Men's Hockey: Little separation in ECAC standings
After three weekends of ECAC men’s hockey play, some familiar teams are near the top, but there are surprises as well. How will the rest of the wide-open conference play out? We break it down here:
1. Quinnipiac (10-3-2 overall, 6-0 ECAC) With a perfect conference record, Quinnipiac is ranked No. 13 in the latest national poll, one of five ECAC teams ranking from No. 10 to No. 15. The Bobcats have allowed a league-best 1.51 goals per game and have already posted convincing wins over league favorites Cornell and Union.
2. Dartmouth (6-2-2, 4-1-1) The Big Green received no votes in the preseason national poll — eight other ECAC schools did — but now, two months later, No. 10 Dartmouth is the highest-ranked team in the conference. The Big Green has scored four or more goals in six of its last nine games and ranks second in the league in goals per game.
3. Union (8-3-2, 3-2-1) The No. 11 Dutchmen fell out of the top 10 this weekend after losing to Quinnipiac and tying Princeton at home, but they still boast the ECAC’s most powerful offense, having scored 3.77 goals per game. Union is hungry to repeat its 2011-12 postseason run, when it reached the Frozen Four last year before losing to Ferris State.
4. Princeton (3-4-3, 2-1-3) Only two points separate No. 3 from No. 8 in the ECAC standings at the moment, so the Tigers still have a long way to go if they hope to finish the season with a top-four seed and a first-round bye. They’ll face one of their toughest tests this weekend, with a home-and-home series against league-leading Quinnipiac.
5. Yale (6-2-1, 3-2) The Bulldogs, unranked at the start of the season, have climbed to No. 15 in the latest national poll. Yale's record against quality opponents is impressive — the Bulldogs' other loss and tie are both to Dartmouth, while they have posted a signature win by beating No. 6 Denver on the road in overtime.
6. Cornell (6-3-2, 3-3-2) Ranked No. 11 nationally, the Big Red has allowed the second fewest goals in the league with 1.79 goals per game and is second in team save percentage at .930 behind netminder Andy Iles. The Big Red are off for most of the rest of the month before facing two tough opponents in No. 16 Ferris State and No. 6 Denver.
7. Harvard (4-3, 3-3) The No. 20 Crimson has played the fewest games of any team in the nation and is a mixed bag so far, having fallen to Yale and Union but taken down Cornell. Harvard has drawn the least power-play opportunities in the ECAC, 26, and has only converted two of them for a league-worst 7.7-percent power-play percentage.
8. Colgate (7-7-2, 3-4-1) The Raiders are perhaps the ECAC's most mercurial team, having beaten Quinnipiac and Dartmouth but lost to St. Lawrence and Princeton. This may be due to the amount of time Colgate spends off the ice; it is the most penalized team in the league with 247 penalty minutes.
9. Clarkson (2-7-5, 2-3-1) Starting the season with a five-game losing streak, the Golden Knights proceeded to tie the next three games before upsetting Yale 1-0 with a late third period goal. Clarkson then lost three games, tied two and beat Princeton 7-2 for its only other win of the season.
10. St. Lawrence (7-5-2, 1-3-2) The Saints split a series with No. 7 Western Michigan to begin the season but have not posted a quality win since, faring poorly against ranked ECAC opponents. St. Lawrence is next to last in the league in goals against average, allowing 3.41.
11. Brown (3-5-2, 0-3-2) The Bears' offense has been anemic, scoring only two goals per game, good for last in the league. Brown will face one of the best in the league and one of the worst in the league when it faces Union and Rensselaer, respectively, this weekend.
12. Rensselaer (3-6-3, 0-5-1) An opening win against No. 16 Ferris State has been the highlight of the Engineers' season. It does not get any easier for them, as Rensselaer faces Yale this weekend. After winter break, it returns to the ice for five games against ranked opponents in the Engineers' first six games back.
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