Places, polls and prodigies

Quinnipiac in first

First place in Atlantic Hockey, that is. Eight games into their regular season, the Bobcats are 6-2-0… and 5-1-0 against AHA opponents following this weekend’s split at Robert Morris. Will the 10 points be enough to hold off the rest of the pack until QU’s next Atlantic game on December 9 (in Hamden vs. Sacred Heart)? We shall see!

In the meantime, while the Bobcats hope to become the first team to take first place in two different conferences simultaneously, they are demonstrating along the way some decent consistency compared to previous seasons. Mock QU’s non-conference gauntlet all you like (I’m way ahead of you!), but at least the ‘Cats are winning these games.

Junior Jeremy Langlois has eight goals in eight games, which is awfully tough to do. Add in his four multi-point games (including a three-goal, four-point outing on the 15th against Canisius) and the fact that he’s registered a point in each of Quinnipiac’s games this year, and you have the makings of a Hobey dark-horse. Senior goalie Dan Clarke may be making his case as the team’s No. 1 with a .929 save percentage and 1.39 goals against average.

I won’t hold skepticism against you, but we’ll see real soon exactly how sharp QU’s claws really are: the Q-Cats’ next three games are at Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard, before they return home on November 11-12 to host the North Country.

ECAC Hockey places five in latest poll

This honestly surprised me a little bit for a few reasons. First the facts: Yale (10), Union (11), Colgate (16), Cornell (19) and Quinnipiac (20) earned top-20 designations in this week’s poll. Dartmouth and Clarkson received votes as well, bringing seven of the 12 teams into something akin to national respectability.

Yale, Cornell, and Dartmouth have yet to drop the puck with a D-I opponent, and that makes for annual hair-pulling on the part of the pollsters. Quinnipiac climbed into the 20th spot this week after not being ranked last week, despite only splitting at RMU last weekend. Colgate has a good record, but really made its mark on the voters by splitting with Miami in Hamilton… unfortunately, Miami (2-4-0) isn’t looking half as good as many imagined it would be. Union has finally built a bit of a cachet thanks to its strong recent history, otherwise I don’t think a 2-0-3 record against Army (win), Western Michigan (two ties), Niagara (tie) and RIT (win) would get them very high.

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer here, as I’m as fervid a proponent of the league as I can professionally be. I guess I’m just surprised that everyone else out there is as supportive of ECAC Hockey as I am.

Young blood

We, like other leagues, have a handful of exciting freshmen who are already earning a little extra attention from opposing teams.

Quinnipiac’s Matt Peca has taken the early lead in overall scoring among ECAC players, with three goals and five helpers in his first eight games. The 5’9″ winger from Petawawa, Ontario with no – I repeat, no – relation to former NHLer Michael Peca has registered a point in every game but his first and has lit the lamp in three straight. He is playing on the Q’s top line, with left wing Scott Zurevinski and aforementioned center Langlois.

Hot on his scoring heels is Clarkson’s Sam Labrecque, who was certainly singled out in the preseason by new head coach Casey Jones as one of his frosh worth watching. It’s impressive enough that he has a goal and four assists in his first six collegiate games, until you are reminded that he’s a defenseman, which makes the feat doubly exceptional. If he can stay focused and healthy, he’ll make it a lot easier for ‘Tech fans to get over losing Bryan Rufenach and Mark Borowiecki.

Also worth noting: Three other nameplates to watch for include Colgate’s Joe Wilson and John Lidgett, with Union’s Max Novak: each has summed four points in five games.