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Thursday, December 31, 2009

View From the Booth- Harvard Grabs First Home Win

The Harvard Crimson picked up their first home win of the season, first win over a ranked opponent, and first win of any kind since Oct. 30 with their 3-1 win over the No. 8 Quinnipiac Bobcats. Coming up after the jump, we have our Five Thoughts on the game. Also below, you can hear yesterday's press conference with Coach Ted Donato and Senior Captain Alex Biega.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Breaking Down the ECAC: Exam Break Edition

After a long delay, we present our usual ECAC power rankings column. Since we skipped a couple of weeks, and since this is as close as we get to a natural halfway point, the only new wrinkle is that our key player will be from the entire season so far, not just from the previous week of play. We'll then take the top three players from this list for the top three players for this season so far, and also look at the top three games to watch for the upcoming holiday season.

With that in mind, here we go:

1. Union (8-3-5, 4-0-3)
Last Time Out- The Dutchmen, the only team yet to lose a conference game in the ECAC, have had impressive run this season, but also in recent weeks. Union hosted two top four teams in Colgate and Cornell, and were able to get three points from the weekend, beating Colgate 3-1 and Cornell 2-2. Union closed out their 2009 ECAC campaign with their second win over rival RPI, a 5-4 victory, the first league game between the foes that have met three times this season. Then, in an exhibition game against the US U-18 team, they became the first ECAC squad to beat the Americans. Shocking Statistic- Union has not lost a game since a 4-3 OT loss in a non-conference game to RPI on Oct. 30, but more shocking- Union has only lost one game in regulation all year, a 3-1 loss at St. Cloud State on Oct. 17.
Key Player- Mario Vallery-Trabucco leads the Dutchmen in scoring with 10 goals and 11 assists, for a team high 21 points.
Next Time Out- Union will be participating in the Toyota UConn Classic at Storrs, CT on Dec. 29 and 30. UMass will face Hockey East opponent UMass in the first round, and then face either UConn or Bentley, of Atlantic Hockey, in the final round. Union and Bentley were also in the RPI Holiday Tournament together, but did not meet.

2. Cornell (7-2-2, 6-2-1)
Last Time Out- Cornell faced the defending national champions Boston University in Red Hot Hockey at Madison Square Garden, and the renewed rivalry game did not disappoint, as the teams skated to a 3-3 tie. Cornell then closed out 2009 ECAC play with a 3 point road weekend, beating RPI 2-1 and then tying Union 2-2.
Key Player- Blake Gallagher is averaging a goal per ECAC game, leading the team in conference points with 9 goals and 6 assists in 9 conference games. He also leads the conference in goals per game with a 0.91 GPG.
Next Time Out- Cornell travels down to Estero, Florida for the Florida College Classic on December 29 and 30. The #4 Big Red face the #3 Colorado College Tigers of the WCHA. Cornell will then face either ECAC and Ivy League opponent Princeton, or Hockey East opponent Maine in the final round.

3. Brown (5-7-1, 3-4-1)
Last Time Out- Brown, particularly looking at their record, seem like a bit of an odd choice to be this high in the power rankings, but power rankings heavily favor how a team has been playing lately- and Bruno has been flying high. The last loss for Brown came on Nov. 24. Since then, they have earned all 5 of their wins on the season. They started with an 8-1 win over UConn in non-conference play, then beat Harvard 4-1 with the aid of two empty-netters, swept Princeton and Quinnipiac at home 3-1 and 2-1 respectively, and knocked off American International 5-2 to close out 2009. After 0 wins in the first 8 games, Brendan Whittet's team might just be one of the hottest in the ECAC right now.
Key Player- Mike Clemente is third in the conference in save percentage and is the key cog in Brown's defensive system.
Next Time Out- Brown will have a tough test to continue their winning ways as they travel to St. Cloud State on Jan. 2 and 3 for a two game series.

4. Yale (7-3-2, 4-1-2)
Last Time Out- The Elis have not loss a conference game since dropping a 5-2 decision on the opening weekend of the year, facing RPI in the always difficult Black Friday game. Coming into the break, the Bulldogs knocked off two Atlantic Hockey teams in a big way, beating Sacred Heart 8-2 and then Holy Cross 7-3. After losing a 1-0 game against Hockey East opponent Vermont, Yale then swept a home series in the ECAC, beating first place Quinnipiac 7-4 and then beating Princeton 4-1.
Key Player- Broc Little is second in the ECAC in goals per game, having scored 10 goals in 12 games for a 0.83 GPG.
Next Time Out- Yale travels to Madison, WI on Jan. 2 and 3 for the Badger Hockey Classic, as #9 Yale will face #11 Ferris State of the CCHA, and then will face either Hockey East's Merrimack or the WCHA's #7 Wisconsin Badgers.

5. Quinnipiac (13-3-1, 7-2-0)
Last Time Out- It's maybe a little shocking to have the first place team this far down the power rankings, but they are down this far the same reason Brown is up this high- recent form. The Bobcats were cruising along, and had achieved their highest ever program ranking, #4 in the country, but then they were swept on a road trip to Yale and Brown. Quinnipiac lost to their Nutmeg State rivals 7-4 on Friday night, then traveled to Providence where they were beaten 2-1. The struggles continued, as they tied Atlantic Hockey opponent Holy Cross 1-1, before they got back to their winning ways with a 5-2 win over American International.
Key Player- Brandon Wong leads the Bobcats in scoring, placing second in the ECAC in points scoring and leading the ECAC in goals.
Next Time Out- Quinnipiac has one last ECAC game in 2009 as they take on the Harvard Crimson in Cambridge. They then take on travel partner Princeton at Hobey Baker Arena in the new year.

6. Colgate (7-6-4, 5-3-1)
Last Time Out- The Raiders are 1-3 in their last four games. Two of the losses were respectable, falling on the road to undefeated Union 3-1 and to rival Cornell on the road 4-2, but the Raiders also dropped a 7-6 OT game on the road to Canisius after a 15 day break. The one win for Colgate came on the road to RPI, 5-3.
Key Player- Austin Smith is tied for second in the ECAC in points scored with 24 points, including a league high 16 assists.
Next Time Out- Colgate is traveling out to Hoffman Estates, IL for the Shillelagh Tournament on Jan. 2 and 3. They will face the CCHA's Notre Dame in the opening round and then either the CHA's Niagara or the WCHA's North Dakota. If the Raiders face Niagara, it will be the third non-conference game between the two teams, and Colgate is 1-0-1 in those two games.

After the jump, we look at the bottom half of the ECAC.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Women's ECAC: If the Playoffs Started Today 1

Pretty much the same that could be said of our men's post about this can be said here: yes, it is early to start talking about playoffs, but with no games on the docket, this is what we've got to talk about. So here are the matchups if the women's hockey ECAC playoffs started today.

8. Dartmouth at 1. Clarkson
7. St. Lawrence at 2. Cornell
6. RPI at 3. Harvard
5. Princeton at 4. Quinnipiac

Missing the Cut:
Colgate, Yale, Brown, Union

Two series that stand out right off the bat- Harvard gets another crack at RPI at the Bright Center, the team that eliminated the Crimson in last year's ECAC semifinals at the Bright, while Princeton and Quinnipiac will be a battle of travel partners.

There's still a long way to go in the season, however, so nothing to get too excited about with the different pairings yet.

ECAC: If the Playoffs Started Today 1

We'll have a power rankings next week, but as teams head to the exam break (only two ECAC teams are in action this week, and they are both non-conference games), let's look at what the playoffs will look like if they started today (something we will do with more frequency when it gets closer to playoff time). So with apologies to Jim Mora, let's talk playoffs.

Byes:
1. Quinnipiac
2. Cornell
3. Union
4. Colgate

Matchups
12. Dartmouth at 5. Yale
11. Harvard at 6. St. Lawrence
10. Clarkson at 7. Brown
9. Princeton at 8. RPI

Harvard would get the tough trip to the North Country by way of one of the tiebreakers in the ECAC, although perhaps with the recent history between Brown and Harvard, Crimson fans would be grateful to head into upstate New York rather than over to Providence.

Of course, another month of play will probably make this all irrelevant anyway. But when no games are being played, this is the type of stuff we have to discuss.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Reactions to Harvard's Loss against UConn


Not really being a basketball guy, I don't have a lot of meaningful things to say about yesterday's basketball game against UConn (besides the obvious that Jeremy Lin is a good basketball player and the Crimson played well against a talented opponent), but I am good with Google and spare time, so I turn it over to the professionals for their reactions, be it from columns or from Twitter, after the jump...

(photo by Steve Slade of Jeremy Lin's block courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications and GoCrimson.com)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thoughts from Lavietes: Harvard Men Pound Rice

Wow!

The Harvard men put on an impressive showing last night in Lavietes Pavilion, pushing past the Rice Owls from C-USA, 85-64. The Crimson move to 6-1 on the season, its best start in 25 years. It was quite a performance: I had been expecting a little tougher competition from the Owls, whose only losses before last night came at the hands of national powerhouses Arizona and Texas (Rice was only trailing by 5 against the Longhorns in the second half before faltering.) Harvard clearly was the better team last night though: the score was close for about the first ten minutes, through which the Crimson had a one point lead, before the floor dropped out on Rice, and Harvard was able to take a 14 point lead into halftime. From then on, the game was never in doubt, as Harvard would extend it to a 25 point lead before cruising to the win, shooting a lights-out 60.8% from the field.

I called the game last night alongside Charlie Hobbs as part of our annual Sports Orgy on WHRB, and the contest was the second half of a double header that also featured the Harvard women knocking off Holy Cross.

After the jump, you'll find my thoughts on the Crimson's winning effort.

Women's Basketball Holy Cross Game Wrap-up

As part of the WHRB Sports Orgy last night on December 8th - and I hope all of you tuned in for what turned out to be a great night of Crimson basketball - we covered our first women's basketball game of the season, as Harvard took on Holy Cross.


View From the Booth: Crimson drop two in two different ways

Harvard hockey skated against Dartmouth and Brown on Sunday and Tuesday, and dropped their tilt against the Big Green 6-2 and their meeting with the Bears 4-1. The two results are disappointing for different reasons, which we explore after the jump. Read on to get our five thoughts, as well as some Canadian national team news regarding Louis Leblanc.