Field Set for Lake Placid

The championship field is set for ECAC Hockey – and it’s filled with plenty of familiar teams.

Harvard, Union, Cornell and Quinnipiac have all been to the semifinals at least once in the past four years.

The Crimson and Dutchmen are locks for the NCAA tournament this year, while Cornell looks to be in good shape to make the tournament as well.

Quinnipiac will need to win the conference championship to advance to its fifth straight NCAA tournament. No other league teams that have been eliminated in the first two rounds of the ECAC Hockey playoffs are still in the NCAA tournament picture.

No. 1 Harvard vs. No. 5 Quinnipiac

This is the third straight year that Harvard has made it to the league’s championship weekend and it’s also the third straight season that QU and the Crimson will meet in Lake Placid. Harvard won the Whitelaw Cup two years ago as the No. 6 seed.

Quinnipiac finished fifth in the regular season, but swept Brown and then won back-to-back games at St. Lawrence to advance to the program’s fifth straight championship weekend.

No. 2 Union vs. No. 3 Cornell

Both teams return to Lake Placid for the first time since 2014, when Union won the program’s first national championship.

Despite the mini drought, each team has a past history of making the league’s championship weekend. This is the seventh time in the last ten years that Cornell has made it to the league’s championship weekend, the most of any team in ECAC Hockey.  The Dutchmen won three straight league championships from 2012 to 2014.

Union senior Mike Vecchione made his final game at Messa Rink a memorable one, as he scored on a penalty shot in overtime in Game 2 Saturday to give Union a 4-3 win over Princeton and send the Dutchmen to the semifinals.

Vecchione is making a solid case for the Hobey Baker award. His 1.72 points per game leads the nation and his 29 goals rank second to Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese, who has 31. However, the Huskies season ended on Saturday with a loss to Boston University, meaning Vecchione will have a chance to take over the national lead in goals.

Moving on

While Yale’s season ended with a quarterfinal loss to Harvard Saturday night, senior John Hayden’s professional career is just getting started.

The Bulldog forward signed a professional contract with Chicago on Sunday. Hayden was a Blackhawks third-round pick in 2013. The big forward scored 13 goals in his first two collegiate seasons before finishing his career with 37 goals over the last two years, including 21 this year. Twelve of those came on the power play, where Hayden’s size made him one of the best net-front presences in the league.

Awards Season

I have a vote in the ECAC Hockey Media Association postseason awards. Here is how I voted. The results will be announced Thursday, while the coach’s awards are typically announced during the championship weekend. All awards are based on league play only.

Player of the Year

Mike Vecchione, Union

Goalie of the Year

Kyle Hayton, St. Lawrence

Rookie of the Year

Adam Fox, Harvard

Coach of the Year

Ron Fogarty, Princeton

Best Defensive Forward

Mike Vecchione Union

Best Defensive Defenseman

Brett Corkey, Colgate

All- ECACH Team

F- Mike Veccchione, Union

F- Ryan Donato, Harvard

F- Spencer Foo, Union

D- Adam Fox, Harvard

D-  Jeff Taylor, Union

G- Kyle Hayton, St. Lawrence

All-ECACH Rookie Team

F- Jackson Cressey, Princeton

F-  Nico Sturm, Clarkson

F-  Will Graber, Dartmouth

D- Adam Fox, Harvard

D- Yanni Kaldis, Cornell

G- Andrew Shortridge, Quinnipiac