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Five Teams Have A Shot At Winning The ECAC

01/19/15

The ECAC is usually a three team race when it’s a race at all and things may very well turn out that way when the final games are played, but as it stands right now there are five teams with a legitimate shot at winning the conference’s regular season title.

ecac standings

Princeton and Dartmouth both have too many losses to consider and it’s a pretty steep drop-off after that.  And were it not for a puzzling St. Lawrence loss to Brown and a slightly more understandable Cornell loss to Princeton, things would be even more interesting.  Here’s the remaining strength of schedule for the top five:

ECAC remaining schedule

The former column for each remaining opponent is home, the latter is away.

 

 

So while Quinnipiac and Harvard seem to have the inside track, they’ve also played six of their eight games against Colgate, RPI, Brown, and Union.  Fifth place Cornell meanwhile has five of those games left.  Let’s look at each team.

Quinnipiac Bobcats

qu

Best Players:

  • Taylar Cianfarano: (F) Freshman, 14g, 10a, leading scorer
  • Erica Udén Johansson: (F) Senior, 9g, 11a, #2 scorer

Style of play: Shots, shots, shots.

The Bobcats are the team of the future with a strong emphasis on offensive zone time and getting pucks to the net and players have said as much in interviews.  They’re also one of the more conditioned teams in the NCAA employing a ferocious forecheck and backcheck for the entire sixty minutes.  They are both an analytics coach’s dream and an old school coach’s one.

Why they’ll win the ECAC:

They’re the best team.  Only Harvard has been able to outshoot them or beat them.  They might have the best crop of forwards and the best goaltender and their defense certainly doesn’t lag.  They also play together as a team better than anyone in the ECAC with all five skaters on the ice often looking like they’re controlled by one person.

Why they won’t win the ECAC:

Harvard and Clarkson can keep up with them, and if they play a bad game, opportunistic Cornell will pounce.

Clarkson Golden Knights

ckn

Best Players:

  • Shannon MacAulay: (F) Junior, 15g, 13a, co-leading scorer
  • Cayley Mercer: (F) Junior, 13g, 15a, co-leading scorer
  • Genevèive Bannon: (F) Sophomore, 9g, 14a

Style of Play: Quinnipiac Light

It’s always tough when you lose your #1, #3, #4, and #5 scorers as the Knights did in Jamie Lee Rattray, Brittany Styner, Carly Mercer, and Vanessa Gagnon.  It’s even tougher when you lose arguably your best defenseman in Vanessa Plante and a solid depth forward in Shelby Nisbet.  And when you ALSO lose your top netminder, Erica Howe, no one would blame you for taking a step back.

And yet here the Knights are.  They lack the high end talent of last year and it shows in a safe, more calculated approach to games.  While they don’t quite have the firepower of Quinnipiac, Clarkson similarly likes to spend a lot of time in the offensive zone.  Their style is a little bit safer, prizing zone time over shots and frequently packing it in to an uber-safe approach when they have a comfortable lead.

Why they’ll win the ECAC:

They might lack Quinnipiac’s forward depth and lean more heavily on a select few players, but they can play with anyone and their D is probably just a touch better.

Why they won’t win the ECAC:

Quinnipiac is better and Clarkson’s top line hasn’t been able to score against them with Amanda Titus tallying the only goal in their two losses.  They’re also closer to the pack and stand a bigger change of dropping a game to someone beneath them.

Harvard Crimson

hu

Best Player:

Hillary Crowe: (F) Senior, 8g, 6a

Style of Play: Scoring by Committee

 Crowe might not be the team’s leading scorer (5th), but every time I watch Harvard her name gets mentioned an awful lot.  Harvard plays a smart game, but they can have occasional lapses whether it’s overall talent (their 10-2 loss to Boston College), or just playing a style they probably don’t want to play (their 4-2 run and gun loss to Dartmouth last weekend where shots ended 39-36 Harvard).  Their top ten forwards are all between 5 and 17 points and they have six defensewomen with goals.

Why they’ll win the ECAC:

It helps to have so many players that can score.  They’re smart enough and talented enough to hang with Quinnipiac and Clarkson and they have a win over the former already.

Why they won’t win the ECAC:

Too many quality opponents remaining and I have a sneaking suspicion that Colgate is going to catch them off guard.

St. Lawrence Saints

slu

Best Player:

Kennedy Marchment: (F) Freshman, 11g, 9a

Style of Play: Zone Time over Shots

Why They’ll win the ECAC:

St. Lawrence is clearly the least talented team among the five.  In every big win they’ve had they’ve been outshot fairly substantially and had to rely on making the most of their opportunities lest the puck not spend much time on their sticks.  I watched them struggle this weekend against Union, going down 2-0 in the second and failing to shut down Union’s top scorers, forward Kathryn Tomaselli and defensewoman Alex Tancrell-Fontaine.  They can hold the puck in the offensive zone to frustrate some teams and capitalize on mistakes, but that’s about it.

Why they won’t win the ECAC:

Pretty much everything I just said.

Cornell Big Red

cor

Best Player

Paula Voorheis: (G) Sophomore

Style of Play: Counter-attacking and Opportunism

Why they’ll win the ECAC:

Cornell is not a good possession team and while that might just be a lack of talent, I get the impression watching them that it’s by design.  Playing it safe and waiting for their opponent to make a mistake has worked very well for them and it helps that Voorheis has been lights out as of late.  I watched them blow Boston University out 6-2 and all they did was wait for BU to try fancy shit so they could make them pay dearly for it.  BU occasionally tries to rely on talent over teamwork and Cornell ate them for lunch.  They’re very good at taking away the strength of their opponents so they can absolutely beat teams like Clarkson and Quinnipiac.

Why they won’t win the ECAC:

They don’t spend enough time in the offensive zone and Paula Voorheis can’t be a world-beater every night.

Prediction:

  1. Quinnipiac
  2. Clarkson
  3. Harvard
  4. Cornell
  5. St. Lawrence
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