Raiders keep on rolling

Saturday’s game between Colgate and St. Lawrence featured two teams heading in the opposite direction.  Both the red-hot Raiders and struggling Saints kept going their respective ways, as sophomore Kyle Baun’s first collegiate hat trick extended Colgate’s unbeaten streak to seven games, and dropped St. Lawrence’s skid to nine games without a win.

The win moved Colgate into a tie for second place with idle Quinnipiac. The Raiders’ seven-game unbeaten streak is tied with travel-partner Cornell for the third-best in the nation, trailing only Minnesota and Boston College. Colgate hosts Union and travels to Quinnipiac next month, two games that should have significant implications for the top of the standings.

Rivals take it to another level

Union’s 4-3 win over Harvard Friday moved the Dutchmen ahead of Quinnipiac for sole possession of first place in ECAC Hockey. But that was a mere footnote by the end of the weekend, as the end of the annual Mayor’s Cup with Rensselaer dissolved into a massive brawl once the final whistle sounded.

Videos of the incident showed that shoving started as soon as the Engineers won a last-second faceoff in their zone to seal a 2-1 victory over the  Dutchmen and escalated as Rensselaer players came off their bench to celebrate.

Referees handed out 125 minutes worth of penalties after the game, including game disqualifications to Union’s Matt Bodie and Eli Lichtenwald and Rensselaer’s Mike Zalewski and Luke Curadi. Those penalties come with an automatic one-game suspension.

Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett and RPI coach Seth Appert had to be restrained by officials and members of the teams and coaching staffs later. That scuffle appeared to have been touched off by a shove from Bennett. Check out videos and more here.

Bennett was suspended  two games by Union, while a spokesperson for ECAC Hockey said the league was reviewing video of the incident as well as talking to game officials and would hand out any additional discipline early this week.

With Bennett suspended, assistant coach Joe Dumais will coach the Dutchmen on their North Country road trip next weekend. Bennett will not travel with the team.

It’s a shame this incident marred a much-needed win by struggling RPI team that ended the Engineer’s ten-game losing streak against Union. I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of both programs, but both Bennett and Appert seem to run things the right way, and both are professional and accessible when dealing with the media. Each apologized after the game. Still, it was an embarrassing incident for both teams.

It’s also never a good sign when you make Deadspin.

League race shaping up?

There’s still nearly a month let in the regular season, but several different tiers of teams are starting toform. Eight ECAC teams have an overall record of .500 or better, with the exception of St. Lawrence, Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard.

Quinnipiac and Union are the front-runners for the top two spots. After that, the final two first-round bye positions are up for grabs. Colgate appears to have forced itself into the picture for a top-four spot, while someone from the group of Clarkson, Yale or Cornell will likely take the last one. Brown might be a sleeper team for a top-four spot, but it looks more likely the Bears will finish somewhere fifth through ninth, which would still be good enough to give them home ice in the first round for the second time in as many years.

They’ll probably be joined by Rensselaer, who was picked first in the media preseason poll. The Engineers rebounded with a pair of wins this weekend, but likely have too much ground to make up for a first-round bye. Barring a late-season surge, Dartmouth, Princeton, Harvard and St. Lawrence should be on the road for the playoffs.