So, who’s the best in ECAC Hockey conference play after one weekend? Tough to tell.
Perhaps we could call it a draw between Union and Dartmouth. After all, those were the only two teams to emerge unscathed from the first league weekend.
It was a wild and woolly weekend, as 11 of the 12 league teams earned a point in conference play. What can we learn from this? That ECAC Hockey could very well be the most entertaining of the leagues this year.
To sum it up, Brown, St. Lawrence and Yale all started out with losses on Friday, but rebounded nicely to earn their first ECAC wins on Saturday.
Conversely, Colgate, Cornell, Clarkson and Princeton went the other way, winning Friday but losing Saturday.
Union had two convincing road wins, outscoring their opponents 5-1 over the weekend, with reigning goalie of the week Troy Grosenick blanking the Saints. The next night, they picked up a 3-1 win over another true contender in the league, the Golden Knights, both wins coming on the road.
Thanks to being the host of the Ivy Shootout at Thompson Arena a week earlier, Dartmouth was able to get a fire going, put some tea on and get a little bit comfortable at home. The Big Green eked out a firewagon 5-4 win over Quinnipiac, and then sent Princeton home with frowns all around in a 5-3 Dartmouth triumph.
The Big Green won’t have to hold their mail anytime soon, either. They’re right back at Thompson Arena for their third straight weekend next Friday and Saturday and won’t have to start up the bus until Friday, Nov. 18.
Harvard and Quinnipiac lost Friday and then bumped into each other Saturday night in a 2-2 tie. They also walked away with at least something.
So, why, RPI? What is going on in Engineertown? Well, not offense. They were able to sneak one past Clarkson’s Paul Karpowich on Friday, but came up empty-handed against St. Lawrence a day later. They have a good talent in net in Bryce Merriam, but his efforts are being overshadowed by the underwhelming point production. Back to the drafting board, Engineers.
St. Lawrence: Not so Saintly?
The Saints were no doubt very eager to get back to work after three weeks off, but their eagerness ended up going over the edge a few too many times this weekend.
Heck, even before they hit the ice to start Friday, the Saints were in the sin bin, due to a “protocol violation” penalty. That’s a new one for this writer.
It turned out the referees slapped them for two minutes for being late to come out for the start of the game. Hmm, after three weeks of not playing, I’m surprised they didn’t have tents set up on the ice surface. “Occupy Appleton.”
To be fair to most of the team, 12 of their 24 minutes of penalties Friday against Union came from a slashing minor and 10-minute misconduct against Jacob Drewiske. That was conduct certainly unbecoming of a Saint. On Saturday, Gunnar Hughes chalked up 15 minutes of a major and game misconduct for 15 of the Saints’ 25 minutes there. That was his second game misconduct this season.
Going back to a game misconduct in the team’s 4-0 playoff loss to Yale last year, that’s four such calls in the last seven total games for the program. Not a positive trend.
Penalties are proving very costly for the league’s two least successful teams right now, as RPI leads in conference PIM (57) and is 1-8-0 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
St. Lawrence is second (49) and is 1-5 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
Rensselaer has been far more successful in killing its penalties (46-for-52, 88.5, 12th nationally) than the Saints (23-for-31, 74.2, 52nd nationally).
Who will be “Mr. November”?
Granted, Quinnipiac junior Jeremy Langlois’ goal against Harvard on Saturday night could be the start of another long streak. However, he may have some catching up to do in the player of the month race, already, after going scoreless in two straight games last Tuesday and Friday.
Players to watch to go on hot streaks include Dartmouth’s Dustin Walsh (five points in his two games this weekend), Langlois’ teammate and reigning rookie of the month Matthew Peca (point streak now at 11 points in 10 games), Brown’s Jack MacLellan or Massimo Lamacchia (four points in three games apiece) and, of course, Union’s Mat Bodie, who really deserves a weekly or monthly award sometime soon.
Out of the gate, he’s scored 10 points in every one of his nine games.
Heck, it could be a defenseman like Clarkson’s Kevin Tansey (plus or even in each one of 10 games so far) or a goalie like Union’s Troy Grosenick. He’s given up just five goals in his last five games, including a shutout this weekend against St. Lawrence and only one goal against a potent Clarkson team (3.30 goals per game).
Of course, I will agree that the real race is which team is on top at the end, but it’s fun to watch the individuals try to outwork each other for team glory.