It’s down to four teams in ECAC Hockey. Here’s a look at the two semifinal games set for later today in Lake Placid. Check back tomorrow for a championship game pick and follow USCHO all weekend for coverage from the 1980 Herb Brooks arena.
No. 5 Quinnipiac vs. No. 1 Harvard, 4:05 p.m.
Season series: 1-1
Both the Bobcats (fifth straight year) and Crimson (third) have been regular participants in the league’s championship weekend the last few seasons. Harvard is on a twelve-game winning streak entering the semifinals and is in the mix for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. While Union has the biggest names of offense, the Crimson may have the most depth of any ECAC team as six players currently average at least a point per game.
Freshman Andrew Shortridge has come on strong in goal for the Bobcats. Shortridge did not start either game against Harvard this year, but stopped all 12 shots he saw in relief of Chris Truehl in the Crimson’s 5-2 win over Jan. 6. Shortridge’s emergence has been a big reason why QU on a 7-1 run. However, the Bobcats have also gotten better at finishing their chances. The team ranks second in the country in shots per game, but went through a stretch earlier in the season where all those chances didn’t result in goals. While both teams have been playing well, I think Harvard’s scoring depth will give it a slight edge over Quinnipiac. Harvard wins
No. 3 Cornell vs. No. 2 Union, 7:35 p.m.
Season series: Cornell, 1-0-1
Like Quinnipiac and Harvard, these two teams have both been regular participants in ECAC Hockey’s championship weekend. The Big Red have made seven appearances in the last ten semifinals, while Union won three straight Whitelaw Cups from 2012-2014.
This game features matchup of contrasting styles, at least statistically. The Big Red rank in the top ten in the country in defense, while the Dutchmen are in the top ten nationally in scoring offense. However, Cornell has scored at least three goals seven times during its current 8-3-1 run. Union also enters the weekend on a hot streak; the Dutchmen haven’t lost in eight games and have scored four or more goals all but once during that current streak, a 3-3 tie with the Big Red to end the regular season.
This will be an extremely close game. Don’t expect a slugfest – I think whichever team can get to three or more goals will come out with the win. I think the Big Red are better built to emerge victorious in that kind of matchup. Cornell wins