Now that the holidays have come to a close, hockey is back to the forefront. There’s just one ECAC series this weekend, a travel-partner matchup and a lone game, and other teams try to get on track with nonconference action in order to bulk up for the stretch run.
In holiday tournament action, it didn’t turn out well at all for the league. Only one ECAC team was involved in a championship game, that being Dartmouth.
Overall, not including two intra-ECAC matchups, the conference went 3-11-1 in tournament action — 3-13-1 overall plus an exhibition win on the weekend.
Dartmouth won the Auld Lang Syne, the tournament it hosts, defeating Notre Dame and Mass.-Lowell. Vermont finished tied for third after losing to Lowell and tying Notre Dame.
Yale finished third in the Dodge Holiday Classic, defeating Bowling Green after losing to Minnesota in the first round.
Harvard finished third and Colgate fourth at the Badger Showdown, The Crimson beat the Raiders after losing to Northern Michigan. Colgate had lost to Wisconsin in the semifinals.
Princeton finished third in the Rensselaer/HSBC Holiday Hockey Tournament, defeating host Rensselaer after losing to Wayne State. Rensselaer lost to Merrimack the day before.
Brown finished third in the Subway Holiday Classic, losing to North Dakota and then defeating Manitoba.
Clarkson finished fourth at the Denver Cup after losing to New Hampshire and Miami.
Cornell finished fourth in the Everblades Classic, dropping games to Maine and Ohio State.
In non-tournament action, Union lost a pair to Minnesota-Duluth while St. Lawrence was idle.
There’s action in the North Country this weekend as Cornell and Colgate travel up to Clarkson and St. Lawrence. These four teams have some ECAC games to make up: Clarkson and St. Lawrence have only played five league games, Cornell and Colgate six.
St. Lawrence will be returning to action after last playing at home against Lake Superior in the middle of December. The Saints will also be looking for a replacement for Allie Skelley, who was checked from behind in the first game of the two-game set and was forced to retire from college hockey.
“The doctors were very pleased with the results of the surgery, and we are hoping for a swift and complete recovery for Allie,” said Saint coach Joe Marsh. “The type of surgery he had pretty much ends his collegiate playing career because of the danger of reinjury if he were to be hit in that area again. Our priority right now is that he is fine, and I think that he will feel no residual effects.”
The Saints used Simon Watson on the blue line after Skelley was injured, but this weekend there could be someone else in the lineup.
In the meantime the Saints hold a three-game unbeaten streak having topped New Hampshire, then defeating and tying Lake Superior. How the break will affect that momentum remains to be be seen.
Another team that may have some momentum is Clarkson. Despite two losses, interim head coach Fred Parker believes that the losses to New Hampshire and Miami saw good things.
“I thought we played fairly well and had the better of the chances,” he said. “We just can’t seem to get the easy goal that puts us over the hump and that has hurt us every game. There were a lot of bright spots for us at this tournament. We were definitely in both games and could have won each game. We played well for 120 minutes against two very good clubs.”
Jeff Genovy has picked it up with a six-game point scoring streak; the Knights are looking for more individuals to step up to get over that hump.
On the other side of the coin is Cornell. The Big Red blew a one-goal lead in the third period to Maine and then could not put a tally on the board against Ohio State in two losses.
“It’s frustrating we can’t score two nights in a row,” said coach Mike Schafer. “I see ourselves as a top-10 team. Both games this weekend were tough games … but our guys worked hard and deserved a better fate in both games.
“We’re really disappointed. I don’t know how many times in eight years we’ve lost a game where we had the lead going into the third. The mental mistakes we made cost us — a bad line change, a mistake within our system, ended up costing us.”
Goaltender Todd Marr will again be in the lineup this weekend, as David LeNeveu is still with Canada at the World Junior Championships. The Canadians gathered the bye and are playing on Friday.
Colgate played Wisconsin close, but couldn’t get that goal in the end to tie it, and then got pounded by Harvard for the second time this season in the consolation game.
“The only thing we can do about the game tonight is put it out of our memory,” coach Don Vaughan said. “We’ve got to get ready to play two very important games next weekend on the road at Clarkson and St. Lawrence, and that has to be the focus this week.”
These four games are keys to all four teams, especially those in hand. Cornell is now trying to keep pace with Harvard; Clarkson, Colgate and St. Lawrence are positioning.
Green On Green
Dartmouth and Vermont get together this weekend for an ECAC game in Burlington. Dartmouth was the biggest winner for the league last weekend with wins over Notre Dame and Mass.-Lowell for the Auld Lang Syne Tournament title.
“It was one of those games that everything we touched, something positive happened,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet on the championship game against UML. “Lowell has a good hockey team, I thought they played great last night. It was a big effort from our own guys, and it was good to win our own tournament.”
The Big Green move to a perfect 8-0 at home with the weekend win (the Big Green also own two exhibition wins at home), but the road is a different story. The Big Green are 0-4 on the road. Something they will need to solve at the Gut on Saturday.
On the other side Vermont struggled in a shutout loss to Mass.-Lowell, but then tied Notre Dame.
“I was pretty happy with the way we finished the game, and also how we responded to their goal leads, they had a couple of leads and we bounced back,” said coach Mike Gilligan.
This will be the Cats’ fifth straight ECAC game at home, where they are .500 in the last four.
Union hosts Harvard on Saturday in a game that originally was supposed to take place on February 8. Of course, that’s the Saturday before the Beanpot final and Union helped out Harvard by moving the game to this coming Saturday.
Princeton is headed to Pittsburgh to take on Ohio State in the first-ever game in the Steel City. The Tigers registered win number two on the season last weekend, defeating host Rensselaer in the HSBC Tournament. Both Tiger wins are against the Engineers.
“I don’t know if it’s magic against RPI, but it has to do with being aggressive, working hard and competing,” said coach Len Quesnelle. “We were banging bodies, playing physical and when we play that way we can be effective.
“I think that we can build momentum from this. There’s a ton of positives we can take from this game. From our perspective, it’s a move in the right direction. It’s a great feeling to walk off the ice with a ‘W’ and these guys now have another taste of it, and now want to taste it each time out. They need to.”
Rensselaer suffered a setback this weekend, losing twice in its own tournament, something that hasn’t happened since 1995. The Engineers lost one-goal games to Merrimack and Princeton.
“That’s kind of the way the weekend was, we just couldn’t get going,” said coach Dan Fridgen. “We didn’t elevate our playing until we were behind the eight-ball.
“I was hoping to use this tournament as a springboard to the second third of the season and we completely missed the board. We’ll see how deep the hole is.”
The Engineers will host Minnesota-Duluth for two this weekend. The Engineers have a 2-1 record against WCHA teams this year, defeating Wisconsin and splitting a two-game set with St. Cloud.
A Hearty Cheer
To one of our favorites. Yale coach Tim Taylor reached the 300-win plateau with the victory over Bowling Green in the consolation game of the Dodge Classic.
“I don’t look at milestones as being important,” said Taylor. “It was important for us to win the game and win outside the league. We won this game in a strange way, with an opportunistic offense and solid goaltending.”
Believe us when we say that Taylor is one of the classiest individuals you will ever find, not only in college hockey, but any circumstance.
A well-deserved cheer and congratulations to Tim.
Thanks to Adam Wodon, Ed Reed, Todd Milewski, Dan Fisher, Tyler Birnbaum and Scott Brown for their contributions this week.