As always, the weekend’s slate concluded with a couple of winners, a couple losers, and a bunch of splits among the ECAC’s dozen teams. Unlike most weekends however, the past two days played out like a statistical soap opera once all was said and done.
Harvard, Quinnipiac suffer big blows
Ranked No. 3 in the nation and pulling in a third of pollsters’ No. 1 votes two weeks ago, the once-10-1-2 Crimson suddenly lost two of three (versus Yale in Manhattan and to St. Lawrence at home) and fell from first to seventh in the increasingly relevant PairWise Rankings. Harvard surrendered 12 goals in those three decisions, which is five more than it had allowed in any other three-game span this season.
This is not cause for panic per se; almost any team in the country would trade places with the Crimson in a heartbeat. What is concerning is that Harvard’s results are – for the moment at least – quite pedestrian, and bear little resemblance to the high-flying, offense-muzzling Crimson of late 2014. Regardless of the reasons, the L’s are raising red flags all over the country among those who are weighing Harvard’s true status as a national contender.
Down Interstate 95, Quinnipiac’s weekend wrapped up with another nonconference setback as the Bobcats dropped both ends of a home-and-home with PairWise at-large challenger Merrimack. Ranked 14th and 18th respectively in the PWR on Friday morning, QU and ‘Mack are now 20th and 12th, in that order. The Warriors goaltending tandem turned aside 53 of 57 QU shots on goal, while the Bobcats allowed seven goals on 49 shots and bore a weekend-ending injury to starting goalie Michael Garteig in the first period of Friday’s loss.
The losses are not necessarily an indictment of this year’s Bobcats, as coach Rand Pecknold has admitted that his young team has overachieved thus far. That said, it doesn’t take much of the sting out of knowing how much a win or two could have helped the cause; these mid-January nonleague losses could be the source of a lot of regret come March.
Engineers, Saints, Bulldogs romp to four-point weekends
RPI is 9-16-1. This is not the kind of record that you put on banners or postcards, but it’s suiting the Engineers just fine for now. That’s because seven of those nine wins have been against ECAC competition, and RPI’s 7-6-0 league record is currently good for fourth place (though it’s only seventh in win percentage, having played as many as three more games than their nearest competitors in the standings). RPI climbed above .500 in league play with home wins over Colgate (4-1) and Cornell (3-0); the ‘Tute’s current three-game winning streak is its longest of the season.
A road trip to Dartmouth and Harvard could not have gone any better for SLU, which posted consecutive W’s for the first time in two months. Freshman sensation Kyle Hayton stopped 36 of 38 shots in a 3-2 squeaker in Hanover Friday, then raised the bar even higher with 46 saves in a 5-1 romp over the aforementioned Crimson. At 7-4-0 in league play, SLU is currently fifth by winning percentage despite a counterintuitive 2-3-0 ECAC record at home and a 5-1-0 on the road.
Finally, Yale continued it quietly impressive season with two more wins. The Blue pinned a 6-1 aggregate score on travel-partner Brown in the weekend’s home-and-home, improving Yale’s record to 6-1 in its last seven and 9-2 in its last 11 games. The Bulldogs must be licking their chops in looking ahead at their remaining schedule: The team plays Quinnipiac twice and Harvard once more between Jan. 31 and Feb. 20.
Clarkson announces plans for Cheel expansion
Per Cap Carey at the Watertown Daily Times, Clarkson University has commenced fundraising efforts to subsidize a proposed renovation to 24-year-old Cheel Arena.
The roughly three-year, $40 million project would include additional team and locker-room space, a conference room, new seating, wider aisles, and upgrades to the top-floor Barden Room “to make it look more like a restaurant”, per Carey. The plan also includes sweeping upgrades to the lobby area, as well as the addition of a new weight room, indoor rock-climbing wall, ROTC offices, and student meeting spaces beyond the arena itself.
The entire proposal is anticipated to take three years, to be conducted in phases so as not to displace either hockey team for any period of time.