Dutchmen, Crimson falling; Big Green, Saints and Bobcats rising

With three weeks left in the regular season, one point separates third place through eighth place in ECAC hockey. There’s still a lot to be determined, but last weekend helped give an indication of where several teams might end up.

Trending up: Dartmouth, St. Lawrence, Quinnipiac

A five-game winning streak has pushed Dartmouth into the picture for a first-round bye. The Big Green have averaged 4.6 goals a game during that stretch, and are tied  with Clarkson, Harvard, and Yale in the standings.  Dartmouth seemed poised for better things following a disappointing season last year; now that looks to be coming together.

As for Quinnipiac, the Bobcats quietly continued its dominance in league play, pushing its conference record to 13-2-1 with two wins over the weekend.  That sets up a big matchup Friday night when second-place St. Lawrence takes its seven-game winning streak to Hamden.  A few more wins could push the Saints into the top-16 in the Pairwise; St. Lawrence is currently sitting at 17th.

Trending down: Harvard, Union

What a second-half tumble its been for the Crimson. First in the PairWise not long ago, Harvard is currently 16th and out of the NCAA tournament, thanks to the auto-bid from Atlantic Hockey. The Crimson lost to Yale Friday, and then fell 2-1  Saturday to  a Brown team that is currently 54th in the PairWise.

Harvard is 2-7 in 2015, and starts a tough stretch to end the year with Boston College Monday in the Beanpot consolation, a game that could have PairWise implications for both teams. From there, the Crimson host Cornell and Colgate, travel to St. Lawrence and Clarkson, and then host Quinnipiac and Princeton to conclude the regular season. The good news for Harvard is that forwards Sean Malone and Alexander Kerfoot have played in each of the last three games after missing time with injuries.

As for Union, the past weekend seemed to be a death blow in what has been an inconsistent season for the defending national champions. The Dutchmen beat Clarkson 4-1 Friday, but were blown out by St. Lawrence 7-1 on Saturday. That loss makes it likely that Union will be on the road for the opening round of the playoffs, while a bye seems virtually impossible at this point.

Following Saturday’s loss, Union coach Rick Bennett told Ken Schott of The Daily Gazette that the Dutchmen “are a part-time team and our record shows it.” The Dutchmen haven’t put together a four-point weekend in ECAC play, thanks in part to a defense that ranks41st in the country.

An unexpected return

Colgate forward Mike Borkowski was expected to be out for the regular season following a knee injury in November. But the Raiders junior returned Friday night against Princeton, contributing an assist in a 2-0 win over the Tigers. His return helps deepen the Colgate lineup, and gives the Raiders its top forwards playing together for the first time this season.

At 7-6-3, Colgate is in the thick of teams stuck together in the middle of the standings. The Raiders are still missing defenseman Spiro Goulakos, but Borkowski’s return show help down the stretch.