour bus ride. You know what? I’m feeling frisky; here’s to ECAC unpredictability: 3-2 Tigers.

St. Lawrence at Dartmouth 7:00
It’s too early to enact The Brown Rule (see Colgate @ SLU, Nov. 6), but if Dartmouth can’t stop the goals-against bleeding in a hurry, it might be in for a looooong, Brown Rule-ian winter. 4-2 SLU.

Clarkson at Harvard 7:00
‘Tech is 5-5-3 at Bright Hockey Center since the 2000-01 season, and it’s playing as though it might go to 6-5-3. Freshman goalie Steve Perry and sophomore Greg Lewis have nearly identical stats this year, each boasting .925 save percentages and GAA’s within a fraction of 2.00 in equal playing time. Harvard goalie Raphael Girard has pitched two shutouts in two games… but if the pattern holds, it will be recently returned junior Steve Michalek’s turn in net, and his GAA is floating near 3. Should be a good defensive battle all the same, though I like Clarkson’s momentum at the moment. 3-2 Knights.

Yale at Quinnipiac 7:00
The much-anticipated title rematch (or is it the league tournament consolation rematch?) has been sold out for as long as it has been on sale. QU has nine games under its belt, to Yale’s four. Bobcats goalie Michael Garteig is Rand Pecknold’s man, while Keith Allain is still rotating his freshmen for the time being. The QU offense is on a tear, and its defense is pretty stout to boot. I love this game, I love this matchup, but I think the Bobcats have a clear edge (on paper)… 4-2 Q.

Colgate at Rensselaer 7:00
This looks like a mis-match, so why logic-ificate ourselves into knots? 4-1 Engineers.

Cornell at Union 7:00
Good old-fashioned ECAC hockey game at an old-fashioned rink between two solid, no-nonsense teams. The facet that catches my eye in this matchup is Cornell’s goal-happy special teams: The Big Red score on nearly a third of their power plays, but also give up about a goal for every five penalties taken. Union’s PK is no better; this game may well hinge on who can play the cleanest game. 4-3 Union.

Tuesday, November 12

UMass-Lowell at Princeton 7:00
The RiverHawks have won four straight after a rough start to the season, and only play one game this weekend. Princeton is at home, but look ill-prepared to overcome UML’s increasingly stalwart defense. The Tigers will have to dig deep for three or more goals to take this one. 3-1 UML.

Brown at New Hampshire 7:00
UNH is a dismal 0-5-1 in its last six games, and Brown is no cupcake. In fact, Bruno slapped the Wildcats around in Durham two years ago, 5-2. Repeat the result? Why not! The Bears look far more stable than the Wildcats at this point in time. 4-2 Bears.

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