ECAC Hockey picks: Week 6

Fresh meat! After edging both of my guest-guessers last week, it’s time to see if someone new is up for the challenge. Please welcome upstaters Meli Mathis and “Four Guys in a Studio Apartment”.

Mathis hails from the greater D.C. area, but learned to love Cayuga’s waters in four years in Ithaca. The Four Guys represent, in their own words, “a low budget, yet hilarious web-series shot in Schenectady, NY. Here’s a link to our page so you can become familiarized with us, and our ridiculousness. (If you watch closely you’ll see several hockey jersey’s popping up on film)…”

Oops, the Four Guys forgot to submit their picks by the deadline. So much for the free publicity!

Among the justifications for wasting my time are the following:

Mathis:

“3) I will be traveling to at least a third, more likely half, of the ECAC rinks this season (Lynah, Lynah East, Yale, Brown, QU, Dartmouth) and likely Atlantic City.

5) I got your quote put into mass production on a t-shirt last year that sold out its initial printing and required a second one.

7) I will buy you a beer if you let me, perhaps even several, or wine.

8) I have been following the league for over 5 years.

9) I followed you on Twitter from day one.

10) I know where you live if you don’t let me do it at least one week.”*

[Sullivan’s note: My my, flattery, bribery and threats! How could I refuse!]

Fair enough, let’s get down to business!

*Once again, opinions expressed by the guests are not necessarily those of USCHO or this correspondent.

Last week

7-3-2 (.667)

Season record

20-7-5 (.703)

This week

All times Eastern

Friday, November 5

Quinnipiac at Brown – 7:00

This seems crazy – even to me – but I can’t shake the feeling that Brendan Whittet will have Bruno banging down the doors to get on the ice on Friday. Home opener, just beat Princeton and held a lead against Yale… the ingredients are all there. Plus, it’s not like I’m risking much if I’m wrong. Bears win, 4-3.

MM: Per our conversation last Friday night that ended with Brian: “So that means you’ll pick Brown to win every week.” And my response of, “Absolutely….NOT!”. I’m going with Quinnipiac. While I respect Coach Whittet and that he’s making improvements with his team; Q is stronger, and they split with SCSU last weekend. Granted, I do love Brown for knocking Yale out of the ECAC tournament last season, but that love doesn’t stretch far enough to think that they’ll win on Friday. Quinnipiac 4 – Brown 1

Union at Harvard – 7:00

Union is rapidly elevating itself to the status of national contender, even if the rest of the country doesn’t recognize it yet. Harvard is looking to start fresh after a couple of bum years, but the Dutchmen aren’t the best way to get your feet wet these days. 5-2 Union.

MM: Union is strong; Harvard is not. Harvard lost its one strong player, LeBlanc, over the summer. Donato hasn’t had a winning season in how long? Union tied both its games last week, but the competition was far higher than what Harvard will throw at them. Also, it’s in Allston, if there are more than 100 students in attendance I’ll be shocked. Harvard might have the tiniest of homefield advantages, not that the crowd will be one of them, due to the odd dimensions of the rink, but those odd dimensions only make it off by a few feet in each direction. Union 3 – Harvard 0

Rensselaer at Dartmouth – 7:00

An interesting matchup: unproven Dartmouth edged Princeton in the season-opener, but got shellacked by Yale on Saturday. RPI has been playing well, riding a six-game unbeaten streak (3-0-3) since its season-opening loss at Colorado College, but the Engineers are 0-1-3 away from the Houston Field House. Not much would shock me out of this contest, but I think I’ll tab DC, bringing RPI down to Earth just a little bit: 3-2.

MM: Dartmouth lost to Yale and only squeaked by Princeton last weekend. RPI lost its top talent over the summer to the pros, but they weren’t the only boys putting points up on the board. My inner Ivy League self is also poking out since I’d rather see other Ivy schools lose. While RPI may be Cherry Red, any red is better than green. RPI 3 – Dartmouth 1

Cornell at St. Lawrence – 7:00

Who woulda thunk that these two teams would be a combined 0-6-3 at this point? Yeow. The Saints are way beyond “hungry”; we’re looking at full-blown desperation right now, no matter how you slice it. Cornell isn’t used to being 0-2 either, and you’d better believe Mike Schafer put ’em through the wringer this week. When emotion is a wash, gotta take the talent: Cornell, 4-1.

MM: I BLEED BIG RED. While any logical analysis would say Marsh’s men have a better shot at winning, I can’t say that. Cornell’s defense is struggling, the top 6 scorers graduated or left, the goal tending hasn’t been decided, and it’s a young team. But Alma Mater trumps. Cornell 2 – SLU(*) 1

Princeton at Yale – 7:00

These two teams avoided each other in last weekend’s Ivy Shootout, with the Tigers dropping twin 2-1 games and Yale posting two touchdowns (though allowing one of their own) against the same opponents. I’m picking Yale – as any sane person would – but I have to wonder how Guy Gadowsky’s “shoot first” strategy will play out against dubious Bulldog goaltending. 6-4 Yale. (Why not?)

MM: Yale is a very strong team, good offense, high goal numbers last week with seven goals in each game. They didn’t play Princeton in the Ivy Shoot Out (ps Yale, have you considered inviting the only other Ivy team that has a solid history and solid win record?), but if we use the transitive property which we all know works oh so well in sports, Yale beat Brown and Brown beat Princeton thus Yale beat Princeton. Yale 5 – Princeton 2

Colgate at Clarkson – 7:00

The Raiders are a puzzling team through four games, as no aspect of their game has been very consistent. Clarkson is 4-2-1 and undefeated (4-0-1) when scoring a goal… yes, both its losses were in shutouts. I think the Golden Knights can score against Colgate, as they boast a touch more potency than Sacred Heart, whom the ‘Gate just shut out 5-0 on Saturday. So while it’s a silly pattern, it’s one I’ll gladly embrace for its entertainment and journalistic value: 3-1 Knights.

MM: I’m going with Colgate on this one. Mainly because I haven’t heard much of anything about the North Country teams this season and Colgate got a shut out win last weekend. That and Clarkson was self-destructing at the end of the last season. Although Colgate lost McIntyre, I think they’ll still be able to pull it together. Toothpaste 3 – Clarkson 2

Saturday, November 6

Rensselaer at Harvard – 7:00

I’m going to go out on a limb and pick against my better judgment, and tab Harvard for a season-opening split. I don’t have any good reason for it, really, beyond the facts that the Crimson are at home, it’s a new year, and these programs have played tight even in mismatched years. 4-3 Crimson.

MM: RPI even without their losses to the pros this summer will be better than Harvard. No more LeBlanc and down to only two Biega brothers, the home ice advantage isn’t very high. RPI 5 – Harvard 1

Cornell at Clarkson – 7:00

Is this doomed to be a down year for Cornell? This game might be an early indication (if SLU hasn’t beaten Clarkson to the opportunity.) Every team in the league gets amped to play the Big Red, because if there’s one consistent program in ECAC Hockey over the past decade, it’s been Cornell. This might be the year that the target gets a bit tattered. 4-3 ‘Tech.

MM: Again: I BLEED BIG RED. I am biased, I know. Although this one, I think Cornell has a far better shot. I’m sure Schafer has been working them this week after last weekend’s back to back losses (first back to back home opener weekend losses since the 93-94 season before Schafer’s time). I expect the Big Red to pull for the win; they may not play pretty, but they’ll play with heart. Cornell 4 – Clarkson 2.

Colgate at St. Lawrence – 7:00

I can’t pick St. Lawrence to win, until they prove that they can. I’m calling it “the Brown rule”… sigh. 3-2 Colgate.

MM: I think this will be one of the most even match ups of the weekend. Whether that’s true or not, we’ll see. I think these are both teams that will be in the mid-upper end of the ECAC as a whole by season’s end. This is really a guess more than anything: SLU(*) 2 – Toothpaste 1

Quinnipiac at Yale – 7:00

It’s the latest engagement in the War on Whitney, with QU holding a 6-3-1 series edge since its inception in 2005-06. Each side won its home game last season, and I see no reason to expect any different this weekend as Yale may be the best team in the league at the moment. 5-2 Bulldogs.

MM: Yale is faster and Yale has better puck handlers. Q is good, but not that good. Yale 4 – Quinnipiac 2

Princeton at Brown – 7:00

Revenge, sweet sweet revenge! Princeton fell 2-1 to Brown last weekend, but I don’t think the Tigers will go down quite so quietly this time. 4-2 Stripes.

MM: This is a rematch from last weekend. I think Brown will take this one again. Princeton might be out for revenge, but I think coach Whittet will have been working his team to prepare for the style of play that Princeton uses and be ready for week two. Brown 3 – Princeton 1

Union at Dartmouth – 7:00

Pick UC while it’s hot; build up that prediction percentage while the getting’s good! Yeah, that’s my contribution regarding this matchup. I’m a professional. 4-3 Union.

MM: Union will continue its Ivy dominance with a win over the Big Green. Gaudet won’t be able to trump the boys from Schenectady this time. Union 4 – Dartmouth 1

If the first hint wasn’t enough, you should follow me on Twitter at SullivanHockey.

53 COMMENTS

    • Alternative:

      High above Cayuga’s waters, rose an awful smell/
      It might be Cayuga, but more likely it’s Cornell.

      Sorry Big Red-ers, but I can’t resist a good parody.

      • No need to apologies. Cornell sucks. There are more verses but I feel as though I may get booted of the sight for saying them. Good picks this week Brian.

  1. Holy Cross is a Division I team and can only play in the National Collegiate Tournament for D-I and D-II women. But they need to play a goodly amount of games vs. D-I / II teams in order to qualify.  They don’t so they do not play in the NCAA’s.

  2. Congratulations to the Bulldogs.  Hard fought game and U deserve to win. 
    Dutchmen certainly didn’t get any help from the officials.
    Bounce of the puck.
    Great year for both Union and Ferris.

  3. Actually I think you are off the mark on your comments about Minnesota, Paula. Yes, the Gophers gave up 4 PP goals to Duluth on Sunday, but that can happen where you have a bad day on the PK. All of the goals were very nice passing plays with well placed shots that Wilcox had no chance on. Duluth wad 0-7 on the PP on Friday and really the Notre Dame series was the only other time where the PK had any problems. Of much more concern is the Minnesota PP. For a team that averages more than 4 goals a game the PP has been in the 13-14% range all year. Even worse the PP isn’t generating any offense with a meager 1.2 shots per PP. Yes, they got 2 PP goals Sunday, but both were seeing eye point shots. Of the 10 PP’s Minnesota had they spent a good part of the time spinning their wheels and even gave up a shorty. Very few shots or offensive zone time. After Sunday’s game I am much more apt to push the panic button on the PP rather than the PK. After watching all the games this season, that is what I see. I am left wondering if you watch the games you comment on or just review the box score?

    • I agree with you that UMD made some nice passes on the power play, but we got beat 3 times on the back door. Fool me once, fool me twice, fool me THREE times… The penalty kill may have had an “off night” but for a D1 program like Minnesota, how do you not make an adjustment when all UMD wanted to do on the PP was hit the back door? Special teams in general hasn’t been great for the Gophs this year (43rd in the country on the PP at just over 15% and tied for 44th in the country on the PK at just under 78%). We allow teams to score on the PP 22% of the time

      • I agree, although I will toss the 5-3 goal because 5-3 it is pretty hard to defend the back door, so they really got beat twice. I am not saying the PK isn’t a concern, I am just saying I am *more* concerned about the PP at this point of the season. Hopefully they can make corrections on the PK, but you are right special teams have been woeful this year for the Gophers and that will catch up with you sooner or later, just glad this is the beginning of the season rather than the end of the season.

      • I agree, Ryan. I’m mostly concerned with the PK, as they have shown they can score 5-on-5 without a problem. I’m just puzzled by the PP, as they seem to have good chemistry and, again, often score at full strength. In any event, if they can significantly improve both PP and PK by playoff time–look out!

      • No, I am saying that they had PK problems in 2 *games* not 2 series. UMD was 0-7 on the PP on Friday night, so I don’t really think that is as much of a concern as PP that has been poor all year.

        • Cherry picking the data does not work. UMD went 4/17 over the weekend. 24%. Notre Dame went 3/9. 33%. That is not an effective penalty kill. Agree on the PP, but the PK needs some work. The goals that UMD scored were not of the screened goalie, deflected shot, bad bounce variety. They were structural.

          • Not sure that I would call that cherry picking data especially given the nature of the series in question. Both the Notre Dame and UMD series, the first game was totally different than the second game. How a team plays can change from one game to the next, that goes for the PK as well as the score. If you had watched these games you would know that is was not just the final score that was different but the pace, flow, speed and style of play was different, so it is not totally out of the question that Minnesota could play well on the PK one game and not so well the next. However, even when the style suited Minnesota’s play the PP still struggled. I agree that in the UMD Sunday games it was structural issues that led to the goals, however as I stated before, a couple of bad games and I am not ready to push the panic button on the PK, but I am for the PP which has languished all year.

    • This is right on, it’s definitely the PP that needs work. It’s almost as if the gophs were worse on the PP than even strength, and that UMD was capitalizing on this by getting a ton of penalties.

      • The PP was so bad in the Sunday game, I was wishing that there was an option to decline the penalties that were being called on UMD.

  4. Nagelvoort and Michigan only have one shutout win this season and it was against Niagara. They have won 4 games where they have allowed one goal and are 5-2 in one goal games (including two in OT) plus one OT tie.

  5. Thinking back on the UMD championship year, they were stellar with Connolly et al on the PP. They’d park somebody a little off to the side of the goal, then someone else took a shot from the top. Numerous times, that shot either went in or deflected to the guy hanging out by the goal, who rammed it home. I think every coach/player gets this idea, but that UMD team executed it with aplomb.

    UMD’s PP percentage is only 17.2% this year, so I guess it really takes some good players to score consistently.
    But it clearly takes more than that, b/c MN has all the players to be that good, and their PP is worse than UMD’s.

    • Minnesota has plenty of talent this year and frankly I like the chemistry, grit and desire of this team a hell of a lot more than last years team, but it seems when they get on the PP, the are looking to make the perfect play and the result is that they pass the puck around until they eventually turn it over or loose it, this is evidenced by the fact that not only are they not scoring, they are getting any shots or even attempting shots on the PP. They need to simplify the PP and just work on taking shots and good things will happen. However with Wisconsin on the schedule next weekend I am not looking for some miraculous turnaround this weekend.

  6. Where oh where have my Spartans gone? Oh where oh where could they be? They cannot score, they cannot skate. They are just like this poem, Bad.

  7. Let’s go dogs. Time to sweep these top 20 posers and boost our pairwise! Last time I checked we’re number 14 where it counts. Uscho and USA today can keep their ridiculous rankings featuring a million ecac teams.

  8. Not that I wouldn’t mind an SCSU sweep, but Omaha was off last weekend while SCSU played, so Omaha would be the “rested team.”

  9. Oh, oh… The writers are going to be taken to the cleaners because they didn’t give the UMD any love. He, he, he… I could see either team sweeping the other and I could see a sweep… My gut tells me WMU 5 points. Win and a shootout win.

  10. How is SCSU the “rested team” when they played last weekend and UNO didn’t?

    That said, though, UNO is 0-3-1 in series after off weeks.

  11. As an attendee of the UNO/SCSU series, I believe that Saturday night’s game was the one of the wildest in program history for UNO, perhaps only rivaled by UNO’s first ever game at the Ralph against North Dakota on 1/21/11.

    Saturday night’s game was the biggest culmulative score by both teams in UNO’s program history as well as being the most goals UNO has ever allowed in a victory.

    I have been perusing my UNO press guide, too, to see if I can find any other incidence of UNO allowing a hat trick in a victory, either. I know this, if it HAS happened before, I don’t readily recall it. And my suspicion is that it hasn’t.

    Interesting that neither the press nor the school here in Omaha has made any light of ANY of this (nor USCHO, for that matter)..

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