ECAC Quarterfinal Picks: March 9-11

Final regular reason record: 66-65

Playoff record (series): 2-2

As the numbers show, I’ve been downright mediocre with my picks (including a 6-6 mark on the final weekend of the regular season). So take these for whatever they’re worth.

All series are best-of-three and start at 7 p.m. The four remaining teams will move on to Atlantic City for the ECAC Championship next weekend. I’ll  keep it brief here;  check Brian’s column  for a more detailed look at the quarterfinals.

Brian: I’m updating before Friday’s puck drop, so I’m keeping my picks brief so as not to miss the initial few moments of the Yale at Harvard series. Sorry for the lack of insight… but then, I doubt any of you really expect that of me anymore anyway.

No. 10 Rensselaer at No. 1 Union

Both Union and RPI fell victim to Colgate’s playoff run last season, yet each team still made the NCAA tournament thanks to an at-large bid. There’s no way the Engineers get in this year without winning the Whitelaw trophy, and they’ll have to go through a Dutchmen team that’s gone 3-0 against them this season, outscoring them by an aggregate of 15-4.

Interesting to note that RPI is staying at a hotel, according to Ken Schott of the Schenectady Daily Gazette, despite the fact that Union is their closest league rival.  By doing so, they’ll look to avoid any distractions and focus solely on their play on the ice, something that’s helped RPI turn it around in the second half. But they’ll need more than that to take down a tough Union squad.  Union in 3. ( 4-2, 1-2 (OT), 4-1).

Brian: Can’t count out the Engineers, especially with so much on the line in this rivalry round. I feel this one going three… shocker, right? Union, two games to one.

No. 9 Dartmouth at No. 2 Cornell

Nothing the Big Green did at any point in the season’s final month suggested they’d be here, never mind be the only ECAC team to get a clean sweep in the first round. Their sweep of St. Lawrence also marked their first playoff series on the road.  Can they strike for the second time in as many weekend? I see the Big Red being too tough here. Cornell in 2. (4-1, 6-2)

Brian: Dartmouth has underwhelmed all year. Correction: Dartmouth had underwhelmed all year, right up until the last two weeks, when the Big Green came to life and discovered the fine-tuned connections that make penalty-killing situations tenable. Cornell has been, somehow, a little less “Cornell” than I’ve been accustomed to seeing in Februaries (and now, Marches) past, but I think this weekend marks the end of the line for the current edition of the Big Green. Red in a sweep.

No. 6 Yale at No. 3 Harvard

Feel comfortable picking a winner here? Me neither. The Crimson took a narrow 4-3 win at home in January, while Yale glided to a 7-1 win at Ingalls Feb. 18, starting a 5-1-1 stretch, including last weekend’s series win against Princeton.  Twelve of Harvard’s 29 games have gone to overtime this year.  There’s no ties in the postseason, so they’re going to have finish off those draws if they want to get to Atlantic City. Yale in 3  (4-2, 3-4, 5-4 (OT).

Brian: Man, this one’s got three-gamer written all over it. Harvard has been good (not great, but good) at home, Yale has been pretty not good on the road, and overall these squads feel as though they’ve sort of traded statuses this season: The Crimson are solid and relatively consistent; the Bulldogs, inconsistent to a maddening degree. Look to goaltending as the crapshoot difference-maker this weekend. My pick? Harvard wins Sunday.

No. 5 Quinnipiac at No. 4 Colgate

The Raiders are making their third-straight trip to the conference quarterfinals, including the second time in three years through a bye. They didn’t get a weekend off last year, but still wound up becoming the first No. 12 seed in league history to make it to the championship weekend.

Meanwhile, Quinnipiac has won a playoff series ever season since joining the league in 2005-06, but  has only gotten past the quarterfinals once, in the 2006-07 season. Current assistant coach Reid Cashman was on that team, which lost to Clarkson in the league championship.

The Bobcats rebounded from a dud in the opener against Brown Friday, where they were outworked by the Bears in every facet. Leading goal-scorer Jeremy Langlois returned for the last two games of that series, and gives the Bobcats another threat outside of the Kellen/Connor Jones and Matthew Peca line.

Colgate’s top line of Joe Wilson-Chris Wagner-Austin Smith has been outstanding, and they’ve gotten solid secondary scoring from Robbie Bourdon and Austin Mayer.

Quinnipiac is incredibly sound in their own end, but I think Colgate has just a touch more scoring and should move on the Boardwalk for the second year in a row. Colgate in 3 (3-1, 3-4, 5-3).

Brian: As much as it pains me to say, I fear that Colgate may have run out of gas at the end of the regular season. Austin Smith and Chris Wagner can only carry the load for so long, and against only so decent a defense. QU rolls deep, and – if goalie Eric Hartzell and his accompanying blueliners can contain the Smith-Wagner combo – looks like a likely “upset” pick for the weekend. Not that I’m obliged to make one – I clearly didn’t last week, and look where that got me – but I just don’t think that the Raiders have easy access to the next gear necessary to make a deeper run. Q-Cats sweep.