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College Hockey Slap Schotts Week 20 — ECACH tourney first-round preview

By Ken Schott
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

This blog is a bit late. My wife and son were home Monday under the weather.

The ECAC Hockey tournament gets underway Friday with the best-of-three first-round series. The matchups are intriguing, and the higher-seeded teams may not necessarily be the favorites to win.

Here is my look at the four first-round series.

No. 12 Harvard at No. 5 Dartmouth

Dartmouth controlled its destiny for a first-round bye entering the weekend. But the Big Green stumbled at home, tying Princeton and losing to Quinnipiac. It appears the Big Green is having goaltending issues. Cab Morris has been the starter for most of the season, but Charles Grant has been getting the bulk of the playing time of late.

Harvard, which reached the ECACH tournament final last season, finished in last place for the first time in the 52-year history of the ECACH. The Crimson started the season 4-2. But they lost four players, allegedly to an academic scandal, and the Crimson stumbled. They went 1-13-1 over their next 15 games. Harvard has been playing better of late, going 4-2-2 in its last eight. That included a 2-1 overtime upset of ECACH regular-season champ and top-ranked Quinnipiac on Friday.

Key players to watch: For Dartmouth, sophomore forward Tyler Sikura (10-18-28) leads the way. Junior forward Eric Robinson also has 10 goals. But the goaltending situation should concern Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet.

For Harvard, freshman Jimmy Vesey (11-7-18) has had a good season. Senior forward Alex Fallstrom (8-11-19) leads the team in scoring. Another senior forward, Marshall Everson, is tied with Vesey for the team lead in goals with 11. Sophomore Raphael Girard (7-16-3, 2.98 GAA) took over the top spot late last season and helped the Crimson reach the final.

Final analysis: Dartmouth should win this series against its travel partner. But I can see the series going three games.

No. 11 Colgate at No. 6 St. Lawrence

Like the Big Green, St. Lawrence had a chance at a bye. But the Saints stumbled on their Capital Region road trip, getting outscored, 9-2. The consolation prize is they get home ice for the first round.

Colgate started out well, blasting Niagara, 10-2, in the season opener. At one point, the Raiders were 11-7-2. But they closed out the season on a 1-7-2 skid.

Key players: For St. Lawrence, did a player enhance his Hobey Baker Award chances by not playing? Senior forward Kyle Flanagan (14-28-42), the Saints’ second leading scorer, missed the games over the weekend after having his appendix removed. Leading scorer Greg Carey (26-22-48) was ineffective against Union. Although he did score against RPI, Carey finished the weekend a minus-4. Watching goalie Matt Weninger (16-14- 4, 2.79 GAA) was fighting the puck against Union.

For Colgate, freshman forward Tylor Spink (12-17-29) leads the team in scoring. Another freshman, Kyle Baun, tops the team with 13 goals. With those two, the Raiders’ future looks good. On the goalie front, Spencer Finney (8-10-3, 2.61 GAA) was playing well, but stumbled of late.

Final analysis: I believe the Saints will take care of the Raiders.

No. 10 Clarkson at No. 7 Brown

For the first time since 2005, Brown will host a playoff series. The Bears are a scrappy team who aren’t afraid to get in the opposition’s grill.

Clarkson has been a confounding team. The Golden Knights can look good one game, and awful the next. Their final home games of the season are a perfect example. They shut out Dartmouth, 3-0, but then were beaten by Harvard, 6-2. The Knights haven’t scored in 141:29.

Key players: For Brown, sophomore forward Matt Lorito (15-13-28) is the team’s top scorer. And senior goalie Anthony Borelli (9-7-5, 1.77 GAA) took over the No. 1 goalie spot in December and hasn’t let it go.

For Clarkson, junior forward Allan McPherson (9-16-25) tops the team in scoring. However, McPherson was favoring his left leg and had to be helped off the ice at the end of Saturday’s Union game. Sophomore forward Joe Zarbo has a team-leading 12 goals. Freshman Greg Lewis (9-16-6, 2.98 GAA) has been inconsistent.

Final analysis: Brown will play well defensively and shut down Clarkson.

No. 9 Cornell at No.8 Princeton

For the first time since 1999, Cornell won’t play a playoff series at home. Ironically, that 1999 first-round series was against Princeton. The Tigers won that series.

Princeton earned home ice in dramatic fashion Saturday against Harvard. Tied in overtime, the Tigers pulled Mike Condon for an extra attacker because they needed a win for home ice. Andrew Calof scored with 37 seconds left to give the Tigers a 2-1 win and the final home ice spot in the first round.

Key players: For Princeton, start with Calof. The junior forward leads the Tigers in scoring with 13 goals and 13 assists. Despite having a 8-9-4 record, Condon, a senior, has a 2.42 GAA.

For Cornell, senior forward Greg Miller (14-15-29) leads the way. Sophomore forwards Joel Lowry (11-9-20) and Brian Ferlin (6-13-9) are dangerous. Andy Iles (12-14-3, 2.37 GAA) carries the workload in goal.

Final analysis: Princeton swept Cornell in the season series. Being able to play at Hobey Baker Rink will benefit the Tigers.

ECACH Power Rankings

My final ECACH Power Rankings each week. WARNING: You may agree, or disagree, with my picks.

Team Last week’s ranking


1) Quinnipiac 1
2) RPI 2
3) Yale 3
3) Union 6
5) Dartmouth 4
6) St. Lawrence 5
7) Brown 7
8) Cornell 8
9) Princeton 10
10) Clarkson 9
11) Harvard 12
12) Colgate 11

PairWise Rankings

RPI is tied for 14th. Union, which was tied for 16th after its game Saturday, dropped to 17th when Alaska won.

The PairWise Ranking is a system which attempts to mimic the method used by the NCAA Selection Committee to determine participants for the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament.

Rank Team PWR W-L-T Win % Win % Rank RPI RPI Rank vs. TUC TUC %

1 Quinnipiac 32 24-5-5 .7794 1 .5763 1 15-2-4 .8095
2 Minnesota 31 22-7-5 .7206 2 .5634 2 12-6-3 .6429
3 Miami 30 22-9-5 .6806 5 .5539 3 13-7-4 .6250
4t Massachusetts-Lowell 27 21-9-2 .6875 4 .5491 4 8-7-0 .5333
4t New Hampshire 27 18-8-6 .6562 7 .5479 5 11-7-3 .5952
4t Boston College 27 19-10-3 .6406 8 .5399* 8 10-6-3 .6053
7 North Dakota 26 18-9-7 .6324 10 .5445 6 12-9-4 .5600
8t Minnesota State 24 21-10-3 .6618 6 .5442* 7 10-10-1 .5000
8t Denver 24 17-11-5 .5909 15 .5378 10 13-10-4 .5556
10t St. Cloud State 22 20-13-1 .6029 13t .5369* 11 13-10-1 .5625
10t Western Michigan 22 19-9-8 .6389 9 .5361 12 9-5-4 .6111
12 Yale 21 16-10-3 .6034 12 .5351 13 8-8-3 .5000
13 Niagara 19 21-8-5 .6912 3 .5316* 14 4-4-0 .5000
14t Notre Dame 18 21-12-3 .6250 11 .5381 9 7-9-3 .4474
14t RPI 18 17-12-5 .5735 18t .5255 15 9-10-4 .4783
16 Alaska 17 16-14-4 .5294 25t .5129 22 10-8-3 .5476
17t Union 16 17-12-5 .5735 18t .5211 17 7-7-3 .5000
17t Boston University 16 16-15-2 .5152 27 .5130 21 10-9-1 .5250
19 Dartmouth 14 13-11-5 .5345 24 .5167 19 8-7-3 .5278
20 Wisconsin 13 16-11-7 .5735 18t .5218 16 7-10-3 .4250
21 Robert Morris 12 18-12-4 .5882 16 .5108 23 5-6-2 .4615
22t Providence 10 14-11-7 .5469 23 .5187 18 5-9-5 .3947
22t Air Force 10 17-11-7 .5857 17 .5061 25 6-5-1 .5417
24 Ohio State 9 14-15-7 .4861 30 .5061 26 7-10-6 .4348
25t Nebraska-Omaha 7 18-14-2 .5588 21t .5150 20 6-12-1 .3421
25t Ferris State 7 15-14-5 .5147 28 .5073 24 5-10-2 .3529
25t St. Lawrence 7 16-14-4 .5294 25t .5057 28 6-10-1 .3824
28t Holy Cross 6 19-12-3 .6029 13t .5060 27 3-6-1 .3500
28t Cornell 6 12-14-3 .4655 36 .5008 31 9-9-1 .5000
28t Northern Michigan 6 15-17-4 .4722 34 .5006 32 10-11-3 .4792
31t Colorado College 2 13-16-5 .4559 38t .5042 29 8-15-3 .3654
31t Merrimack 2 14-14-6 .5000 29 .5032 30 6-11-1 .3611
33 Brown 0 11-12-6 .4828 32 .5003 33 3-10-5 .3056

*-Team’s RPI has been adjusted to remove negative effect from defeating weak opponent.

RPI, Union ranked

For the first time since Oct. 10, 2011, RPI and Union are ranked together in the USCHO.com/NCAA hockey top-20 poll.

The Engineers, who clinched the second seed and a first-round bye for the ECAC Hockey tournament, are 17th. They received 207 points.

The Dutchmen, who earned their fourth straight first-round bye by finishing fourth, are 20th. They got 105 points.

ECACH regular-season champion Quinnipiac remains No. 1 in the poll. The Bobcats got 36 first-place votes and 967 points.

Yale, which finished third, is 13th in the poll.

RPI is 15th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine top-15 poll.

USCHO.com/NCAA poll

Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 Quinnipiac (36) 24- 5-5 967 1
2 Minnesota (12) 22- 7-5 949 2
3 Miami 22- 9-5 898 3
4 New Hampshire 18- 8-6 803 5
5 North Dakota 18- 9-7 750 6
6 Boston College 19-10-3 730 4
7 Massachusetts-Lowell ( 2) 21- 9-2 660 12
8 St. Cloud State 20-13-1 612 7
9 Western Michigan 19- 9-8 589 8
10 Minnesota State 21-10-3 571 9
11 Notre Dame 21-12-3 527 11
12 Denver 17-11-5 508 10
13 Yale 16-10-3 345 15
14 Wisconsin 16-11-7 307 16
15 Niagara 21- 8-5 221 14
16 Nebraska-Omaha 18-14-2 210 13
17 RPI 17-12-5 207 NR
18 Providence 14-11-7 167 20
19 Boston University 16-15-2 118 19
20 Union 17-12-5 105 NR
Others receiving votes: Dartmouth 58, Merrimack 39, Alaska 25, Air Force 8, Ohio State 3, St. Lawrence 2, Robert Morris 1.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine 2012-13 Men’s College Hockey Poll

(First-place votes in parentheses)
Rank School Last Week’s Ranking 2012-13 Record Weeks in Top 15
1 Quinnipiac, 497 (25) 1 24-5-5 13
2 Minnesota, 472 (8) 2 22-7-5 22
3 Miami (Ohio), 445 3 22-9-5 22
4 New Hampshire, 383 5 18-8-6 19
5 North Dakota, 344 6 18-9-7 22
6 Boston College, 339 4 19-10-3 22
7 UMass-Lowell, 318 (1) 10 21-9-2 13
8 St. Cloud State, 240 9 20-13-1 10
9 Western Michigan, 227 8 19-9-8 22
10 Minnesota State, 208 7 21-10-3 9
11 Denver, 189 11 17-11-5 22
12 Notre Dame, 184 12 21-12-3 22
13 Yale, 86 14 16-10-3 13
14 Wisconsin, 42 NR 16-11-7 3
15 RPI, 27 NR 17-12-5 1
Others receiving votes: Niagara, 25; Providence College, 18, Union, 17; Nebraska-Omaha, 15; Dartmouth, 3; Boston University, 1.

My vote

I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted:
1) Quinnipiac
2) Minnesota
3) Miami
4) New Hampshire
5) North Dakota
6) Boston College
7) UMass-Lowell
8) Notre Dame
9) St. Cloud
10) Western Michigan
11) Minn. State
12) Denver
13) Yale
14) Wisconsin
15) RPI
16) Providence
17) Union
18) Boston U.
19) Neb.-Omaha
20) Niagara

Daily Gazette Stick Salutes

Time for my weekly awards.

Player of the Week — Brock Higgs, RPI

The junior forward had three assists in Friday’s 5-0 win over Clarkson that clinched second place and a first-round bye for the Engineers. Higgs scored a short-handed, game-winning goal in RPI’s 4-1 triumph over St. Lawrence on Saturday.

Goalie of the Week — Raphael Girard, Harvard

The junior netminder made 33 saves to help the Crimson upset Quinnipiac in overtime on Friday. Girard stopped 45 shots in the overtime loss to Princeton on Saturday.

Rookie of the Week — Mike Zalewski, RPI

The freshman forward had two goals and an assist against Clarkson.

Teams of the Week — RPI, Union

The Capita Region teams outscored the North Country teams, 18-2, over the weekend.

If you have any comments, post them below, or e-mail them to me at schott@dailygazette.com. You can follow me on Twitter (@slapschotts) Also, please become a fan of two Facebook pages — The Daily Gazette On Ice, and my "Slap Schotts" college hockey segment page.

Good Tuesday! Good Hockey!

 
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