Thursday, January 21, 2010

Breaking Down the ECAC: Week 8

Every team in the league now has played 10 or 11 ECAC games so it's a great time to release our power rankings, the first of 2010 no less. Same rules as always, and same content, plus any relevant rankings. Also, since there were so many holiday tournaments, while we do point out when teams win or lose in the shootout, we, like the NCAA, treat any game that goes to a shootout as a tie for these purposes.

Just like the standings, the top and bottom are clear cut and the rest, not so much. But that's the best part of the ECAC. With that in mind, here we go:

1. Union (13-4-5, 7-0-3) Last Ranking: 1st
In the Polls- Pairwise: 7th, USCHO: 13th, USA Today: 13th
Last Time Out: The Dutchmen have still not lost a conference game all season, and now they are the only team out of the 58 Division I hockey teams that can make that claim. Back in 2009, Union lost only its second game in regulation all year, falling 4-3 to UMass in Storrs, CT, but they rebounded in a big way, to the tune of 7-0 over the host Huskies in the consolation round. Union then picked up three big league wins, beating Princeton 7-3, Quinnipiac 2-1 in OT, both on the road, before a home win against RPI, 3-1. The Dutchmen are now 3-1 against their Capital District Rivals.
Key Player: Jason Walters is on a team leading 13 game point scoring streak for the Dutchmen.
Next Time Out: The Dutchmen are at home this weekend in ECAC play, as they welcome the Harvard Crimson on Friday night and then Dartmouth on Saturday night.

2. Yale (10-4-3, 6-2-2) Last Ranking: 4th
In the Polls- Pairwise: 15th USCHO: 6th USA Today: 5th
Last Time Out: Yale entered 2010 looking to cement their place as one of the top teams in the country, and they did so quickly, beating Ferris State 6-1 out in Madison, WI to reach the finals, where they tied the host Wisconsin Badgers 2-2 only to lose in the shootout for the title. An impressive non-conference weekend gave way to ECAC and Ivy League play. Yale started out on the road with a 4-2 win over Dartmouth before a Tuesday road game against arch-rival Harvard, which saw Yale skate away with a 3-2 loss in a physical game. The Elis were soon back to their winning ways, as they honored the re-dedication of the Yale Whale with an 8-5 win over travel partner Brown.
Key Player: Mark Arcobello's two goals led the way for Yale over the Big Green.
Next Time Out: Yale gets to take the long trip up to the North Country, where they will face the Clarkson Golden Knights on Friday before a Saturday afternoon game against St. Lawrence.

3. Cornell (9-4-3, 7-2-2) Last Ranking: 2nd
In the Polls- Pairwise: 17th, USCHO: 9th, USA Today: 7th
Last Time Out: The Big Red ended 2009 on a sour note down at the Florida College Classic. After falling 4-2 to a very tough Colorado College team, the Big Red then met a familiar foe, ECAC and Ivy rival Princeton in the consolation round, and once again, Tigers got the better of the Big Red, as this time the cats from Jersey defeated Cornell 3-2. 2010 saw the Big Red remain on the road, and the team out of Ithaca dominated New Hampshire 5-2 in an ESPNU game, before picking up three points on the North Country circuit after a 3-1 win over Clarkson and a 1-1 tie with SLU.
Key Player: Sean Collins has two goals in the last three games for the Big Red.
Next Time Out: The Big Red have their first 2010 games at Lynah, and the faithful will get to welcome the North Dakota Fighting Sioux for a two game series.

4. St. Lawrence (11-8-4, 5-3-2) Last Ranking: 7th
Last Time Out: Quite the turnaround for the Saints from the last rankings, where we talked about their shellacking at the hands of Maine. Now the Saints are unbeaten in conference since November 21 and are 2-1-2 in 2010. SLU beat Boston College 5-2 out in Denver before tying Nebraska-Omaha 2-2 in the second round of that game. They then split a road weekend with Niagara, winning 7-2 before losing 4-3. SLU went back to conference play, grabbing a 4-0 win over Colgate and then a 1-1 tie with Cornell, also at home.
Key Player: Travis Vermeulen grabbed two goals and an assist this weekend to lead the Saints to three points.
Next Time Out: Saint Lawrence welcomes a couple of Ivies to Canton as they face Brown on Friday before a Saturday matinee with Yale.

5. Harvard (4-10-2, 4-5-2) Last Ranking: 12th
Last Time Out: Harvard wins this week's most improved award, moving from the bottom of the pack all the way to the top half in the rankings. The Crimson are perhaps making their usual post-exam break run (now earlier with the new Harvard calendar), which started with a win over what was a top ten team in Quinnipiac, 3-1 at home. Then it was off on the road for the first time since mid-November (a stretch of 7 games) to face Minnesota. Unfortunately for the Crimson, while the memories of 1989 were in Minneapolis, the magic was not, and they were swept by a (possibly) resurgent Minnesota team. The Crimson were not shaken by the loss, bouncing back from the Friday-Saturday road trip for a Tuesday home win over rival Yale, 3-2, and then a 4-2 Monday matinee victory over the Dartmouth Big Green. The win over Yale was Harvard's first win over a team in the top five in the polls since November of 2006 when Harvard beat a BC team ranked 3rd.
Key Player: Rookie Louis Leblanc has four goals in the last two games for the Crimson, wins over Yale and Dartmouth.
Next Time Out: It's off to the Capital District for the Crimson as they face the Union Dutchmen Friday night and then RPI on Saturday afternoon.

6. RPI (12-11-1, 5-5) Last Ranking: 8th
Last Time Out: The Engineers finished 2009 at the Great Lakes Invitational, where they beat one local team, Michigan, 4-3, before a 6-1 loss to another local, Michigan State in the championship. Returning from Joe Lewis Arena, RPI picked up two road conference wins over Quinnipiac and Princeton with identical 4-1 scorelines. Then they faced Capital District rival Union at Union and fell 3-1, giving the regular season series to the Dutchmen.
Key Player: Marty O'Grady was big on special teams against Quinnipiac and Princeton, grabbing a shorthanded goal and one with the extra man.
Next Time Out: The 'Tute welcome the Big Green of Dartmouth on Friday night before taking on Harvard in a Saturday afternoon clash at the Houston Field House in Troy.

After the jump, we'll look at the second half of the ECAC, including a team still on the fringe of one of the major polls.

7. Princeton (6-10-2, 3-8-1) Last Ranking: 9th
Last Time Out: The Tigers ended 2009 down in Florida, where they earned a 6-6 tie versus Maine, but the loss in the shootout sent the Tigers to the consolation round, where they defeated fellow Ivy Cornell 3-2. Princeton followed that up by grabbing a 4-3 OT win over travel partner Quinnipiac in the first game at Hobey Baker Arena since November 14 (a 9 game stretch). Princeton's next efforts at home were less encouraging, however, as they took a 7-3 loss to Union before falling two days later to RPI 4-1 in an ESPNU game.
Key Player: Dan Bartlett had a hat trick against Quinnipiac and added a goal in a losing effort against Union.
Next Time Out: Princeton is off this weekend, but they will have a home clash next Monday with non-conference opponent UConn.

8. Colgate (8-9-4, 6-4-1) Last Ranking: 7th
Last Time Out: After the holiday break, the Raiders are a woeful 1-4, losing first at Canisius 7-6 in OT, before a pair of losses at the Shillelagh Tournament, losing to host Notre Dame 5-2 before losing to Niagara 5-1 in the consolation game. (That game moved Colgate to 1-1-1 against Niagara, earning the win at home and the tie at Niagara.) After another break, Colgate returned to league play, dropping their fourth straight game, this time at St. Lawrence 4-0 before grabbing a 6-2 win at Clarkson to end the streak.
Key Player: Matt Firman had two goals for the Raiders in their win over Clarkson.
Next Time Out: Colgate will be welcoming Robert Morris to Starr Rink for a two game nonconference series this weekend.

9. Clarkson (5-14-3, 1-7-2) Last Ranking: 10th
Last Time Out: Clarkson began 2010 at Mariucci Arena for the Dodge Holiday Classic. In the opening round, they fell to eventual tournament champs Northern Michigan 4-0, and then dropped a 4-3 game to Bowling Green in the consolation round. Clarkson then returned home to welcome the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers to Potsdam, with Clarkson winning the first game 3-1 and then a 3-3 tie the second time. The return to league play was not as good for Clarkson, as they were swept at home by Cornell, 3-1, and Colgate, 6-2.
Key Player: Julien Cayer had a goal and an assist for the weekend series versus Colgate and Cornell.
Next Time Out: Clarkson will have their fifth and sixth straight home games this weekend as they welcome Yale and Brown to Cheel Arena.

10. Quinnipiac (13-9-1, 7-6-0) Last Ranking: 5th
In the Polls- USCHO: Also Receiving Votes
Last Time Out: Since the last time we wrote this column, just prior to the start of holiday tournaments, the Bobcats have gone 0 for 6, including an 0-4 record in league play. This losing streak started with the last game of 2009, as the Bobcats played a great third period but their lack of a complete game left them on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline with Harvard. The Bobcats followed that road loss up with a 4-3 OT loss at travel partner Princeton. Quinnipiac returned home, only to be swept by the Capital District teams, falling 4-1 to RPI and then 2-1 in OT to Union. Non-conference play did not go much better for Quinnipiac, as they dropped a two game series in Hamden to St. Cloud State, losing 3-1 and 3-2. The last time the Bobcats won a league game was November 25 at home against Princeton, a stretch of 6 league games.
Key Player: Jean-Marc Beaudoin had a goal and an assist in two games versus St. Cloud State.
Next Time Out: The Bobcats will look to try and turn things around with their final non-conference games of the regular season, as they welcome Niagara to Hamden for a two game set.

11. Dartmouth (4-13-0, 2-8-0) Last Ranking: 11th
Last Time Out: The Big Green were hoping the change in the year would change their team's fortunes on the ice, but a day into 2010, and Dartmouth had already been humbled on home ice, losing 7-0 to Northeastern in the first round of Dartmouth's holiday tournament. The Big Green then fell 4-2 to Holy Cross in the consolation round. Dartmouth did grab a win the following week, beating Brown 9-4, their second straight league win (the last one came back on November 21st against St. Lawrence). Even the league winning streak for Dartmouth did not last long, as they fell 4-2 to Yale. Dartmouth then dropped a 5-2 game to Granite State rival New Hampshire in Manchester, and followed that up with a 4-1 loss to Harvard on the road. The win against Brown is Dartmouth's only win in their last 8 games, stretching back to a non-conference win versus Harvard on November 29.
Key Player: Adam Estoclet has four goals in the last three league games, including a hat trick against Brown.
Next Time Out: Dartmouth travels on the road to face RPI on Friday night and then Union on Saturday night in the Capital District.

12. Brown (5-11-1, 3-6-1) Last Ranking: 3rd
Last Time Out: The Bears have won only one game this season where they gave up more than one goal, a 5-2 win against AIC back on December 8th. All of their other wins have come when giving up only a goal. It can be said that for Brown, defense and goaltending will win them games; neither of those things seem to be in supply in Providence in 2010, as the Bears have given up 27 goals in their last four games. First Bruno traveled out to St. Cloud State, who put up 5 goals each night en route to a series sweep with wins of 5-1 and 5-3 over Brown. Two more road games saw two more losses for the Providence-based Ivy, as they fell 9-4 to Dartmouth and then 8 days later later, fell to travel partner Yale 8-5.
Key Player: Harry Zolnierczyk had a goal and an assist in Brown's last two games.
Next Time Out: Brown still have not had a game at Meehan Arena in 2010, and that trend continues this week, as they remain on the road for the North Country trip to face St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

Three Stars of the Week
1. Jason Walters, Union
2. Louis Leblanc, Harvard
3. Dan Bartlett, Princeton

Three Games to Watch This Weekend
1. #5 North Dakota @ #9 Cornell, Saturday Night. Our non-conference game of the week, this should be a great series as two top ten teams look to test one another and earn valuable wins for the Pairwise Rankings. While Friday night should be fun to watch as well, as the Lynah Faithful and the Sioux get their first taste of one another, sometimes the first game of a non-conference series won't live up to its billing. The second night, however, is usually a good one, as both teams have settled in and the intensity of playing the same team back to back is always increased, so we'll be watching the Saturday game. Add
2. Harvard @ RPI, Saturday Afternoon. It's going to be a battle of some of the ECAC's top and most well-known rookies, as Louis Leblanc, the NHL first rounder, and Jerry D'Amigo, the US WJC Gold Medalist, meet for the first time of the season. There's plenty of young talent besides these two, as RPI features second-rounder Brandon Pirri and fellow rookie Marty O'Grady while Harvard has a bevy of rookies, including Conor Morrison and Alex Fallstrom. These six rookies have combined for 48 league points going into this weekend.
3. #6 Yale at St. Lawrence, Saturday Night. Yale's high octane offense will be heading to the North Country, looking to improve on a 24-52-8 all time record against a Saints team that has lost only one game at home in league play. For the Bulldogs to repeat as regular season champions, they are going to need to win some tough road games, and this is one of them, while the Saints can look to use home ice to push for a postseason bye with a win or tie.

That'll do it for us. Enjoy a great weekend of hockey, and we'll be back sometime next week.

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