Colgate falls just short, while Yale gets a second life

The league wrapped up its second championship weekend  back at Lake Placid, with Harvard beating Colgate 4-2 to win its first Whitelaw Cup since 2006. That’s also the last time the Crimson made the NCAA Tournament.

Quinnipiac, who lost in the opening game to Harvard, and Yale, who lost in last weekend’s quarterfinal series against the Crimson, are the other two ECAC teams in the national tournament. The league’s three teams in the tournament are tied with Hockey East for the second-most in the country.

The Bulldogs faced long odds to make the sixteen-team field entering the weekend, but the Crimson and Boston University winning their respective conference title games helped Yale sneak into the tournament; similar to what happened in 2013. That year ended with the Bulldogs winning that national title in Pittsburgh. Check back throughout the week for more on the three league teams participating in NCAA tournament play.

Raiders fall just short

Despite a number of key injuries, Colgate actually improved its overall record from last season’s NCAA team, finishing with two more wins and upping its winning percentage by nearly 50 points.

Picked to finish first in both the coaches and media preseason polls, the Raiders ended the regular season with a six-game unbeaten streak to earn the league’s final bye, and then swept Dartmouth in the quarterfinals to advance to Lake Placid for the second straight season.

There’s little reason to think Colgate won’t be in the mix next year. The Raiders lose captains Joe Wilson and Spiro Goulakos, as well as defenseman Brendan Corcoran and forwards John Lidgett, Daniel Gentzler and Brooks Herrington.  Barring any early departures, Colgate returns  forwards Kyle Baun, Mike Borkowski, Darcy Murphy, and Tylor and Tyson Spink.  Those five, along with goalie Charlie Finn and a steady defensive group, should have the Raiders in good position next season.

Yale gets a second life

With a .641 overall winning percentage and the nation’s top-ranked defense, there’s little doubting Yale’s NCAA tournament credentials. Still, the Bulldogs had to wait out this weekend after losing to Harvard in the ECAC quarterfinals last Sunday.  But the Crimson’s win over Colgate in the ECAC title game Saturday helped bump Yale back into the tournament picture.

Yale is a four seed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H. and plays Boston University  Friday at 2 p.m. The Terriers have a high-scoring offense led by Hobey Baker Candidate Jack Eichel as well as forwards Evan Rodrigues and Danny O’Regan.  But Bulldogs sophomore Alex Lyon has been sensational in net, leading the nation in goals-against-average, save percentage, and shutouts. Yale has an excellent defensive group as well, led by senior captain Tommy Fallen and junior Rob O’Gara, an ECAC first-team selection as well as the league’s top defensive defenseman.

Pro signings

As is always the case this time of year, a flurry of seniors signed professional contracts once their respective teams were eliminated from postseason play.

It didn’t take long for several of them to make an immediate impact. Former Brown forward Matt Lorito scored the game-winning goal for the AHL’s Albany Devils in his pro debut on Saturday. Former Union forward Daniel Ciampini had a goal and an assist in his third for the Worcester Sharks in a 6-1 win over Lehigh Valley on Saturday. Playing for the Phantoms was former Cornell forward Cole Bardreau, who skated in all three games for Lehigh Valley this weekend, scoring a goal Friday in his pro debut at Hartford.

Another notable signing was Union goalie Colin Stevens, who helped the Dutchmen win the national title last year. Stevens signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers, but has yet to appear in any professional games to date.