Season predictions: 53-33-5 (.610). That could be good enough to get me into the NCAA’s…
As always, all games begin at 7:00 unless otherwise noted.
Friday, February 20
Harvard at St. Lawrence
The Crimson mustered their first loss-less weekend of the new year against Colgate (win) and Cornell (tie) last weekend, and the team is finally getting healthier. The Saints saw their odds of a first Cleary Cup since 2007 increase exponentially with a loss and tie at Quinnipiac and Princeton, respectively. Harvard probably has a little more at stake in this game, stuck in the middle of a tight pack around the fourth-place line; SLU is six points short of first-place QU but three clear of third-place Yale. Kyle Hayton has been arguably the best goaltender in the country this season, but the offense will have to score more than once to beat the high-powered Crimson. Edge: Harvard.
Dartmouth at Clarkson
Clarkson is 2-4 in its last six, scoring just one goal in each of its four losses and eking out a 1-0 win as well. Suffice to say, scoring is not the Knights’ strong suit these days. Colgate snapped Dartmouth’s six-game winning streak with a 3-0 shutout last Saturday, but otherwise the Big Green are rolling: The Green scored 26 goals in those six wins, allowing 14. I have been waiting all season for Dartmouth’s experience to shine through, and that time may finally be upon us. Green win.
Union at Colgate
Things have been better in Schenectady. Union was shut out on consecutive nights for the first time since late 2007; even worse, the defeats both occurred within the friendly confines of Messa Rink. The Dutchmen are 1-4 in their last five and are now guaranteed to follow up a national-championship campaign with a bottom-four finish to this regular season. The Raiders are sputtering lately, following a 5-1-1 run out of the holidays with their current 2-4-1 slump. Fortunately for Colgate, Union is in an even worse state. Colgate wins.
Rensselaer at Cornell
When a five-game losing streak is only your third-longest of the season, you know you’re having a year worth forgetting. That’s the type of campaign RPI is enduring, having lost five in a row early in the year, nine straight straddling the holiday break, and now six more and counting. The special teams have been terrible. The defense has been terrible. To call the offense anemic is a compliment. The goaltending… well, you get the picture. Meanwhile, the Big Red will have to pass three teams to claim a first-round bye, but are all but assured of playing their first playoff game at home regardless of the round. There isn’t much more analysis worth doing, really… Cornell should not lose this game.
Brown at Princeton
These two cellar-dwellers are a combined 4-0-1 in their last five… Ishn’t dat veerd? Princeton is hardly racking-’em-up, knocking-’em-down – both of last weekend’s results were tight – but anything besides an “L” looks good in the Garden State these days. Brown isn’t blowing people away either; six goals against RPI is nothing to crow about this season, but the Bears’ four goals allowed in their last three games are the fewest in such a stretch all year. All hail sophomore goalie Tim Ernst, he of the three straight wins and .909 save percentage. Brown wins another squeaker.
Yale at Quinnipiac
In the rematch of an incredibly entertaining first round, Yale has far more to play for… though a home crowd and a rivalry atmosphere will certainly give QU plenty of incentive to bury the Bulldogs on York Hill. Throw out the stats; while another tie wouldn’t surprise me a bit, I’ll pick Yale to dig up crucial points.
Saturday, February 21
Dartmouth at St. Lawrence
Should be a terrific game between two of the league’s northernmost programs. SLU aims to regain its footing after a tumble out of first-place contention, while Dartmouth needs points to solidify a first-round bye. The Big Green are good on the road – 5-2-2 in other ECAC buildings this season – but the Saints are 6-3 at home as well. No clear favorite here: Advantage home team. SLU wins.
Harvard at Clarkson
Harvard can be beaten by defense – see the Yale games, or last weekend’s loss to Brown – but it’s a tall task when you can’t balance it with a credible offensive threat. Clarkson does not have a credible offensive threat. Harvard will likely take this one as well.
Rensselaer at Colgate
Nothing cures your ills this season like a home deuce against the Capital District. Colgate wins.
Union at Cornell
Cornell’s offense is spotty, but Union’s attack can barely say that much. Cornell at home, for the win.
Yale at Princeton
It’s no longer a Brown Rule application, but this appears to be a mis-match in every conceivable way. Yale wins.
Brown at Quinnipiac
Bruno has given the Bobcats fits in the past – then again, Brown has frustrated everyone at one point or another – but this is not an evenly matched game on paper. The wild card will be desire: Can QU get up for the unimpressive Bears? Will Brown make an honest effort against a team so far from it in the standings? Some games are tough to call because they are so tantalizingly even… this one goes the other way. Tough call because there is not a lot of tangible incentive for either team to play its best game. QU wins… I guess?
Monday, February 23
Harvard vs. Boston College 4:30; Beanpot Consolation Game: TD Garden – Boston, Mass.
The Harvard Crimson: Heating up for the playoffs, or piddling away its remaining inertia? We shall see on Monday. BC is 11-3-2 since the start of December; it’s time to put up or shut up for the Crimson. BC wins.