Let’s get right to it. All three games will be broadcast on Fox College Sports.
Friday, March 20
6 Harvard vs. 1 Quinnipiac 4:05
On USCHO Live! this week, hosts Jimmy Connelly and Ed Trefzger did exactly what I knew they would, and asked me to pick the ECAC champion. I hemmed and hawed, like you do, but in the end I said what I will say here: If talent wins out, Harvard hoists the Whitelaw come Saturday evening. The problems are the obvious intangibles: Injuries, nerves, luck, and so forth. Quinnipiac has had an abundance – some would say overabundance – of effort, health, and luck this season, and the Bobcats have parlayed that hard work and good fortune into a bubble spot for the NCAA Tournament. Harvard, however, has had lots of bad luck and bad injuries, and some could definitely argue that the Crimson did not give every game their all in January and February. That may be true, but effort, grit, and health seem to be back in the fold for Harvard, at least if last weekend is any indication.
I’ll take the Crimson in a thriller, 4-3.
3 Colgate vs. 2 St. Lawrence 7:35
Colgate is an enigma. The Raiders baffle, year in and year out… perhaps it is in part due to the school’s not-quite-anywhere location, or the team’s (and coaches’) under-the-radar persona. Overshadowed by Cornell locally, buried behind the Ivies and Unions and Quinnipiacs regionally, and playing for a nationally underappreciated or at the very least secondary league, Colgate has a way of slipping through every crack. The Raiders had a chance to rise above their local, regional, and even national competitors this season with a dynamite lineup coming off a resoundingly successful 2013-14 campaign. They could not rise. A solid opening (9-3-1) deflated to a 9-6-1 first-half record, and while Colgate went 10-5-3 after the holidays, it was never the ascension-to-power narrative that many – myself included – foresaw for the Raiders back in September. Colgate is on a 6-0-1 tear, outscoring opponents 21-9 over that stretch. It’s a good time to get hot, but I’m not sure Colgate-hot is good enough to match the siege-happy Saints. SLU is 12-5-2 since the Christmas break, allowing three goals in a game just five times in those 19 games (1-3-1). If Colgate can get to three, the Raiders are in a great spot Friday night… but if not, that leaves SLU at 11-2-1 when battening down the hatches. This may sound a little simplistic, but sometimes simple works. For the record, Colgate has scored three or more in five of its last seven.
My pick? The “home team”, North Country’s SLU Saints, 3-2.
Saturday, March 21
Am I a chicken for not filing a championship prediction? Perhaps… I prefer to see it as saving material for Saturday morning. Check back tonight or tomorrow for my take on the finale.