The 2018 WHEA Tournament

For those that don’t know, the WHEA quarterfinals consist of a best of three series played over one weekend (Fri-Sat-Sun) at the arena of the better seed.  The Semifinals and Finals will be held at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena this season.

The matchups are as follows:

  • #1 Boston College vs. #8 Vermont
  • #2 Providence vs. #7 Connecticut
  • #3 Maine vs. #6 Boston University
  • #4 Northeastern vs #5 New Hampshire

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USA Women Win Gold – Brief Thoughts on the Run

We all saw it, lived it, loved it.  Team USA defeated Canada in the shootout to claim gold for the first time since the 1998 Nagano games.  This isn’t going to be a recap, this is just going to be my thoughts as a follower of women’s hockey, but someone only moderately well-informed on international play.

Oddly enough, I don’t feel like the team played to their potential.  Whether it was some odd roster and coaching decisions (Alex Carpenter, Blake Bolden, Megan Bozek), whether it was the skill of their opponents, or whether I’m just wrong, something just looked off to me.

I felt throughout the tournament like the team didn’t use the extra space on the ice well.  Rather than using their team speed and skill to open up passing lanes, they seemed to just drift to the outside into worse shooting positions.

They also attempted a lot of long cross-ice passes (particularly in the offensive zone) that I found questionable due to the sheer time it takes the puck to move from point A to point B.  People said the line combinations were a little odd, and I don’t know enough to comment, but based on what I’m used to, the passing chemistry really didn’t appear to me until late in the gold medal game.

That said, I felt like the U.S. really came together in overtime and I was surprised they didn’t score.  The opportunities were somewhat weak, likely due to player fatigue, but it was a lot of the United States having possession in the Canada zone, Canada clearing the puck, and the US easily resetting for another go.  Canada was probably pretty gassed by the time the shootout rolled around and I wonder how much of a factor that was.

I felt that the shootout favored the US as a more skilled team and that turned out to be true, especially as the game was won by the US, first on a great skill move to score by Jocelyne Lamoreaux-Davidson, and Maddie Rooney stopping a less skilled attempt to shoot five-hole.

Whatever the case may be, the result was certainly good.

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The 2018 ECAC Tournament

For those that don’t know, the ECAC quarterfinals consist of a best of three series played over one weekend (Fri-Sat-Sun) at the arena of the better seed.  The Semifinals and Finals are held at the home of the top seed, which is once again Clarkson.

The matchups are as follows:

  • #1 Clarkson vs. #8 Yale
  • #2 Colgate vs. #7 Harvard
  • #3 Cornell vs. #6 Princeton
  • #4 St. Lawrence vs #5 Quinnipiac.

Clarkson vs. Yale

As one might expect, Clarkson pretty well dominated Yale during their season series, sweeping the Bulldogs and only allowing one goal.  The big guns dominated for Clarkson, with Loren Gabel hitting 2-3-5, Michaela Pejzlova hitting 1-2-3, and Elizabeth Giguere hitting 2-2-4 in goals, assists, and points.  Grace Skarzynski had the lone goal for Yale, unassisted.  All goals in the series were scored at even strength.

What to expect:

Yale can do a decent job of slowing teams down, as evidenced by the final score and shots total in the second game.  That’s probably going to be their MO, and to take advantage of power play opportunities.  Clarkson has difficulty staying out of the box sometimes, and it disrupts the flow of their game.

The X-Factor:

Gabel, Pejzlova, and Giguere notched all the points, but Cassidy Vinkle put eight shots on Yale netminders this season.  Look for veterans Vinkle, Amanda Titus, Rhyen McGill, and Kelly Mariani to make their presence felt.

Prediction:

Clarkson in 2

Colgate vs. Harvard

Colgate did the opposite of Clarkson, playing the close game first before blowing Harvard out.  They were lucky to win that game too as four third-period penalties led to a 15-4 shots advantage in the period.  In the second game the Raiders made no mistakes, winning shots 15-7, 19-6, and 14-9 across the three periods.  Jessie Eldridge and Shelby Perry led the Raiders with three points each.

What to Expect:

Colgate’s scoring runs deep and they rely on contributions from across their lineup.  Ten skaters had 20 or more points on the season with Eldridge and Perry leading the way.  They’ll relentlessly attack Harvard and look to wear the Crimson down.

The X-Factor:

Colgate defender Olivia Zafuto popped in 10 goals on the season.  Her and Lauren Wildfang make up the Raiders’ talented top pairing.

Prediction:

Colgate in 2

Cornell vs. Princeton

The Tigers are probably the team everyone wanted to avoid, inconsistent, but capable of a high ceiling.  They beat Clarkson in the back end of their series and blew out Cornell as well.  Eleven skaters notched points in the second game for Princeton.

What to Expect:

Princeton is a team that wants to race end to end and pile up shots.  Cornell is a team that wants to slow the game down and grind out wins.  The Big Red were able to more effectively apply their strategy in both games, though it did little to help them in the second.

The X-Factor:

Princeton’s defense.  The Tigers have spent times this season icing just four defenders.  It didn’t slow them down against Clarkson towards the end of the season, but in a three-game series, it could be the decider.

Prediction:

Cornell in 3

St. Lawrence vs. Quinnipiac

Speaking of grinds, these are two teams that want to slow things to a crawl and make you earn every inch.  SLU split their points evenly between Justine Reyes, Nadine Edney, Hannah Miller, and Kennedy Marchment.  Melissa Samoskevish had two goals for the Bobcats.

What to Expect:

Pressing, lots and lots of pressing.  Part of the reason both teams suppress shots so well is that they’re constantly on the puck when it’s on their opponent’s stick.  It can lead to bad passes and the puck pinging around the neutral zone.

The X-Factor:

Sarah-Ève Coutu-Godbout.  Melissa Samoskevich led the team in points, but the four-named sophomore forward was constantly on the lips of the announcers in the games I watched.

Prediction:

St. Lawrence in 3

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All the Rankings 2-19: I am Angry

Instead of doing a Power Rankings post, each week I am going to go over all the rankings.  (Note: All the rankings includes the USCHO PollSB Nation PollPairWise Rankings, my Power Rankings, and my ballot for the SB Nation Poll.)

Some thoughts on each of the ranking mechanisms:

  • USCHO Poll – Garbage.  Voters are lazy and (I suspect) don’t actually watch the games.
  • SB Nation Poll – We generally get it as right as biased humans can.
  • PairWise Rankings – Limited, but functional.
  • My Power Rankings – My rankings are built on ranking teams across 10 categories and then summing those categorical rankings.  Those categories are Winning Percentage, Goal Differential, Shooting Percentage, Save Percentage, Power Play, Penalty Kill (both *.333 as teams spend on average 1/3 of a game on special teams), Percentage of Shots Taken in Games, Percentage of Shots taken Relative to Opponent Quality, and the last two against teams that take more than 50% of shots in a game.  This is also limited, but is more well-rounded than the PairWise, which is based solely on wins and losses.  If Team A gets outshot 100-1 by Team B, but wins 1-0, I am more apt to reward Team B and think of them as a better team than Team A.  My rankings attempt to account for this with the limited data available.
  • My Ballot – The best, obviously.

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Free Streams 2-9 to 2-13

Friday, February 16th

3:00 PM ET

Colgate at RPI (via YouTube on RPI|TV)

Colgate is locked into a home quarterfinal series and either first or second place.  Clarkson has the tiebreaker, so they need the Golden Knights to falter if they want to win the ECAC.  RPI needs to take at least a point and hope Yale gets swept out of the weekend.  They’re one point out of a playoff spot and it’s do or die.

6:00 PM ET

Dartmouth at Clarkson (Link on Schedule Page)

If Clarkson wins both their games, they’ll be the ECAC champion and host the semifinals and finals.  Dartmouth is out of the tournament race and can only play spoiler at this point.

Harvard at St. Lawrence (Link on Schedule Page)

Harvard can still catch Quinnipiac for fifth place in the conference, though they’d gain little by doing so.  More important is staying in sixth and avoiding Clarkson or Colgate in the first round.  The Crimson are one point up on Princeton.  St. Lawrence has locked up a home series, but can leap over Cornell if they secure more points this weekend than the Big Red.

Vermont at Northeastern (Link on Schedule Page)

Northeastern can still grab that final home series seed in WHEA if they finish tied or better with New Hampshire (they’re currently one point back).  Vermont is locked into sixth or below.  Staying out of eighth and avoiding a first-round series against BC is a good goal.

 

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All the Rankings 2-12: Solving the Titans

Instead of doing a Power Rankings post, each week I am going to go over all the rankings.  (Note: All the rankings includes the USCHO PollSB Nation PollPairWise Rankings, my Power Rankings, and my ballot for the SB Nation Poll.)

Some thoughts on each of the ranking mechanisms:

  • USCHO Poll – Garbage.  Voters are lazy and (I suspect) don’t actually watch the games.
  • SB Nation Poll – We generally get it as right as biased humans can.
  • PairWise Rankings – Limited, but functional.
  • My Power Rankings – My rankings are built on ranking teams across 10 categories and then summing those categorical rankings.  Those categories are Winning Percentage, Goal Differential, Shooting Percentage, Save Percentage, Power Play, Penalty Kill (both *.333 as teams spend on average 1/3 of a game on special teams), Percentage of Shots Taken in Games, Percentage of Shots taken Relative to Opponent Quality, and the last two against teams that take more than 50% of shots in a game.  This is also limited, but is more well-rounded than the PairWise, which is based solely on wins and losses.  If Team A gets outshot 100-1 by Team B, but wins 1-0, I am more apt to reward Team B and think of them as a better team than Team A.  My rankings attempt to account for this with the limited data available.
  • My Ballot – The best, obviously.

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Free Streams 2-9 to 2-13

Friday, February 9th

2:00 PM ET

New Hampshire at Boston College (free with cable login on Watch ESPN)

New Hampshire is probably a bit too far back to claim 2nd or 3rd in Hockey East, but they need to focus on holding off Northeastern for the final home spot.  The Huskies sit a point back with an equal number of games played.

6:00 PM ET

Brown at Colgate (link on schedule page)

If Clarkson falters in a tough series versus Princeton and Quinnipiac this weekend, Colgate can make up ground with a fairly easy series against Brown and Yale.

Union at Harvard (free with cable login on Watch ESPN)

Last gasp for the Dutchwomen, currently 5 points out of a playoff spot.  Anything less than a sweep this weekend likely spells the end.  Harvard is tied for 7th on points, but sits in eighth on tiebreakers.  They’ll host two-back RPI on Saturday for a game that will likely decide the final tournament spot.

St. Lawrence at Quinnipiac (free with cable login on Watch ESPN)

The Saints can all but wrap up a home spot by defeating Quinnipiac as they’d need just one more point to clinch.  The Bobcats are only two behind Cornell, though the Big Red have a much easier weekend.

7:00 PM ET

UConn at Vermont (link on schedule page)

Vermont has kept winning the past few weekends, but so has the rest of the bottom of Hockey East so the Catamounts are just one point above the elimination line.  Connecticut sits between them and that line as the two teams are tied in points, but Vermont has the lone win and current tiebreaker edge.  A win here will wrap up the tiebreaker and just about seal the Catamounts trip to the WHEA tournament.

Ohio State at Minnesota State (link on schedule page)

A loss of any points will clinch last place for the Mavericks while Ohio State can clinch second with a five or six point weekend.

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