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Big Four membership rescinded?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.