ECAC Hockey picks: Feb. 13 and 14

Last time:  3-5-3

Overall: 40-51-11

With three weeks left in the regular season, one point separates third through eighth place in ECAC Hockey, but the highlight of this weekend is Friday’s matchup of St. Lawrence at Quinnipiac. The Saints have won seven in a row and could close to one point of the Bobcats with a win. Here’s a look at that game, along with the 11 others scheduled for this weekend. All games start at 7 p.m.

Friday, February 13

Cornell at Dartmouth

A veteran Big Green team seems to be putting it together at the right time, as Dartmouth has won five in a row heading into the weekend. Cornell scored four goals last time out against Princeton, but the Big Red have continued its offensively challenged ways throughout much of the second half. I think Dartmouth has the more balanced team. Dartmouth wins

Colgate at Harvard

Both these teams are looking for some consistency in the lineup down the stretch, as each has dealt with several key injuries. Harvard forward Sean Malone and Alexander Kerfoot appear to be healthy, while Colgate forward Mike Borkowski returned last weekend after it was originally thought he would be out for the season. I was leaning towards the Raiders, but the school announced late Thursday that starting goalie Charlie Finn was out for the weekend with an upper-body injury, meaning backup Zac Hamilton is in line to get the start. Harvard wins

Clarkson at Princeton

The Golden Knights are in position for a first-round bye, and can’t afford to let any points slip away. Princeton, meanwhile, is trying to stay out of the basement and has only won a single league game this year – in November. Clarkson wins

Brown at Rensselaer

RPI has lost four in a row, but shouldn’t have a problem taking care of the slumping Bears.  Rensselaer wins

Yale at Union

The Dutchmen are in a funk following Saturday’s 7-1 loss against St. Lawrence. Union seems to have a hard time carrying momentum from a Friday win into Saturday,  but I’m not sure they’ll have that chance against a stingy Bulldog team that still ranks first in the nation in team defense despite allowing six goals to Dartmouth last weekend. Yale wins

St. Lawrence at Quinnipiac

The marquee matchup of the weekend features two of the hotter teams in the league, as the Saints (seven-game winning streak) and the Bobcats (four-game unbeaten streak) meet in Hamden, with Quinnipiac holding a three-point lead over the Saints for first place.  St. Lawrence’s overall play has finally caught up to freshman goalie Kyle Hayton, who should be in the discussion for several major awards at the end of the season. The Bobcats have some dangerous forwards, but I think the Saints’ defense and Hayton should be able to shut them down. St. Lawrence wins

Saturday, Feb. 14

Colgate at Dartmouth

If this game was several weeks ago, I would have taken Colgate. But as mentioned earlier, the Big Green are in the midst of an impressive run, and should be able to get past the Raiders, especially with goalie Charlie Finn out. Dartmouth wins

Cornell at Harvard

The Crimson have been scuffling lately, and while Cornell struggles offensively, its defense has given plenty of opponents problems lately. Cornell wins

St. Lawrence at Princeton

Saints freshman Kyle Hayton’s  .940 save percentage and 1.91 goals-against-average are impressive, and should only get better when you consider the Tigers are scoring 1.35 goals per-game and opposing goalies have a save percentage of .946 against Princeton. St. Lawrence wins

Clarkson at Quinnipiac

Both teams are good at limiting their opponents’ shots, as each is allowing less than 25 shots a game. Quinnipiac might be as dominant possession-wise as it was in the past, but the Bobcats should have enough finishers on offense to beat the Golden Knights. Quinnipiac wins

Yale at  Rensselaer

The Engineers gave Yale plenty of trouble during the Bulldogs’ stretch of NCAA tournament appearances several years ago. If RPI can stick to its gritty, unselfish style that’s led to some success the last few years, the Engineers could have a chance. But I think Yale is simply too strong from the net out. Yale wins          

Brown at Union

As much as Union is scuffling, it’s been worse for the Bears. Union wins


Dutchmen, Crimson falling; Big Green, Saints and Bobcats rising

With three weeks left in the regular season, one point separates third place through eighth place in ECAC hockey. There’s still a lot to be determined, but last weekend helped give an indication of where several teams might end up.

Trending up: Dartmouth, St. Lawrence, Quinnipiac

A five-game winning streak has pushed Dartmouth into the picture for a first-round bye. The Big Green have averaged 4.6 goals a game during that stretch, and are tied  with Clarkson, Harvard, and Yale in the standings.  Dartmouth seemed poised for better things following a disappointing season last year; now that looks to be coming together.

As for Quinnipiac, the Bobcats quietly continued its dominance in league play, pushing its conference record to 13-2-1 with two wins over the weekend.  That sets up a big matchup Friday night when second-place St. Lawrence takes its seven-game winning streak to Hamden.  A few more wins could push the Saints into the top-16 in the Pairwise; St. Lawrence is currently sitting at 17th.

Trending down: Harvard, Union

What a second-half tumble its been for the Crimson. First in the PairWise not long ago, Harvard is currently 16th and out of the NCAA tournament, thanks to the auto-bid from Atlantic Hockey. The Crimson lost to Yale Friday, and then fell 2-1  Saturday to  a Brown team that is currently 54th in the PairWise.

Harvard is 2-7 in 2015, and starts a tough stretch to end the year with Boston College Monday in the Beanpot consolation, a game that could have PairWise implications for both teams. From there, the Crimson host Cornell and Colgate, travel to St. Lawrence and Clarkson, and then host Quinnipiac and Princeton to conclude the regular season. The good news for Harvard is that forwards Sean Malone and Alexander Kerfoot have played in each of the last three games after missing time with injuries.

As for Union, the past weekend seemed to be a death blow in what has been an inconsistent season for the defending national champions. The Dutchmen beat Clarkson 4-1 Friday, but were blown out by St. Lawrence 7-1 on Saturday. That loss makes it likely that Union will be on the road for the opening round of the playoffs, while a bye seems virtually impossible at this point.

Following Saturday’s loss, Union coach Rick Bennett told Ken Schott of The Daily Gazette that the Dutchmen “are a part-time team and our record shows it.” The Dutchmen haven’t put together a four-point weekend in ECAC play, thanks in part to a defense that ranks41st in the country.

An unexpected return

Colgate forward Mike Borkowski was expected to be out for the regular season following a knee injury in November. But the Raiders junior returned Friday night against Princeton, contributing an assist in a 2-0 win over the Tigers. His return helps deepen the Colgate lineup, and gives the Raiders its top forwards playing together for the first time this season.

At 7-6-3, Colgate is in the thick of teams stuck together in the middle of the standings. The Raiders are still missing defenseman Spiro Goulakos, but Borkowski’s return show help down the stretch.


ECAC Hockey picks: Feb. 6-9

Season record: 44-30-5. Meh.

Friday, February 6

Dartmouth at Brown
How fitting that the two Brown Ruled teams – Brown and Princeton – tied last Saturday, in their first meeting of the year? Doesn’t matter; Brown is still playing under its eponymous Rule. Dartmouth wins.

Union at Clarkson
Clarkson’s offense looked pretty decent for a hot minute there… and then, not so much. The Golden Knights haven’t scored goals (meaning the plurality of goal) in either of its last two games, winning 1-0 and losing 2-1. Union’s hot-and-cold act continues as well, with neither Dutchmen goalie holding a conference save rate of .900. Toss-up; edge goes to the defensive-minded home team. Clarkson wins.

Princeton at Colgate
Apart from Army (6-18-2; 0-4 out of conference) and the Russian Red Stars, Princeton hasn’t won since the day after Thanksgiving. No reason to expect another win now, unfortunately. Raiders roll.

Quinnipiac at Cornell
Enticing matchup: Cornell is 4-2-1 in its last seven, while QU is 5-0-1 in its last six league contests. The advantage definitely rests with the Bobcats however, as Cornell’s offense – with nine goals in its last five games – is about as reliable as a pre-owned Mini Cooper. QU wins.

Rensselaer at St. Lawrence
Just as things were looking up in Troy, on came the Mayors Cup… and we’ll spare you the rehash of that particular debacle. RPI is 2-5 on the road at ECAC opponents, with wins at Union (in OT) and Princeton. SLU is not exactly dominant at home – 4-3 against the league foes at Appleton – but the Saints are on a 6-1 run, having not allowed more than two goals in a game since January 3 in a 4-2 loss at Northeastern. This is a game that SLU should win.

Harvard at Yale
Well hmm, last time these teams met – at Madison Square Garden – I posited that a strong, one-loss team like Harvard couldn’t possibly lose to the same team twice. I was wrong, and Harvard is 2-5 since I made that prediction. Could the Crimson, who played such a promising opening 30 minutes against BU on Tuesday, tumble once more to the hated Bulldogs? Precedent says yes, and fatigue would be a factor… I’m almost definitely going to be proven wrong, but I can’t think of any good reason why Yale should lose to a team that it’s already defeated twice this season. Bulldogs win.

Saturday, February 7

Harvard at Brown 4:00
Brown Rule. Is it lazy? Yes. Is it right? Also yes. Harvard wins.

Rensselaer at Clarkson
Was RPI’s three-win run a dead-cat bounce, or a ray of sunshine peeking through after the 0-9 storm? This weekend will be a good indicator of one or the other. My gut says Clarkson… but – to steal a phrase – I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have **** for brains. (500 imaginary points if you can name the film**.) Knights win.

Quinnipiac at Colgate
The Bobcats have demonstrated remarkable consistency insofar as their ability to take at least two points from each ECAC weekend this season. This is no easy deuce, but Quinnipiac has the Cleary Cup in its sights, and that’s a pretty good incentive. QU wins.

Princeton at Cornell
Brown Rule, Cornell wins.

Union at St. Lawrence
The Dutchmen have struggled to win on the second night of consecutive games, going 0-3 in such situations in 2015. Maybe this is a meaningless stat, but maybe it indicates an issue with fatigue in all or some of Union’s game. Goaltender Colin Stevens is 2-4 in his last six starts, allowing 20 goals in just under 330 minutes for a 3.7 GAA and .883 save percentage. Perhaps it’s time to ride sophomore Alex Sakellaropoulos? He has allowed just 11 goals in almost exactly the same amount of playing time since the holiday break; he also has .907 save rate. Beyond all that, SLU is rolling and I’m not sure Union is in the right place to stop the surging Saints. SLU wins.

Dartmouth at Yale
Don’t look now, but Dartmouth is unbeaten in its last four (3-0-1), out-scoring those victims 13-7. That said, I’m not sold on the Big Green’s superiority over the vastly more consistent Bulldogs at this point in time… especially at Ingalls, where the Blue are 5-1-1 since early November. Yale wins.

Monday, February 9**

Harvard vs. Boston College Beanpot Consolation; 4:30
Gah, do I seriously have to do this? Harvard could not be more frustrating this season. If they’re healthy, they can definitely win… if not, the Crimson will absolutely lose… I don’t know. Whatever. BC wins, because why not.

* – High Fidelity, you philistine.
** – weather permitting?

Quinnipiac accelerating toward second Cleary Cup; SLU surging; Harvard slipping

There are now four weeks left in the ECAC Hockey regular season, and – for the first time since early in the fall – every team is even in games played (14). This makes the standings a lot easier to assess. On that note…

Bobcats preying on ECAC foes

At 11-2-1 in league play, QU poses a formidable challenge for the rest of the ECAC. The Bobcats are three points clear of second-place St. Lawrence (QU beat SLU once, and they meet again in Hamden in two weeks) and seven points ahead of fifth-place Clarkson or Yale (tied for fourth).

And it’s a good thing Quinnipiac has been so strong in league play, because outside the ECAC, QU is… not so good. Just 5-6-1 against the rest of Division 1, QU currently ranks a surprisingly soft 15th in the PairWise Rankings. The Q-Cats will definitely have to maintain their intra-conference edge if they hope to qualify for a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance: Of QU’s eight remaining opponents, six have a winning record in ECAC play.

Saints on longest winning streak in three years

With a gritty 2-1 win at Clarkson Saturday night, St. Lawrence extended its winning streak to five games – the longest since winter 2012 – and climbed ahead of Harvard for sole custody of second place in ECAC Hockey. The run (as well as Northeastern’s change of fortunes) has soothed the wounds suffered in early January’s tie and loss at Northeastern; SLU has not allowed more than two goals in a game since Jan. 3, eight games back. Meanwhile, the offense has scored 21 times in those seven games since (6-1), the power play has maintained an adequate 17 percent success rate with five goals in 28 opportunities, and the penalty kill – already a strong point at 89.2 percent successful for the season – has been outstanding with 23 kills in 24 tries.

On paper, SLU is in a pretty sweet situation with four weekends remaining: Four of the Saints’ remaining eight games are against the mediocre Capital District tandem; road games at Quinnipiac and Princeton and home dates with Harvard and Dartmouth come in between.

Crimson crumbling?

Harvard has been having a 2015 to forget, already dropping from second in the PairWise to a tie for 9th thanks to a 2-4 record in the new year.

Injuries are clearly an issue, but so too is the play of senior and No. 1 goaltender Steve Michalek: In seven games since the holiday break, Michalek’s save percentage was .894, a full 50 points beneath his season save rate prior. The goaltender has failed to stop 90 percent of shots on goal in four of his last five outings, including a three-goal, six-save, 14-minute nightmare against SLU two weekends back.

Obviously, you can’t tell the whole story from one measly stat line… but in the absence of harder evidence, it is a trend worth noting. Unless Michalek and goaltending coach Brian Eklund can ditch the glitch – or rookie and Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Merrick Madsen up and becomes the next in a long series of unexpected Beanpot legends – Harvard is in for a long and embarrassing evening against Boston University (5-1-2 since Christmas) Tuesday night.

ECAC Hockey picks: Jan. 30 – Feb. 2

Last time: 4-8

Overall: 37-46-8

As colleague Brian Sullivan noted in this week’s column, the final month of the season is rapidly approaching. Here’s a look at this weekend, which ends with Harvard taking on Boston University in the opening game of the Beanpot Monday. All games are 7 p.m. unless noted.

Quinnipiac at Brown

The Bobcats return to action after a break last weekend,  due to travel partner Princeton taking time off for exams. The time off came at a good time for Quinnipiac, as Chip Malafronte of the New Haven Register reports starting goalie Michael Garteig should return this weekend after getting injured against Merrimack on Jan. 16. Brown looked decent two Fridays ago against Yale, but has been outscored 16-3 in three games since then. The Bears have given QU trouble in Providence, but there’s no way I’m picking against the Bobcats. Quinnipiac wins

Cornell at Colgate

The Raiders are 11-1 when scoring at least three goals this season, while the Big Red have only given up three or more goals six times this season. Two of those occurrences have come in Cornell’s last three games, including a season-high five goals allowed in a loss to Dartmouth last Saturday. I think the Raiders are good enough on both ends of the ice to get past the Big Red. Colgate wins

Rensselaer at Dartmouth

The Engineers looked to be picking it up, winning three straight entering last Saturday’s Mayor’s Cup against Union. And then the third period happened, as RPI surrendered six goals to turn a 3-2 lead into an 8-3 blowout. Dartmouth has been shaky in January; last Saturday’s win at Cornell was the Big Green’s first  in over a month. Neither team scores goals in bunches, but I like Dartmouth’s top line and goaltending, and that should given them the edge. Dartmouth wins

Union at Harvard

I seem to have a hard time putting a finger on the pulse of the Dutchmen this year – they lose when I predict them to win, and win when I forecast a loss. Harvard has shown some signs of mortality the last few weeks – thanks in part to several key injuries. Crimson coach Ted Donato said he hopes to have some of his injured players back “soon.” Whether that’s this weekend or not remains to be seen, but Harvard has put in a stronger body of work overall compared to Union. Harvard wins

Princeton at Yale

Even with rival Quinnipiac coming in the next night, I don’t think this is a so-called “trap game,” as the Bulldogs should handle Princeton without much of a problem. Yale wins

Saturday, Jan. 31

Princeton at Brown, 4 p.m.

It’s a battle of last place teams, as the Bears and Tigers each enter the weekend with a 1-11 record in league play. There’s not a lot of positives to pull from either team to date, although Princeton sophomore Colton Phinney is averaging 32 saves a game. I’m throwing a dart and taking the Bears, if only because they’re at home. Brown wins

St. Lawrence at Clarkson

St. Lawrence hasn’t won a season series against Clarkson since the 2008-09 season, and has never won two games in Potsdam. If its going to accomplish both those feats, the Saints will  have to beat a rock-solid Golden Knights defense and goalie Greg Lewis, who entered the weekend with a shutout streak of 147 minutes and 45 seconds. Clarkson wins

Colgate at Cornell

The Raiders have fought injuries and inconsistency, but I still think they can be in position to do some damage at the end of the season. But not against the Big Red and a tough crowd at Lynah Rink. Cornell wins

Union at Dartmouth

While Union has been inconsistent, the Big Green have downright struggled of late, as mentioned above. I’ll take a shot on the Dutchmen. Union wins

Quinnipiac at Yale

It’s the first meeting of the year between these in-state rivals. Both have put together solid years, but are far from locks for the NCAA tournament. Some of the big names from past games may be gone, but expect a packed Ingalls Rink to be boisterous on Saturday. Yale wins

Monday, Feb. 2

Harvard vs. Boston University, 5 p.m. (Beanpot opening game)

It might be unfair to the Crimson, but this game could help define the rest of the season. A win would put Harvard in the Beanpot final for the first time since 2008, while giving them a win on a big stage this year. Harvard has already beaten Boston University once (and likely championship game opponent Boston College). It will be tight, but I think the Crimson can squeak out the win. Harvard wins

A weekend sweep for the North Country teams

It was a good weekend for both North Country teams, as Clarkson and St. Lawrence each posted home sweeps against Brown and Yale.

The Golden Knights tied a season high with six goals in Friday’s shutout of the Bears, and then posted another shutout with a 1-0 win over Yale Saturday. Greg Lewis made 52 saves on the weekend and hasn’t given up a goal in 147 minutes and 45 seconds.

Lewis made his first start of the season Jan. 17 against Dartmouth, but the Golden Knights have won each of his three starts to put together its first three-game winning streak of the season.

The junior got his chance after Ville Runola allowed five goals to Harvard last Friday.  Starting goalie Steve Perry has missed the last five games with a lower-body injury, according to the Watertown Daily Times.

Offense had been a problem most of the season for Clarkson, but the Golden Knights have scored twelve goals during their three-game winning streak.

As for St. Lawrence, the Saints got another solid weekend from freshman goalie Kyle Hayton, who stopped 58-of-61 shots.  The Saints also had another balanced scoring attack, getting eight goals from six different players.

Shots on goal totals aren’t always the be all and end all, but St. Lawrence outshot both its opponents after getting outshot in three straight games entering the weekend.

Union rallies for Mayor’s Cup win

It hasn’t been an easy season for the defending national champion Dutchmen, but Union showed flashes of last year’s quick-strike attack Saturday, scoring six third-period goals to defeat Rensselaer 8-3 in the non-conference Mayor’s Cup game at the Times Union Center. The loss snapped a three-game losing streak for the Dutchmen.

Union forward Daniel Ciampini had a hat trick, and leads the nation with 20 goals and 37 points this season. The senior also had three assists against the Engineers, as his six points tied the school record set by Jason Ralph against Colgate on Nov. 5, 1999.

The Dutchmen only have conference games remaining until the end of the regular season. Union has some work to do if it wants to avoid playing in the first round of the league playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season, as the Dutchmen are currently in tenth place with a 4-7-1 record in ECAC play.

Big Red strike late to beat Harvard

Their style of play couldn’t be much more different, but Cornell and Yale have one thing in common this year; both have beaten Harvard.

Eric Freschi’s third goal of the season broke a 2-2 tie with 40.5 seconds remaining Friday at a sold out Lynah Rink, giving the Big Red the win over Harvard in one of college hockey’s oldest rivalries.

Cornell couldn’t carry any momentum over to Saturday, as it allowed a season-high five goals in a loss to Dartmouth.  The Big Red are one of several teams clumped in the middle of the league standings, a quagmire that should sort itself out in the coming weeks as conference play intensifies.

ECAC Hockey picks: Jan. 23-27

Season record: 39-26-4. I can live with that. Relatively light schedule this week: Princeton doesn’t play until Tuesday, Quinnipiac has the week off, and RPI and Union only play once… against each other.

As always, all games begin at 7pm EST unless otherwise noted.

Friday, Jan. 23

Brown at Clarkson
Brown has only beaten one good team all year (Providence, to claim the Mayor’s Cup). Clarkson is 3-6 since Thanksgiving, but is still significantly better than Brown… at least, what we’ve seen of Brown so far. Knights take it.

Dartmouth at Colgate
Dartmouth hasn’t won since the holiday break (0-4-2), whereas Colgate is 5-1 in its last six. The Raiders finally seem to be pulling it together to the degree that so many of us expected in September. Raiders romp.

Harvard at Cornell
The biggest night of the year in Ithaca is even bigger this year, as Harvard is wearing a sizable target. The Crimson are 7-0-1 away from home this season (only 4-2-1 at home, surprisingly), so don’t expect the circus atmosphere to pose too great a distraction. Cornell is having a pretty mediocre season as a whole, with a lot of ups and downs, most recently a 3-0 downer at RPI last Saturday. The Big Red will need to play as well defensively as they have all year to pull this one out, but – so help me – I think they can do it Friday. Cornell in an upset.

Yale at St. Lawrence
This may be the best game no one is going to pay attention to this week. Yale and SLU are each heating up, albeit to differing degrees: The Bulldogs are on a 5-1 run, while the Saints are 3-1 in their last four with wins at Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend. Should be a doozy, as they say; I like Yale for the W.

Saturday, Jan. 24

Yale at Clarkson
Is Yale as good as we have been speculating them to be? This weekend may speak volumes as to the Bulldogs’ veracity as a late-season contender. Yale FTW.

Harvard at Colgate
A lot of variables here, generally affecting Harvard more than Colgate: The Crimson will be coming off an emotionally exhausting night in Ithaca, and Colgate will either pose a serious threat to a worn-out victor or will serve as default whipping-boy should Harvard fall to their bitterest rivals. Given my Friday prediction, I’ll take Harvard on Saturday.

Dartmouth at Cornell
On a hunch, I believe Dartmouth will bounce back with a win over the inconsistent Big Red. After Friday night’s festivities, hunches are as good a lead as anything else. Dartmouth wins.

Brown at St. Lawrence
Until the Bears can prove themselves able to off a mid-caliber foe, I’ll see no reason to pick them in such circumstances. SLU wins.

Rensselaer vs. Union Mayor’s Cup – Times-Union Center, Albany; 7:30
Hooboy, another one of these, eh? RPI and Union haven’t met since Halloween weekend, when the Engineers shocked us all with a twin-killing. Since that time, RPI has gone 6-11-1; Union, 6-7-2. The Dutchmen enter the game on a three-game skid, while the Engineers have won three straight for the first time since October 2012. Maybe this is the pendulum swinging back toward Troy, if ever so slightly? Engineers win.

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Army at Princeton
Army is 5-16-2… which is still better than Princeton’s 2-14-1. Princeton is Brown Rule’d. Army wins… because, like, somebody has to, right?

Weekend’s results bear massive consequences for ECAC Hockey

As always, the weekend’s slate concluded with a couple of winners, a couple losers, and a bunch of splits among the ECAC’s dozen teams. Unlike most weekends however, the past two days played out like a statistical soap opera once all was said and done.

Harvard, Quinnipiac suffer big blows

Ranked No. 3 in the nation and pulling in a third of pollsters’ No. 1 votes two weeks ago, the once-10-1-2 Crimson suddenly lost two of three (versus Yale in Manhattan and to St. Lawrence at home) and fell from first to seventh in the increasingly relevant PairWise Rankings. Harvard surrendered 12 goals in those three decisions, which is five more than it had allowed in any other three-game span this season.

This is not cause for panic per se; almost any team in the country would trade places with the Crimson in a heartbeat. What is concerning is that Harvard’s results are – for the moment at least – quite pedestrian, and bear little resemblance to the high-flying, offense-muzzling Crimson of late 2014. Regardless of the reasons, the L’s are raising red flags all over the country among those who are weighing Harvard’s true status as a national contender.

Down Interstate 95, Quinnipiac’s weekend wrapped up with another nonconference setback as the Bobcats dropped both ends of a home-and-home with PairWise at-large challenger Merrimack. Ranked 14th and 18th respectively in the PWR on Friday morning, QU and ‘Mack are now 20th and 12th, in that order. The Warriors goaltending tandem turned aside 53 of 57 QU shots on goal, while the Bobcats allowed seven goals on 49 shots and bore a weekend-ending injury to starting goalie Michael Garteig in the first period of Friday’s loss.

The losses are not necessarily an indictment of this year’s Bobcats, as coach Rand Pecknold has admitted that his young team has overachieved thus far. That said, it doesn’t take much of the sting out of knowing how much a win or two could have helped the cause; these mid-January nonleague losses could be the source of a lot of regret come March.

Engineers, Saints, Bulldogs romp to four-point weekends

RPI is 9-16-1. This is not the kind of record that you put on banners or postcards, but it’s suiting the Engineers just fine for now. That’s because seven of those nine wins have been against ECAC competition, and RPI’s 7-6-0 league record is currently good for fourth place (though it’s only seventh in win percentage, having played as many as three more games than their nearest competitors in the standings). RPI climbed above .500 in league play with home wins over Colgate (4-1) and Cornell (3-0); the ‘Tute’s current three-game winning streak is its longest of the season.

A road trip to Dartmouth and Harvard could not have gone any better for SLU, which posted consecutive W’s for the first time in two months. Freshman sensation Kyle Hayton stopped 36 of 38 shots in a 3-2 squeaker in Hanover Friday, then raised the bar even higher with 46 saves in a 5-1 romp over the aforementioned Crimson. At 7-4-0 in league play, SLU is currently fifth by winning percentage despite a counterintuitive 2-3-0 ECAC record at home and a 5-1-0 on the road.

Finally, Yale continued it quietly impressive season with two more wins. The Blue pinned a 6-1 aggregate score on travel-partner Brown in the weekend’s home-and-home, improving Yale’s record to 6-1 in its last seven and 9-2 in its last 11 games. The Bulldogs must be licking their chops in looking ahead at their remaining schedule: The team plays Quinnipiac twice and Harvard once more between Jan. 31 and Feb. 20.

Clarkson announces plans for Cheel expansion

Per Cap Carey at the Watertown Daily Times, Clarkson University has commenced fundraising efforts to subsidize a proposed renovation to 24-year-old Cheel Arena.

The roughly three-year, $40 million project would include additional team and locker-room space, a conference room, new seating, wider aisles, and upgrades to the top-floor Barden Room “to make it look more like a restaurant”, per Carey. The plan also includes sweeping upgrades to the lobby area, as well as the addition of a new weight room, indoor rock-climbing wall, ROTC offices, and student meeting spaces beyond the arena itself.

The entire proposal is anticipated to take three years, to be conducted in phases so as not to displace either hockey team for any period of time.

ECAC Hockey picks: Jan. 15 and 16

Last time: 4-6-3

Overall: 33-38-8

So much for starting the new year off on a hot streak…

The non-conference schedule is winding down for the ECAC, as every team except Quinnipiac faces a league opponent this weekend. Each game is at 7 p.m., unless noted.

Friday, Jan. 16

St. Lawrence at Dartmouth

Each team has slumped a bit lately, but don’t blame the goalies. The Saints’ Kyle Hayton (.934 save percentage) and the Big Green’s James Kruger (.924) have been outstanding thus far.  The Big Green played well against Vermont last weekend, but couldn’t come away with the win. I think they’ll get their first win of 2015 against the Saints. Dartmouth wins

Clarkson at Harvard

Both teams have been pretty tight defensively this season, but I think the Crimson have the offense to break through. Harvard wins

Colgate at Rensselaer

The Engineers are mostly back to full strength after a bout of injuries and suspensions. But RPI is catching Colgate at the wrong time, as the Raiders have won four in a row and are beginning to look like a dangerous team down the stretch. Colgate wins

Cornell at Union

Union is playing its first home game since Nov. 15, and the Dutchmen will likely have some reinforcements when the Big Red come to Messa Rink. Per Ken Schott of The Daily Gazette, defenseman Sebastien Gingras and forward Michael Pontarelli may return against Cornell.  That would be a welcome boost for Union as the Dutchmen look to improve its 4-5-1 league record.  Offense mostly hasn’t been a problem for Union, but the same can’t be said for Cornell. The Big Red have scored 25 goals in 15 games but only allowed 24. I think Union should put together enough offense for the win. Union wins

Quinnipiac at Merrimack

Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold noted earlier this week how this was a big series for both teams. With non-conference games concluding, it’s one of the final chances for teams on the edge of the PairWise (like the Bobcats and Warriors currently are) to boost their out-of-conference resume.  The Bobcats will need to avoid the lapses that have plagued them at times this season, as playing catch up against a solid Merrimack team will be hard to do. Merrimack wins

Yale at Brown, 7:30

The Bears showed some signs of life last weekend, winning the Mayor’s Cup against local rival Providence, while Yale rebounded from a disappointing loss at Northeastern with a solid 4-1 win over Harvard at Madison Square Garden. Each team has won its last two conference home games in the matchup, and I think that trend will continue, as the Bears pick up where they left off against the Friars and put together enough offense for the win. Brown wins

Saturday, Jan. 17

Clarkson at Darmouth

It will be another good defensive and goaltending matchup, as Clarkson’s Steve Perry enters the weekend with a 4-1 record and .960 save percentage in ECAC play, although Ville Runola started both games last weekend. I’m not sure if the Golden Knights  have enough offense to keep pace with the Big Green.  Dartmouth wins

St. Lawrence at Harvard

These teams fit the ECAC stereotype in that they play sound defense, but can get up the ice with a lot of speed. It should be a close game, but it’s hard to pick against the Crimson, especially since no one besides Yale has beaten them this season. Harvard wins

Cornell at Rensselaer

Neither of these teams is scoring prolifically this season, but the Big Red is the top defensive team in the country. Cornell wins

Colgate at Union

The Raiders are on a roll right now, and a couple wins this weekend would put them in good position in standings. It seems like the Dutchmen could breakout any weekend, but I don’t think that will happen against a stingy Colgate team that is giving up under two goals a game. Colgate wins

Brown at Yale

Look for the Bulldogs to rebound and split the weekend series. Yale wins

Merrimack at Quinnipiac

These are two pretty solid teams, and I’d be surprised if either one swept this weekend. Quinnipiac wins


Bulldogs best Crimson again; Brown takes home Mayor’s Cup

It’s been a banner year for Harvard, except when the opponent is Ivy League rival Yale.

The Bulldogs beat the Crimson 4-1 at Madison Square Garden Saturday in the second Rivalry on Ice matchup between the teams. The four goals were the most Harvard has allowed this year, while the loss was only the Crimson’s second of the season – both defeats coming against Yale.

As for the Bulldogs, it was an encouraging result after Yale saw a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 loss Tuesday at Northeastern. Yale has a home-and-home series with Brown this weekend, and then heads to the North Country before back-to-back home series entering the season’s final month.

Mayor’s Cup goes to the Bears

Brown has struggled in virtually every facet of the game this season. But the Bears captured their first Mayor’s Cup since 2011-12 over cross-town rival Providence last weekend. The Friars won the first game 3-2 in overtime, but Brown took the second game 5-3 to win the cup based on goal differential.

It wasn’t easy, though. The Bears raced out to a 4-0 lead Saturday before Providence made it 4-3. But Matt Lorito scored at 13:43 in the third period to give Brown a cushion and the Mayor’s Cup. Sophomore Tyler Steel made 46 saves for the win, while the Bears chased Providence goalie Jon Gillies early in the second period.

Steel had a strong game in the series opener Friday as well, turning away 39 shots. But perhaps most encouraging for Brown was the top line of Matt Lorito, Mark Naclerio and Nick Lappin. The trio contributed two goals each night, and it would help the Bears tremendously down the stretch if they get going after a sluggish first half.

Colgate, Quinnipiac sweep

After being the subject of much of the preseason hype, Colgate is showing signs of putting together a strong second half. The Raiders won both games this weekend to extend their winning streak to four. They’ve given up three goals during that stretch, and sophomore Charlie Finn has a .933 save percentage on the year. It’s been a team effort, however, as Colgate hasn’t had a multi-goal scorer during any of the four games while holding its opponents below 30 shots each time.

At 10-2, Quinnipiac has a commanding six-point lead over second place Harvard. However, the Bobcats have  played more league  three games than the Crimson, and four more than the third-place Raiders.

With travel partner Princeton taking a break for exams, the Bobcats play a home-and-home series this weekend with Merrimack. QU has won seven of its last nine games dating to Nov. 29.

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