March 11, 2004

ECAC Hockey Begins Semifinals

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While the top four seeds enjoyed byes in last weekend’s ECAC hockey tournament, eight schools battled to make it into this weekends quarterfinal round. Though none of the series went to three games, the weekend was full of overtime victories, close matches, and some surprising results.

Most of the first-round games fell in favor of higher seeded teams, but three matchups stood out from the pack. No. 9 Clarkson beat No. 8 Union, and No. 10 St. Lawrence upset seventh-seeded Yale. Also, though not a winner, Princeton — which went 0-15-2 in its last seventeen contests — lost to fifth-ranked Rensselaer by only one goal in both of its games.

Clarkson (15-16-5) picked the right time to bring its A-game: for the first time all season, the Golden Knights won two games in a weekend, and the squad put more pucks in the net than it has in its last eight games. On Friday night, the Golden Knights punished the Dutchmen, 8-3. The offensive barrage equaled the team’s season-high goal tally. Saturday, the team’s dominance continued in a 5-2 decision over the Dutchmen.

Clarkson’s Mac Faulkner, who led his team with six points and two goals, received an especially high honor for his contribution to the victories. Inside College Hockey gave the forward its National Player of the Week award.

Though not an entirely an upset, St. Lawrence’s sweep of Yale at Ingall’s Rink was a surprise. St. Lawrence has not made the ECAC quarterfinals as a road team in the last 40 years, but this year, the team did so with two clutch overtime scores. Friday night, the Saints carried Yale into extra minutes and won, 4-3. The St. Lawrence players carried that same intensity into Saturday’s contest as well. For the second night in a row, both squads exchanged blows and goals in a dogfight, and regulation ended with the score tied at three apiece. St. Lawrence’s Rick Peverly secured the Saints’ playoff hopes and crushed Yale’s, however, with his goal 5:14 into OT.

Finally, though not a winner, Princeton deserves mention for its strong play against a talented Rensselear squad. The Tigers lost their first game to the Engineers, 5-4, on Friday and followed that performance by taking Rensselaer into overtime the following day. OT turned out to be a KO for the black and orange, which ultimately lost the game 3-2, but the team’s effort was nonetheless respectable.

Standing out for RPI in its sweep was forward Nick Economakos, who had five points on the weekend, including four assists and the game winning goal in the team’s 5-4 victory.

For Princeton head coach Len Quesnelle, the weekend’s losing efforts resulted in more than just ouster from the playoffs: Princeton announced March 8th that it was relievin the coach of his duties. In his four years with the team, Quesnelle compiled a 29-84-11 overall record and managed to earn just five wins this season while giving up 24 losses and two ties.

“Lee has been a very loyal member of the Princeton hockey program and Princeton athletic department for many years,” Princeton athletic director Gary D. Walters said at a press conference announcing the move. “It’s not easy to make a decision like this, but we felt it was necessary for a change. We thank him for his service and wish him all the best in the future.”

According to Princeton officials, Quesnelle’s future may still be with the Tigers, however, just in a different position within the athletic department.

Starting Friday, the tournament’s second round will begin as the top-ranked teams in the league vie to advance to the semifinals in Albany. Top-ranked Colgate will host St. Lawrence, No. 4 Dartmouth will play Rensselaer, third-seeded Brown and Ivy rival Harvard will face off, and Cornell and Clarkson will challenge each other on Lynah rink.

Archived article by Everett Hullverson