ECAC Hockey First Round Picks

Last time: 8-1-3

Overall: 69-51-5

Here’s a look at the four first-round playoff series in ECAC Hockey this weekend. All matchups are best-of-three. Every game starts at 7 p.m., with the exception a 7:30 start  for Clarkson and Rensselaer on Saturday and a potential Quinnipiac and Brown Game 3 on Sunday, which would start at 4 p.m.

No. 12 Quinnipiac at No. 5 Brown

Season series: Quinnipiac, 2-0

This is the first time that the Bobcats have played in the first round of the  ECAC playoffs since the 2012 season, when they beat Brown in three games. QU swept Brown in the first round of the league playoffs in 2011 and 2008.  This isn’t the Quinnipiac team of previous seasons, but I think they should be able to win this series. Brown’s top line of Sam Lafferty, Charlie Corcoran, and Max Willman has combined for 37 of the Bears’ 64 goals this season. That lack of scoring depth is accompanied by an .879 team save percentage in league play. Quinnipiac in two

No. 11 Rensselaer at No. 6 Clarkson

Season series: Clarkson, 2-1

It’s been a tough season for RPI, and the Engineers were dealt another tough blow when forward Evan Tironese was suspended for Friday’s Game 1 due to a game misconduct at the end of Saturday’s game against Colgate. The sophomore leads the team with 20 assists and is tied for the team lead with 27 points. Despite the Engineers’ struggles this season, I think this might be one of the closest series of the weekend. RPI’s power play is 12th in the nation in 2017, while sophomore Chase Perry has been solid in net. The Golden Knights have been a little inconsistent this year, but ended the year with a solid 2-1-1 record. Clarkson has solid scoring depth, but has allowed nearly three goals per game. It should be a tight series, but the Golden Knights should prevail. Clarkson in three

No. 10 Colgate at No. 7 Princeton

Season series: Colgate, 1-0-1

It’s been an up-and-down season for Princeton, but the Tigers accomplished one of their preseason goals by hosting a playoff series. Princeton earned a first-round playoff series thanks to an up-tempo attack that averaged more than three goal per game this season. Senior goalie Colton Phinney saw his numbers drop a bit this year, but the Tigers’ increased puck possession led to less opportunities for opponents. Colgate has struggled mightily this season. The Raiders simply haven’t scored; senior Tim Harrison is the only player who had more than six goals this year. Goalie Charlie Finn is 7-0-1 with a .947 save percentage all-time against Princeton, but the senior split time with freshman Colton Point over the last few weeks of the season. I think the Tigers’ offense is going to be the difference in this series. Princeton in three

No. 9 Dartmouth at No. 8 Yale

Season series: Yale, 2-0

These teams meet in the league playoffs for the second straight year. Dartmouth swept Yale in the quarterfinals last season, but the Bulldogs shutout the Big Green by an aggregate score of 11-0 in the teams’ two regular-season meetings this year. Like Quinnipiac, this isn’t the Yale team of years past, but I think the Bulldogs have enough to get past Dartmouth. Yale in two

Accountability Check

As a seventh grade teacher, I’m always telling my students to take accountability for their actions. Therefore, it’s only fair that I hold myself accountable for my preseason ECAC Hockey picks. Here’s the final standings for the 2016-17 season, with my preseason predictions in parentheses.

1. Harvard (3)

1. Union (8)

3. Cornell (4)

4. St. Lawrence (2)

5. Quinnipiac (1)

6. Clarkson (5)

7. Princeton (9)

8. Yale (6)

9. Dartmouth (11)

10. Colgate (12)

11. Rensselaer (7)

12. Brown (10)

I got three of the top four teams right, with the exception of Quinnipiac. In the past, I’ve waited for the Bobcats to drop off following a summer of important losses, but it didn’t happen until this season. The other notable discrepancy was Union; I picked the Dutchmen eighth, but they ended in a tie for first with Harvard and enter the league playoffs in a good position to make the NCAA tournament.