There were only three games in the ECAC this week, all among travel partners. With league-leading Princeton idle and Cornell playing a non-conference series, three teams within three points of the leaders sought to convert another game in hand each by playing their respective travel partners. Only the Golden Knights of Clarkson proved up to the task, knocking St. Lawrence's top two goaltenders out of the game in an 8-3 shellacking of the Saints, now losers of six straight. The Vermont Catamounts had to come from behind to tie Dartmouth at 4, while in Schenectady, RPI also needed a comeback to tie Union 3-all. The Skating Dutchmen, who shut out the Engineers in a non-conference battle back in November, gave up a 2-1 lead last weekend at RPI to fall 5-2, and again led Saturday night, 3-0, before giving up three unanswered goals. The season series between these Capital District rivals thus ends in a draw, 1-1-1.
There were also a few ECAC squads engaged in non-league play. Cornell split a series with Ferris State of the CCHA, prevailing 4-3 on Friday, and watching a similar lead evaporate on Saturday when the Bulldogs scored two goals on a five-minute power play en route to a 6-4 win capped by an empty-netter at the end. Faring better were Yale, with a 4-3 win at Army, and Brown, who topped Providence 3-2 to take the Mayor's Cup and extend their unbeaten streak to four games.
And earlier tonight, the ECAC played its last two non-conference games outside of the Beanpot. Colgate drubbed UMass-Lowell 5-1, while Harvard lost a 7-5 shootout with New Hampshire.
Now to the standings. Most teams are now on equal footing with twelve games. Princeton still cling to the top spot with 17 points, although they have still played an extra game. Cornell, Clarkson and Rensselaer are all right on their heels with 16 points and a game in hand on the Tigers. Vermont close out an incredibly close top five with 15 points. Harvard are sixth with 14 points, but they have played fourteen games, one more even than Princeton. Leading the lower division, and with a better winning percentage than the Crimson are Colgate with 13 points, followed by Union with 12 points and an extra game played. Dartmouth are ninth with 9 points; Yale also have 9 and an extra game played. St. Lawrence drop to eleventh with 8 points, and Brown, despite going 2-0-1 in recent non-conference play, remain securely in last with 5 points in an unlucky thirteen games.
The Around the Rinks/US College Hockey Online poll now shows two ECAC teams in the Top Ten. Clarkson leaps in at number 6, and Vermont moves up from ninth to eighth despite tying their only game on the weekend.
Exams are over and it's time for the ECAC homestretch. There's a nearly complete schedule this weekend, and with all of the top five teams coming from different travel partnerships, there look to be good matchups from here on. Princeton and Yale visit Cornell and Colgate, with the Tigers and Red once again playing for the league lead. Meanwhile in rematches of the recent series in New England, Clarkson and St. Lawrence are at Vermont and Dartmouth, with Saturday's SLU/UVM contest kicking off Empire Sports Network's ECAC Game of the Week. Faceoff is at 5pm Mountain Time, and I, Joe Schlobotnik, plan to catch the game down at Iggy's Sports Grill here in Salt Lake. If you want to join the party, call the station after the report at 585-3449. The other weekend series is in the Capital District: on Friday Harvard play RPI and Brown visit Union; Saturday sees the Bears visit the Engineers in the Big Red Freakout, but Union host Division I independent Army as the Crimson take the night off to prepare for the Beanpot. The 45th showdown among Boston's four Division I college hockey teams kicks off Monday with Boston College playing Northeastern in the early game, which will count towards the Hockey East standings, and Harvard taking on Boston University in the late contest.
I'm Joe Schlobotnik and this is the ECAC hockey report.