The ECAC just seems to want to flip onto its head repeatedly. The teams coming into the final four the hottest are the teams that looked dubious as the regular season closed, at least until Clarkson snatched the ECAC title from Harvard.
Clarkson and Quinnipiac absolutely scorched Dartmouth and Princeton teams that, while clear mid-tier ECAC clubs, are nowhere near as bad as they looked.
They won their games 6-0 and 4-1 and were it not for a magnificent game from Dartmouth goaltender Robyn Chemago, game 2 would have been a whole lot worse. They’ve put up the most shots in the playoffs at 104 (including Northeastern who’s played three games) and this against a Dartmouth team that was a positive possession team in the regular season (51.96% of shots taken).
The Bobcats perhaps looked even better, winning 7-0 and 3-0 against a Princeton team that played them tough during the year. Their 29 shots allowed are tied with Wisconsin for the fewest of any team in their playoffs.
Clarkson lost a weird 8-3 game to Cornell earlier in the season, but I have a hard time believing they’re going to let this game get away from them in similar fashion. They took it to Dartmouth immediately in round one and will no doubt look to do so versus Cornell.
Harvard – Quinnipiac should be a fiercely contested match with both regular season games ending 2-1 on Harvard’s favor. It’ll be a question of whether or not Quinnipiac can open things up enough to score on Harvard. The Crimson tend to spend a lot of time in the box and their charmed special teams are bound to come back to earth eventually.
Players to Watch:
Cayley Mercer, Clarkson (LW) – Mercer led the Knights in points during the regular season and looks to continue that trend as her 3g, 4 pts, and 14 shots in the playoffs are all tops on the team and near the top of the NCAA.
Erin Ambrose, Clarkson (D) – The leading scorer among defenders for the Knights, Ambrose has three points in the playoffs. Here’s a scary thought: what do the Knights #1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 scorers all have in common? None are seniors.
Sydney Daniels, Harvard (LW) – Harvard isn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard, but their composed, responsible team play makes them an unenviable opponent. Daniels leads Harvard in goals (2) and shots (11).
Taylar Cianfarano, Quinnipiac (C) – Freshman Taylar Cianfarano is absolutely terrifying. In her inaugural campaign the Oswego native has only managed to lead the nationally ranked Bobcats in scoring…after leading the United States U-18 team in scoring…and faceoffs…and +/-. This is a woman that made First Team All-State…as a seventh grader. I look forward to watching her torture NCAA goaltenders for three more years.
Erica Udén–Johansson, Quinnipiac (RW) – The Swedish national had a quiet first round tallying just one goal, but I think she’s poised to bounce back against Harvard.
Jillian Saulnier, Cornell (LW) – Saulnier tortured the St. Lawrence Saints potting the clinching empty netter in game 1, the game tying goal in game 2, and assisting on the game winner later on.
Brianne Jenner, Cornell (C) – Those Saulnier points above? Brianne Jenner assisted on all of them. The Knights need to contain Saulnier and Jenner, who each had 4 points in the season series, if they want to avoid a repeat.
It’s difficult to speculate too much on the Finals without knowing who will be involved. Cornell played their way into the NCAA Tournament last year by winning the ECAC tournament from the 3rd seed, but it’s difficult to see them doing it again.