Stratification begins in ECAC Hockey

There is one month left in the ECAC regular season.

Allow me to repeat: One month. I know, it always flies by, and for a lot of programs there isn’t nearly enough time remaining to recover from recent stumbles. Fortunately, everyone makes the playoffs, and anything can happen in short series. That said, playing on home ice is an irrefutable advantage and eight teams have done enough to earn a little breathing room from the bottom third.

Musical chairs at the top

Room for four, but five at the door.

Union, Quinnipiac, Cornell, Colgate and Clarkson sit within four points of each other – in that order – each one point behind the next, respectively. This weekend saw Cornell separate itself from the middle and rise toward a prized bye seed with a four point weekend; Quinnipiac went one-for-one on a light weekend by blasting Dartmouth Friday night; and Union fought through numerous post-Mayor’s Cup suspensions to earn a split at the North Country and hold onto first place. Disadvantages for Cornell and Colgate, however: This travel tandem has one fewer game to play than most of the rest of the league. (The Harvard-Dartmouth duo has also played 15 games.)

For your consideration, a breakdown of the remaining home and road records of this quintet, and the combined record of each team’s remaining opposition:

Union: Four road, four home; opponents’ record: 53-45-16 (.535)
Quinnipiac: Four road, four home; opponents’ record: 53-46-15 (.531)
Cornell: Four home, three road; opponents’ record: 43-47-11 (.480)
Colgate: Five home, two road; opponents’ record: 42-45-14 (.485)
Clarkson: Four road, four home; opponents’ record: 46-55-13 (.461)

Stuck in the middle

The small block of the standings occupied by Yale (15 points), Brown (13) and Rensselaer (13) sits three points short of fifth-place Clarkson, but is four points clear of St. Lawrence and Harvard. All three split last weekend, and the Bulldogs, Bears and Engineers each have eight games left – four at home, four away. Here’s the next month’s work, broken down by program:

Yale: Opponents’ record: 50-51-13 (.496)
Brown: Opponents’ record: 50-51-13 (.496)
RPI Opponents’ record: 53-45-16 (.535)

Odds ‘n ends

• The 62nd annual Beanpot kicks off Monday night, and Harvard draws Northeastern in the 5pm game. The Crimson beat the Huskies the last time they tangled at “the Garden” (there is so much wrong with that name) in the 2012 consolation game. Both of Monday’s games are televised on NESN, as is the title game seven days later.

As promised, the PairWise Rankings underwent their weekly shuffle. QU and Union maintained top-four status, and Cornell jumped four places, from 10th to sixth following their four-point road weekend. However, Clarkson and Colgate fell out of the top 16 into ties for 17th and 20th, respectively (where Yale is knotted with Colgate beyond the bubble). The next ECAC Hockey teams on the list are Brown and RPI at 26 and 27, who are likely write-offs for at-large bids at this point… but then, who knows. Anything can happen.

And finally, my weekly USCHO ballot: