The Bulldogs host Harvard in a first-round series.
Welp, there are no more perfect teams in the ECAC… it will be up to the Ivies to try to duplicate Dartmouth’s accomplishment last year of being the last unbeaten team in Division 1. That said, Union (!!) is the only active league member under .500, somehow, as ECAC Hockey is currently 16-8-3 in early non-conference play. On to the details!
Bobcats making a splash
Rensselaer (2-0-0), Quinnipiac (2-0-0) and Clarkson (1-0-1) finished the weekend unbeaten, though it was perhaps the Bobcats – stop me if you’ve heard this before – who notched the most impressive results, preseason No. 1 UMass-Lowell 3-1, 3-1 in a home-and-home series.
They did so without the services of highly regarded rookie defenseman Devon Toews (injured against Alaska-Anchorage), and in spite of 12 penalties over the two nights. Yet the Q-Cats did what they do best: Kill penalties (all 12), block shots (over three dozen, possibly four), and score timely goals (2 for 9 on the power play). Five different Bobcats scored, including two from senior Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who finished the weekend with four points. QU improved to 3-1 on the season, dropping ninth-ranked and fellow 2013 Frozen Four participant UML to 1-3.
RPI heating up
RPI notched a bounce-back 3-1 win at No. 15 Boston University on Friday, fresh off last Sunday’s 7-2 shellacking at Boston College. The Engineers returned home to snuff out Sacred Heart 7-1 on Saturday, but the real story of the weekend may be the play of junior winger Ryan Haggerty. The Stamford, Conn. sniper tallied a dozen goals and 26 points last season, but is well on his way to shattering those numbers with a nation-best seven goals in four games this fall. The undrafted National Development Team alumnus scored twice against BU on Friday and added a hat trick Saturday. Meanwhile, junior Scott Diebold – in for the injured Jason Kasdorf – is now 2-0 with a .948 save rate and a 1.31 goals-against average.
Dutchmen drop deuce to Lakers
Union stumbled at home against unbeaten handful Lake Superior State, 6-5 and 3-2. Each side had 11 power plays on the weekend, with Union converting on three of those chances, and LSSU, two. Union out-shot the Lakers by the immense margin of 82-40 as well, which means all signs point to hot goaltending in the visitors’ net. That goalie was… two goalies.
The senior battery of Kevin Murdock (five goals against, 29 saves on Friday) and Kevin Kapalka (two goals, 46 stops Saturday) kept the Dutchmen at bay just often enough to pull out a pair of unlikely road wins, dropping Union to 1-2-1… all at home. Union has out-shot its guests in all four games (138-87 in total), but is barely ahead in the goal aggregate, 15-14. That means the U is shooting at an 11 percent success rate, but surrendering goals on 16 percent of shots-against. That’s simply not going to get it done over the long haul: Who was the last team to win a title with a save percentage of .839?
Last week: 6-3-1
I had decent luck last week, which pulled my overall record up to .500. Let’s see how long I stay there. All games are 7 p.m. unless noted.
Friday, Oct. 18
RIT at Clarkson
RIT has scored a respectable five goals in their first two games, but has allowed a whopping 11 to their opponents. Clarkson is off to a 3-1 start, the program’s best in six years, and has gotten solid goaltending from freshman Steve Perry and sophomore Greg Lewis. The Golden Knights have an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) against the Tigers, and it’s the home opener at Cheel Arena. Clarkson wins
Lake Superior at Union
Injuries hit the Dutchmen hard last weekend. Starting goaltender Colin Stevens was hurt in the season opener, and didn’t play the subsequent night, while forwards Eli Lichtenwald, Max Novak and David Roy are also hurt. It will be an early test of Union’s depth. Fortunately for the Dutchmen, it comes at home, where they’ve been outstanding the last few years. Union wins
Colgate at Bowling Green, 7:07 p.m.
Bowling Green is 8-1-1 all-time against Colgate, but the Raiders picked up their first win of the series last season. The Falcons are fourth in the nation in penalty minutes, and I think Colgate’s power play, which is 4-for-14 on the year, will capitalize on that. Colgate wins
St. Lawrence at Ferris State, 7:07 p.m.
Saint Lawrence dominated Maine a sweep in Canton last weekend, while the Bulldogs piled up seven goals on Colgate before getting shutout the next game. If Saints forward Greg Carey can repeat his five-point weekend, look out, but give the slight edge to the home team. Ferris State wins
Quinnipiac at Massachusetts-Lowell, 7:15
The Bobcats and RiverHawks made up half of last year’s Frozen Four. UMass-Lowell brought a lot back, but opened some eyes with an opening-night loss to Sacred Heart. I think Quinnipiac should be competitive this year, but the Riverhawks are at home and still have a lot talent despite the season-opening loss. Massachusetts-Lowell wins
Rensselaer at Boston University, 7:30 p.m.
RPI announced that goalie Jason Kasdorf isn’t expected to play this weekend due to an injury. That leaves the goaltending duties to junior Scott Diebold, who has played well for stretches over the last few years. Still, taking down BU without Kasdorf is a lot to ask. Boston University wins
Saturday, Oct. 19
Massachusetts-Lowell at Quinnipiac
The Bobcats have never lost a home opener since moving to Division I, and they’ll be raising a Frozen Four banner before the game as well. Quinnipiac wins
Sacred Heart at Rensselaer
These teams meet for the second time in as many weekends, this time in Troy. The Pioneers have already matched their win total from a season ago and have gotten solid play from former Union commit Alex Vazzano in goal. Even minus Kasdorf, I think RPI has enough depth up front and on defense to get the win. Rensselaer wins
Lake Superior at Union
Part of Union’s shaky midseason stretch last season included a sweep by the Lakers. The Dutchmen should return the favor this season. Union wins
Colgate at Bowling Green, 7:07 p.m.
If senior goalie Eric Mihalik and the Colgatedefense can keep playing the way they have of late, the Raiders should complete the the sweep. Colgate wins
St. Lawrence at Ferris State, 7:07 p.m.
The Saints should bounce back with a win in Game 2 and head home with a split. St. Lawrence wins
RIT at Clarkson, 7:30 p.m.
I think the Golden Knights complete the sweep to push their record to 5-1 on the year. Not bad for a team that won nine games all of last season. Clarkson wins
Every team outside of the Ivy schools is now at least two games into its season. Here’s a look at some notables in the the early going:
Rookies make an impact: Several freshman made their presence felt immediately over the last two weekends. Clarkson goal Steve Perry stopped 54-of-55 shots in a pair of wins for the Golden Knights, including a 2-0 shutout of Niagara in his first collegiate game last weekend. Quinnipiac freshman Sam Anas, Connor Clifton and Derek Smith each had a goal in the Bobcats’ 4-1 win over Alaska Fairbanks Saturday, while Saint Lawerence defensemen Gavin Bayreuther had two goals and an assist in the Saints’ sweep of Maine. Union got its first win of the year with some help from forward Michael Pontarelli, who had two goals, and goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos, who got the start Saturday against Bowling Green after coming in Friday in relief of an injured Colin Stevens. And not to be left out, forward Andrew Black has two goals in his first three games for Colgate. It’s far, far too early to lock these players in for any end-of-the year awards, but they certainly got their collegiate careers off to a good start.
Engineers hand out a beating…and then take one: Whatever momentum Sacred Heart got from knocking off No.1 UMass-Lowell Friday night was quickly deadened by RPI, who scored three goals in the second period en route to a 6-0 win Saturday at Webster Bank Arena. But just like the Pioneers, RPI couldn’t carry any of that momentum over to their next game, as Boston College scored seven goals on 23 shots in a commanding 7-2 win. It wasn’t the best game for Jason Kasdorf, who was pulled after giving up six goals on 15 shots.
Different year, same result: For the second year in a row, St. Lawrence swept Hockey East opponent Maine in the season’s early going. Last year’s sweep took place in Orono, with these year’s wins coming in Canton against first-year head coach (and former Yale assistant) Red Gendron. Senior forward Greg Carey, who led the NCAA with 28 goals last season, added two goals Saturday and finished with five points on the weekend.
Time for my first picks of the year; all times Eastern. Wish me luck.
Thursday, October 10
Colgate at RIT
Ok, I’m cheating: It’s 1-1 in the first period as I type this. Sorry. It’s tough picking such early-season games, as there is practically no basis for comparison yet… that said, it’s a big opening weekend for the Tigers, and RIT has been a feisty competitor in recent years. 3-2 Tigers.
Nate: This is the one game I got right in my initial picks. Gotta start somewhere, right?
Friday, October 11
New Hampshire vs. Clarkson 5pm Ice Breaker Tournament; Minneapolis, Minn.
New Hampshire is a perennial NCAA contender. Clarkson is… well, aspiring to be. From what little we know so far, I’m leaning toward UNH, 4-2.
Nate: The Golden Knights are looking to start 3-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season. It’s the season opener for UNH, who lost two of their leading scorers to graduation but returns Casey DeSmith in net. Clarkson has played excellent defense in their two games, but they’ll need to generate some offense to keep pace with the Wildcats. This is the first meeting between the teams since 2004. New Hampshire wins
Maine at St. Lawrence 7pm
Time for SLU to reassert its dominance at home over a Maine program that has struggled significantly in the past few years. 3-1 Saints in Game 1.
Nate: St. Lawrence opened some eyes last season with a dominating sweep at Maine in the early going, the beginning of what was a rough season for the Black Bears, and the removal of Tim Whitehead as head coach. Whitehead was replaced by former Yale associate coach Red Gendron, who will make his college head coaching debut against a familiar opponent. Saints’ forward Greg Carey led the nation with 28 goals last year – or almost 60 percent of the returning goals on Maine’s roster. St. Lawrence wins
Bowling Green at Union 7:30pm
Union swept BGSU on the road early last season; I can’t think of any reason why the Dutchmen shouldn’t replicate that feat at home this year. 5-2 U.
Nate: I’m with Brian here. Union is breaking in a lot of new players in key spots in the lineup, but I think they have enough to get the win on opening night. Union wins
Quinnipiac at Alaska-Anchorage 12:07am Kendall Hockey Classic
This game technically starts Saturday morning for us East Coasters, what with Alaskan time zones and whatnot. What may not be much of a test for a more seasoned team, this looooong-distance road game is a significant challenge for this undefined Bobcats club. A win will mean a lot to QU, and I think they’re good enough to get it, 4-3.
Nate: Like Union, Quinnipiac is starting the year with a new faces in net and on defense. The Bobcats will have already been in Alaska for several days come game time, so that should help compensate for any jet lag. Quinnipiac wins
Saturday, October 12
Rensselaer at Sacred Heart 1pm
Really? RPI, 7-2. See last year, and you’ll know why.
Nate: The Engineers return nine of their top 10 scorers and goalie Jason Kasdorf from last year’s second-place team. That should be more than enough against a Sacred Heart team that ranked near the bottom of the country in both offense and defense. RPI wins
Clarkson vs. Mercyhurst 7pm Ice Breaker Tournament; Minneapolis, Minn.
If the Knights play Minnesota, furgedaboudit… Minny takes it. But should ‘Tech tangle with the Lakers, this may be a more manageable opponent for the ECAC representative. I confess, I don’t know much about Mercyhurst this year, but Clarkson should be a step better than last year’s edition. 3-2 Knights.
Nate: A win for Clarkson would push them to 3-1; not bad for a team that only won nine games last year and struggled mightily out of conference. I think they’ll do that against Mercyhurst. Clarkson wins
Maine at St. Lawrence 7pm
Anything fewer than three points should be considered disappointing for the Saints… from where we stand now, at least. Maine does not look like a national contender on paper. 3-2 Saints.
Nate: I’ll disagree with Brian here, as I think the Black Bears will come away with one on the road. Maine wins
Bowling Green at Union 7:30pm
Dutchmen, hoping to open 2-0? Why not? 4-3 Union.
Nate: Like Brian said earlier, it’s tough to gauge early season games, especially out of conference. But Union has made Messa a tough place to play the last few years, and I think they’ll continue that this season. Union wins
Quinnipiac vs. Alaska 8:07pm Kendall Hockey Classic
More than three points this weekend should be considered a success for the Bob-kittens, though coach Rand Pecknold would never admit to such modest ambitions of course. Calling for the split, with the loss coming against well-regarded Alaska on Saturday, 4-2.
Nate: Sweeps are never easy in college hockey, never mind on the longest road trip of the year. But I think that’s what the Bobcats will do in Alaska. Quinnipiac wins
Sunday, October 13
Rensselaer at Boston College 3pm
Big early-season test for what are expected to be two top teams in the East this year. BC at home? Hard to pick against that, though this BU grad is anything but neutral. What the heck? 4-3 Engineers in an upset. (Hopefully by February, it will look like an expected result in retrospect.)
Nate: I think the difference in this game will be in net. RPI has Jason Kasdorf, while the Eagles are relying on a pair of inexperienced players in Brian Billett andThatcher Demko, although Demko is highly regarded entering his freshman season at the heights. League-rival Union surprised the Eagles with their mobile defensemen in last year’s NCAA tournament. I’m not sure if the Engineers have the same offensive talent on the back end that Union did last season, but if they can jump into the play and support RPI’s deep group of forwards, it should bode well for the Engineers. RPI wins
Welcome back for another season of weekly picks. It hasn’t even been six months since Yale won the national title, but the ECAC is ready to go with Clarkson and Colgate each starting the regular season this weekend. Quinnipiac, RPI and St. Lawrence are all in preseason action as well.
Saturday, Oct. 5
Ferris State at Colgate, 7 p.m.
Colgate started off last season with a bang, as the Raiders piled on ten goals in a decisive win over Niagara. Don’t look for another season-opening romp, as Ferris State goalie CJ Motte was excellent last season despite a mediocre year as a team for the Bulldogs. One thing to watch is who will start in goal for Colgate. Holdovers Spencer Finney and Eric Mihalik split time last season, but are joined by freshman Charlie Finn. Ferris State wins
Clarkson at Niagara, 7:05 p.m.
The Golden Knights ended last season in an offensive slump, and won’t find it easy against what looks to be a strong Niagara team, even minus goalie Carsen Chubak, who went pro after leading the Purple Eagles to the NCAA tournament. Clarkson head coach Casey Jones said there would plenty of competition for spots in the lineup, so it will be interesting to see who’s out there for the opening weekend. Niagara wins
Sunday, Oct. 6
Clarkson at Niagara, 2:05 p.m.
I could see a Clarkson win Saturday carrying over into the series finale. But the Purple Eagles should finish the sweep. Niagara wins
Ferris State at Colgate, 4 p.m.
The teams conclude the Bulldogs’ first visit to Starr Rink since the 2003-04 with an afternoon game. I think the Raiders get a win against the 2012 national runner up. Colgate wins
Thursday, Oct. 10
Colgate at RIT, 7 p.m.
RIT’s team defense was near the bottom of the national leader board last year, while the Tigers’ penalty kill was in the middle of the pack. That’s bad news against a Colgate team that can score in bunches and has a potent power-play unit. The Raiders should get the win in rare Thursday night game. This is also the Raiders’ only matchup against an Atlantic Hockey team this season. Colgate wins
It’s been a long time… and we’re sorry.
ECAC Hockey fans are sorry that the league hasn’t put a team in the title game in 23 years. We’re sorry it’s been two dozen seasons since a conference member finished on top. We apologize for being dismissed, marginalized, underrated, ignored, and downright insulted for our opinion, pride, and belief that ECAC Hockey is as competitive a league as any other in Division 1 (and twice as smart). We’re sorry that half of the league’s teams are Ivy League institutions, and that the other half are small private schools that prioritize the “student” part over the “athlete” part. We’re sorry that ECAC teams have to travel so often to play top programs, because top programs are loathe to play dangerous teams in small markets.
And we’re sorry to be so damned thrilled by this year’s national title tilt. Yale, we’re proud of you; Quinnipiac, we’re proud of you, too… and to the rest of the nation, we are sorry about one thing most of all: We’re really not sorry at all.
Notes from home
I’ve known all year that I would be unavailable for the Frozen Four – life calls, ya know? But boy, is the universe rubbing it in with the Connecticut Derby match for all the marbles. Not only did ECAC Hockey put a team in the title game, but two… and both from my soon-to-be home, as I’m moving to New Haven in the summer. (Just watch, next year Harvard will play BU for the crown.)
A few notes from the Twitterverse, and some info for the uninitiated:
• It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again until it stops being amazing and hilarious: The NCAA National Championship game is a rematch of the ECAC Hockey Consolation Game. The freakin’ third-place game!
• Yale and Quinnipiac are eight miles apart, in the neighboring cities of New Haven and Hamden, Conn, respectively. The last time there were two teams from the same league in the championship game was 2005, when Denver topped North Dakota in Columbus, Ohio. The last two rivals (if Yale will ever admit to the rivalry) to compete in the title game were Maine and New Hampshire in Anaheim, Calif. in 1999.
The last time there were two teams from the same state fighting for the trophy was also the last time there were two squads from the same metropolitan area in the championship game: Boston University downed Boston College in Providence, R.I. in 1978. (Those teams were each in the ECAC at that point, as well, so there’s that trivial tidbit to boot.) BU and BC are about three miles apart… so that was the last time the championship featured two teams so geographically close.
The last time two current ECAC teams played each other for the whole shebang was 1970, when Cornell beat Clarkson 6-4.
Q: Did you start PIT native Jesse Root on purpose? Yale HC Allain: I started him on purpose because he centers our top line! #frozenfour
— Julie Robenhymer (@JulieRobenhymer) April 12, 2013
• Some love for the pep bands: The Yale Precision Marching Band (YPMB) plays my all-time favorite pep-band tune following Bulldogs wins – “Beatdown Stomp”, originally by Skabba the Hut. The original song is fitting, and it sounds so delightfully perky in YPMB form, with tubas leading the way. You caught some of it at the end of ESPN’s Game 1 coverage last night.
Meanwhile, the QUPB (Quinnipiac University Pep Band) honors Connecticut’s hockey legacy with a solid rendition of “Brass Bonanza”. This was the Hartford Whalers’ theme and goal song (Brian Burke’s influence notwithstanding), and it is a staple of Connecticut hockey fandom to this day.
• The ice seemed incredibly hard, especially during the Yale-UML game. Players’ edges were failing to catch, leading to lots of awkward and unusual slips and falls, and the puck was bouncing funny… it was uncomfortable to watch. For those who do not skate often, there is a relatively wide range of playable surfaces, with last night’s being at the coldest end of the spectrum. (The colder the ice, the harder it is, and the less traction players get.) Note Wetmore’s breakaway attempt against Yale, where he simply could not dig in and control his movements in close after a speedy half-ice rush. Also note Hartzell’s failure-to-catch on St. Cloud’s only goal: Hartzell’s skate simply slid out instead of catching for a push-off, leading the goalie to slip and fall, giving SCSU an effectively open net.
Colleague Paula Weston confirmed that the arena itself was positively frigid during the first game; perhaps the CONSOL Energy Center ice crew didn’t anticipate a late-arriving crowd and therefore failed to compensate for the ambient temperature. Just a theory; we’ll see how the sheet looks on Saturday.
Now for the compulsory annual rant against ESPN. I’m happy that college hockey gets any coverage at all – it’s a niche sport, and fans of, say, NCAA field hockey or water polo or cross-country would kill for the airtime we enjoy. That said, it is a shame that ESPN has (and will have for quite some time) the rights to the NCAA hockey postseason when other networks (notably NBC Sports Network) actually show interest in the game during the regular season. Every sports fan knows that ESPN doesn’t give a lick about hockey at any level, but they are required to broadcast a multitude of NCAA championship events as part of their agreement to show big-ticket sports like basketball and football.
John Buccigross is a swell guy; he is kind and enthusiastic and a sincere hockey fan… but he simply isn’t as much of an expert as he thinks he is (and it’s hard to blame him: ESPN probably doesn’t give him much time or opportunity to research sports it doesn’t cover). He also isn’t a polished play-by-play announcer, so his affectations and presentation are a bit… well, unusual. (Note to Bucci: We get it; Jesse Root is from Pittsburgh. You don’t need to mention that fact literally every time you say his name.)
Meanwhile, Barry Melrose has done little to shed his reputation as an apathetic bumbler when it comes to college players. He certainly knows his X’s and O’s – he was an NHL head coach, he knows strategy just fine – but he is clearly uninterested in the research aspect of broadcasting. He mis-pronounces names (last week referring to QU goalie Eric Hartzell as “Hartnell” on multiple occasions, and utterly surrendering on Canisius goaltender Capobianco, ultimately settling for “the goalie” when required). He confuses teams (introducing Massachusetts-Lowell as the RedHawks – a la Miami – rather than the Riverhawks). He and Dave Starman were filling essentially the same role last night, except I have much greater confidence in Starman’s ability to stick the landing on “Laganiere”.
Proposed drinking-game triggers for Saturday’s coverage:
• Any variation on “Pittsburgh native Jesse Root”
• Melrose butchers a name
• Buccigross shifts awkwardly from an excited call to a hushed whisper
• Images on the screen don’t match the commentary (e.g. discussion about Hartzell while the screen shows Hellebuyck)
• Explanation of college-specific rules (e.g. hybrid icing)
• Buccigross uses cutesy phrases (e.g. “holy shnikes”, “twisted wrister”, “ziggin’ and zaggin’”… all of which were used last night)
• Any variation on the phrase “For the first time…”
• On-air ads for, or mention of, golf coverage
There was an awkward moment during Game 1 action when UML took a penalty, and as ESPN was cutting to commercial, it showed the Riverhawks fans chanting – up close and very clearly – “bull****”. Well done, production crew. Elsewhere, I’m not sure what the true volume in the arena was like of course, but it sounded awfully muffled on TV. I hope it wasn’t that quiet in person.
All that said, credit to ESPN for finally giving us college hockey analysis during a college hockey intermission. In years past, the network had simply cut to SportsCenter-style highlights from other sports, effectively ignoring what had just happened or what was about to happen in the game at hand.
Showing my true colors
Finally, I engaged in a brief Twitter discussion with other fans and writers about the appropriateness of purchasing championship apparel from whomever wins Saturday night. My take: As a journalist, I try to be impartial, which is to say I make every effort to be fair in and about my coverage. That said, I do not prefer any ECAC Hockey team over any other, but I do prefer ECAC programs over all others (excepting, occasionally, BU – my alma mater). Therefore, given the circumstances, I would like to commemorate this historic occasion (I mean, 23 years is a long time) with a hat or t-shirt.
Nobody has argued that it would be inappropriate or unprofessional yet; colleagues have said that they have or would have done the same for their leagues’ title-winners, too. So, is there any reason why I shouldn’t revel in this impossible dream to the fullest extent?
Moment(s) of Zen
I’m saving these pictures forever.
Three ECAC teams are set to play in the NCAA Tournament this weekend. There’s Yale, who was shutout twice last weekend in Atlantic City; Quinnipiac, who lost out at a chance at the program’s first Whitelaw Cup with a 4-0 loss to Brown in the semifinals; and Union, who enters the tournament off their second straight Whitelaw Cup, and are arguably playing the best they have all year.
Check Brian Sullivan’s regional preview for Yale, while my look at Quinnipiac and Union can be found here. I’ll roll out the next wave of picks as the weekend goes on. Brian and I will be in Providence Saturday and Sunday; check back for updates.
The complete television listing for the tournament is here.
Friday, March 29
No. 15 Yale vs. No. 2 Minnesota, 2 p.m. ET
Yale followed a dominating sweep of St. Lawrence with a dud in Atlantic City. The Bulldogs shutdown Saints’ forwards Kyle Flanagan and Greg Carey two weeks ago, but were outscored 8-0 at Boardwalk Hall. Just goes to show how much can change in a short time. Minnesota and Yale haven’t faced each other since 2002, when the Golden Gophers beat the Bulldogs 7-3 in the Dodge Holiday Classic. It’s going to take awful lot to bounce back against the Golden Gophers, and based on last weekend, I’m not sure the Bulldogs have it in them. Minnesota wins
Saturday, March 30
No. 15 Yale vs. No. 8 North Dakota, 4 p.m. ET
Man, was I was wrong about the Bulldogs yesterday. Yale looked like a much better team than last week, jumping out to a 2-0 lead over Minnesota. Yes, they the Golden Gophers tied it, but give credit to Yale for sending the game to overtime and then ending it quickly. North Dakota trailed Niagara 1-0 after two periods, but scored twice in the third for the win. Yale wins
No. 16 Canisius vs. No. 1 Quinnipiac, 5:30 p.m. ET
These former MAAC members meet with just one NCAA appearance between them (Quinnipiac in 2002). A lot of focus will be on Hobey Finalist Eric Hartzell, but don’t overlook Canisius goalie Tony Capobianco, who has a .951 save percentage over the last seven games. The Golden Griffins enter the tournament on a nation-best eight game unbeaten streak, while Quinnipiac has slowed down a bit since their 21-game unbeaten streak earlier in the year. Still, I think the Bobcats will have enough to get the program’s first NCAA win. This game will be televised locally on the New England Sports Network. Quinnipiac wins
No. 12 Union vs. No. 5 Boston College, 9 p.m. ET
The Dutchmen and Eagles are picking a heck of a time for their first meeting. There’s a consensus that the winner of this game could very well make it to the title game in Pittsburgh, something I could see happening. Union is playing very well and has a hot goalie in Troy Grosenick. The Dutchmen are a skilled team that can keep pace with the Eagles, and have the ability to convert turnovers into scoring opportunities. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game goes either way, but I’m taking the Dutchmen simply due to their hot play of late. Union wins
Sunday, March 31
No. 3 Union vs. No. 1 Quinnipiac
There will be two ECAC teams in the Frozen Four for the first time since 1983. Give Quinnipiac credit for their rally last night, but if the Dutchmen play the way they did against Boston College,I see them advancing to their second straight Frozen Four. Union wins
Was it dramatic? No. Was it boisterous? No. Was it inspiring? Not really.
Ah, but was it predictable? Never… not in ECAC Hockey.
Union marched to its second consecutive ECAC tournament title in Atlantic City, and – all things considered – the Dutchmen are probably the only folks will enjoyed the three-year A.C. experiment, having hoisted the trophy twice at Boardwalk Hall. This also marked the third time in four years that Union played in the league’s season finale, and the third consecutive NCAA berth for the Schenectady program.
Well for a little while there, it looked perfectly reasonable to think that five ECAC squads might make the NCAA’s. My, my, but weren’t those halcyon days… as a matter of hours later, we felt fortunate to have three again.
RPI was the first team bumped off the bubble with Friday’s wild and tumultuous results, as eight of Division 1′s 10 semifinal games went to the underdog. Eight out of 10! Brown was next out, falling to Union in the conference’s title tilt – Bruno never had a shot beyond the auto-bid, so that was hardly a twist of fate.
And then there was the Yale debacle. Once considered a functional lock for the big dance, the Bulldogs utterly failed to show up this weekend: Friday’s 5-0 loss to Union suddenly put the Elis in a precarious PairWise position, but even that didn’t seem to spur the Blue as they were shut out again on Saturday – 3-0 – against rival Quinnipiac. Not sure what happened (more on that in a moment), but Notre Dame bucked the weekend’s trend by downing underdog Michigan in the final CCHA final to secure Yale a spot in the field of 16.
All told, it was a weekend of wild results; it’s a shame for the ECAC at least, the excitement was more in the results than in the product on the ice.
Perhaps it was only fitting: The Bulldogs didn’t show up on the ice, so why should we have expected them to appear for a press conference?
Yale ditched the obligatory post-game presser following the consolation-game loss, with nary a word of explanation. Per colleague Nate Owen, who was live at the scene:
“[The media] waited for a few minutes… someone went back to find [Yale], said they were showering and would be out. Then they came back and said they had already gotten on the bus and left.”
Nate added that ECAC Hockey Assistant Commissioner Ed Krajewski, who MC’ed the weekend’s press conferences, “was pretty sheepish when he said they weren’t coming out.”
Head coach Keith Allain has developed a reputation as a tough quote – he is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Rensselaer’s Seth Appert, Brown’s Brendan Whittet, or Dartmouth’s Bob Gaudet in that respect – but, as frustrating as that may be to the media, tweren’t no crime.
No-showing one of the league’s major pressers, on the other hand, is unprofessional.
I have never had a personal problem with Allain, nor – to the best of my knowledge – has he with me, but this action deserves attention for its gross impertinence. Yale is a great team at a great school, with a great history, great recruiting, great coaching, a great support staff, and great local support as well. I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if I criticized any of these aspects of the program.
But deliberately hanging Krajewski, the league he represents, and the media – most of whom traveled great distances to cover Allain’s team, among others – out to dry… well, that’s a great disrespect.
Per the Yale sports information department, Allain had no comment on the issue on Monday morning.
ECAC Hockey will be well-represented at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence next weekend, as both QU and Union are in the mix… and Brown is the host program.
The Bobcats will tangle with Atlantic Hockey champion Canisius (19-18-5) in Saturday’s 5:30 opener, while Union draws defending national champion Boston College (22-11-4) for the 9pm contest. Yale was sent out West to grapple with overall No. 2 seed Minnesota in Grand Rapids, Mich., at 2:00 on Friday.
Much more on all three participants in the regional previews, out on Wednesday. Catch up with all of our weekend’s ECAC material – along with comprehensive coverage of the other leagues – on USCHO’s front page, if you haven’t already. Also, don’t miss the annual USCHO Pickem, with chances to win prizes (and to make up for that Georgetown blunder on your squeakball bracket).
It’s that time of year again. Get excited… good luck to ECAC Hockey.
Looking for an incisive breakdown of your team’s PairWise potentialities?
Well, if your fan isn’t from ECAC Hockey, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Here’s how things are looking for the ECAC:
• Rensselaer is eliminated. This drops the maximum number of ECAC representatives to three, but all four teams that are playing today are eligible.
• Union and Brown must win tomorrow to play on. If there is a set of results that will land either team in the NCAA Tournament despite a Saturday loss, I haven’t found it.
• Quinnipiac is a lock… and not only that, but a lock for the very top seed. Got a problem with that? Take it up with the NCAA.
• Yale is on good footing, but has yet to seal its NCAA invitation. A win, and it would appear the Bulldogs are in; a loss, and the Blue will be rooting against anyone behind them in the PairWise.
If you’re looking for as many ECAC Hockey participants as possible, root for Brown and Yale in Atlantic City. Root for Miami or Notre Dame in the CCHA, Massachusetts-Lowell over Boston University in Hockey East, and Wisconsin in the WCHA. Atlantic Hockey has minimal implications at this point.
Coach of the Year: Rand Pecknold, QU
Player of the Year: Eric Hartzell, QU
Goaltender of the Year: Eric Hartzell, QU
Best Defensive Defenseman: Zach Davies, QU
Best Defensive Forward: Greg Miller, Cornell
Rookie of the Year: Jason Kasdorf, RPI
All-ECAC Hockey Teams
F Greg Carey, SLU
F Kyle Flanagan, SLU
F Andrew Miller, Yale
D Nick Bailen, RPI
D George Hughes, SLU
G Eric Hartzell, QU
F Kenny Agostino, Yale
F Andrew Calof, Princeton
F Matt Lorito, Brown
D Mike Keenan, Dartmouth
D Shayne Gostisbehere, Union
G Jason Kasdorf, RPI
F Daniel Carr, Union
F Jeremy Langlois, QU
F Greg Miller, Cornell
D Mat Bodie, Union
D Zach Davies, QU
G Anthony Borelli, Brown
F Kyle Baun, Colgate
F Tylor Spink, Colgate
F Jimmy Vesey, Harvard
D Paul Geiger, Clarkson
D Ryan Obuchowski, Yale
G Jason Kasdorf, RPI