Was it dramatic? No. Was it boisterous? No. Was it inspiring? Not really.
Ah, but was it predictable? Never… not in ECAC Hockey.
Union marched to its second consecutive ECAC tournament title in Atlantic City, and – all things considered – the Dutchmen are probably the only folks will enjoyed the three-year A.C. experiment, having hoisted the trophy twice at Boardwalk Hall. This also marked the third time in four years that Union played in the league’s season finale, and the third consecutive NCAA berth for the Schenectady program.
Well for a little while there, it looked perfectly reasonable to think that five ECAC squads might make the NCAA’s. My, my, but weren’t those halcyon days… as a matter of hours later, we felt fortunate to have three again.
RPI was the first team bumped off the bubble with Friday’s wild and tumultuous results, as eight of Division 1’s 10 semifinal games went to the underdog. Eight out of 10! Brown was next out, falling to Union in the conference’s title tilt – Bruno never had a shot beyond the auto-bid, so that was hardly a twist of fate.
And then there was the Yale debacle. Once considered a functional lock for the big dance, the Bulldogs utterly failed to show up this weekend: Friday’s 5-0 loss to Union suddenly put the Elis in a precarious PairWise position, but even that didn’t seem to spur the Blue as they were shut out again on Saturday – 3-0 – against rival Quinnipiac. Not sure what happened (more on that in a moment), but Notre Dame bucked the weekend’s trend by downing underdog Michigan in the final CCHA final to secure Yale a spot in the field of 16.
All told, it was a weekend of wild results; it’s a shame for the ECAC at least, the excitement was more in the results than in the product on the ice.
Perhaps it was only fitting: The Bulldogs didn’t show up on the ice, so why should we have expected them to appear for a press conference?
Yale ditched the obligatory post-game presser following the consolation-game loss, with nary a word of explanation. Per colleague Nate Owen, who was live at the scene:
“[The media] waited for a few minutes… someone went back to find [Yale], said they were showering and would be out. Then they came back and said they had already gotten on the bus and left.”
Nate added that ECAC Hockey Assistant Commissioner Ed Krajewski, who MC’ed the weekend’s press conferences, “was pretty sheepish when he said they weren’t coming out.”
Head coach Keith Allain has developed a reputation as a tough quote – he is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Rensselaer’s Seth Appert, Brown’s Brendan Whittet, or Dartmouth’s Bob Gaudet in that respect – but, as frustrating as that may be to the media, tweren’t no crime.
No-showing one of the league’s major pressers, on the other hand, is unprofessional.
I have never had a personal problem with Allain, nor – to the best of my knowledge – has he with me, but this action deserves attention for its gross impertinence. Yale is a great team at a great school, with a great history, great recruiting, great coaching, a great support staff, and great local support as well. I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if I criticized any of these aspects of the program.
But deliberately hanging Krajewski, the league he represents, and the media – most of whom traveled great distances to cover Allain’s team, among others – out to dry… well, that’s a great disrespect.
Per the Yale sports information department, Allain had no comment on the issue on Monday morning.
ECAC Hockey will be well-represented at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence next weekend, as both QU and Union are in the mix… and Brown is the host program.
The Bobcats will tangle with Atlantic Hockey champion Canisius (19-18-5) in Saturday’s 5:30 opener, while Union draws defending national champion Boston College (22-11-4) for the 9pm contest. Yale was sent out West to grapple with overall No. 2 seed Minnesota in Grand Rapids, Mich., at 2:00 on Friday.
Much more on all three participants in the regional previews, out on Wednesday. Catch up with all of our weekend’s ECAC material – along with comprehensive coverage of the other leagues – on USCHO’s front page, if you haven’t already. Also, don’t miss the annual USCHO Pickem, with chances to win prizes (and to make up for that Georgetown blunder on your squeakball bracket).
It’s that time of year again. Get excited… good luck to ECAC Hockey.