This week the ECAC kicks off its postseason push to Lake Placid’s Championship game on March 23. Here’s a look at all four series.
#12 St. Lawrence University Saints @ #5 Dartmouth College Big Green
In late January Dartmouth beat SLU in Hanover, NH 4-1, in mid-February they tied 2-2 in Canton, NY.
The Saints have struggled all year. A young roster, injuries, and the shadow of last year have hampered them. With just five wins in 34 games, SLU limps into the playoffs having won their last regular season game, 5-2 over Colgate. What offense they do have is generated by Carson Gicewicz, Zach Risteau, and Bo Hanson. In goal, it’s been a triumvirate of Arthur Brey, Emil Zetterquist and Daniel Mannella. Not much can be said for Coach Mark Morris’ squad.
The Big Green might have had a subpar year based on expectations but they have been in most games all year. Goalie Adrian Clark has made a name for himself this year. His play in net has Dartmouth where they are in the 5th seed. The Green have gotten solid production from all four classes this year. Freshman Drew O’Connor leads the team in points, while sophomores Quin Foreman and Matt Baker have been clicking over the last month and change.
Jason Scales-Dartmouth wins in 2
Chris Lynch- Dartmouth in 2. Dartmouth has the chance at a Lake Placid run behind Clark while St. Lawrence is the least talented team in the ECAC. These games might be ugly if the Saint’s goaltending can’t put together a good showing.
#11 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers @ #6 Yale University Bulldogs
Yale swept the season series from RPI, winning at home 4-2 back in early December and 3-2 in Troy in late January.
The Engineers have a young and frequently snakebitten team this year, going 3-5 in one-goal games in conference play. They have 2 ties as well. Their play of late has been trending the right way as the young players like Ottoville Leppanen and Jakub Lacka come into their own. Freshman Owen Savory has been getting the majority of starts in goal while splitting with sophomore Linden Marshall. Junior forwards Jacob Hayhurst and Todd Burgess have been the primary catalyst for the team’s offense. Coach Dave Smith’s squad is catching Yale at the right time.
The Eli has been in the midst of a four-game losing streak that has seen them net only three goals. Yale is 3-6 in February and March and took themselves out of contention for the ECAC regular-season title. Senior Joe Snively is the offense for Yale. Justin Pearson and Tyler Welsh have been strong against RPI this year, and the Smith brothers, Mitchell and Evan will need to continue providing some output. In goal, the duties were split by Senior Sam Tucker and junior Corbin Kaczperski, each will need to be stronger if Yale is to proceed to the next round.
J.S. – RPI in an upset in 3.
C.L. – Yale in 3. Owen Savory is good enough to steal the series and will lift the Engineers to respect against an ECAC power. However, Yale has more punch in Snively and Welsh than RPI.
#10 Colgate University Raiders @ #7 Union College Dutchmen
These two split their two games, with each winning big on their home sheet. Union pummelled Colgate 6-0 in early February, and Colgate returned the favor 5-1 later in the month.
The Raiders never recovered from losing Colton Point to the professional ranks last July. His departure left Colgate with two incoming freshmen to compete for the starting job. Mitch Benson carried the load this year for a 9-19-3 mark. Coach Don Vaughan’s squad was powered by the likes of Bobby McMann and Josh McKechney at forward and Trevor Cosgrove and Nick Austin on defense. Senior Adam Dauda had a big game in the 5-1 win for Colgate.
The Dutchmen had an inconsistent season. A lot of splits on their weekend games. A talented, experienced roster couldn’t put it together this season in the conference for whatever reason. Now it’s left to conference play to move on to the NCAA’s. The depth of Union, led by Cole Maier, Ryan Walker, and Brett Supinski on offense, should be too much for Colgate over the course of a series. Whether it is Jake Kupsky or Darion Hanson in goal, coach Rick Bennett’s team should prevail.
J.S. – Union in 2.
C.L. – Union in 2. Union is the most bizarre team in college hockey. They have the talent to reach the NCAA Tournament, yet have vanished against teams they should beat. Their offense has the talent to spark and gets the benefit of playing at home. While close games wouldn’t surprise me, Union has more offensive ability than Colgate.
#9 Princeton University @ #8 Brown University
The two Ivy League schools split their season series, with each winning on road ice. Brown won 4-2 in early February, while Princeton won 5-1 last week.
Princeton is the reigning ECAC Tournament Champion after last season’s upset run to Lake Placid. Sadly, the Tigers have disappointed dramatically this year. Predicted to finish near the top of the conference with returning high scorers Max Veronneau, Ryan Kuffner, and Josh Teves. Sadly, there’s not much depth and the Tigers sputtered with seven consecutive losses in November and December. They rebounded for points in their last four games, but still pose big questions, namely in net. Ryan Ferland got the lion share of starts while struggling mightily. Austin Shaw has gotten good performances and Jeremie Forget came off the bench to post a .952 save percentage in four of the last five games. Ron Fogarty’s squad has a chance to run at Lake Placid again.
The Brown Bears, meanwhile, had little expected of them. Predicted to finish in the basement, Brendan Whittet’s squad congealed into a workmanlike squad with strong defensive structure and timely goals. Tommy Marchin and Tristan Crozier are the main offensive powers. The scoring does trail behind most ECAC squads, but they’ve shown big score potential against Robert Morris, Union, and Quinnipiac. Zach Giuttari and Max Gottlieb control the blue line and can both provide heavy checks and good puck possession. Gavin Nieto and Luke Kania are both worthy options in the Bears net, and it is unclear whom Whittet will start.
J.S. – Princeton in 2.
C.L. – Brown in 3. This is the closest of the opening round series. Princeton has top offensive talent that few teams in the conference can match. Brown has congealed at the right time and has the potential to strike a program advancement. I think the Bears have a deeper team, particularly with Princeton’s goaltending questions, and that they can slow down the elite Tiger offense.