Hopes, dreams, and comebacks with one week to go

First things first

There are two regular-season games remaining. Here is where your team, your rival, and everyone else may finish.

Controlling fate
For three teams, a bye is theirs to lose. Ok, so QU has it wrapped up.

  • Quinnipiac… seriously? First. First and first only. Don’t be ridiculous.
  • Rensselaer: Second through sixth. Two points clinches a bye, for the first time under coach Seth Appert (note thanks to Ken Schott) – and in fact for the first time under the “new” bye format (thanks to Without a Peer for that one).
  • St. Lawrence: Second through seventh. Four points clinches a bye, but it is theoretically possible for SLU to lose out and still get next week off.
  • Yale: Second through eighth. The Bulldogs have earned a first-round home series, but they cannot finish in the top four without help.

Help to rest
Five teams are scoreboard-watching with an eye on a bye.

  • Dartmouth: Second through ninth. One point clinches home ice, but like Yale, the Big Green won’t necessarily earn a bye with four points.
  • Union: Second through ninth. Two points to clinch home ice for the Dutchmen.
  • Clarkson: Third through 11th. Two points for home ice.
  • Brown: Fourth through 11th. Three points secures a home-ice series, but really, all Bruno needs is a point against Cornell and a point against Colgate to play at home again.

Hoping for a hand
These teams need help if they hope to play at home again.

  • Cornell: Fourth through 11th. The Big Red need help to earn a home-ice series… even a sweep this weekend won’t necessarily guarantee another game at Lynah this winter.
  • Princeton: Fifth through 11th. The Tigers need a lot of help if they hope to climb into a home-ice slot.
  • Colgate: Eighth through 12th. It is highly likely that the Raiders will finish 11th.
  • Harvard: The Crimson are all but assured of playing in Hamden the fifth-place team in two weeks, though there is an insignificant chance that Harvard could finish 11th.

Also, this is cool.

Quinnipiac making league history

With games at Harvard and Dartmouth remaining, the Bobcats are hoping for as uneventful a weekend as possible. Wins are certainly a priority, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to presume that remaining healthy is the priority. QU already has the Cleary Cup, and likely has very little else to do in order to secure a top seed in the NCAA Tournament… though a few bad losses certainly wouldn’t help the cause.

Lost in the statistics about the best season in program history is that it is also one of the most remarkable seasons in league history… and ECAC Hockey is a league with history, man. While QU is not going to finish with the best regular-season record the conference has ever seen (Cornell famously fielded an undefeated team in 1969-70, which went 29-0-0 overall ), it will be up there. Harvard went 20-2-0 in 1986-87 and ’88-89. Vermont went 17-2-3 in ’95-96. Cornell, 19-2-1 in ’02-03 and 18-2-2 two years later. This year’s team is likely to be held in such high regard as these squads, but has a chance to do something no other program in the league has done since the end of the division format in 1983-84: Win the league by double-digits.

Since Hockey East’s split from the ECAC 29 years ago, the league has consisted of one 12-team table. (It had formerly been divided into four uneven divisions prior to the rupture.) In the three decades under this arrangement, no team has ever separated itself from the peloton quite as substantially as Quinnipiac has this year. In fact, the greatest gulfs between first and second place in the “modern” era (since ’84-85) have been nine points, witnessed four times:

  • Cornell finished nine points ahead of Clarkson in 2001-02.
  • Colgate wrapped up the season that far ahead of RPI in early 1990.
  • Harvard put nine points between itself and Colgate by the end of the ’86-87 regular season.
  • The Engineers were the first to do it, right out of the split in 1985; Harvard finished a distant second.

QU is currently a dozen (12! XII! Doce, for our Spanish readers!) points ahead of second-place RPI. Two points won (or lost, by RPI, or one point lost by St. Lawrence) makes the ’12-13 Bobcats the greatest runaway winner in ECAC Hockey’s recent/relevant history.

This league constantly touts itself as one of the tightest and toughest conferences in the nation, top to bottom. This is no small feat by the boggling Bobcats.

Don’t call it a comeback

Two key figures returned to ECAC action this weekend, and each played a major role in his respective team’s success.

Sophomore defenseman Spiro Goulakos played his second and third games since returning from cancer treatment, and scored the game-winning goal on Friday against Union in his return to Starr Rink.

“It was unbelievable,” head coach Don Vaughan told GoColgateRaiders.com. “We have all had a lift with him coming back and being able to play. It’s an incredible story and we hope he continues to feel well and we will see how it goes, but right now he looks like he hasn’t missed a step and his is a real inspiration.

“The crowd support was sensational tonight,” Vaughan added. “The team did a great job trying to build up awareness for the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Leukemia Society. Our student body really responded with great support and I wanted to give a shout out to them tonight.”

Goulakos was overwhelmed by the support he received both during and since his absence. Again, from GoColgateRaiders.com:

“The crowd support was amazing,” Goulakos said. “Just being at school the last couple of the weeks I have had a lot of support from everyone here at Colgate. The team has been especially supportive and everything little thing like that helps.”

Another big return was that of Yale senior netminder Jeff Malcolm, who made his first start since Feb. 1 in Saturday’s 4-3 comeback win at Princeton. The goalie stopped 17 shots in his first action since a lower-body injury against – coincidentally – Princeton, helping the Bulldogs win their third Ivy League title in four years.

“It was great to be back,” Malcolm told YaleBulldogs.com.”I hate not being in the lineup, and I’m sick of watching hockey. The guys did a great job in front of me. Lots of guys are banged up, I’m not the only one. I was shaking off some of the rust, but it felt great.”

Yale went 0-5 in Malcolm’s absence, falling from a position of control to a bubble team, as noted at the top of the blog.