The ECAC Hockey tournament begins March 7 for eight of the 12 teams in the conference. Union, Colgate, Quinnipiac and Cornell earned all-important first-round byes. Let’s take a look at the first-round action.
Clarkson owns an 82-69-5 record in the conference playoffs, and is 3-6 in first-round series (8-13). The Knights are 6-2 against Princeton in conference postseason action. Clarkson has a 9-9-2 postseason record as the fifth seed. Since winning the 2007 ECAC Hockey Tournament title, Clarkson has been knocked out of the playoffs in its first postseason action in each of the last six years. Clarkson is 23-4 against the Tigers at Cheel Arena. Princeton freshman Colton Phinney played in goal against Clarkson last Friday and allowed three goals on 30 shots. Senior Sean Bonar has faced Clarkson six times. He is 2-3 in the series with a 2.65 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
In the teams’ three meetings this season, Yale has had the upper hand, holding a 2-0-1 record against the Crimson. The teams tied 2-2 in their initial meeting at Ingalls Rink, and Yale went on to capture a 5-1 win in the inaugural Rivalry on Ice and a 5-2 victory in Cambridge two weeks ago. Harvard freshman Sean Malone came on strong down the stretch, posting a point in six of his final eight games. The rookie has seen Harvard post a 7-6-2 in games where he records a point. This season marks the first time in ECAC Tournament history that Harvard will play as the No. 11 seed. Harvard has a 1-2 series record as a No. 10 seed or lower. Yale has had a dozen games when a player has scored multiple goals this winter. The Elis are 11-0-1 in those games. The Bulldogs finished 5-1-1 in non-league games. Yale is 7-0-0 in games it has multiple power-play scores. The Elis have won three straight home playoff games, six of their last eight and nine of 13. The Bulldogs are 4-0-1 versus the Crimson since Harvard won two of three at Boston in the 2012 ECAC quarterfinals.
RPI enters this series playing good hockey, but Dartmouth is playing as well as any team in the conference with the exception of Union. RPI is 3-2-2 in its last seven games, while Dartmouth is 4-1-1 in its last six. The Engineers and Big Green met twice during the regular season with RPI winning both games – 7-1 in Hanover, N.H., on Nov. 2, and 4-2 in Troy, N.Y., on Jan. 24. The Engineers have played Dartmouth 12 times in the ECAC Hockey Playoffs, going 7-5. RPI has never lost to Dartmouth in three home playoff games. Dartmouth sophomore goalie Charles Grant was the ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Month in February. Entering this weekend, the Big Green senior class is 7-7 in postseason games, the best mark during a three-year run since Dartmouth was 8-6 from 2005-07.
The Bears and Saints will meet for the fourth time in the tournament and second time in the opening round, both of which have come at Appleton Arena. The Saints are 8-0 in the postseason at Appleton, 8-4-0 in first round games and 25-4-0 in quarterfinals. Brown has the distinction of being the only team in ECAC Hockey to earn at least one point against the Saints in each of the last 21 seasons. The Saints won the last playoff series against the Bears, 2-1, in 2006 with two of the three games going overtime. Brown won the last playoff meeting between the two, 3-0, in the 2010 third-place game. Bears forward Mark Naclerio ranks third in ECAC Hockey in points per game (1.17) and second in the conference in goals per game (0.55). Brown earned three points against the Saints during the regular season, including a 5-3 victory at Appleton Arena.
Matthew Peca, jr. F, Quinnipiac
Peca had a memorable weekend, posting the only six-point performance of the 2013-14 season in Division 1. Peca had two goals and four assists in the Bobcats’ 8-0 win at St. Lawrence. In the process, he tied the Quinnipiac record for points in a game, while also becoming the 37th player in QU history to reach the 100-point mark. Peca picked up his seventh point of the weekend on Quinnipiac’s only goal in a 1-1 tie at Clarkson. He led all Division 1 players in points (7), assists (5), power-play assists (3) and power-play points (4) for the weekend.
ECAC Hockey Rankings