A special weekend indeed

Minors were major

There was a lot of scoring this weekend, but there might not have been nearly as much offense were it not for some potent power plays. There were 25 power-play goals scored this weekend on 122 combined opportunities, which equates to a 20.5 percent success rate. That’s great for one team, but as a full weekend’s average? Insane. Add to that eight shorthanded goals (see below for more on that) and one empty-net goal, and you have 34 “specialty” goals out of 71 total goals scored.

Seven of the dozen contests played between Friday and Sunday featured PPG’s by both teams, while only one – Saturday’s Brown-Clarkson event – was perfectly killed all around.

Kills were killer

The league saw eight shorthanded goals this weekend – which is an awful lot – but even more outlandish is the fact that five of them were scored in two games. Two were scored in a 10:11 stretch of the third period by Cornell (in Friday’s 3-2 comeback win at Quinnipiac) and three more were scored in Saturday’s Rensselaer at Union tilt. That match included two Dutchmen shorties within a 4:08 span of the first period, and RPI’s only goal (in the third) in the 5-1 contest.

Princeton had an undermanned strike against Colgate on Friday, and the Raiders gave up another one the following evening at QU. The final SHG of the weekend was tallied by UNH early in Saturday’s second period against Dartmouth, and it proved to be the game-winner in the Wildcats’ eventual 4-1 victory.

Overall, the eight outnumbered goals tallied by ECAC squads this weekend increased the league’s total overall SHG’s by 40 percent (from 20 to 28).

Big Four membership rescinded?

Warning: this will probably catch me some flak from, well, certain flacks.

With only three non-conference games remaining on the league’s regular-season docket (Connecticut at Princeton on January 31, and Harvard’s two Hockey East Beanpot games), it has been decided that ECAC Hockey will – once again – finish the season with losing records against each of the other “Big Four” conferences: the CCHA, Hockey East, and WCHA. It will mark the fifth consecutive season of such national submission, and with every out-of-league defeat, it gets harder and harder to substantiate the ECAC’s claim to “Big Four” status.

In fact, ECAC Hockey has only rolled into the NCAA’s with a winning record against one other Big Four league, ever – the CCHA – in the last ten years, and that happened twice: 2004-05 and ’06-07. (Potential correction: I feel as though I mistakenly posted that ECAC Hockey had bested Hockey East last season, but in checking my numbers, I see that to be false at this time. But then, maybe I never made that assertion in the first place, in which case ignore all this.) In any event, the conference has been playing what effectively amounts to AAAA ball against major-league opponents, generally crushing Atlantic Hockey foes but falling more often than not to the – let’s just admit it – Big Three.

There are a lot of things that are top-notch about ECAC Hockey, with academic standards leading the way by a country mile. Unfortunately, for any number of reasons, the quality and viability of hockey on a national stage is not – nor has it been in quite some time.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I agree that the ECAC has not fared great against other Big 4 conferences.  However, I think it is worth considering that many of these games are played on the road because major CCHA and WCHA teams won’t travel and the Ivies (who make up half of the ECAC) often play non-conference games early in the year against teams that already have 5-7 games under their belts. 

  2. Agreed, it’s the Big Three.  It seems each year there are perhaps 2 ECAC teams that are worthy of national recognition, after that, a bunch of relatively poor to okay teams.

  3. Last week you said no one needed a win more than Minnesota, I would say that this week that distinction needs to go to Minnesota Duluth, not only have they not won in the WCHA, they have been beaten handily, with a close second going to Michigan Tech. At 1-5 they need to prove last year was not a fluke.

    As for UAA, they have played some good games, yes, but doesn’t every team have a *chance* to get to the Final Five? I guess I would wait until they actually win a game before making this statement.

  4. Contrary to early reports, Denver appears the team to beat this year. Good scoring and an abundance of goaltending make them very formidable. Minnesota has got to get a fire lit under them. They have been readingpress clippings too much.

    • Denver has solid goaltending for sure. I question whether or not their scoring will continue at their current pace, for the entire season.

      The one area that was considered a concern for Minnesota going in was goaltending and that has been the bright spot so far. Wilcox has played great. The offense has sputtered, part of that may have been due to the fact that none of their lines remained intact from last year. Now their #1 line is back together, but they are still consistently playing two defensemen at forward and don’t really have 4 complete lines. These are issues. The defense has been on and off all season. They will be stellar one night giving up nothing of any quality to their opponent one night and then next night cough up the puck in their own end on a consistent basis. All of this seems to have less to do with reading press clippings and more to execution and consistency on the ice. Fortunately it is still November so there is time to get it figured out…….but not too long.

    • hard to argue with that thus far. shaping up to be quite a battle for macnaughton this year. denver does look tough. minny is underperforming. (but…with the talent they returned, its not hard to imagine they’ll win IF they put it all together.) and watch out for nodak, st cloud, CC, and UNO — all 4 look tough. this is going to be a great season of wcha hockey!

    • Denver is hands-down the best team in the league right now.

      I expect NoDak will get hot after the New Year, as per usual.

      If MN doesn’t get their first 3 lines sorted and locked in by Christmas, people will stop wondering where the “real” Gophers are, and just resign ourselves to the fact they’re simply not that good this year. T’would be a shame. Ultimately, it makes little difference how amazing the individual players are, if they can’t make a great team.

      In many respects, this is a true test of how good Lucia and Guentzel are as coaches. They should be able to find a way to win 90% of their games with that level of talent.

  5. I would tend to agree with you two for the most part, however, I must ad that even with Denver, Phil, Omaha is looking great so far. I am very surprised by them. Though a Blais team plays best when expectations are below average. Hard to imagine them not getting 2nd or 3rd in WCHA by the end of the season

    • I have to respectively disagree. They have played well in the last two series but I see Minnesota, UND, Denver, and CC finishing above Omaha. I think they will finish the season fighting with SCSU for the 5th spot.

  6. Paula – trust me when I tell you this. I have season tickets for over 25 years in Yost Arena on the glass directly across from the home bench. The team this year seems to play for only one of the three periods in any game. The other two periods there appears to be a significant lack of effort. I would take the less talented Jed Ortmeyer led team that always gave the proverbial 110% every game over this one every day.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here