Thanksgiving break gives college hockey teams an opportunity to compete against non-conference opponents, and that tends to be a no-win proposition for ECAC teams.
It seems that those who wish to bash the competitiveness of the conference will always have plenty of material. Just last week, ECAC detractors openly scoffed when defending champion Yale went 0-2 against non-league foes Sacred Heart and Boston College.
Looking deeper into the non-league Thanksgiving play, it becomes evident that the ECAC didn’t give a bad representation of itself in non-league play. A 7-7 combined record for ECAC teams proves there were some ups and downs.
We can certainly conclude that the ECAC may not be as strong from top to bottom as Hockey East or the CCHA, but the top teams can certainly stand their ground against the best from any conference.
The best performance from an ECAC team last week came from Union, the defending regular-season conference champion. Union posted a 6-3 road victory over a top-20 Michigan team in Ann Arbor, Mich. Sophomore goaltender Troy Grosenick made 33 shots, giving the Dutchmen optimism for the future.
In the marquee matchup of the weekend between a couple of the best teams in the ECAC and Hockey East, Cornell lost a heartbreaker, 2-1, to Boston University Saturday at Madison Square Garden. But even in that losing effort, Cornell could argue it was the better team.
The Big Red appeared to be on the wrong side of a bad call by a referee, who blew an early whistle on a shot that ended up in the BU net in the third period. Had that goal counted, Cornell would have won in regulation.
In other ECAC action, St. Lawrence split with a top-20 team from the CCHA, Michigan Tech. Colgate dominated in a 4-1 victory at Vermont.
And, perhaps in the upset of non-league play, Harvard overcame a 4-0 deficit at home to post an exciting 7-6 victory over New Hampshire prior to the holiday.
At the very least, ECAC teams assured that in the future, non-conference foes may not be thankful for scheduled matchups with ECAC squads over the four-day holiday weekend.
Game of the Week
St. Lawrence at Colgate, Saturday
St. Lawrence is one of the hottest teams in the ECAC with wins in five of its last seven after an 0-5 start in non-league play. Colgate is the hottest team in the ECAC with three wins in a row, including the win at UVM.
ECAC Hockey power ratings
1. Union (7-3-3, 3-2-0 ECAC): The Dutchmen appear to have found a netminder in sophomore Troy Grosenick, who stopped 33 shots in a road win at Michigan.
2. Colgate (9-4-1, 4-2-0): Colgate will need a home sweep against Clarkson and St. Lawrence this weekend to secure its league standing.
3. Cornell (6-3-0, 5-1-0): The Big Red delivered in a much-anticipated matchup with Boston University at Madison Square Garden.
4. Yale (5-3-1, 3-1-0): Last week’s results could be troubling for the Elis. A 3-2 loss to BC is one thing, but a 7-6 loss at Sacred Heart?
5. St. Lawrence (5-7, 4-2): Resurgent St. Lawrence has been the surprise of the ECAC through the first two months.
6. Harvard (3-3-2, 2-3-2): The Crimson have wins over Colgate, Clarkson and UNH.
7. Clarkson (8-5-3, 2-3-1): Clarkson hung tough against Maine in a 4-3 loss Saturday. Paul Karpowich is the ECAC’s top goaltender.
8. Quinnipiac (8-6-2, 1-4-2): Bobcats beat UMass, 4-2, snapping a six game winless streak.
9. Dartmouth (4-5-1, 3-3-1): After a 5-3 loss at UVM, Dartmouth can be considered the most disappointing team of the opening two months.
10. Brown (3-5-1, 2-2-0): Losses at American International and Holy Cross knocked Brown down a notch.
11. Princeton (3-7-1, 2-5-0): The Tigers beat Providence, 3-1, at the Wells Fargo Denver Cup. It remains to be seen if that says more about Princeton or Providence.
12. RPI (3-10-0, 1-4-0): RPI beat RIT 2-0 on Friday.
Dan Guttenplan can be reached at email@example.com.