After a holiday season that saw ECAC teams go 19-5 outside the conference, including tournament championships for Cornell in the Syracuse Invitational and St. Lawrence in the Grand Rapids Tournament, plus all-ECAC title games in the Rensselaer Invitational and Auld Lang Syne tournaments, the league returned to conference play this weekend.
The Colgate Red Raiders were the big winners, pulling off this season's first North Country sweep with a 3-2 overtime win over Clarkson followed by a 4-2 victory at St. Lawrence. Their travel partners Cornell had a tougher time on their North Country road trip, tying St. Lawrence at 1 and giving up a 2-0 lead to lose 5-2 to Clarkson the following night. Golden Knight Chris Clark scored an empty net goal with one second left in that game to complete a hat trick and finish the weekend with five of the seven goals in Clarkson's split.
Vermont got four badly needed league points with a home sweep, shelling Harvard 5-1 and coming from behind to edge Brown 4-3. Dartmouth managed a split with their Ivy League foes, beating hapless Brown 6-4 and falling 3-2 to Harvard in overtime. Union, also at home, managed the other weekend sweep, downing Yale 2-1 and upsetting league-leading Princeton 6-4. RPI were shut down by Princeton 6-0 and took out it out on Yale the following night with a 7-2 win.
With the two leaders combining for only three points on the weekend, the standings have tightened up a great deal. Princeton gained sole possession of first place at 15 points, while Cornell's one-point weekend dropped them to 14. Colgate's sweep puts them within striking distance at 13, followed by Harvard at 12 with an extra game played. Rensselaer are in fifth place with 11 points, but converting all three of their games in hand would rocket the Engineers to the top. Clarkson with 10 points and Union with 9 each have two games in hand. Vermont and St. Lawrence each have 8 points thus far, but the Cats, with four games in hand, move above .500 for the first time this year, while the Saints, with only two games in hand, are below the break-even mark. Yale are in tenth place with 7 points, Dartmouth have 6 points and four games in hand, and Brown seem to be getting comfortable in the cellar with a mere 3 points.
Eight of the twelve ECAC teams see conference action this weekend, with the game to watch in New Jersey, as the resurgent Vermont Catamounts, along with Dartmouth visit league-leading Princeton, as well as Yale. Elsewhere in the league, Union and RPI visit Harvard and Brown, with Saturday's contest between the Engineers and Crimson being the first televised ECAC game of the season, on New Hampshire's WNDS. Cornell kicks off the non-conference play Tuesday night at defending National Champions Michigan; Colgate and Cornell play host to ECAC refugees Army over the weekend, while St. Lawrence and Clarkson visit Hockey East's Lowell and New Hampshire.
With the ECAC hockey report, I'm Joe Schlobotnik.