Surprises abound for Harvard, Dartmouth and Union

Mountain climbers

It should come as no surprise that the Harvard Crimson lead this weekend’s entry. The Crimson scored a pair of huge road wins last week, downing No. 1 Boston University 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday, then smothering No. 4 Massachusetts-Lowell 4-2 on Saturday. Harvard is now 7-1-2 overall, and 3-0-1 against Top 10 teams (including an earlier tie at Union and win at Boston College), all on the road.

The special teams are rolling (31 percent power play, 92 percent on the kill), the team hasn’t lost when scoring first (6-0-1) and has never trailed at the first intermission, and the top line of Jimmy Vesey – Alex Kerfoot – Kyle Criscuolo is one of the hottest in the nation with 17 goals and 42 points between them. Oh, and goalie Steve Michalek is stopping 94.7 percent of shots faced, which is insignificantly worse than one goal against for every 20 shots faced.

Teddy Donato’s road warriors are unbeaten in six road games this season (5-0-1), with two more coming up before the holiday break (at Princeton and No. 14 Quinnipiac). The second half of the season consists of six road games, eight at home, and three neutral-site contests. Hope Harvard digs home cooking as much as it seems to enjoy quality time on the bus.

Optimism in Hanover

A 4-3-1 record might not take home any trophies, but it’s a far sight better than last year’s alternative.

The Big Green – 0-8 at this point last fall – climbed above .500 for the first time in three weeks with a massive 2-0 home win over No. 1 Boston University. (BU had a tough week against ECAC competition, but the Terriers saved some face in downing No. 9 Colgate 5-2 on Friday.) Sunday’s victory was no lucky result, either: Dartmouth dominated BU 36-23 in shots, including 21-5 in the second period alone. The Big Green also succeeded in accomplishing what only Harvard had been able to do thus far this season, by keeping superstar Jack Eichel off the scoresheet.

The decision was Dartmouth’s first victory over the nation’s top-ranked team since 2002, when the Green upended Boston College. The team has now won three of its last four (3-1), with its only loss coming to rapidly rising Harvard.

Neutral-site review

Two ECAC sides played neutral-site games this weekend: Cornell improved to 2-3-1 at Madison Square Garden with a 3-1 victory over Penn State, while Union fell hard to Western Michigan in the championship of the Shillelagh Tournament at Notre Dame.

The Big Red battled back from a submissive first period to defeat the Nittany Lions on the strength of 37 saves from sophomore Mitch Gillam; Cornell has now won three straight and four of five (4-1) after a 0-3-1 start.

Meanwhile, Union’s difficult-to-define season continued with its worst loss and most goals-against since an 8-0 February, 2008 loss at Colgate. The Dutchmen are 2-6-1 in their last nine games, following a 5-0 start. Union is 1-4 in one-goal games this season which usually indicates a touch of bad luck affecting the overall record, but boy, the team’s .881 save percentage and 74 percent penalty kill are tough to pin on misfortune. It was bound to be, and indeed still is, a fascinating season to follow in Schenectady… though fans of the Garnet & White may have different adjectives attached to the season to date.

81 COMMENTS

  1. Harvard and Dartmouth are the real thing and Cornell will be with a little more offense. A couple of well placed traffic cones might have done a better job in net, then the two Union goalies.

  2. Harvard and Dartmouth are the real thing and Cornell will be with a little more offense. A couple of well placed traffic cones might have done a better job in net, then the two Union goalies.

  3. Miami makes the most sense for B1G expansion based on geography, academics, and traditional rivalries with Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State from their days in the CCHA.

  4. If Syracuse were to move their program to NCAA D1, that would probably be a good fit for the BigTen.
    It wouldn’t add the prestige of an established program, but Syracuse fits the profile of a BigTen university.

  5. I would assume those schools get a chunk of the hockey money….NOT BBALL or football. So how would all this money be a draw? Is big ten hockey just raking it in?

  6. I would think the obvious next move is that the WCHA will add Arizona State and Air Force. Both teams would fit in competitively and geographically better there than anywhere else. WCHA could then look at two divisions to help reduce travel costs by playing more within divisions (2 Alaska teams, 2 Minny teams, and AFA/ASU in a western division for example).

    BigTen, IMO is looking long term and I suspect they are hoping another BigTen school will upgrade their program to D-I level in the next 5-10 years (looking at Illinois here). However, I could see them having interest in NoDak as they will never be a D-I school in other sports and therefore could remain an affiliate hockey member delivering attendance/ratings/prestige to the conference. I’m not saying NoDak would be interested unless the money was too good to turn down. Aside from them UNO, because they would essential be “Nebraska’s” version of a hockey team and have academic alignment with a current BigTen program, have high attendance, and adding to the “middle” isn’t necessarily a bad strategy for conferences (see the SEC and Big Ten in football recently).

    If HockeyEast did make a move, I agree that they would pursue Quinnipiac as their sole target.

  7. The only way that UND would move to the Big Ten is if the BG10 offered them Full admission to the BG10 in everysport, which will never happen. The WCHA teams all would love nothing more than to screw over the BG10 after Lucia little age limit proposal, so forget Minnesota State, Ferris, Bowling Green or Tech looking to go to the Big Ten.

  8. QU style of play and type of player Rand recruits doesn’t fit the style of play in the HEA. Plus the huge rivalry games between them and Yale and Harvard are huge events in the Ecac.

  9. For Miami or Western Michigan, a move to the Big Ten would significantly lower travel costs. U of M, MSU, and Notre Dame are easy bus trips from Oxford OH and Kalamazoo MI. Currently their only conference games that are bus trips are to each other.

    • I inadvertently left out Ohio State in my list of easy bus rides from Oxford and Kalamazoo. In fact every Big Ten hockey school is closer to Miami and WMU than any of the other 6 members of the NCHC.

  10. As a HE fan, ND moving is a little bit of a bummer, but adding Holy Cross or another team will be fine. Hockey East is in great shape. I think the Big 10 hockey league will be good in the future. Maybe take in Miami and add 2 more later hoping that 2 actual Big10 teams add hockey like PSU just did. Maybe Illinois, Iowa or Indiana. College hockey is a little fragile, but I think expansion is a good thing, eventually. There is plenty of High School aged talent in Canada and Europe that are going more and more to US colleges. The NCHC is a great conference and maybe the other leagues can learn from their formation and how HE is run. Probably too optimistic for most of this crowd, but just my opinion.

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