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 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.