Blue, green, and sweet 16

Sixteen is sweet; but results sour for QU

The Bobcats are still streaking, reeling off games number 15 and 16 without a loss this weekend.

That said, their dominance is still in question in some circles: Friday’s 1-1 home result against RPI (1-6-3 in ECAC play) and Saturday’s 3-2 squeaker versus Union were hardly scores to write home about. QU trailed in each game, went 1/14 on the power play, and required a furious third-period comeback to defeat Union, which led 2-0 with 15 minutes remaining.

To be fair, every game and season have swings. The fact that that Quinnipiac has been able to avoid an L since November 6 is in itself extraordinary, especially in a league so incredibly competitive as ECAC Hockey. If precedent is any indication, the Bobcats are about three points away from securing a first-round bye, and they’re only 12 games into their conference campaign: That is an almost preposterous position.

Perhaps this is a fortuitous week for a bye, given the weekend’s struggles. QU is likely to extend its unbeaten streak to 17 a week from Tuesday when they host Connecticut (8-9-2 overall), but hit the road again the following weekend to take on Brown and Yale.

Bulldogs barrel through North Country

Neither St. Lawrence nor Clarkson look terribly strong this year – which is an oddity in its own right – but a North Country sweep is always cause for celebration after so many hours on the bus.

Yale posted consecutive two-goal wins last weekend, besting SLU 5-3 and Clarkson, 3-1. The victories extend a moderate hot streak for the Blue, who have only lost once in six games (and twice in 11). Yale scored four of its eight goals on the power play (in nine chances), improving the season’s PP rate to 22 percent. Yale’s top three scorers (Kenny Agostino, Antoine Laganiere, and Andrew Miller) each scored this weekend – all three on Friday, in fact – and senior Jeff Malcolm (four goals on 72 shots) is establishing himself nicely as the team’s No. 1 netminder.

In league play, Yale gets stronger as the game progresses: The Blue have scored seven goals in first periods thus far, nine in the second, and 12 in the final frames. This fact mirrors the season itself, as the squad appears to be getting more confident and consistent as the calendar flips. Goaltending has been a question mark for Allain’s Bulldogs for a few years now, but Malcolm’s .917/2.57 numbers are respectable and getting moreso as we approach playoff hockey. With Dartmouth, the Blue appear to be in strong contention for the No. 2 position in ECAC Hockey.

Big Green off the mat

With three straight losses – their first losing streak of the season – those in the Dartmouth camp could be forgiven for their groans on Saturday evening. The Big Green fell behind to upstart Harvard in the first period, then coughed up a 2-1 lead in the third period against the same arch-rival.

Sophomore Jesse Beamish scored only his second goal of the year – his third point – in the game’s 53rd minute to secure Dartmouth its first win of 2013, and keep the squad in lock-step with Yale for the second-best winning percentage in the league. The 3-2 win also marked the first time in four games that the Hanover side had topped two goals, a welcome development for a defensively consistent crew. Goaltenders Cab Morris (a junior) and frosh Charles Grant are still jousting for the top goaltending slot, with each boasting save rates around .920 and goals-against averages between 2.0 and 2.5 (an admittedly significant swing).

A primary concern for the starving offense is the power play, which is still scraping by with a 16 percent conversion rate. The Green did make good on one of two advantages against Harvard, their first PPG in three games (0/11 in that span). On the other hand, the penalty kill has been lights out for most of the year, smothering over 93 percent of opponents’ power plays. Dartmouth only allowed a single power-play goal in its first dozen games (51/52) but gave up three goals on 15 PK’s during the skid.

Dartmouth was an exceptional team in late-2012. Whither the 2013 Green? We’ll find out soon enough: Brown and Yale await.