Last season, the Vermont Catamounts and the Golden Knights of Clarkson finished 1-2 in the ECAC standings, only to be upset in the conference semifinals by a couple of Ivy League teams, Harvard and Cornell. The anticipated Green-and-Gold matchup ended up as a ho-hum 3-1 UVM victory in the Consolation game. This Saturday marked the first rematch of that game, and while both teams were well out of first place in total points, a number of games in hand on 8-4-1 Princeton made the 7-3 Cats and 6-4 Knights look poised for a move to the top.
But both teams had business to take care of on Friday; while Clarkson were dispatching Dartmouth 6-3 on the road, Vermont had all they could handle from the St. Lawrence Saints. A full house at Gutterson Arena saw their Cats outshoot SLU 15-9 in the first and go ahead 1-0 on a 5-on-3 power play goal by Eric Perrin, assisted by linemate Martin St. Louis. The Saints pulled even in the second thanks to Joel Prpic, whose infraction had set up the 5-on-3 in the first. Vermont went ahead 2-1 on a controversial goal in the third: a UVM 3-on-1 resulted when John Poapst was allegedly hooked by St. Louis, Stephan Piche took the puck into the St. Lawrence zone, passed it to Perrin, who fed--you guessed it--St. Louis for the go-ahead tally. Undaunted, the Saints fought back and tied it up with under four minutes remaining as Bob Prier knocked in his own rebound. So the game went to overtime, but ended quickly as the French Connection scored just 14 seconds into the extra session with St. Louis doing the honors to cap the 3-2 victory.
The following night Clarkson took a 1-0 lead in the first thanks to Hobey Baker candidate Todd White; Vermont tied it up in the second with another goal from the French Connection of Perrin and St. Louis, Perrin's 99th career goal. White scored again in the third to put the Knights up 2-1, and as #100 was not forthcoming, Clarkson prevailed by that score to snap the Cats' winning streak at six. Over in Hanover, SLU's woes continued as Dartmouth scored the first four goals in the first and hung on for the 6-4 win. It was the Saints' fifth straight loss since opening the year by tying Cornell. They'll have the chance to redeem themselves when these same four teams face off in the North Country in two weeks, with the Vermont-St. Lawrence rematch kicking off Empire Sports Network's ECAC Game of the Week.
The weekend's other league contest saw the Skating Dutchmen of Union visit their rivals the RPI Engineers. The Dutchmen, who had shut out Rensselaer in a non-conference matchup at the Knickerbocker Arena earlier this season, took a 2-1 lead into the third, only to surrender four unanswered goals, including an empty-netter that capped Doug Battaglia's hat trick, as the Engineers prevailed 5-2. The same two teams meet next weekend in Schenectady for the rubber match.
In non-conference play, last-place Brown padded their overall record with a 5-3 victory and a 7-7 tie of Air Force; Colgate fell Saturday, 5-3 to Bowling Green, and Yale topped Niagra by the same score.
Two ECAC teams saw non-conference play tonight, and both were losers. Yale fell 3-2 at UMass-Lowell and Dartmouth suffered a 5-2 defeat in Providence.
The ECAC standings normalize themselves a bit as most teams close in on twelve games played, but just for fun I'll present them this week in order of winning percentage rather than total points. RPI at 7-3-1 take over the best record in the league with 15 points. Cornell's 16 points and 7-3-2 record make them second by either accounting, and Princeton have the most points in the league at 17, but with Rensselaer holding two games in hand, the Tigers' 8-4-1 mark gives them the third best winning percentage. Clarkson and Vermont are now tied for fourth with identical 7-4 records and 14 points, but the Cats still have more national acclaim, placing ninth in the Around the Rinks/US College Hockey Online poll. Colgate's 6-5-1 record gives them 13 points, one less than Harvard, playing .500 hockey at 6-6-2. Union have 11 points and a 5-6-1 mark, followed by St. Lawrence at 3-6-2 and Dartmouth at 4-7 with 8 points a piece. Yale have 9 points, but their 4-8-1 record is the second worst in the league, while Brown languish in last with 5 points and a 2-10-1 record.
Next weekend's only ECAC games see three pairs of travel partners face off Saturday night: Union host RPI, Vermont entertain Dartmouth and St. Lawrence make the 11-mile trek to face Clarkson. In non-conference action, Yale visit Army, Brown host Providence for the Mayor's Cup and Cornell invite the CCHA's Ferris State to Lynah Rink for a two-game series.
And with the ECAC hockey report, this is Joe Schlobotnik.