The ECAC quarterfinals progressed rather quietly with all four top seeds winning their series. Only Princeton needed the extra game to do so.
This marks a bit of history for Princeton as this is the first time they’ve advanced to the semifinals since the 2005-2006 season despite playing as a home seed four times (and a fifth seed twice more) in that span.
As for the other three teams, this is a spot they’ve found themselves in quite often. Clarkson hasn’t failed to advance past the quarterfinals since the 2011-2012 season and they’ve appeared in the ECAC championship twice in the last three seasons and three times total, winning zero. St. Lawrence hasn’t had as much recent success, but they have four ECAC championship appearances and one win. Prior to getting pasted in the quarterfinals by Clarkson last season Cornell had appeared in six straight ECAC championships with four wins.
#1 Clarkson vs. #4 Princeton
Clarkson’s two wins over Princeton can be summed up as ‘yeah, they’re just kind of better.’ Both games featured empty-net goals and blown Princeton leads, 2-0 in the first, and 1-0 in the second. Both times Princeton failed to score after the first period.
Usually Clarkson’s top line of Cayley Mercer, Michaela Pejzlova, and Genevieve Bannon does the damage, but in the matchups against the Tigers it was Loren Gabel running wild. Gabel had four goals in the series which makes a lot of sense given that Princeton’s star defender Kelsey Koelzer is more than adept at shutting down opponents’ top lines.
For the Tigers it was Morgan Sly leading the way. The senior forward had a hand in all three points with two goals and an assist in the series. Karlie Lund and Cassidy Tucker also had two points.
Keys for the Knights:
Whatever Clarkson did after the first period, it seemed to work as they sported six goals for and none against in the second and third. It would be nice if that could come without getting behind in the first.
Clarkson seemed to have an answer for Koelzer during the season. The Patty Kazmaier nominee had just one assist in the series and finished a -5. They need to keep that up and maybe think about trying to shut down Sly as well.
Keys for the Tigers:
Stick with the Knights. When Clarkson gets into gear they seem almost indefatigable. They sometimes start a bit slow but when they get into a groove, they’re an absolute nightmare to play against.
Clarkson is the better team, with superior depth, and they’re playing at home. They don’t have to think about playing Princeton’s travel partner, Quinnipiac tomorrow, they can put everything into their game against the Tigers. Princeton can’t get run out of the building or ground into dust.
#2 St. Lawrence vs. #3 Cornell
SLU forward Kennedy Marchment pretty much blasted the Big Red this season. The junior forward put up a goal and four assists in the first game and then added another goal in the second. For Cornell, it was Kristin O’Neill doing the damage with a goal and two assists.
St. Lawrence should have had the sweep but they let the second game get away from them, losing a two goal lead in the third period. Cornell slowed that game to a crawl and shots were just 21-18 in favor of the Saints.
This isn’t quite an offense versus defense matchup. St. Lawrence is a balanced team that might place a slight emphasis on defending where Cornell excels when they can limit opportunities at both ends and keep the score low. Cornell scored two or fewer goals 18 times this season and were 8-6-4 in those games. For St. Lawrence it happened 12 times, though they were an even better 7-3-2 in those games.
Keys for the Saints:
I think there are a couple options here. If the Saints stick to playing defense, I think they can grind out a 1-0 or 2-1 win over Cornell. But playing that safe leaves the Saints open to bad luck and it’s also playing right into Cornell’s hands, even though the Saints also play that type of game well.
I think St. Lawrence would be better served by coming out aggressive. The last thing Cornell wants is to play a game where shots are 35-28 and if the Saints can get up early, they should be able to coast.
Keys for the Big Red:
Pretend it’s a home game. Cornell was 14-2-2 at Lynah this season and just 5-5-3 on the road. Even taking out the two against Wisconsin, Cornell’s 5-3-2 road record (yes they only traveled out of conference once) is pretty pedestrian.
They need to find something extra. The Big Red played well at home and limited scoring opportunities. That allows a team to grind out wins, but it doesn’t win championships by itself.
St. Lawrence 3-0