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Friday, March 7, 2014

ECAC All-Name Team and ECAC First Round Predictions

By Anton Khodakov

Last year, we at WHRB had a lot of fun putting together a team of the best names in the conference. So we’re going to do it again! Last year’s selections are obviously ineligible. Presenting our 2014 ECAC All-Name Team:

Emilio Audi, F, Union
Matt Buckles, F, Cornell
Gunnar Hughes, F, St. Lawrence
Guy Leboeuf, D, RPI
Joey de Concilys, D, Brown
Tyler Steel, G, Brown

Now we return to more analytical fare with our predictions for the first round of the ECAC playoffs this weekend. Given how close the finishes for the five seed and eight seed were, there’s already not much separating teams, and that’s before you account for the inherent wildness of a best-of-three hockey series…. so what we’re saying is that it won’t be a huge surprise if all of these are wrong.

#9 Brown at #8 St. Lawrence
The Bears have been playing awful hockey, failing to score a goal in the last weekend of the season. However, the Saints are a perfect opponent for a team struggling to score, sporting arguably the worst defense in the conference. In fact, St. Lawrence has managed to give up eight goals to Brown in a loss and a tie this year. To make matters more confusing, the Saints have been considerably worse at home this year. But we see the Carey brothers and company putting it together at Appleton this weekend and edging a demoralized Bears team. St. Lawrence in two.

#10 Dartmouth at #7 RPI
This series hinges on Charles Grant, who earned ECAC goalie of the month honors as he carried the Big Green on a late-season surge. The Engineers, meanwhile, alternated strong and disappointing performances on a weekly basis for the entire season. RPI won both meetings this year by a combined 11-3 tally, but they both came before Dartmouth caught fire. We’re going with the hot goalie. Dartmouth in three.

#11 Harvard at #6 Yale (#16/15)
The Crimson could not have drawn a worse first-round opponent. Yale ran circles around Harvard in three meetings this year, with the Cantabrigians lucky to emerge with even the one tie from those games. Yale also has a lot on the line, as they’ll need a deep ECAC run to secure a trip back to the national tournament. So despite Harvard’s typically strong February, we see the Bulldogs taking the series in front of a crazy Ingalls crowd. Yale in two.

#12 Princeton at #5 Clarkson
Princeton is the worst hockey team the ECAC has seen in a long time. Clarkson in two.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2014 All-ECAC and All-Rookie Teams

By Anton Khodakov

The regular season is over and Harvard has drawn Yale in the first round. But before the playoffs begin, it’s time for a week’s worth of blog posts looking back at the season.

First, our 2014 WHRB All-ECAC Team.

Forwards

Greg Carey (STL) – Jesse Root (YAL) – Ryan Haggerty (RPI)
Sam Anas (QUI) – Connor Jones (QUI) – Kellen Jones (QUI)
Daniel Carr (UNI) – Matt Carey (STL) – Kenny Agostino (YAL)
Tyson Spink (COL) – Tylor Spink (COL) – Brock Higgs (RPI)

We apologize to Brown’s top line and Matthew Peca, but we couldn’t resist throwing three pairs of brothers on the team. Returning from last year’s squad are the elder Carey, Haggerty, Carr and Agostino. In a major improvement over last year, we’re proud to say that only one player is slotted out of position here: Higgs, a center.

Defense

Mat Bodie (UNI) – Joakim Ryan (COR)
Dennis Robertson (BRN) – Shayne Gostisbehere (UNI)
Dan Federico (QUI) – Spiro Goulakos (COL)

With the exception of Goulakos, everyone here naturally plays the left side. But you just can’t argue against that top four. The two Dutchmen earn repeat nominations and Federico deserves more appreciation than he gets.

Goalies

Colin Stevens (UNI)
Andy Iles (COR)

Stevens is the surprise of the season in net for the league’s best team. Twenty wins and the top save percentage in the ECAC? Not too shabby. No justification needed for Andy Iles, even in the season that he sees his consecutive starts streak end.

As an added bonus, here’s our 2014 ECAC All-Rookie Team.

Sam Anas (QUI) – Mike Vecchione (UNI) – Matt Carey (STL)
Gavin Bayreuther (STL) – Devon Toews (QUI)
Charlie Finn (COL)

Vecchione sneaks in just above his teammate Eli Lichtenwald on account of missing fewer games to injury. The other five should come as no shock. They all have monster numbers and should dominate the conference in the years to come. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

ECAC Mid-February Power Rankings

By: Anton Khodakov

The Crimson have doubled their conference points from the first fourteen games in the last four. They’ve also tied their year-end mark from 2012-2013 and are suddenly somehow one point away from home ice in the first round. In other words, yet another frantic February run in Boston! Here’s a look at the rest of the conference. As usual, all rankings come from the USCHO.com poll.

1. #3 Union (14-3-1, 20-6-4, unchanged)

The Dutchmen are in great position to capture their third Cleary cup in four years, having weathered a number of suspensions after the Mayor’s Cup. Union is a proven ECAC powerhouse, and now the question becomes much more serious and much heavier: can Rick Bennett’s men finally succeed on the national stage?

2. #5 Quinnipiac (11-4-3, 21-6-3, unchanged)

Rand Pecknold is a miracle. This team regularly ices five underclassmen at the blue line, and yet the Bobcats are tied for second nationally with a 1.97 goals against average. Michael Garteig might snag a Hobey Baker nomination just like his predecessor Eric Hartzell.

3. #19 Colgate (10-5-3, 14-11-5, up two spots)

The young Raiders have put some distance between themselves and the dreaded five spot in the table. They deserve more love in the national polls—how they rank below Cornell, who they trounced 6-1 on February 8th, is beyond me.

4. #14 Yale (8-7-3, 13-8-4, down one spot)

Yale is the most indecipherable team in the conference. They’ve yet to win or lose more than two games in a row season and follow impressive performances with awful ones. In good news: Tommy Fallen has finally started to provide the blue-line offense that everyone knew he could.

5. #13 Cornell (8-6-4, 12-7-5, down one spot)

The Big Red have a solid roster, but I got the impression seeing them in person that they might depend too much on Mr. Iles in net. Suddenly Cornell is slipping, with a controversial 2-1 decision over Brown as their only win from the last two weekends.

6. Clarkson (10-8-0, 17-13-2, unchanged)

No points from a home weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth? The Golden Knights have mostly kept their doubters at bay throughout the season, but now they finally slip from the national polls. They might become the dreaded “reverse sleeper” in the tournament—a good team that everyone picks against.

7. RPI (7-7-4, 13-12-5, unchanged)

The brawl at the Mayor’s Cup has failed to awake or depress the middling Engineers, who continue to split weekends. They find themselves in a dangerous position: within reach of the top four but not quite clear of the bottom four either. RPI must hold home ice against the North Country teams this weekend.

8. St. Lawrence (5-9-4, 11-15-4, up one spot)

Since my last Power Rankings, St. Lawrence has posted wins over Quinnipiac and Union. No other ECAC team can say that for the season (although Brown, Colgate, and Clarkson all have a chance before season’s end). The Saints might finally be turning the corner on defense, allowing only 13 goals in their last six outings.

9. Harvard (5-9-4, 9-12-4 up one spot)

The Crimson looked very good in defeating Princeton, Boston University, and Dartmouth. Against Clarkson and St. Lawrence, they deserved zero points and got three. You can thank Steve Michalek, who’s leaped Raphael Girard in save percentage for the season and in Donato’s trust.

10. Brown (7-10-1, 10-12-3, down two spots)

Wheels coming off the wagon? Not quite, as Brown upset Quinnipiac at home this past weekend (just like another struggling Ivy did last year). Before that, the Bears had lost five of six. Mark Naclerio’s been one of the best forwards in the conference over that stretch, however. 

11. Dartmouth (5-12-1, 6-16-3, unchanged)

A team ravaged by injuries and inconsistency all year still has a chance of claiming a first-round bye, especially if they can claim a win over Brown tonight and see St. Lawrence lose out. In all likelihood, though, Eric Neiley and the Big Green will be trying to spoil someone else’s first round.

12. Princeton (4-14-0, 5-20-0, unchanged)


When Princeton was on the power play in their last game against Yale, the Tigers scored two goals. The Bulldogs scored three. It’s been that kind of season.

Friday, January 17, 2014

ECAC Mid-January Power Rankings

By: Anton Khodakov

The Crimson have a critical stretch of games in front of them, starting with tonight’s matchup against their hated rivals—Cornell. Before the Beanpot begins, Harvard will face four consecutive conference opponents, a stretch that will leave only 30% of the ECAC schedule remaining. Now, and not February, is the time to move into the middle four slots in the conference table and earn that first-round bye.  It won’t be easy, however, as the first three of those opponents fall into the top five of our mid-January power rankings. All national rankings per USCHO.com.

1. #6 Union (9-2-0, 13-4-3)

Despite falling to the Bobcats in Hamden, the Dutchmen claim the top spot thanks to a scintillating 9-game winning streak that included a victory over then-#1 St. Cloud. Shayne Gostisbehere is third in the fan section of the Hobey Baker vote.

2. #5 Quinnipiac (8-2-3, 17-3-5)

The Bobcats ended Union’s unbeaten run with a 2-1 home win. No one will be surprised if this team, leading the nation in goals allowed per game at 1.80, makes it back to the title game.
 
3.  #8 Yale (3-2-3, 8-3-4)

On one hand, the Bulldogs have still yet to prove themselves against the best ECAC teams, in part due to the vagaries of the schedule. On the other hand, they looked every bit the defending champs while demolishing the Crimson in Manhattan. Just wait until Jesse Root starts finding the back of the net again.

4. #12 Cornell (4-3-2, 8-4-3)

The Big Red only have one win since November 30th. However, they’ve posted a series of impressive performances that have just fallen short—two ties against good teams and a one-goal loss to Boston University. They might be turning the corner…

5. Colgate (5-3-1, 9-9-3)

A tie against top-ranked Minnesota? In Minneapolis? Followed by wins over #2 Ferris State and #18 Vermont? The young Raiders are playing their best hockey of the season. All five players with double-digit points are sophomores.

6. #14 Clarkson (6-2-0, 13-7-2)

Just when I thought it was time to start believing in the Golden Knights, they’ve gone on a streak that has seen one victory from six games. An ugly 4-0 home loss to Merrimack will leave a bad taste in your mouth.

7. RPI (3-5-3, 8-10-4)

Four straight losses, albeit three to top-10 teams, have finally confirmed that this Engineers team will not make good on the preseason hype. Jason Kasdorf’s injury is a big part of that disappointment, but the truth is that they are weaker defensively as a team overall this year. The good news: seven more games against the teams ranked above them in these rankings to make up ground.

8. Brown (3-4-1, 6-6-3)

Four straight games with three goals or more for the offensively-challenged Bears, unbeaten in the last five. Brown has made it to .500, an achievement in itself, but can they keep scoring enough to give their competent goalies and decent penalty kill a chance to keep a top-8 berth?

9. St. Lawrence (2-4-2, 8-10-2)

Sixth in the nation at 3.55 goals scored per game. Eighth from last at 3.70 allowed. That’s been the story all year for the Saints, who haven’t won a game since November despite the talent all over the roster.

10. Harvard (2-6-3, 5-8-3)

Another thrilling win over Boston University, followed by a hard-fought tie against the Bobcats have the Crimson in position—oh, what’s that? I’m sorry, you say they played Yale on Saturday? At Madison Square Garden, on national television? Let’s not talk about that.

11. Dartmouth (2-8-0, 3-12-2)

The Big Green have finally started playing up to their potential (and pre-season expectations). At the same time, they’ve managed to make a habit of blowing winnable games in the third period. But there’s still time before the playoffs to put it all together, especially if a few of their defensemen or goaltenders actually start playing like they belong in Division 1 NCAA action.


12. Princeton (3-9-0, 4-15-0)

There are four teams nationwide that rank in the bottom ten in both goals scored and goals allowed. Army, Sacred Heart, Alabama-Huntsville… and the Tigers. Like the Crimson last year, they’ll at least be able to look back at a one-goal win over Quinnipiac that will likely prove meaningless in the overall picture.