As Easy As Chinese Arithmetic
Yes it is, this ECAC race. It’s real simple, you see. If Cornell sweeps, but Princeton doesn’t get swept, and then if Rensselaer ties two, but Harvard only gets one point and along the way Dartmouth wins two, but Clarkson only gets one point, then with the alignment of Jupiter and Uranus, and with Saddam Hussein shaving with his left hand towards the direction of the Mars Probe, then, and only then, does Vermont get home ice in the ECAC quarterfinals.
Seriously, take a look below. It’s always tight in the ECAC, but as one of our colleagues put it, this year the ECAC is simply ridiculous.
Team GP GL Record Pct. GB
1. St. Lawrence 19 1 15- 3-1 .816 — 2. Colgate 18 2 13- 4-1 .750 1.5 3. Rensselaer 19 2 9- 9-1 .500 6.0 Dartmouth 19 2 8- 8-3 .500 6.0 Princeton 19 2 8- 8-3 .500 6.0 Clarkson 18 1 8- 8-3 .500 6.0 7. Harvard 19 2 8- 9-2 .474 6.5 8. Cornell 18 2 8- 9-1 .472 6.5 9. Yale 19 2 6- 9-4 .421 7.5 10. Union 19 2 5-13-1 .289 10.0 11. Brown 19 2 4-13-2 .263 10.5
There is a four-way tie for third place — six teams are separated by half a game, seven teams by one and a half games. There is a battle for the regular-season championship and a battle for the last playoff spot.
Sometimes you just have to love this league, and sometimes you just have to hate it.
It’s time to examine each team’s playoff situations. Within each team’s section, we’ll give you all the statistics you need, as well as our patented Fan’s Perspective — the scenarios that you, as a fan of that team, would want to see happen to get to the best finish. Unfortunately, we’ll also have to give you the scenarios by which your team will end up with the worst possible finish.
Let’s throw out all of the facts, while we’re at it. Here are the playoff tiebreakers:
Head-to-Head Record Record Versus Top Five Teams Record Versus Top Ten Teams Goal Differential Head-To-Head Goal Differential Versus Top Five Teams Goal Differential Versus Top Ten Teams
Now that that’s out of the way, let the festivities begin.
I Am The King Of The ECAC; Bring Me Your Finest Meats And Wines!
The battle for first place comes down to two teams — St. Lawrence and Colgate. The Saints lead it by one and a half games, and both teams are hot. Since resuming conference play in the middle of January, the Saints have gone 11-1-0, the only loss coming to Brown two weeks ago. The Red Raiders have gone 9-1-1, the only loss to St. Lawrence three weeks ago.
Evenly matched? One would think so.
The battle for first sees St. Lawrence at home against Dartmouth, and Colgate at home against Princeton and Yale.
Team GP GL Record Pct. GB
1. St. Lawrence 19 1 15- 3-1 .816 — 2. Colgate 18 2 13- 4-1 .750 1.5
St. Lawrence Game Left: 3/4 vs. Dartmouth Best Possible Finish: 1st Worst Possible Finish: 2nd
What can you say about this team? 11-1-0 since dropping a pair to #1 Wisconsin in January, the Saints have made statement after statement.
Timely scoring, great special teams, great goaltending and great coaching have led the Saints to a position to clinch at home on Saturday evening.
Saint Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – First It’s pretty simple, really. Beat Dartmouth on Saturday and the Saints get the automatic bid. Either that, or Colgate loses a game and the Saints still own the regular-season championship outright. Or the Saints and the Red Raiders are tied for the top spot and Princeton is in the Top Five and Cornell and Clarkson are not, or Cornell is not and Clarkson is. Worst Scenario – Second If the Saints lose and Colgate sweeps Princeton and Yale, the Saints are second for the second year in a row or the two teams are tied and Clarkson and/or Cornell wind up in the Top Five, but Princeton does not.
Colgate Games Left: 3/3 vs. Princeton, 3/4 vs. Yale Best Possible Finish: 1st Worst Possible Finish: 2nd
The Red Raiders have been hot. 8-1-1 in the ECAC in the year 2000, but the Red Raiders just can’t catch the Saints, who also have not missed many chances.
The Red Raiders have also gotten it all. Timely goal scoring, great special teams, great goaltending and great coaching. They’ve pulled close, but need some help.
Red Raider Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – First The Red Raiders have to sweep Princeton and Yale and then root for Dartmouth to beat the Saints. Worst Scenario – Second The Red Raiders lose or tie either Princeton or Yale or St. Lawrence beats Dartmouth.
The “Get Me In The Dance” Race
Most thought that the Brown Bears were done at the end of January. Out of a playoff spot by three games at the time, the Bears are now just one-half game out. Thanks in part to a 2-2-2 record over the last six — and in part to a Union team that has gone 0-7-0 in its last seven — the Bears all a sudden are within striking distance of Union for that last playoff spot.
And guess what? The two teams play each other this weekend.
Team GP GL Record Pct. GB 10. Union 19 2 5-13-1 .289 — 11. Brown 19 2 4-13-2 .263 0.5
Union Games Left: 3/3 at Harvard, 3/4 at Brown Best Possible Finish: 10th Worst Possible Finish: 11th
The Dutchmen were looking pretty good on February 3. They had just gone 2-1-1 in their last four conference games and were just one game out of a possible home-ice spot in the ECAC Playoffs.
Four weeks and seven losses later, the Dutchmen are fighting for their playoff lives. Outscored 30-13 in that span, the Dutchmen are in a tailspin that might send them home after this weekend.
Dutchman Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – Tenth The Dutchmen beat Brown. Period. Or the Dutchmen need a win and a Brown loss. Whether it comes on Friday, or the Dutchmen beat the Bears on Saturday, this combination will get Union in. Or the two teams do the same thing on Friday and then the two teams tie. Worst Scenario – Eleventh The Dutchmen get swept this weekend. That will send them packing. Or Union and Brown do the same thing on Friday and Union loses to Brown.
Brown Games Left: 3/3 vs. Rensselaer, 3/4 vs. Union Best Possible Finish: 10th Worst Possible Finish: 11th
The Bears control their own destiny this weekend. And let’s be honest — that is a phrase no one thought would be uttered at this point of the season, even just a month ago.
Even though they are battling for the final playoff spot, you really need to hand it to Brown. After a 1-10 league start, the Bears have managed to collect five points in the past month and improve their winning percentage by .109.
Much like last year, Brown is poised to head into the playoffs with a little bit of momentum and a lot of confidence toward knocking off the top seed. Remember what happened last year when Brown came just seconds away from upsetting top-seeded Clarkson? Well, if you forget just ask anyone on the Brown team; we’re sure they remember it all too well.
Bear Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – Tenth Union ties or loses Friday or Brown wins Friday, and the Bears beat Union Saturday. Worst Scenario – Eleventh The Bears lose to Union or the two teams do the same thing on Friday, and then they tie Saturday.
The “You Have To Be Kidding Me” Race
You are kidding, right? Seven teams fighting for three home-ice playoff spots? Six teams that can finish anywhere between third and ninth?
Welcome to the ECAC — it’s enough to make you lose your hair.
Clarkson, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Rensselaer all can finish in any position between third and ninth. We thank Yale for making things a little easier — the Bulldogs can only finish as high as fifth.
This grouping has seen two teams at different extremes over the past five games, Clarkson and Rensselaer; one team that swept last weekend to get back into the grouping, Harvard; two teams that can’t seem to put together a long winning streak, Cornell and Princeton; and a team that can’t seem to win at all lately, Yale.
Put that together and what do you have? You got it: a mess.
Team GP GL Record Pct. GB 3. Rensselaer 19 2 9- 9-1 .500 — Dartmouth 19 2 8- 8-3 .500 — Princeton 19 2 8- 8-3 .500 — Clarkson 18 1 8- 8-3 .500 — 7. Harvard 19 2 8- 9-2 .474 0.5 8. Cornell 18 2 8- 9-1 .472 0.5 9. Yale 19 2 6- 9-4 .421 1.5
Some things are certain though. If any team besides Yale wins out, that team will get home ice — no matter what. If Yale wins out, it needs help to get to home ice. So you see, everyone has their own destiny in their hands.
Shall we take a look?
Clarkson Game Left: 3/3 vs. Dartmouth Best Possible Finish: 3rd Worst Possible Finish: 9th
It sure didn’t look good on the morning of February 4 for the Golden Knights. They were in tenth place and looking at going on the road for the playoffs — if they made the playoffs.
Just a month and a 6-2 ECAC record later, the Golden Knights are poised to take home ice in the playoffs. How important is that? The Golden Knights have never lost a playoff game at Cheel Arena.
Golden Knight Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – Third If the Knights win, they are guaranteed home ice, and if Rensselaer, Princeton and Cornell all lose one game, the Knights get third place. Worst Scenario – Ninth If Clarkson loses to Dartmouth, Yale sweeps, Cornell beats Princeton, Rensselaer gets at least a tie in two games, and Harvard wins one game, the Knights will finish in ninth place due to a tiebreaker loss to Cornell.
Cornell Games Left: 3/3 vs. Yale, 3/4 vs. Princeton Best Possible Finish: 3rd Worst Possible Finish: 9th
The Big Red were riding a two-game winning streak and a 4-1-1 ECAC run into Sunday’s contest at Dartmouth. A win would have given the Big Red sole possession of third place, while a loss would have given them sole possession of eighth place. The Big Red lost.
The Big Red only are one-half game behind the pack, and showdowns with Yale and Princeton loom.
Big Red Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – Third If the Big Red sweep this weekend and both Dartmouth and Rensselaer lose one or tie, the Big Red are in third place. Worst Scenario – Ninth The Big Red lose two and they are ninth.
Dartmouth Games Left: 3/3 at Clarkson, 3/4 at St. Lawrence Best Possible Finish: 3rd Worst Possible Finish: 9th
Dartmouth has to be pretty happy with its current playoff situation. Despite having its entire schedule upended midway through the season, the Big Green skated their way into possible home-ice position and could finish as high as third place.
And they got to this point in a very workmanlike manner. Granted, they have yet to break out on a long win streak, but the Big Green have managed to capture at least one point — and in most cases two — per weekend to keep themselves in the race.
For Dartmouth fans, though, the unfortunate part of this weekend is that Dartmouth is on the road to face two of the hottest teams in the league right now. Combined, Dartmouth holds a 32-94-3 record against St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
Big Green Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – Third The Big Green sweep and neither Princeton nor Rensselaer win two. Or Dartmouth winds up in a tiebreaker for third with Rensselaer, and Harvard is not in the Top Five. Worst Scenario – Ninth If the Big Green lose two and Yale wins twice, Dartmouth loses the tiebreaker with Princeton.
Harvard Games Left: 3/3 vs. Union, 3/4 vs. Rensselaer Best Possible Finish: 3rd Worst Possible Finish: 9th
What a difference a weekend makes. One week, Harvard is falling apart, winless in its previous seven league contests. Then along comes a sweep of Princeton and Yale, and all of a sudden, the Crimson are in a position to capture home ice and an Ivy League title.
Harvard hasn’t been stellar, not even consistent really, but they saved 120 minutes of their best hockey for the end, which is all that matters in this twisted playoff race. With Union and an injury-plagued Rensselaer team en route to Cambridge this weekend, the Crimson have a great opportunity to capture quality home-ice positioning.
Crimson Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – Third Cheer like mad for a Harvard sweep of Union and Rensselaer. With two wins, the Crimson is assured of no worse than fifth place. To capture third, the Crimson needs a Cornell split, Clarkson to lose to Dartmouth and Princeton not to get more than two points. What a mouthful! And if you’re keeping track, Harvard will be assured the Ivy League title if Cornell can knock off Princeton on Saturday night. Worst Scenario – Ninth If Harvard drops both games this weekend, Cornell gets at least one point against Princeton and Yale pulls out a three-point weekend, the Crimson will be headed to New York (either Hamilton or Canton) for the playoffs as the ninth seed.
Princeton Games Left: 3/3 at Colgate, 3/4 at Cornell Best Possible Finish: 3rd Worst Possible Finish: 9th
Talk about a team holding its destiny in its own hands. Aside from the loss to Harvard last Friday night, the Tigers have been on a tear in recent weeks. Granted, everything is relative when it comes to the ECAC, but Princeton has won four of its last five games to put itself in a tie for third place.
The Tigers have made this late-season rush thanks to solid defensive play — the team has allowed just over two goals per game in its last five outings — and opportunistic scoring by a range of players. In total, Princeton has four players who have topped the 20 point mark thus far.
Tiger Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – Third If Princeton sweeps this weekend, they are assured third place. This is simple enough, at least. Or Princeton splits, Rensselaer splits by beating Harvard, Dartmouth splits by beating Clarkson and Cornell does not get more than three points. Worst Scenario – Ninth If Princeton falls apart this weekend and drops two, the Tigers could plummet to ninth place if Yale pulls out a sweep and Dartmouth and Rensselaer pick up at least a point. Harvard would also have to win at least one game this weekend.
Rensselaer Games Left: 3/3 at Brown, 3/4 at Harvard Best Possible Finish: 3rd Worst Possible Finish: 9th
Talk about making it interesting. The Engineers were tied with Colgate for second place in the ECAC on the afternoon of February 12, just two games in back of St. Lawrence. Home ice looked all but assured and the battle for first place was on.
But then injuries, bad play, hot teams and everything else that could wrong, did.
Five games later, the Engineers are in the middle of that ridiculous mess called the ECAC standings. A five-game losing streak ensued as they came back to the pack.
Engineer Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – Third The Engineers win two games and Dartmouth and Princeton each lose one. If this happens, third is Rensselaer’s. Worst Scenario – Ninth The Engineers lose two, Yale wins two, Cornell beats Princeton, and Dartmouth win two. That means ninth place, all alone. Or two losses, Yale wins two, Cornell beats Princeton and Dartmouth gets at least one point.
Yale Games Left: 3/3 at Cornell, 3/4 at Colgate Best Possible Finish: 5th Worst Possible Finish: 9th
Maybe it was only a matter of time, but once the midway point of the season hit — Yale crumbled. Since the New Year, the Elis have been in the midst of a downward spiral, posting a 2-7-2 record against league opponents. In the last six games, Yale’s offense has shown its weakness, averaging a mere 1.67 goals per game.
Thanks to its strong start, however, the Elis are still in a position to capture home ice and make a serious bid for Lake Placid. They just need a little help from their “friends.”
Bulldog Fan’s Perspective: Best Scenario – Fifth If the Bulldogs win two, Princeton and Dartmouth gets swept and Harvard only gets one point, the Bulldogs are in fifth place.Or Rensselaer, Princeton and Dartmouth get swept and Yale wins two. Or Rensselaer and Princeton get swept and Clarkson loses. Worst Scenario – Ninth The Elis lose two.
How About Some Fun?
Well, let’s have a little fun with the what-ifs here.
Make Blaeser and Moy Proud
In the ECAC Season Preview, we predicted what we thought would be the ECAC Standings on the morning of March 5. In order for us to come the closest in terms of positioning, what has to happen?
Here were our predictions:
1. Clarkson 2. St. Lawrence 3. Colgate 4. Rensselaer 5. Cornell 6. Harvard 7. Princeton 8. Yale 9. Dartmouth 10. Vermont 11. Brown 12. Union
If you give every position that we will be off one point, this is what has to happen in order for us to come closest.
The top two don’t matter, as we will be two points off anyway (one each for SLU and Colgate or right on for St. Lawrence and two off on Colgate).
Clarkson has to finish third, since we picked them first and that’s the highest we can go. We get charged two points.
We can still have positions four through nine in the exact order.
We lose two points with Vermont, since the Catamounts are 12th by ECAC agreement.
We lose two points (one each or two with one and zero with the other) with Brown and Union.
So what has to happen for us to zero in?
On Friday night: Brown defeats or ties Rensselaer Clarkson defeats Dartmouth Yale defeats Cornell Harvard defeats Union Colgate defeats Princeton
On Saturday night: Rensselaer defeats Harvard Brown defeats Union St. Lawrence defeats Dartmouth Cornell defeats Princeton Colgate defeats or ties Yale
That gives us:
1. St. Lawrence (-1) 2. Colgate (-1) 3. Clarkson (-2) 4. Rensselaer (0) 5. Cornell (0) 6. Harvard (0) 7. Princeton (0) 8. Dartmouth (-1) 9. Yale (-1) 10. Vermont (-2) 11. Brown (-1) 12. Union (-1)
Not bad — we’re only off by 10 points. That’s the best scenario that we can come up with to get the fewest points.
If you can figure out another scenario whereby we get fewer than 10 points, please e-mail us. We’ll make sure to put on some pomp and circumstance for anyone who can.
A Shade Of Red
You can probably guess what this is all about. We could have five quarterfinals hosted by teams who have a shade of red in their colors.
What has to happen? Here is one scenario:
Friday night: Cornell defeats Yale Harvard defeats Union Rensselaer defeats Brown Dartmouth defeats Clarkson Colgate defeats Princeton
Saturday night: Cornell defeats Princeton St. Lawrence defeats Dartmouth Colgate defeats Yale Union defeats Brown Rensselaer and Harvard tie
That gives us:
1. St. Lawrence 2. Colgate 3. Cornell 4. Rensselaer 5. Harvard 6. Dartmouth 7. Clarkson 8. Princeton 9. Yale 10. Union 11. Brown 12. Vermont
The matchups in the quarterfinals:
Union at St. Lawrence (Scarlet) Yale at Colgate (Maroon) Princeton at Cornell (Carnellian Red) Clarkson at Rensselaer (Cherry) Dartmouth at Harvard (Crimson)
And the streets were red…
I Love NY
If you look closely, the ECAC championship tournament could be conducted entirely in New York State, from the quarterfinals all the way to Lake Placid.
What has to happen? Here is one scenario:
Friday night: Rensselaer defeats Brown Cornell defeats Yale Clarkson defeats Dartmouth Harvard defeats Union Colgate defeats Princeton
Saturday night: Rensselaer defeats Harvard Cornell defeats Princeton Union defeats Brown Colgate defeats Yale St. Lawrence defeats Dartmouth
That gives us:
1. St. Lawrence 2. Colgate 3. Rensselaer 4. Cornell 5. Clarkson 6. Harvard 7. Princeton 8. Dartmouth 9. Yale 10. Union 11. Brown 12. Vermont
The matchups in the quarterfinals:
Union at St. Lawrence (Canton, NY) Yale at Colgate (Hamilton, NY) Dartmouth at Rensselaer (Troy, NY) Princeton at Cornell (Ithaca, NY) Harvard at Clarkson (Potsdam, NY)
We wonder if Governor George Pataki is smiling while reading this one?
For more fun with scenarios, visit Joe Schlobotnick’s ECAC Playoff Possibilities Script.
All photographs used by permission of the appropriate Sports Information Departments. Any reproduction without authorization is prohibited.