Let’s Get Back, Please?
The heart of the ECAC schedule is almost upon us … and it couldn’t have come any sooner.
After experiencing one slap in the face after another in nonconference play, the chants of E-Z-A-C have resurfaced in full force. And who could blame them? Heading into this weekend, only three teams — Colgate, RPI and St. Lawrence — have winning records in non-league play, while a numbing seven others fell into the below-.500 category.
The most vicious blow to the ECAC psyche came this past holiday break. Heading into the break, the league as a whole was under .500 with a non- league record of 31-36-2. With 14 consecutive out-of-conference matchups against very beatable teams, that figure looked to improve. Well, it certainly didn’t as the ECAC stumbled to a 3-10-1 record in that stint, bringing the overall nonconference record to a pathetic 33-45-3 mark (not counting one nonconference game played between RPI and Union).
The likes of Providence, Ohio State and UMass-Amherst did some hearty damage, but Boston College was the team which lit up the ECAC in four straight contests. Beginning with a 3-0 blanking of Harvard on December 10th, the Eagles continued on to defeat Dartmouth, Vermont and Brown. There was absolutely no sign of a once struggling offense for Boston College as they posted 20 goals in those four games, highlighted by a record-setting five-goal performance by Jeff Farkas in the 5-4 victory over the Catamounts. To top off the week, even St. Lawrence — which has been one of the most successful teams out of conference with a 5-3-0 record — was hapless in a 3-2 overtime loss to UMass-Amherst.
The ECAC has winning record against two conferences — the MAAC and the CHA, at 4-0-0 and 8-6-0 respectively, but aside from that, the ECAC has not done well in competition with the CCHA, Hockey East and the WCHA.
Against the CCHA, HE and WCHA, the ECAC is 7-9-1, 13-22-2, and 1-8-0 respectively.
Here is a breakdown of how each team has fared thus far in nonconference action.
CCHA HE WCHA MAAC CHA
BROWN 1-2 CLARK 2-1 1-1 0-2 1-0 COLG 1-1 2-0 1-1 1-0 1-0 CORN 0-2-1 0-1 DART 1-1-1 0-4 HARV 1-3 0-1 PRIN 2-0 0-1 0-3 RPI 1-0 3-1 2-0 1-1 SLU 0-1 3-2 2-0 UNI 0-2 0-4 0-1 2-0 UVM 0-2 1-2-1 0-3 1-0 YALE 0-1 1-0 1-0 0-1
ECAC teams have six remaining contests with the CCHA, seven with Hockey East, four with the WCHA and four with the CHA to gain back some nonconference pride.
With all that said, many of the ECAC teams are looking to lick their wounds and start fresh during the second half of the season. We decided to do the same. Taking into account the pleasant surprises and the shocking disappointments thus far in the season, we have taken our editorial privilege by revamping our original predictions for the ECAC race.
How Are We Doing? At the beginning of the season, we took our stab at picking the way the league would unfold. Though it’s tough to tell with the unbalanced schedule at the moment, we were pretty good in some places, pretty bad in some others.
We have Dartmouth and Vermont in the right spots, as we picked them ninth and tenth in the league, but other from that, we don’t have a single one right.
We are way off with Clarkson at the moment — the Knights are eleventh and we have them tabbed in first. We’re also pretty far off on Union. The Dutchmen were picked to finish last by us; they are currently eighth. But then again, the coaches also went this way. We also had Yale in eighth, but the Bulldogs currently sit in second place.
We’re not that far off on the rest of the league, though.
So how do we think the rest of the season will pan out? Well, let’s update our best guesses after a third of the ECAC season.
1. St. Lawrence – The Saint defense is a smothering one and if their offense gets on track — and there’s no reason to believe it won’t — the Saints are the team to beat in the ECAC. 2. Colgate – The detractors say that Colgate will slump as usual in the second half, but we saw that the Red Raiders didn’t last year. They’ll be there until the end.
3. Rensselaer – The Engineers have solid goaltending and an offense that can put up the points. The defense has been extremely stingy and if they keep it up, it could be higher than third.
4. Yale – The Bulldogs have to be a surprise this high, but solid defense has put them here. Now if they can put some goals on the board, they will be a team to be reckoned with. 5. Cornell – The young team which is big and physical will make a difference in the second half. Finding the scoring touch to go with the presence will be the Big Red key.
6. Princeton – This team is starting to gel; the Tigers are finding offense and defense and they are getting goaltending. But they are still too inconsistent to challenge for a home playoff series.
7. Harvard – The Crimson started out strong, but certainly have begun to fade as the season goes on. The Crimson need help.
8. Clarkson – A team this talented can’t stay so low for that long. The Golden Knights will have a better second half, but it might be too little too late.
9. Union – The Dutchmen need to find scoring. They’ll scare some people as the season goes on and perhaps throw a scare into someone during the playoffs.
10. Vermont – We’re not sure which Vermont team we’ll get night in and night out, but the talent level is there if the distractions aren’t too much. The Cats eke into the last playoff spot.
11. Dartmouth – The Big Green battle for that last spot until the end, but youth and inexperience get them once again. 12. Brown – The Bears have dug themselves a huge hole and it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to climb out.
A Random Thought From Jayson
A friend of mine may never play hockey again. That’s the harsh reality of this sport, and it could be for Eric Healey.
A Hobey Baker finalist two years ago, the former Rensselaer standout was the second-leading scorer for the Springfield Falcons in the AHL this season and was recently selected to the Planet USA All-Stars for the AHL All-Star game later in the month.
That all changed on Sunday when his Falcons played the Worcester Ice Cats. Heals went into the corner, and along with teammate David Bell and Ice Cat Sylvain Blouin, battled for the puck. Heals fell and the next thing you know, someone had stepped on his left wrist.
The skate went all the way to Heals’ bone, severing an artery, tendon and nerve.
The trainers for both squads immediately went out and stopped the bleeding and Heals was taken to the hospital for surgery to repair his wrist.
As of today, everything is doing okay, but Heals may never play hockey again professionally.
I had the pleasure of watching Heals for four years at Rensselaer and my thoughts are with him because I know how much he loves the game and loves to play it.
Get well soon, Heals.