This Week In The ECAC: Dec. 7, 2000

It’s a short week in the ECAC, with just five conference games and some nonconference affairs to fill the time between now and the holiday tournaments.

With that in mind, there could still be significant movement in the standings as two sets of travel partners play each other; there’s a major matchup in Burlington this weekend, as well.

Speaking Of Standings

Take a look at the current standings in the ECAC, and you will see Cornell and Harvard on top.

1. Cornell 9 pts.
1. Harvard 9 pts.
3. Vermont 8 pts.
3. Princeton 8 pts.
5. Union 7 pts.
6. Yale 6 pts.
6. St. Lawrence 6 pts.
8. Colgate 4 pts.
8. Clarkson 4 pts.
10. Rensselaer 3 pts.
11. Dartmouth 2 pts.
11. Brown 2 pts.

Or are those two teams on top? Let’s take another look at the standings.

1. Vermont
2. Union
3. Cornell
4. Harvard
5. St. Lawrence
6. Princeton
7. Clarkson
8. Yale
8. Rensselaer
10. Colgate
11. Dartmouth
12. Brown

Those look a little different, don’t they?

The second set of standings are based on winning percentage, the first on points. Which to use?

We’ll contend that until February, one should use the second set.

Two teams have played eight league games (Princeton and Yale), while four teams have played only four (Dartmouth, Rensselaer, Union and Vermont).

Two teams have played seven league games (Brown and Harvard), two have played six (Cornell and Colgate), and two have played five (Clarkson and St. Lawrence).

That’s a disparity that makes the point system misleading at this point in time. After all, if Princeton sweeps this weekend, the Tigers are in first place after 10 ECAC games, but they will have played five more ECAC games than St. Lawrence.

We know it’s early on, but we think that the better gauge is to take a look at winning percentage — until February when only Harvard will have had more games within the league than everyone else.

Harvard at Vermont

These two teams are right next to each other in the standings. Harvard is tied for first place with Cornell, and Vermont is right behind the Crimson by one point. The major difference comes this weekend — Harvard will be playing its ninth ECAC game, Vermont its fifth.

Needless to say, there could be implications in the standings. The winner could be all alone in first place by the time the weekend is done (pending the results of the Princeton/Yale – Union/Rensselaer matchups).

The first time these teams met, the Catamounts took a 5-3 victory at Bright Hockey Center, coming back from a 3-1 deficit and scoring the next four goals of the game, giving head coach Mike Gilligan his 250th career victory.

“We let them dictate the style of play for the game,” Crimson head coach Mark Mazzoleni said at the time. “In the third period, we moved away from our puck-possession game and played a high-tempo, chancy game. We’ll learn from this.”

The Cats are back on track after a 10-2 pasting of Holy Cross last weekend. The Cats lost two Thanksgiving weekend at home, but around those losses are seven wins.

“We didn’t come out with much intensity in the first period,” Vermont coach Mike Gilligan told the Burlington Free Press. “I thought we picked it up pretty well, though, in the second and third.”

Likewise, the Crimson are coming off a win, a 3-1 decision over Clarkson, the first for the Crimson in Potsdam since the 1994-95 season.

“We challenged our kids today,” said Mazzoleni. “I thought that Clarkson for the first period had the upper hand, but we were able to withstand it. The second period was very even, and in the third we played as well defensively as we’ve played all year.

“It’s a big win for us. It’s a huge win, it’s the first time our seniors have won up here in four years.”

Union/Rensselaer at Princeton/Yale

No. 12 Union dropped one notch in the polls this week after a tie against Rensselaer and a loss to Quinnipiac. Head coach Kevin Sneddon was very displeased after the loss to Quinnipiac and he promised a few things.

“We haven’t played 60 minutes now for the last couple of games. It was going to sting us at some point and [Sunday] it did,” Sneddon said. “Plain and simple, when we play hard we’re a pretty good hockey club, when we sit back on our heels, and we don’t take the body and do the little things well, we’re going to struggle, no questions about it.

“Where we get off thinking we can play 30 minutes of hockey against anyone is beyond me. But believe me, I’ll get it out of them, don’t worry about that. We may not win every game coming up, but we’ll work harder.”

Rensselaer defeated Quinnipiac the night before; the Engineers are now on a four-game unbeaten streak.

“We won two periods out of the three, losing one and that’s a good weekend,” said head coach Dan Fridgen after the Quinnipiac game. “We played five out of six periods this weekend and took three of four points.”

Princeton split on the weekend, defeating Colgate on Friday and then getting shutout by Cornell on Saturday evening. Despite the split, the Tigers are only one point out of first place in the league.

“Except for our ties against St. Lawrence and Clarkson, we haven’t put together two strong games in a row all season,” captain Kirk Lamb told the campus paper, the Princetonian. “To pick up four points, you have to put together six strong periods.

“Our offense was just not very good at all Saturday. With a game like this, you just have to look back and learn from your mistakes.”

Yale dropped two games last weekend, one to Cornell and then one to Colgate, letting a golden opportunity pass to move up in the standings.

“We were just physically outplayed both nights,” head coach Tim Taylor told the Yale Daily News. “We went up there with our game faces on, but both of those teams deserved to beat us.

“We just didn’t execute. We didn’t come out ready to play and it seemed like we were just sitting ducks.”

Out Of Conference

Clarkson and Cornell are off until the Florida Holiday Tournament, but others are in nonconference action.

Dartmouth will host Northeastern on Saturday after taking last weekend off. The Big Green are riding the wave of a victory over Maine in their last effort.

“I said it during the week,” head coach Bob Gaudet said. “I think we’ve been playing good hockey. It’s just a matter of time before things go your way. In some sense, you make your luck by working hard and making it happen, but it’s nice to see the guys play so well and come away with a great win.”

Brown will travel to Harvard to finish off the season series. The Bears were shut out the last time these teams met. The Bears took two points on the road in the North Country this past weekend — with two ties. Sort of a double- edged sword.

“I am pleased with the way we battled,” Brown head coach Roger Grillo said. “We came up here to Clarkson and St. Lawrence, played some of our best hockey on arguably the toughest road trip in all of college hockey, and left without a loss, but still without a win.”

Colgate will travel to UMass-Lowell on Saturday hoping that Saturday’s win over Yale will help to right the ship.

“We put more emphasis on having guys back in our own end and taking the middle of the ice away,” said head coach Don Vaughan. “I thought we forced a lot of turnovers and were able to get our offense going. I think it was our most complete effort of the year.”

St. Lawrence will travel to Michigan for a pair, part of the “Murderer’s Row” schedule.

“We played well in both games and received solid efforts across the board; it is something we can build on,” said head coach Joe Marsh. “We’ve got two games to go before the break and we’re playing a great team in a tough place for visiting teams to win.

“We’re going to Michigan with the idea of winning a couple of games, but the big thing is to play hard and try to build some momentum.”

If It’s So Easy, You Try It

As noted before, they say the third time’s the charm. It wasn’t for those ECAC fans brave enough to go against us. Michele Kelley went down last week, making it three in a row for the team of Blaeser and Moy.

The contest thus far:

Becky and Jayson d. Vic Brzozowski – 10-2-2 to 8-5-1
Becky and Jayson d. Tayt Brooks – 7-7-1 to 5-9-1
Becky and Jayson d. Michele Kelley – 5-4-3 to 2-7-3

We’ve got plenty of people lined up to take the challenge, but we’re going to give all of you a break and wait until after the holidays to pick that up.

Therefore, the next challenge will take place starting on January 4, 2001.

Get those prediction hats on in the meantime!

Happy Holidays

We’ll see all of you after the holidays for a tournament preview, as well as a look at how the ECAC is going to stack up against the other conferences in tournament and nonconference action.

Until then, we wish all of you a very happy holiday season!

Thanks to David Sherzer, Dan Fisher, Michael Volonnino and Sean Peden for their contributions this week.