College Hockey Slap Schotts: Early-season ECACH analysis
We’re about six weeks into the regular season, and four games into the ECAC Hockey campaign. It may seem like it’s too early to judge the conference’s 12 teams, but I’m going to examine it anyway, because that’s how I roll.
Clarkson was picked to finish last by the coaches and the media in their respective preseason polls. The Knights were 8-11-3 in the league last season, and 9-20-7 overall, so it seemed like a safe pick.
But after beating Dartmouth and Harvard on the road over the weekend, the Knights not only improved to 3-1 in ECACH play, they have already equaled their overall win total of last season at 9-2-1.
A big key has been the goaltending of sophomore Greg Lewis and freshman Steve Perry. Lewis is 6-1-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. Sure, we’ve had fun with Perry and the musical group Journey jokes, but he has “Faithfully” delivered a 3-1-1 record with a 1.94 GAA, a .925 save percentage and two shutouts. No “Open Arms” there.
The return of defenseman Kevin Tansey has helped. The sophomore missed last year while recovering from injuries he suffered in an assault in Ottawa during the summer of 2012.
Somewhat of a surprise
Defending ECACH regular-season champion and NCAA runner-up Quinnipiac lost some significant players from last year’s team. Goalie Eric Hartzel, leading scorer Jeremy Langlois and four senior defensemen were among those who graduated. Some thought the Bobcats would slip a bit.
The Bobcats have hardly missed a beat. They are in first place in the league with a 3-0-1 record and 9-1-1 overall. Freshman forward Sam Anas leads the team in scoring (8-7-15). The Jones twins, now seniors, are next. Kellen Jones has four goals and 10 assists, while Connor Jones had five goals and seven assists.
No one knew much about goalie Michael Garteig because he only played in five games last season. Well, the sophomore has more than delivered for the Bobcats as Hartzell’s replacement. He is 9-1-1 with a 1.54 GAA, a .919 save percentage and two shutouts. He has won the last two ECACH goalie of the week awards.
So far, so good
RPI, St. Lawrence, Union and defending NCAA-champion Yale are in a five-way tie for second place with Clarkson. The foursome are scoring well, and they are among the best defensively in league play.
Princeton wasn’t expected to do much this season. The Tigers were picked 11th in both polls. They are 0-4 in the league and 1-5 overall.
Work in progress
The central New York teams are so-so so far. After opening with two wins at Nebraska-Omaha, Cornell is 2-2 in ECACH play, with it being shut out in its two losses. Cornell coach Mike Schafer wasn’t happy with his team’s effort against Union, managing just 11 shots in a 3-0 loss Saturday. There is plenty of talent there, and you know Schafer will get it turned around. If not, it could be another lower seed for the Big Red like last year.
Meanwhile, Colgate, a team that I thought would be a dark horse to challenge for a high playoff spot because of the offensive talent back, is 2-2 in league and 4-6-1 overall. The Raiders did had an impressive come-from-behind win at Union on Friday. But goaltending appears to be an issue. The Raiders gave up seven goals to Quinnipiac on Nov. 1, and then allowed six goals on 14 shots to RPI on Saturday.
Dartmouth and Harvard are the biggest disappointment so far.
The Big Green have some defensive issues. They have allowed 25 goals in four league games, worst in the conference. And all those league games have been at Thompson Arena. Overall, they have given up 33 goals. Dartmouth has given up seven goals each to Union and RPI Nov. 1-2, and surrendered eight against St. Lawrence on Saturday. I can’t imagine Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet saw this coming.
As for Harvard, it always seems to have the top recruiting classes every year. And it seemed like the Crimson was on the right track after opening 2-0-1. But they have lost their last three, all at home. The Crimson should be much better than this.
No hat trick for Murphy
Colgate right winger Darcy Murphy was credited with a hat trick in Friday’s 5-3 Raiders’ win over Union at Messa Rink. The third goal came on an empty-net tally with under 20 seconds left in the game. Everyone surrounded Murphy near the penalty box, and a Colgate fan threw a hat on the ice.
Turns out that Murphy didn’t score the empty-netter. On Saturday, the goal was changed to Tylor Spink, which gave him two on the night. Murphy was given an assist.
That means Quinnipiac’s Bryan Leitch remains the last visiting player to score at hat trick at Union. Leitch did it Nov. 14, 2008, in a 6-3 Quinnipiac win.
True to form
Last week in my blog, I wrote about how the Union women’s hockey team, which snapped a 30-game ECACH winless streak on Nov. 1, needed to beat the teams it is on par with to make any move toward its first-ever playoff spot and, more importantly, respectability.
Well, the Dutchwomen showed on Friday why they will continue to struggle. They played a Colgate team that was 0-4 in the league and 2-8 overall. But the Raiders rolled to an easy 5-1 win. Colgate outshot Union, 24-13, over the first 40 minutes to take a 5-0 lead.
Brown and Yale come to Messa Rink this weekend. Both teams are 0-3-1. If Union can’t sweep the games, then you forget about the team making the playoffs.
Women’s fight night
Bemidji State edged Ohio State, 3-2, in a WCHA women’s game on Friday. But that was overshadowed by what happened at the end of the game.
At the final buzzer, a bench-clearing brawl broke out. Watching a video on YouTube, it didn’t seem to last too long.
However, 287 of the game’s 303 penalty minutes were handed out. Ten Ohio State players and nine Bemidji State players were given game disqualifications for fighting except for the Buckeyes’ Madison Marcotte, who got DQd for facemasking.
“All I know is there were players taking liberties with our players,” Ohio State coach Nate Handrahan said. “There was some chippiness throughout the course of the game. I’ve got to believe that our players, and as a staff, as a program, we’re not happy with teams celebrating on our ice surface and going off the ice yipping and hooting and hollering. What happened at the end of the game doesn’t happen often in women’s hockey. But I can tell you this — we’re happy to at least see our girls show some fight and some spirit.”
The teams had just 10 skaters each for Saturday’s rematch, which ended in a 2-2 tie. No one could complaining about not having enough ice time.
RPI still 10th
RPI remains 10th in the USCHO.com/NCAA hockey USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.
The Engineers went 1-0-1 over the weekend. They tied Cornell, 3-3, and beat Colgate, 6-2.
Union, which lost to Colgate and beat Cornell, earned 24 points in the USCHO poll three points in the USA Today poll.
Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 Minnesota (38) 6- 1-1 984 1
2 Michigan (9) 6- 1-1 922 2
3 St. Cloud State (1) 6- 1-1 838 3
4 Notre Dame 7- 3-0 825 4
5 Providence 7- 1-1 811 6
6 Quinnipiac (2) 9- 1-1 788 5
7 Boston College 6- 2-1 719 8
8 Miami 6- 3-1 689 7
9 Yale 3- 1-2 575 9
10 RPI 6- 2-2 535 10
11 Clarkson 9- 2-1 427 16
12 Wisconsin 3- 2-1 401 13
13 North Dakota 3- 4-1 333 11
14 Ferris State 7- 2-0 320 19
15 Lake Superior 5- 2-1 298 14
16 Massachusetts-Lowell 5- 4-0 294 12
17 St. Lawrence 6- 2-2 166 NR
18 Northeastern 6- 3-0 154 NR
19 Cornell 3- 2-1 145 15
20 Minnesota-Duluth 4- 3-1 88 20
Others receiving votes: Minnesota State 47, Boston University 39, Bowling Green 27, Union 24, Nebraska-Omaha 20, Air Force 11, Alaska 8, Alaska-Anchorage 5, Brown 2, Harvard 2, Ohio State 2, New Hampshire 1.
USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
Rank School Last Week’s Ranking
1. Minnesota, 502 (26) 1
2. Michigan, 447 (5) 2
3. Notre Dame, 397 (1) 3
4. St. Cloud State, 390 4
5. Quinnipiac, 383 (1) 6
6. Providence, 378 (1) 5
7. Boston College, 313 8
8. Miami, 302 7
9. Yale, 220 9
10. RPI, 187 13
11. Clarkson, 134 15
12. Wisconsin, 98 12
13. UMass-Lowell, 90 11
14. North Dakota, 72 10
15. Ferris State, 70 RV
Others receiving votes: Lake Superior State, 37; St. Lawrence, 22; Northeastern, 11; Boston University, 10; Cornell, 6; Bowling Green, 4; New Hampshire, 3; Union, 3; Nebraska-Omaha, 1.
I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted.
3) Notre Dame
4) St. Cloud
7) Boston College
13) North Dakota
15) Lake Superior
16) Ferris State
17) St. Lawrence
20) Minn. Duluth
Daily Gazette/ECACH Four Stars
Time for my four stars of the week.
Player of the Week — Greg Carey, St. Lawrence
The senior forward scored the game-winning goal and added an assist in the Saints’ 3-1 triumph over Harvard on Friday. In Saturday’s 8-5 win over Dartmouth, he had a goal and three assists.
Goalie of the Week — Greg Lewis, Clarkson
The sophomore netminder made 26 saves in the Golden Knights’ 3-2 win over Dartmouth on Friday. He had 22 saves in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Harvard.
Rookie of the Week — Matt Carey, St. Lawrence
The freshman forward and brother of Greg Carey had a hat trick in the Dartmouth win.
Team of the Week — Clarkson
Road wins against Dartmouth and Harvard give the Knights nine wins overall, equalling their total of last season.
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Good Tuesday! Good Hockey!