Sunday, January 1, 2012

ECAC Power Rankings: December

Well, it's time to pay the piper. The month of December is over, and with two more months left before crunch time, we take a look at how the league looks at this point in time. Throw the league standings out the window... here's how the ECAC stacks up right now. You'll hardly be surprised by who occupies the basement.

Happy New Year. Let last year be forgot, and never brought to mind.

(Last month's ranking in parentheses)

1 (3). Colgate (12-4-2) - What a month for the Raiders. They steamrolled Clarkson and St. Lawrence for four home points at the start of the month, fought to a 1-1 tie with high-flying Merrimack, then closed out with a solid win over Canisius last night. Colgate is on a seven game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) and have lost only twice since October. This time last year, Colgate was easily the worst team in the ECAC - so cheer up, Engineer Nation.

2 (1). Cornell (8-4-1) - The first two games this month for the Big Red pretty much confirmed our opinion of the Cornell style: boring. They featured a grand total of one goal in 120 minutes of game play - two less goals than the number of ECAC points they got out of those games, since the one goal was theirs. A rough loss on Thursday to UMass (despite the retention of Andy Iles, who was not selected for the World Junior team) was made up by a solid win yesterday over Paul Karpowich-less Clarkson.

3 (2). Union (9-5-5) - Other than a big road win at Merrimack, December was a bit of an injury-induced downer for the Dutchmen. It included a win over floundering RPI, but a pair of losses out in Colorado on the last two days of 2011 were a missed opportunity for Union to make a statement following an otherwise rotten December which got underway with two ties that a healthy team probably could have turned into wins.

4 (7). Quinnipiac (11-7-4) - The Bobcats are righting the ship in a big way following a dreary November. A loss last night at Nebraska-Omaha snapped a six game unbeaten streak, but Quinnipiac does appear to have its mojo back overall. Although most of their opponents were not exactly of a solid stature, the Bobcats did very well, going 3-1-2 in over the month. We'll find out for sure if they're contenders in the second week of January when they host Colgate and Cornell.

5 (6). Harvard (4-4-4) - Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you tie. Harvard has that down to a science at this point, equally dividing the results among their first 12 outings. A 1-1-2 December doesn't seem terribly impressive, but all four games came on the road, and two were at North Dakota Friday and last night, a tough place to play even in a season like this where the Fighting Sioux are struggling.

6 (5). St. Lawrence (7-10-2) - The Saints have bounced back from a horrible start not only to the season but to the month of December as well. They endured a tough stretch at the Central New York teams and then against Clarkson, losing all three to start the month, but they currently ride a four-game unbeaten streak, including a pair of ties (and shootout victories) to claim Dartmouth's tournament, including a rollercoaster affair against Merrimack.

7 (8). Dartmouth (6-5-2) - The slimmest of margins separate the Big Green and the Saints, and right now that margin just happens to be the shootout loss last night in the championship of their own tournament. It was a 2-0-1 December for Dartmouth, but they weren't overly tested - all three games at home, two against Atlantic Hockey opponents. It's too early to know if they've improved from their difficult November.

8 (4). Yale (6-5-1) - Lost here at WaP amidst the Engineers' own struggles is the possible downfall of mighty Yale. Their shocking loss to Sacred Heart was followed up by a miserable December, in which the Bulldogs managed only a split with Brown, and added a loss to UMass to fall to a 1-4-0 record in their last four games. They host Bentley to ring in the New Year this afternoon in New Haven, and if they don't win that one... they're in some serious trouble.

9 (9). Clarkson (9-9-4) - A miserable trip to Florida last week underscores just how much the Knights rely on Paul Karpowich to keep them in games. The senior had previously started every game this year, and his backups were less than stellar, allowing 11 goals in two games. Worse for Clarkson is that they struggled even with the senior netminder in December, picking up a win against their archrivals from Canton but struggling otherwise, going 1-4-1 for the month.

10 (12). Brown (5-6-1) - The Bears move out of the doldrums thanks to a road win against an admittedly weaker than usual New Hampshire team on Friday, but a travel-partner split with Yale was also pretty big for Brown. When you're this far down the chart, a 2-1-0 month can be all it takes to look a little bit better, and they have the opportunity to show that they've put the awful losses of November behind them against Providence in the annual Mayor's Cup today.

11 (10). Princeton (4-9-4) - When your only win of the month is against a last place team, you had a pretty bad month. The Tigers did manage three ties, including a gutsy tie with a solid Northeastern team out in Minnesota on Friday, but just couldn't get over the hump with a second tie last night against Niagara. The offense is OK, but the defense is struggling; Princeton has allowed three goals or more in each of their last six games.

12 (11). RPI (3-15-0) - This is not pretty and it's only getting worse. To wit - with a full month worth of games more, the Engineers have fewer wins on the season than all six Ivies and five more losses than anyone else in the conference, going 0-5-0 in December with the defense going to pot in all five games. The offense is improving with at least two goals in each of the games, but they were outscored 23-11 in December.

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