It was a busy weekend in the ECAC, as the six Ivy teams began their respective seasons, while the first league games of the year took place as well.
Four teams – Yale, Cornell, Harvard, and Rensselaer – won both of their games. On the other hand, Union, Dartmouth, and Colgate were each swept over the weekend.
Engineers take it to the Dutchmen
For the second year in a row, RPI opened conference play with a sweep of Union. The Engineers thumped the Dutchmen 5-1 on Friday, a loss that coach Rick Bennett said was the worst during his eleven years with the program. Saturday’s game was closer, but the result was the same, with RPI holding on for a 3-2 win.
The sweep came on the heels of a frustrating stretch for the Engineers, who had lost three in a row since beating then-No. 1 Boston College on Oct. 11.
While the two wins were a nice way to start off conference play, it still doesn’t change the fact that the Engineers face an uphill battle in a competitive ECAC. Same for the Dutchmen, who have shown some potential in the early going, while also mixing in some of last year’s inconsistencies as well.
Crimson Open with a Bang
The expectation entering the season was that Harvard would have little trouble scoring goals, and that held true during the Crimson’s home-and-home sweep of Dartmouth.
Harvard scored twelve goals against the Big Green, including seven in Saturday’s season opener. Senior forward Jimmy Vesey, a likely Hobey Baker candidate this season, had two goals and three assists in the series, while linemates Kyle Criscuolo and Alexander Kerfoot combined for seven points on the weekend. That trio should be one of the best in the conference, if not the country.
Harvard’s power play was five-for-nine in the series against Dartmouth, while junior Sean Malone (five assists) had a solid weekend as well. But how far the Crimson go this season may hinge on sophomore goalie Merrick Madsen. The Philadelphia draft pick made 25 saves for his first collegiate shutout on Saturday night, and followed that up by stopping 18-of-20 shots Sunday.
Cornell, Yale start out perfect
Like Harvard, Cornell and Yale started each of their respective seasons with a pair of wins. Cornell swept Niagara, while the Bulldogs beat Princeton and Massachusetts to win the Capital City in Trenton, New Jersey.
It was a nice weekend on both ends of the ice for Yale, as Alex Lyon stopped 53-of-55 shots, and six different players recorded a goal.
The Big Red came back twice against the Purple Eagles on Friday, and then won it in on Christian Hilbrich’s overtime goal. The big forward led Cornell with 10 goals last season, and should be an important part of the offense again this year.
It was a little easier in Saturday’s home opener, as the Big Red scored twice in each of the first two periods and won 4-0. Cornell players wore special jerseys to honor players throughout the program’s history.
Big Red junior Jeff Kubiak matched his career total with two goals in the game, while Cornell hit the four goal mark in its second game of the season after only doing so four times last year.