Friday's early game saw ECAC champions Cornell take on Lake Superior State, the top finishers in the CCHA regular season, and winners of two recent national titles. While heavy underdogs, the Big Red played the Lakers tough and managed to enter the third period tied at four. But just under seven minutes into the period, Cornell gave up only their first power play goal since the first game of the playoffs two weeks ago, and it proved the gamewinner, as LSSU advanced, 5-4.
ECAC Regular season runners-up Clarkson came out with something to prove after their dismal performance in Lake Placid, and the role of fall guys was played by fellow at-large qualifier Western Michigan of the CCHA. Golden Knight netminder Dan Murphy stopped 28 shots in the first two periods to put Clarkson up 2-0 going into the third, and the boys from Tech poured it on from there, going up 6-0 before Western spoiled the shutout with a goal in the last minute of the game.
The Vermont Catamounts, who finished tops in the ECAC before falling to Harvard in the conference semifinal, had earned a bye by virtue of being the #2 team in the East, so they were waiting for Lake State Saturday afternoon. The Lakers specialize in just the sort of sticky neutral zone play used by the Crimson against Vermont and Cornell in the ECACs, but Vermont's Hobey Baker Award finalists Eric Perrin and Martin St. Louis eventually managed to make two of UVM's 18 shots on goal count. St. Louis got both goals, and Perrin had two assists, not to mention the assistance he gave Catamount goalie Tim Thomas by blocking a shot late in the third to preserve Vermont's 2-1 win.
In the way of Clarkson's bid to give the ECAC a second team in the semifinals stood Boston University, Hockey East first-place finishers and defending national champions. The Terriers held the Knights in check, limiting them to a mere 13 shots in the first two periods while building a 3-0 lead. Clarkson cut the lead to 3-2 in the third, but could not manage the tying goal.
So with only Vermont remaining to carry on the ECAC banner, they and BU move on to the Frozen Four in Cincinnati, where they're joined by the top two western seeds. In the early game Thursday, UVM take on Colorado College, holders of the WCHA regular season crown and 5-3 victors in the regionals over Hockey East at-large qualifier UMass-Lowell. The late game pits BU against CCHA champions Michigan, who edged Minnesota 4-3 in the West Regional in East Lansing, MI. The two winners will play Saturday afternoon for the national title. In a step back for college hockey on TV, this year the first national TV coverage of the NCAAs is eSPn2's telecast of the semifinals, while the only Collge Hockey game shown on ESPN this season will be the championship.
With the ECAC and NCAA hockey report, this is Joe P------k, Mr. Squishy sports.