For the first time since the 2005-06 season, there is a tie for first place in ECAC Hockey.
Harvard and Union will share the Cleary Cup as co-champions. Each team finished with 34 points, but the Crimson will be the top seeded based on a tiebreaker. The teams finished with identical records and split the season series, so Harvard was awarded the top seed based on having a better record against the top four teams in the conference.
Cornell and St. Lawrence round out the teams with first-round byes.
The rest of the matchups for this weekend’s best-of-three series:
No. 12 Brown at No. 5 Quinnipiac
No. 11 Rensselaer at No. 6 Clarkson
N0. 10 Colgate at No. 7 Princeton
No. 9 Dartmouth at No. 8 Yale
Unfamilar spots for Yale and Quinnipiac
The Bulldogs and Bobcats have been among the league’s top teams for the last several years. However, both will be playing in the opening weekend of the conference playoffs, something that hasn’t happened much over the last few years.
Quinnipiac has had a first-round bye for four straight seasons; prior to that, the Bobcats had played in the opening round every season since joining ECAC Hockey in 2006. QU will need to win the conference tournament in order to make the NCAA tournement for a fifth straight year.
Yale’s run of dominance goes back even further. This is only the third time since 2010 that the Bulldogs have played in the opening weekend of the league tournament. Yale has also made the NCAA tournament six times in the span, a streak that appears to be in jeopardy this season. At 11-13-5, the Bulldogs are in danger of their first losing season since 2006-07. That was coach Keith Allain’s first year in New Haven.
Anything is possible, but I don’t see a lot of potential for for a series win by a lower seed this weekend. Dartmouth swept Yale at home in the quarterfinals last year, but the Big Green were outscored by an aggregate of 11-0 against the Bulldogs this year.
There seems to be larger divide between the teams in the that top and bottom of the standings compared to previous years. Still, it only takes a few bounces or a hot goalie to end a team’s season early.