Women's Hockey: League's top teams earn national rankings
It may still be November, but some ECAC women’s hockey teams are already nearing the midpoint of their grueling 22-game conference seasons. Who’s on top and who’s in danger of missing the eight-team playoffs?
1. Clarkson (12-2 overall, 6-0 ECAC) Last year’s Golden Knights suffered a rude end to their season in the first round of the ECAC tournament, losing in a three-game upset to No. 6-seeded Quinnipiac. Clarkson seems determined not to let that happen this season, rising to No. 2 in the national rankings with a 12-2 start; both losses came by one goal to a top-10 foe. The Golden Knights have scored on a league-best 32 percent of their power plays.
1. Harvard (6-1, 6-0) The Crimson was unranked in the preseason coaches’ poll, but it has already risen to No. 6 after an impressive start, including last weekend’s victory over Cornell. Harvard has dominated the ECAC so far, winning each game by at least two goals; most of its strength has been on defense, as the Crimson has allowed just .71 goals per game and killed 95 percent of power plays.
3. Cornell (9-2, 7-1) After reaching the national semifinals last season, the Big Red again looks like one of the nation’s top teams. A 3-1 loss at Harvard dropped Cornell from No. 2 to No. 3 in the national rankings, but the Big Red leads the ECAC by a sizable margin with 4.09 goals per game, though no individual has more than eight for the season.
4. St. Lawrence (7-6-1, 5-1) One year after a surprising postseason run, in which they won the ECAC tournament as the No. 5 seed and earned an automatic bid to NCAAs, the Saints are looking strong again, receiving a vote in the most recent top-10 poll. St. Lawrence started the year with a five-game losing streak — but those defeats came against the current No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 teams nationally.
5. Dartmouth (4-2-2, 3-2-1) The Big Green faces a back-loaded schedule, having played fewer games than any team but Harvard so far. All six of its November contests so far have been decided by one goal or less; with nationally ranked teams on tap in each of the next two weekends, Dartmouth should be pleased if that streak continues.
6. Quinnipiac (8-7-2, 4-3-1) After playing more early-season games than any other ECAC team — including more than Harvard and Dartmouth combined — it should be no surprise the Bobcats dominate the individual leaderboards. Forwards Kelly Babstock and Nicole Kosta rank first and second in points with 32 and 26, respectively.
7. Princeton (4-6-2, 1-5-2) The Tigers have played a tough early-season schedule, including five games against nationally ranked opponents in the first five weeks; they’ll get a reprieve this weekend, facing two teams that have yet to win an ECAC game. Freshman goalie Kimberly Newell has been thrown into the proverbial fire early on, facing more shots than all but one of the league’s netminders.
8. Union (3-6-2, 0-2-2) The Dutchwomen have allowed four or more goals in more than half of their games and haven’t had enough offensive firepower to keep up in any of those contests, losing each in a blowout. Union looks stronger than last year’s edition — which went 2-18-2 in league play — but looks unlikely to finish in the top half of the league.
9. Brown (1-7-1, 1-5) The Bears have scored just nine goals in as many games, the worst rate in the league. On the bright side, they’ve defended quite well — allowing 1.87 goals per game, fourth-best in the ECAC — but it hasn’t translated into wins or even ties so far, as Brown has lost all three of its one-goal games.
9. Yale (2-10, 1-5) Yale equaled its 2011-12 ECAC win total in its very first game of conference play, beating Colgate to start this season on a better note than last year’s 1-20-1 campaign. After righting a seven-game losing streak — which included five games against top-10 teams — with a 4-3 win over Connecticut in overtime, the Bulldogs can improve their record at Union and Rensselaer next weekend.
11. Colgate (3-10-2, 0-6-2) The Raiders have allowed 4.15 goals per game, nearly a full goal worse than any other team in the conference; meanwhile, they’ve scored on less than 12 percent of power plays, last in the league. Colgate has surrendered 44 goals in six games against nationally ranked teams.
12. Rensselaer (2-10-2, 0-4) In a season in which they’ve had trouble scoring, the Engineers lit up Princeton with five goals on Nov. 9 — only to lose 6-5 on a third-period goal. Thanks in large part to that contest, RPI has surrendered 4.5 goals per game in conference play, the worst in the league.
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