To catch up on the big stories around the league: Clarkson is now up to 376 days without a home loss, Harvard is pretty good, Colgate finally won, Quinnipiac is scoring, St. Lawrence isn’t, the league might actually be earning some respect, and it’s time for Non-Conference Weekend!
On to the minutiae.
It’s What Harvard Always Ends With
Harvard was tabbed seventh in the preseason media poll, and fifth by the coaches. With early returns starting to filter in, I will take the rare opportunity to boast that I liked the Cantabs for the final first-round bye week.
With six games in the books, Harvard is 4-2-0 and playing team defense like you wouldn’t believe. The most goals the Crimson have allowed this year is three — to Prince Edward Island, in an exhibition. Since then, it’s shutdown city: two goals to Clarkson. One at St. Lawrence. Consecutive shutouts of RPI and Union, one against Cornell, two versus Colgate, and one at Boston University.
Sophomore goaltender Kyle Richter leads the nation in goals-against average by a significant margin. His 0.99 mark is more than a quarter-goal better than North Dakota’s Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, who owns a 1.29 GAA. Richter’s save percentage — .968 — is 14 points better than Niagara’s Juliano Pagliero.
Overall, Harvard is allowing exactly one goal per game, best in the nation by a remarkable 30 points. With a relatively pedestrian 88.6 percent success rate on the penalty kill, it is easy to see that the Crimson are winning with five-on-five dominance and clean, defense-oriented play.
The only worrisome point for the team at this point is the offense. With 17 goals in six games, Harvard has put itself in tighter spots than necessary … and has lost two games because of that (both 2-1, to Clarkson and Colgate).
ECAC Hockey On the Rise
While it may not seem like much, the league is slowly winning respect from the nation at large.
In the latest edition of the glamorously titled USCHO.com/CSTV Division I Men’s Poll, eight ECAC teams garnered votes. Clarkson led the pack for obvious reasons, followed by Rensselaer and Harvard. While only that trio actually appeared in the top 20, five others were among the listed also-rans: Cornell, Quinnipiac, Colgate, Dartmouth and St. Lawrence.
The 1,151 total votes accumulated by ECAC Hockey programs are the most in over a month. But that said, the league was well-regarded entering the season, with three-quarters of the teams earning votes in the earliest polls.
On the lists that matter, the league has yet to match its aspirations. Colgate’s Jesse Winchester and Tyler Burton lead the ECAC in scoring with 13 points, good for 14th nationally. Among the top 40 scorers, however, only two other leaguemates qualify: Chris D’Alvise has five goals and seven assists for Clarkson, and QU’s Bryan Leitch is an assist behind him.
Brian Day (Colgate) and Steve Zalewski (Clarkson) each have seven goals — ninth-best in the country — and Big Green J.T. Wyman has a half-dozen.
Where ECAC players are truly making their mark is on the defensive end. Richter, Yale’s Billy Blase, Rensselaer’s Jordan Alford and Mathias Lange, Clarkson’s David Leggio, Ben Scrivens of Cornell and Bud Fisher of Quinnipiac each appear on the NCAA’s top-20 goals-against average list.
Richter, Alford, Blase, Lange, Leggio and Scrivens are top-20 in save percentage as well. Alford and Leggio each have three shutouts this year, Richter boasts a pair, and five other ECAC Hockey netminders have one goose-egg to their credit.
It’s obviously a defense-first kind of league, as it has been for some time. Half the teams in the standings are top-20 in goals-against nationally. Yale leads the country in penalty-killing (97.1 percent), with Quinnipiac, Harvard, St. Lawrence and Dartmouth not far behind.
ECAC Hockey: quietly suffocating the competition.
Stankievech Playing Rhodes Game
Congratulations to Princeton’s Landis Stankievech, who became the 20th Princeton athlete to receive a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
The senior forward aspires to study philosophy, politics and economics in his awarded time at Oxford University. Nearing completion of his mechanical and aerospace engineering major, Stankievech desires to put his education to work to tackle environmental issues.
“As an engineer I know how to approach technical and logistical problems,” he told USCHO earlier this week. “However, making changes to help our climate is going to take more than engineering solutions. It will take an understanding of economic and political situations and of the ethical arguments that go into making those changes.”
Rensselaer head coach Seth Appert marked John Kennedy as “hopeful” for this weekend’s tournament.
Quick shots of a personal note: I am so thankful for all of my friends and family for all their ceaseless love and support.
Thanks as well to everyone in the ECAC Hockey community. The coaches, players, parents, fans, journalists, and administrators have been warm, welcoming and professional — each and every one of you.
Thanks, Boston Bruins … well, mainly Jeremy Jacobs … for driving me ever-harder toward college hockey, where some things actually do change.
Not really last, not really least: thanks to the Samuel Adams Brewing Company. Explanation really shouldn’t be necessary. Cheers.