ECAC Hockey picks: Jan. 9-11

Season record: 31-22-3. Finally making a run at it.

As always, all games begin at 7pm EST unless otherwise noted.

Friday, Jan. 9

Colgate at Clarkson
Interesting amount of inexperience in play here: Friday only marks Clarkson’s third league game at Cheel Arena this season, and it likewise will only be the third ECAC road game for the Raiders. The lone common league opponents for these two are Quinnipiac and Princeton; it should come as no surprise that each team downed Princeton, but while Clarkson edged QU in Potsdam, Colgate fell hard in Hamden. The Golden Knights are playing to more or less maintain their top-four status in the league, while ‘Gate aims to climb the ladder with their recent return to form. This will also be a game worth watching insofar as it pits Clarkson’s indefatigable defense against a Colgate offense that aspired to play better than it has thus far. Pick: Clarkson.

Union at Princeton
Exhibition games don’t count: Princeton is Brown-Ruled (See November 6, Colgate at St. Lawrence) as dictated by a six-game losing streak and one win in its last dozen outings. Union wins.

Rensselaer at Quinnipiac
Eight losses in a row, 11 goals scored in that time? Brown Rule. What’s that? Two Brown Rule teams at once? Don’t believe it’s ever happened before, and I can’t say I enjoy it one bit. QU victorious.

Cornell at St. Lawrence
On Friday night in Canton, Kyle Hayton and the Saints aim to extend an already insidious Big Red streak. In failing to score against Lake Superior State or Miami in the Florida College Classic two weeks back, the 2014-15 Cornell team endured consecutive shutouts for the first time in 51 years… a streak of 1,560 games. The Red haven’t lit the lamp in their last 147:12 of game time, and with four shutouts to his name already, freshman Hayton must be salivating at the thought of extending Cornell’s misery. Meanwhile, the Saints aren’t exactly rolling either: SLU is 0-5-1 in its last six and is also struggling offensively. You don’t hope for defensive battles of attrition, but that’s exactly what we’re staring at in this matchup. Edge SLU.

Providence at Brown (Mayor’s Cup)
While Brown’s season has not gone according to plan, there are silver linings if you know where to look. For example, the Bears’ eight goals in their last three games (1-2 against RPI, Boston College, and Denver) are their three-game high for the year. That said, it’s not exactly a sterling cloud we’re looking at here. Providence is rolling into this home-and-home series on a five-game winning streak and having won nine of ten (9-1). Junior Jon Gillies’ .938 save percentage is the seventh-best in the nation, now about to face a bottom-five offense in Brown. Things… do not match up well for Bruno here. PC wins.

Dartmouth at New Hampshire (7:30; TV – NBCSN)
Hmm, what’s this? UNH has a new goalie? And not a moment too soon, what with the Wildcats’ team save rate hovering around 90 percent. This isn’t UNH’s year, but Dartmouth should be the one feeling the heat… at 6-5-2, the Big Green’s non-conference window of opportunity is quicky closing before the brutality of ECAC action becomes a permanent condition. Simply put, if Dartmouth cannot escape this weekend without a loss, I’m doubtful of their odds at making the NCAA Tournament come March. Big Green take this one.

Saturday, Jan. 10

Cornell at Clarkson
Oy vey, if Cornell has had a hard time scoring, this weekend offers little salvation. Clarkson is a ferociously defensive team, and they do it well; this has all the makings of a 1-0, 2-0, or 2-1 final. ‘Tech takes it, no matter the score.

Rensselaer at Princeton
Ok, this is a new one… not only are there two Brown Ruled teams for the first time ever, but they play each other the same weekend as they are so denoted. I’d love to just wash my hands of this abomination of a matchup, but people don’t click through to read evasive insults, so… RPI has mustered incrementally more offense of late, against some worthy opponents, while Princeton is mustering hardly anything at all against equally worthy foes. In a battle for the basement, Princeton is carrying heavier baggage. Engineers prevail.

Union at Quinnipiac
This would’ve been must-watch hockey last year, though it shouldn’t be much of a step down this weekend. The Dutchmen are hitting crunch time, needing to put up a good number of W’s to get back into NCAA at-large contention; QU could use a few more quality wins, and certainly needs some buffer points in the ECAC standings if it hopes to secure a first-round bye. Big game at The Bank Saturday night, and – so help me – I like the hosts to have the last laugh. QU wins.

Colgate at St. Lawrence
This is more hunch and instinct than analysis, but these feel like teams heading in different directions as the new year progresses. Colgate looks like it’s teetering on the edge of a groove; SLU may be fighting to hang on to relevance. Sure, it’s still early… ish, but that’s what my gut is telling me. And that’s never been wrong, right? Colgate wins.

Brown at Providence (Mayor’s Cup)
None of the notes or facts from Friday night have changed in the time it took me to scroll down to Saturday’s matchup. PC still has a big advantage, and I still believe strongly that the Friars will win. Again.

Harvard vs. Yale (8:00; Madison Square Garden)
The fifth ranked opponent for the Crimson this year is also the only one to defeat them. This is a big game on a big stage for each team, no doubt about it: Harvard is trying to build its case for true national contender-ship, while Yale is aiming to prove that it has the chops for another NCAA run. Harvard has burned me before (I seem to be qualifying myself a lot like this lately), but I can’t really imagine the Crimson being dispatched twice by the same opponent just yet. Harvard wins the revenge game (even though it won’t earn them any points in the standings!).

Sunday, Jan. 11

Vermont at Dartmouth (4:00)
As aforementioned, Dartmouth could really use some non-conference wins before the cannibalistic ECAC regular season resumes. Vermont is one tough customer, but recent losses to Providence and Yale may indicate weaknesses emerging following a six-game win streak. That said, I still believe that UVM out-classes Dartmouth. If not by a lot, by enough. Catamounts win.


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