The games of the week will be on the USCHO’s schedule rotation which is Thursday to Wednesday. I will be showcasing one game of the week that can be streamed for free (when possible) and one game that requires a paid subscription.
Quinnipiac slid back into the ECAC driver’s seat with Harvard’s loss to Princeton last Saturday. They win out, they secure the #1 seed heading into the ECAC tournament.
Cornell meanwhile has won 7 of their last 8 and gone 11-1-3 in their last 15 games, their lone loss coming to those same Harvard Crimson.
With Quinnipiac (26 points), Harvard (25), Cornell (24), and Clarkson (24) so close in the standings and St. Lawrence looming in the fifth spot looking to pry first round home ice advantage from one of the top four with 22 points, every ECAC game from here on out is going to be immensely important.
I think this was the Beanpot finale most were expecting though Harvard’s 9-2 drubbing of Boston University in the preliminaries was a surprise for sure. Their earlier season matchup was a game purely by definiton in that two teams showed up to play hockey. It was tied after the first period, but BC led 12-4 on shots at that point and in the second started to put them in, tallying 6 for a 7-2 lead heading into the final frame. Emerance Maschmeyer was pulled in the second after allowing 5 goals on 31 shots and replacement Brianna Laing was not an improvement allowing the same on 11 shots.
Harvard has collected itself after dropping to tenth in the rankings following an 0-2-2 stretch against the likes of Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Boston College, and Boston University that no one should have blamed them for. They’re 14-2-0 since with losses to Dartmouth and Princeton and wins over ranked Quinnipiac (twice), Cornell, and BU in the process.
Still it’s difficult to picture Harvard winning this game. Northeastern fared well against BC by packing the middle and making peace with allowing a higher quantity of shots if it meant those shots were lower quality. They thought they could get enough favorable matchups by matching lines and enough chances for Kendall Coyne to pull it out, and it came close to working, but I don’t think the strategy for beating BC is to simply admit they’re better than you and bunker down and try to win a low scoring game. I think that’s merely a recipe for losing a low scoring game to BC and looking good in the process.
The team that had the most success against BC, the St. Lawrence Saints, did employ that bunkering strategy, but they had their most success scoring when they came straight at BC trying to come back in the third periods of both games where they won shots overall 21-16 and goals 2-1. Some of that was certainly BC being content to defend leads, but I think the best shot at beating BC is to be aggressive offensively and try to play in their zone as much as possible even if it means yielding some high quality chances in your own end.
The Beanpot finale will be on Ivy League Network, and also on ESPN3.