It’s sudden death time at the ECAC hockey tournament.
Earlier this season, the conference announced that it would change the format of the first round for the men’s tournament. Rather than playing a best-of-three series, it will be a single-game elimination event.
The coaches didn’t want the format change. They had voted 12-0 to keep the best-of-three format.
“It’s a terrible setup,” Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said after his team’s 3-1 defeat by Union at Messa Rink last Saturday. “This is the worst decision made for our conference.”
No matter how much the coaches complain about it, we’re going to stick with it, at least for this year. Let’s see what happens when a few of the lower seeded win this weekend and advance to the best-of-three quarterfinals next weekend.
There is a first round game on Friday, No 5 Colgate, hosts No 12 Dartmouth. The other games are Saturday: No. 8 Union hosts No. 9 Princeton, No. 10 Yale at No. 7 RPI, and No. 6 Clarkson at home against No. 11 Brown.
Here’s my breakdown and predictions for each game.
8 UNIONS VS. NO. 9 PRINCETON
The teams only met last Saturday, so preparing for Saturday’s rematch should be fairly easy.
The Dutch made the deal with a 3-1 win. They killed four Princeton power plays, they scored early in the game to take the lead, they dominated the second third and had a 3-0 lead and they defended that lead.
They have to do that again on Saturday. And they must take advantage of a struggling Princeton team missing several key players, including sophomore goalkeeper Ethan Pearson, who ruled Union out in December.
Union will only lose this game if they get complacent and don’t work hard. If that happens, the Dutch will be in trouble. But I don’t see that happening.
The choice: Union 4, Princeton 1
7 RPI VS. NO. 10 YALE
The team split the season streak, which hasn’t been the norm lately. RPI’s 4-2 win at the Houston Field House on February 13 was just their third win against Yale in their last 20 games. That’s a strange statistic.
The Engineers are the better offensive team, with three players with 10 or more goals. Ryan Mahshie leads with 14 goals. Jakob Lee and Austin Heidemann each have 10. Yale not only doesn’t have a double-digit scorer, they don’t have anyone with 20 either. Ian Carpentier leads the Bulldogs with nine goals and seven assists.
This game will come down to goalkeepers. RPI’s Jack Watson (13-14-1, 3.08 goals against average, 0.895 percent save percentage, one shutout) has been up and down. Yale’s Luke Pearson (4-7-4, 2.25 GAA, .924 save percentage, three shutouts) can steal a game.
RPI’s offense will have to carry the load to win, similar to last meeting.
The choice: RPI 3, Yale 2
5 COLGATE VS. NO. 12 DARTMUND
This game shouldn’t be a big competition, right? The Raiders finished 20 points short of the big green. They swept the season series. They have the better offense with six players scoring 20 or more points, led by Alex Young (19-17-36) and Matt Verboon (14-17-31). Dartmouth was outscored 101-61.
But Colgate had some frustrating losses. The 3-1 setback against Union on February 3 when coach Don Vaughn drew less than three seconds ahead of goalie Carter Gylander for an extra attacker in the second half, and the faceoff backfired in the Union end when Nick Young entered empty net scored goal with 0.5 seconds left comes to mind. And last Friday’s 4-2 loss at Yale, while Colgate was still chasing a first-round bye, was puzzling.
I think Colgate is going to keep going, but it’s not going to be easy.
The choice: Colgate 4, Dartmouth 3
6 CLARKSON VS. NO. 11 BROWN
I think it was a disappointing season for Clarkson, I expected the Golden Knights to be a top four team in the conference. They definitely have the offensive talent. Alex Campbell leads the team with 14 goals, followed by Mathieu Gosselin with 13 and Anthony Callin with 11. Ayrton Martino leads Clarkson with 37 points with nine goals and 28 assists.
Goalie Ethan Haider was good, posting a 2.59 GAA, a .904 save percentage, and three shutouts.
But the Golden Knights were inconsistent. They were carried away by their rival St. Lawrence. They lost a shootout to Brown at home and were faded out by Yale.
This game is ripe for a surprise. Brown coach Brendan Whittet will find a way to slow down and frustrate the Golden Knights. But am I brave enough to get excited?
The Pick: Clarkson 3, Brown 2 (2OT)
RAMPADO HONORED BY RPI
RPI goaltender Amanda Rampado was named to the women’s ECAC Hockey Third Team on Thursday.
The senior posted career-high league wins (four) and saves (696) this season. She had 2.77 goals against average, a .919 save percentage and two shutouts.
Time for my latest ECAC Ice Hockey Men’s Power Rankings. These are the last for the season.
1) Quinnipiac — Efficiently dealt with business in the capital region last weekend.
2) Harvard — Sweep the north country.
3) Cornell Returns with street wins after being swept at home last weekend.
4) St. Lawrence — Sticks to the last bye slot of the first round. Not the North Country team I expected to be in the top four.
5) Colgate — Confusing loss at Yale and luckily two points to Brown.
6) Clarkson This was the North Country team I expected to have off this weekend.
7) Union — The only bad phase the Dutch played last weekend was the first phase against Quinnipiac.
8) RPI — Beats Princeton to get ice cream home.
9) Princeton — Injuries have weighed heavily on the Tigers.
10) Yale Nice victory over Colgate.
11) Brown — Hides the route.
12) Dartmouth Will be shocked if Big Green wins on Friday.
Contact Ken Schott by email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @slapschotts.
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