Players of the Week
Player of the week: Chase Polacek, RPI
No stranger to the spotlight, Polacek scored twice – including the game-winner – in Friday’s tight win over Harvard, and added another GWG (this one on the power play) and an assist in Saturday’s romp over Dartmouth. The senior is now second in the league in conference points-per-game (1.42), and tied for third in league goals/game (7). Polacek is riding high right now, on a five-game point streak in which he’s tallied five goals and four assists.
Honorable mention: Chris Cahill, Yale (2-3-5, +3 vs. Clarkson and St. Lawrence); Tyler Roeszler, Cornell (3-1-4, +2 in two games vs. Colgate);
Rookie of the week: Kenny Agostino, Yale
The exceptional rookie on an exceptional team, Agostino earned his honor this week by virtue of his three goals and +2 rating against Clarkson and St. Lawrence. His goal with 11:16 remaining on Friday proved to be the game-winner over the Golden Knights, and he also notched the game’s (and Bulldogs’) first and third goals in Saturday’s 4-1 cruise. Now with 15 points overall, Agostino has out-scored the rest of his Yale classmates, combined (9).
Honorable mention: Brock Higgs, RPI (1-2-3 vs. Harvard and Dartmouth)
Goalie of the week: Mike Clemente, Brown
The Bears didn’t sweep the weekend, but that was hardly Clemente’s fault: The junior netminder stopped 59 of 62 shots against the North Country visitors. Friday night’s 2-1 win over SLU was a true goaltender battle, with Clemente besting Matt Weninger with 25 saves on 26 shots on goal; on Saturday, Bruno’s backstop made 34 saves, but Brown fell 3-1 with an empty-net goal against as well. Clemente has saved 90.7 percent of league shots so far, with a 2.84 goals-against average.
Honorable mention: Ryan Rondeau, Yale (3 goals against, 49 saves vs. Clarkson and St. Lawrence); Mike Garman, Cornell (1 goal against, 24 saves at Colgate); James Mello, Dartmouth (5 goals against, 60 saves at Union and Rensselaer); Keith Kinkaid, Union (4 goals against, 54 saves vs. Dartmouth and Harvard); Ryan Carroll, Harvard (2 goals against, 40 saves at Union)
A quick look at who might be over-rated, and who might be under-rated in ECAC Hockey at this point: I primarily looked at goal differential, and outcomes in one-goal games. Please keep in mind that these are just loose observations and projections, based on statistical precedent, and do not take into account injuries, momentum, strength-of-schedule, etc.
So please don’t kill me.
[EDIT: here is a research-based feature I wrote last year regarding the interpretation of one-goal games.]
I have come to the conclusion that the league’s most undervalued team right now is Cornell: the Big Red are 3-6-2 (.364) in one-goal games, compared to a .474 overall winning percentage. That’s a considerable difference in performance, and combined with the fact that the Red are +6 in ECAC goal differential (and +2 overall), I am led to believe that Cornell is the most likely team to make a jump in the standings in the coming weeks.
Princeton is probably better than its record as well, and even though the Tigers have a winning record, they are likely a game or two better than their results indicate. Princeton is an even 5-5-1 in one-goal games, +16 in league differential, +18 overall, and have an overall winning percentage of .639 that is being dragged down by the outcomes of their tight games. If the Garden State growlers keep playing as they have been so far, they’re likely a top-three team come March.
If it weren’t for bad luck – as the saying goes – Colgate would have no luck at all: With a .167 winning percentage for the year, the Raiders are an even-worse .125 (1-13-2) in one-goal outcomes. I’m not saying that the ‘Gate should be leaps and bounds beyond where it is now, but another win or two above its current pace sounds about right.
The Saints, 2-5-4 (.364) in one-goalers and .391 overall, are probably in the same boat as Colgate: They’re probably good for a couple more wins in the second half than they had in the first.
And how’s this for a surprise? Yale, by my estimation, is probably slightly better than they already are! At only 3-2-0 (.600) in one-goal games, the Bulldogs are winning at a 89.5 percent clip overall. If the spring mimics the fall as far as the frequency of tight contests, the Blue may well be due an even better second half than first.
As much as I hate to say it, the league probably has a couple over-achieving teams as well. Clarkson stands out, with its gaudy 5-1-2 (.750) record in one-goal games, as well as its -10 (ECAC)/-6 (overall) differential. At a .565 overall winning percentage, ‘Tech perhaps isn’t quite the dark horse some are making it out to be.
The Bobcats have generated a lot of interest, especially since sweeping Nebraska-Omaha to open the new year… but the numbers to date indicate a team that has probably peaked, as far as the standings go. At 5-3-4 (.583) in tight games and .474 overall, QU is succeeding beyond expectations, and isn’t scoring enough to back up those numbers (-6/-7).
Brown, at .583/.474 (one-goal vs. overall), shares a predicted fate with Quinnipiac: Too much luck in close contests, not enough scoring (-6/-7) to compensate.
Finally, the unexpected of the over-achievers: Union, at 8-3-3 (.679), is rocking in one-goal games, but at .673 overall, I’d bet that the Dutchmen are overdue for a little bit of bad luck in this semester’s nail-biters.
A few teams seem to be right where they ought to be, statistically speaking: Dartmouth, Harvard and RPI may well be who their records say they are.
The Big Green may be slightly over-achieving (.625 in one-goal games, .632 overall), but its +16 league goal differential says otherwise. Dartmouth is looking good for a first-round bye, so far.
Harvard might not have bad luck as an excuse for their sorry season, as the Crimson are winning more close games (2-7-0, .222) than their remainder (.167).
The Engineers are churning along at .688 overall, and with a nail-biter record of 8-5-3 (.594), they look to be on pace for a bye as well, should they keep up the good work.
My Top 20
2. Boston College
3. North Dakota
9. New Hampshire
11. Notre Dame
16. Colorado College
18. Western Michigan
20. Boston University