Ah, the ECAC. Home of the murky middle, a place that keeps plenty of teams in contention, even at the death of the season.
There really needs to be a term for the penultimate weekend of the men's season - like how the Indianapolis 500 has Carburetion Day between qualifying and the actual race, or something. This is the weekend where the murky middle gets separated into contenders those who are looking to host in the first round instead. With eight points up for grabs for everyone, it's pretty intense when there are only 2 points separating 4th from 7th - especially when your team, among that group, will be playing two of those three other teams in the next four games.
Home games need to be points in the bank, and for the men, that's what they need against a vulnerable North Country duo as they sign off for the regular season in Troy.
For the women, it's do or die. Winless in their last eight games, they're looking at potentially going winless in the last 10 games of the season and missing the playoffs if conventional wisdom comes true.
One month ago, after sweeping the Union weekend, the women were in 6th place by themselves, a point out of 5th. We talked about how 5th was definitely not far fetched, and how 4th was a real possibility. If they'd collected all the points we thought they could take from there on out, they're sitting in 5th place alone right now, 3 points ahead of 6th and 1 point behind Quinnipiac in 4th. In the playoffs. Almost certainly with a playoff series they would at least have a shot in - and remember, the Engineers darn near picked up at least a point over Cornell last weekend.
This is an RPI team that, if they're on and the opponent isn't at 100%, can run with any team in the country, except perhaps Minnesota (who almost no one can run with, ever). Ask Harvard.
They'll need that this weekend in the North Country. The rest of the season, no matter how it ends, will be difficult from here on out.