College Hockey Slap Schotts: Keep an eye on Colgate
Union is the hottest team in ECAC Hockey, having gone 12-1-1 in its last 14 games. The Dutchmen are coming off a sweep of New Hampshire.
Quinnipiac, the defending ECACH regular-season champs, are playing well, too. But the Bobcats didn’t do much for themselves by getting upset by Merrimack, 6-3, on Saturday.
But there is one team that all ECACH fans better keep their eyes on, and it’s not Union or Merrimack.
Beware of Colgate.
The Raiders have started 2014 on fire. They are 4-0-1, and have been impressive in all of them. Two of their wins came against ranked teams. They beat then-No. 2 Ferris State, 3-0, in the Mariucci Classic championship game on Jan. 4. A week later, the Raiders knocked off then-No. 18 Vermont, 3-2.
Even Colgate’s tie was a big one. It came against top-ranked Minnesota in the semifinals of the Mariucci.
The Raiders (7-3-1 ECACH, 11-9-3 overall) are in fourth place in the league, and are coming off weekend road wins against Dartmouth, 4-1, and Harvard, 4-2. They have already won more league games than they did last year, when they had six victories.
Colgate has had some other impressive wins. They overcame a pair of deficits to beat Union, 5-3, Nov. 8 at Messa Rink. The following weekend, they went to Clarkson and St. Lawrence and swept the North Country teams.
Colgate faded down the stretch last year, going 1-9-2. But I looked at who the Raiders coming back, and I thought that this could be a team that could make some trouble for the rest of the league. Forward Mike Borkowski leads the team in scoring with seven goals and 13 assists. The Spink twins, forwards Tyson (3-14-17) and Tylor (9-7-16) are next, followed by forwards Kyle Baun (7-9-16) and Darcy Murphy (11-4-15) and defenseman Ryan Johnston (3-7-10).
You know what those six players all have in common? They are sophomores. As I wrote in Colgate preview back in October, I said that Colgate was a young team last season, but there is plenty of offensive power. It looks like a year’s more experience is has helped the Raiders.
Also helping Colgate is freshman goalie Charlie Finn. He has played in all of the games this month. For the season, Finn is 8-4-2 with a 2.57 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage and one shutout in 15 games.
Sophomore Eric Mihalik has a 2.54 GAA, a .910 save percentage and one shutout in nine games. He is 3-4-1.
I picked the Raiders to finish eighth in the preseason media poll. But I also said that they could be a dark-horse team to finish in the top four.
Colgate will be an interesting team to watch down the stretch.
Mayor’s Cup at Coach’s Show
The “Union Hockey Coach’s Corner Live from the Van Dyck” is back on WPTR-AM (1240) at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and the Mayor’s Cup will be on display. You can get your picture taken with the Cup. The second-annual Cup game between Union and RPI is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Times Union Center.
There will also be a ticket giveaway during the show.
Dartmouth forward Eric Neiley will have an additional game off.
ECAC Hockey tacked on an additional game suspension to Neiley for his actions at the end of Saturday’s game against Cornell.
Neiley charged into Cornell forward Cole Bardreau at the end of overtime. He was assessed a five-minute major and game disqualifcation, which carried an automatic one-game suspension. The league tacked on an additional game after reviewing the incident.
Neiley, the Big Green’s leading scorer with 10 goals and four assists, will miss Friday’s game at RPI and the Jan. 31 game against Quinnipiac.
Wrong time to use head
Brown defenseman Dennis Robertson had a great game, for the most part, Friday against St. Lawrence. He had two power-play goals, including the game-winner, as the Bears jumped out to a 4-0 lead before holding on for a 5-3 victory over the Saints.
But with 21 seconds left in the game, all the good Robertson went by the wayside. He used his head, and it wasn’t a good idea.
Robertson head-butted the Saints’ Jeremy Wick. Not only did Robertson get a five-minute major, he also received a game disqualification. That kept him out of Saturday’s game against Clarkson. The Bears lost to the Golden Knights, 3-2.
Union moves up to third
After sweeping a pair of games at New Hampshire, Union moved up in Monday’s USCHO.com/NCAA top-20 poll.
The Dutchmen (9-2 ECAC Hockey, 15-4-3 overall) vaulted from sixth to third and earned 876 points. It is their highest regular-season ranking, surpassing the No. 4 spot they had two weeks ago. It ties Union’s highest ranking overall. The Dutchmen were third in the March 19 and April 9 polls in 2012, their Frozen Four year. Those two rankings were in the postseason.
Union, the highest-ranking ECACH team in the poll, beat 17th-ranked New Hampshire by identical 3-1 scores over the weekend.
Four other ECACH teams are ranked. Quinnipiac is fifth, Yale is 10th, Cornell is 12th and Clarkson is 13th.
Union returns to Messa Rink for the first time since Dec. 11 when it hosts Harvard at 7 p.m. Friday.
There was no USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll on Monday.
Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 Minnesota (50) 17- 2-3 1000 1
2 Boston College 16- 4-3 941 4
3 Union 15- 4-3 876 6
4 Quinnipiac 18- 4-5 799 5
5 St. Cloud State 12- 4-4 767 3
6 Ferris State 17- 5-3 757 2
7 Providence 14- 5-5 731 7
8 Massachusetts-Lowell 15- 6-2 626 10
9 Wisconsin 13- 6-1 603 9
10 Yale 9- 4-4 514 8
11 Northeastern 14- 7-3 461 11
12 Cornell 9- 4-4 439 12
13 Clarkson 15- 7-2 404 14
14 Michigan 10- 6-2 371 13
15 Notre Dame 14- 8-1 367 15
16 Denver 12- 7-5 252 16
17 Vermont 12- 8-3 172 18
18 North Dakota 12- 7-3 147 20
19 Western Michigan 12- 8-4 103 NR
20 Maine 11- 8-3 47 19
Others receiving votes: Colgate 35, Minnesota State 29, Air Force 20, New Hampshire 17, Bowling Green 7, Nebraska-Omaha 4, Ohio State 4, Bentley 3, Miami 2, Mercyhurst 1, Minnesota-Duluth 1.
I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted.
2) Boston College
6) Ferris State
7) St. Cloud State
14) Notre Dame
19) North Dakota
20) Western Michigan
Union is tied for fourth with Ferris State in the PairWise Rankings.
Four other ECACH teams are rated. Quinnipiac is the highest-ranked team at No. 3. Clarkson and Cornell are tied for 12th, and Yale is 14th.
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.
To see the rankings, click here.
Daily Gazette/ECACH Four Stars
Time for my four stars of the week.
Player of the Week — Ryan Johnston, Colgate
The sophomore defenseman had two goals and an assist, and was a plus-5 in the Raiders’ wins over the weekend. He had a goal against Dartmouth, and then collected a goal and assist versus Harvard.
6-2 victory over RPI.
Goalie of the Week — Colin Stevens, Union
The junior netminder from Niskayuna had 78 saves in helping Union sweep UNH. He made 38 saves in Friday’s victory, and stopped a career-high 40 shots in Saturday’s win.
Rookie of the Week — John Hayden, Yale
The freshman forward had two goals and an assist in Saturday’s 4-2 victory over St. Lawrence. Hayden had an assist in Friday’s 3-2 loss at Clarkson.
Team of the Week — Union
The Dutchmen go to UNH and sweep the two-game series.
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Good Tuesday! Good Hockey!
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