There’s still a lot to be decided after the holiday break.
With that being said, here’s a breakdown and some thoughts on each team entering the break, as well as predictions for the final two months of the season.
Each team’s record is listed as overall record first, followed by its conference record. Teams are listed in order of the current league standings.
After not winning an in-season tournament title for ten seasons, Clarkson won its second in as many years last month, taking home the Belpot Trophy as Friendship Four champions.
That was just one of several high points for the Golden Knights, who enter the break on an eleven-game winning streak. That stretch is reminiscent of the twenty-one game unbeaten streak put together by Quinnipiac in the 2012-13 season en route to a Frozen Four appearance.
A veteran defense and a strong season by Jake Kielly in net have Clarkson leading the country in team defense. The Golden Knights also have the best combined special teams percentage in the country, including the No. 1 power play.
Sophomore Sheldon Rempal leads the country with 16 goals, while freshman Josh Dickinson is tied for the national lead in rookie goal scoring.
Surely, Clarkson will slow down a bit at some point. But the league title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament are the Golden Knights’ to lose entering the second half.
This is a team that is set up for the long haul as well. Six of the team’s top eight scorers are underclassmen, as is Kielly in net.
Overall, it was a solid first half for the Dutchmen, who were expected to drop in the standings after losing a load of talented players from last year’s NCAA tournament team.
Union enters the break on a 5-2-1 run, although it lost two of its last three games. Coach Rick Bennett switched to goalie Darion Hanson following a 0-5 start, and the freshman played well, but junior Jake Kupsky has been steady over the last few weeks.
Senior Ryan Scarfo is on pace for a career season, while junior Brett Supinski and sophomore Anthony Rinaldi are having strong years as well.
With Hanson and Kupsky both playing well, the Dutchmen have two solid options in goal. The offense is solid as well, with six players entering the break with double-digit points.
Junior Sebastian Vidmar, the lone holdover from Union’s top line last season, has 15 points in 19 games, but only five goals. He could be a player to keep an eye out for in the second half.
Catching Clarkson might be a tall task, but the Dutchmen should be in the mix for a first-round bye in the league playoffs.
The Big Red have consistently played a number of young players throughout the first half, but that hasn’t held them back. Cornell is tied with St. Cloud State for the best winning percentage in the country and is ninth is scoring.
Senior Trevor Yates and junior Anthony Angello are leading the way offensively, while freshman Matthew Galajda has seen the majority of the playing time in goal. Senior goalie Hayden Stewart has been impressive in the three games he has played in so far.
The Big Red have won in several different fashions throughout the first two months of the season, be it shutout (three), rallying for a win (against Princeton on Nov. 4), and holding off a late rally (Nov. 25 versus Boston University).
Big Red coach Mike Schafer credited the success of Cornell’s freshman in part due to the leadership of the upperclassmen. As young as they are, the Big Red may have some dips in the second half, but Schafer and the Big Red’s veteran leadership should be able to keep this team in the upper echelon of ECAC Hockey.
It seems as if there is one team every year in ECAC Hockey that makes a big jump in the standings. Colgate has been that team so far this season, as the Raiders have ridden goalie Colton Point and a solid defensive group to a good first half.
Sophomore forwards Bobby McMann, John Snodgrass, and Jared Cockrell have all increased their production from their freshman season.
However, the Raiders are averaging just under two-and-a-half goals per game, meaning this team his little room for error. Colgate ended the first half with two losses in its last three games.
Colgate plays its first two games of 2018 at home, but then ends the year with nine of its last fourteen games on the road. That could be a trying stretch for a young team, but the Raiders are solid enough in their own end that they should stay competitive.
Also of note: the Raiders have only played six league games, tied with travel partner Cornell for the least in the conference. Colgate currently has a one-point lead over Brown for fourth place, but the Bears have played ten conference games.
If they can find some more offense, Colgate should be able to secure a first-round bye. Even if they don’t find a way to score some more goals, the Raiders should at worst host a first-round playoff game come March.
It was a disappointing first half for Harvard following the program’s first Frozen Four appearance in more than twenty years last spring.
However, the Crimson ended on a good note, sweeping Princeton and Quinnipiac on the road. Both of those games were started by junior goalie Michael Lackey, who hadn’t made a regular-season appearance in nearly two years prior to that weekend.
Harvard opened the year with two games at home, but hasn’t played at the Bright-Landry Center since then.
That undoubtedly played a role in the Crimson’s struggles throughout the first half, but it should serve as a good learning experience for the team’s younger players.
Junior Ryan Donato is having another strong season, ending the first half with eight goals and fifteen points in ten games.
It’s likely that one team currently in the league’s top four will be overtaken by Harvard, as the Crimson appear to be rounding into form after a rough start. The bet here is that Harvard will pass either Union or Colgate in the standings. That’s not a slight against either team. The Crimson are simply too talented to repeat their first-half performance down the stretch.
It will be interesting to see who is in goal when Harvard resumes play against Massachusetts-Lowell on Dec. 29. Will Lackey get the start following a strong weekend to close the first half, or will senior Merrick Madsen take his job back?
On the surface, there was nothing special about Brown’s first half. However, it looks impressive when you consider that the Bears won four games all of last season.
A big reason for that turnaround has been goaltending. Sophomore Gavin Nieto has a .916 save percentage after finishing last year with a .880 mark.
The senior trio of Sam Lafferty, Charlie Corcoran, and Max Willman are a little off last year’s scoring paces, but the Bears have gotten contributions from other players throughout the lineup.
Tommy Marchin has already doubled his goal total from last year. The junior had a strong freshman year, but only scored three goals as a sophomore. If the aforementioned trio of seniors matches their production from last year in the second half, Brown could have one of their deepest lineups in recent seasons.
The Bears look like a team that should be solidly in the middle of the league and host a first-round playoff series. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially after last year’s finish. If Nieto can continue to improve and Brown can get some more scoring through its lineup, this could be a team on the rise in the second half.
It was an inconsistent first half for Yale. The Bulldogs beat Harvard and Union on the road, but lost five in a row over the second half of November. However, Yale entered the break on a two-game winning streak.
Joe Snively and Ryan Hitchcock are both dynamic players, but the Bulldogs don’t have too many other proven scorers on the roster. Junior Sam Tucker has started all but one game in goal, but sophomore Corbin Kaczperski played well in his only start and may have earned some more time in the second half.
Yale has a number of underclassmen who have shown potential at times, including Dante Palecco and Evan and Mitchell Smith. How well that group of young players produces will go a long way towards determining how the second half goes for the Bulldogs.
After a number of away games in the first two months of the season, the schedule events out in the second half. Yale will only play on the road four times in January and February.
The Tigers were a trendy pick to be the team that makes the biggest jump in the ECAC this year. That hasn’t been the case so far, but Princeton is solidly entrenched in the middle of the conference standings and could move up with a strong second half.
Offense hasn’t been a problem, as the Tigers are averaging close to three-and-a-half goals per game, although that number is inflated by a nine-goal outburst against Dartmouth last month.
Ryan Ferland has been solid in net, but is seeing an average of 32 shots per game. Princeton’s defense will need to tighten up a bit in the second half to lighten the load on the freshman.
After hosting St. Cloud for two games to close December, the Tiger will only be home four more times throughout the regular season. Despite that, this is a team that should be hosting a first-round playoff series come March.
Quinnipiac had issues scoring goals last season and they have carried over into this year as well. The Bobcats have some solid forwards, but simply don’t have a dynamic player in the mold of Sam Anas or Matthew Peca. Still, there has been some bad luck involved, as opposing goalies have a .928 save percentage against QU.
Freshman forward Odeen Tufto has been a point per-game player for Quinnipiac and senior Tanner MacMaster is having a solid season as well.
The most perplexing thing has been Quinnipiac’s defensive struggles and mental breakdowns throughout the first half. With a veteran group of defensemen and two solid goalies in Andrew Shortridge and Keith Petruzzelli, defense should have been a strong point for the Bobcats this season.
Instead, QU has allowed an even three goals per game, a number punctuated by an ugly sweep to Maine at home to close the first half.
Quinnipiac has never been on the road for a first-round playoff series since joining ECAC Hockey in 2005, but that is looking like a real possibility if it keeps up its pace from the first half. Expect some improvement, but this isn’t the same powerhouse teams of years past. The Bobcats open January with seven straight games on the road. How well they do during that stretch could play a large role in setting the stage for the rest of the season.
It was a rough first two months for the Big Green, who are getting outscored by nearly two goals per game.
Three goalies have seen time in net for Dartmouth, with sophomore Adrian Clark getting most of the time recently. Scoring has been a problem, as the Big Green only have sixteen goals in ten games and have been shutout three times.
Dartmouth ends the first half with a two-game series at No.1 Denver, but is at home for much of the second half.
Despite allowing four goals to Bentley Saturday, Clark has been the best of three Big Green goaltenders. However, unless something drastically changes, the Big Green will likely be on the road for the playoffs.
New coach Dave Smith has had some highlights (a pair of ties at his alma mater, Ohio state, and a come-from-behind win over Quinnipiac), but it’s been a struggle overall for RPI through the first part of the season.
Jacob Hayhurst is following up a solid freshman year with a better second year, while classmate and Ottawa draft Todd Burgess has been steady after missing all of last season due to an injury.
Linden Marshall and Chase Perry have split time in net so far for the Engineers, but neither one has been able to take hold of the starting job.
Theoretically, the Engineers should get better as they become more familiar with Smith’s style. However, there just aren’t a lot of scoring threats in the lineup and someone needs to emerge from the tandem of Marshall and Perry to seize the top spot in goal. It won’t be as bad as last year, but RPI should be on the road again for the playoffs.
It was a miserable first half for the Saints, who enter the midseason break as the worst team in Division I.
St. Lawrence lost several important players last offseason, and was devastated by injuries throughout the first half, often skating with a shorthanded and inexperienced lineup.
With 29 goals in 16 games, scoring has been a problem for the Saints. However, a closer look reveals just how much of a struggle it’s been, as four players have accounted for 21 of those goals, including seven by leading scorer Jacob Pritchard.
It hasn’t been much better defensively, as the Saints are allowing just over four goals per game.
It’s hard to bury a team with so much of the season left, but the Saints simply have too big of a climb over the last two months. It would be surprising if St. Lawrence finished the year in anywhere but last place. On a positive note, the playing time created by the injuries has thrust many of the Saints inexperienced players into larger roles, something that should only benefit them later on.