We're one week into the season, and we've already learned that nothing is certain in the wacky world of ECAC Hockey, as last season's top three finishers were upset at home.
The week started with the news that Vermont's 4-0 nonconference start and defending national champion Michigan's loss to Michigan State had earned the Cats the top spot in the national polls. So when UVM got out to a 2-0 lead over RPI before a sellout crowd in Burlington, things looked to be proceeding according to plan. But then the Engineers reeled off three unanswered goals in the second; Rensselaer freshman Joel Laing made 15 of his 39 saves in the third period, and Danny Riva added an empty-netter to cap RPI's 4-2 shocker. The upset bug moved west into New York the next night, as highly-touted Clarkson fell to last season's last-place finishers, Yale, by a 5-2 score, and down the road in Canton, the woes of the St. Lawrence Saints (0-4 in non-league play), were compounded by their first conference loss, 4-3 to Princeton.
Meanwhile, Cornell and Colgate got off to 2-0 starts by sweeping Brown and Harvard, with the Red Raiders topping the Crimson 2-1 and the Bruins 7-5, while the Big Red prevailed 5-4 in Providence and extended their winning streak in the Cornell-Harvard grudge match to four straight with a 3-2 win which was for the first two and a half periods a near carbon-copy of this spring's ECAC Championship Game. RPI also posted a road sweep in the opening weekend, completing the task with a 5-4 victory at Dartmouth.
The three upset victims all managed a split on the weekend: Vermont nipping Union 1-0 to finish a weekend in which the Cats' top line of Perrin, St. Louis and Ruid was held scoreless, while Clarkson and St. Lawrence had started the weekend with wins of 5-2 over Princeton and 7-3 over Yale, respectively. And in the other game this weekend, Dartmouth fell 7-3 to Union.
So two games into the season (plus last week's Harvard-Brown contest), Cornell, Colgate and RPI sit atop the ECAC standings with four points a piece. Vermont, Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Yale, Princeton and Union each have two at 1-1, as do Harvard at 1-2. Dartmouth at 0-2 and Brown at 0-3 have yet to register a point.
Next weekend all eyes will be on Central New York as UVM, along with Dartmouth, visit undefeated Cornell and Colgate. Friday's Catamounts-Big Red game looks to be of particular interest: the two teams tied both regular season games last year, while Vermont's upset by Harvard in the ECACs and Cornell's loss to Lake State in the NCAAs prevented postseason meetings between the two. In other league action, Brown and Harvard try to get things going against Ivy rivals Princeton and Yale, while travel partners face off in the North Country as Clarkson visit St. Lawrence. In addition, the Engineers of RPI have a couple of non-conference tilts scheduled, first visiting Mass-Lowell on Wednesday, then taking on travel partner Union on Saturday. This extra game between Capital District rivals, held at the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, will not count towards the ECAC standings, but it's a matchup the Skating Dutchmen have anticipated for a long time.
With the ECAC hockey report, I'm Joe Schlobotnik.