It’s down to eight teams as ECAC Hockey moves on to the quarterfinals. The only two league teams currently in the top sixteen of the PairWise are Quinnipiac and Yale, meaning everyone else will have to win this weekend if they want to move on. However, the Bobcats and Bulldogs are tied for twelfth in the PairWise, meaning a series loss this weekend might put them in an uncomfortable position in regards to making the NCAA tournament.
All series are best-of-three, and each game starts at 7 p.m., with the exception of a possible Game 3 Sunday between Union and Quinnipiac, which would start at 4 p.m.
No. 5 Dartmouth at No. 4 Colgate
Season series, 1-0-1
The Big Green and Raiders each finished with 26 points in the league standings, with Colgate getting the final first-round bye thanks to a 1-0-1 head-to-head record against Dartmouth this season. The Big Green dispatched No. 12 Princeton last weekend in two games, and has been solid offensively in the second half, scoring at least three goals in 11 of its last 13 games. Colgate’s offense hasn’t been the high-scoring juggernaut many thought it would be prior to the year, largely due to a myriad of injuries. But a return to health has helped, as Colgate has been skating its regular forward lines and continued its strong defensive play en route to ending the regular season on a 4-0-1 run. An X-factor in this series could be Raiders defenseman Spiro Goulakos, who has been out since January but could possibly return for this weekend. Either way, I see this series going the distance, as both teams play with plenty of speed and should matchup nicely. I think the Raiders have the edge, though. Colgate in three
No. 6 Harvard at No. 3 Yale
Season series: Yale, 3-0
To say Yale is on a roll against its Ivy League rivals would be an understatement. The Bulldogs have gone 9-0-1 against the Crimson since getting knocked out in the 2012 quarterfinals by Harvard. Yale was 3-0 against Harvard this season, outscoring the Crimson 9-2 in the process. The Bulldogs haven’t been the offensive juggernaut from seasons past, but have the No. 1 defense in the country, thanks in part to goalie Alex Lyon, who leads the nation in save percentage and is tied for the lead with shutouts. Harvard’s Steve Michalek is no slouch and the Crimson have plenty of offensive threats, but Yale has arguably been the most consistent team in the ECAC this season outside of Quinnipiac, making it hard to pick against them. Yale in two
No. 9 Rensselaer at No. 2 St. Lawrence
Season series: 1-1
RPI joined travel partner Union as the two road teams to pull off series wins last weekend. The Engineers were also the only team that needed three games, as RPI won an ECAC playoff series for the first time since 2012. St. Lawrence stumbled a bit in the final weekend of the regular season, getting swept by the Engineers and the Dutchmen after a scorching second half elevated them to second in the standings. Freshman goalie Kyle Hayton gets a lot of credit for the Saints’ success, but St. Lawrence has gotten balanced scoring and defensive play throughout it s lineup. It was a frustrating regular season for the Engineers, but if goalie Jason Kasdorf can string together a solid weekend and the Engineers can negate St. Lawrence’s speed, RPI could pull off the upset. But that’s going to be tough, as I see the Saints advancing to the league’s final weekend for the first time since 2010. St. Lawrence in two
No. 10 Union at No.1 Quinnipiac
Season series, 2-0 Quinnipiac
This isn’t a typical No.1 vs. No. 10 matchup. Union is defending ECAC and national champions, and outscored a defensively sound Cornell team 11-2 in a sweep at Lynah Rink last weekend. But this is now, and Quinnipiac has been pretty darn impressive the second half of the season, going 11-4-3 since the holiday break. This might go three games (even thought I picked a QU sweep earlier), but I think the Bobcats should advance to Lake Placid for the second straight season, even with the Dutchmen’s impressive showing in the first round. Quinnipiac in three