This weekend, four ECAC men’s hockey teams will descend on Lake Placid in pursuit of the Whitelaw Cup. Harvard, Quinnipiac, Union and Cornell were four of the best teams in ECAC Hockey this season and each has a claim to the championship. Let’s analyze each team and determine their chances of returning from the Adirondacks with a trophy.
Harvard — the ECAC regular season champions — swept aside Yale in two games to earn the trip to Lake Placid. The Crimson has been hot lately, especially offensively, plus the team has the likely ECAC rookie of the year in Adam Fox. The Crimson’s offense is the best in the ECAC, and any other team’s path to the championship involves stopping Harvard’s offensive weapons.
Best-case scenario: Harvard romps to the championship, putting up six goals in each game.
Worst-case scenario: Harvard has an off night against Quinnipiac, and settles for a first or second seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Union comes into the Herb Brooks Arena after sweeping Princeton in the quarterfinals. The Dutchmen boast the conference’s two best offensive players in Spencer Foo and Mike Vecchione, and have a stronger defense than Harvard. The Dutchmen will face Cornell in the first round, after failing to beat the Red this season, with a loss and a tie so far. Cornell is the only ECAC team Union failed to beat all season.
Best-case scenario: Union scores early and often against Cornell’s excellent defense, and fends off Harvard or Quinnipiac to claim the Whitelaw Cup.
Worst-case scenario: Union’s top line is quieted by Cornell’s top defensive groups, and Union drops to a three seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Cornell is the three seed and is coming off an exhilarating three-game series against Clarkson. After falling 6-2 in game one, Cornell topped the Golden Knights in the next two contests, 2-1 in both games, to end Clarkson’s season. The Red has its typical strong defense, with more offensive prowess than usual this year. Sophomores Mitch Vanderlaan and Anthony Angello will need to produce for Cornell to win two games in Lake Placid.
Best-case scenario: Cornell adds to its league-leading total of 12 Whitelaw Cups with a solid team display, moving up to a two seed for the NCAA Tournament.
Worst-case scenario: The Red falls to Union in the semifinals and must sit and wait for a NCAA bid.
Quinnipiac, the five seed in the ECAC Tournament, impressively defeated fourth-seed Saint Lawrence in Canton this weekend. The Bobcats were victorious in game three, 3-2, moving on to Lake Placid. Quinnipiac’s weakness is in goalie inexperience, as freshman Andrew Shortridge has just recently established himself as the starting goalie.
The offense in Hamden is as potent as ever, though, and the Bobcats have a knack for scoring early in games. At this point, QU has to win the ECAC Tournament to qualify for the NCAA Tournament due to its low Pairwise rating. The reigning NCAA runner-ups have to go up against Harvard in the semifinals, but they just might have the formula to knock off the Crimson.
Best-case scenario: QU pulls the upset against Harvard and wins the championship game too, to qualify for the NCAA Tournament as a four seed.
Worst-case scenario: Quinnipiac loses to Harvard as expected, and misses the NCAA Tournament.
All four teams will embark on Lake Placid with hopes of claiming the Whitelaw Cup as ECAC Hockey’s postseason champion. Cornell is making its first trip to Lake Placid since 2014, and will hope to qualify for the NCAA Tournament afterwards. Tune in this weekend to see if the Red will emerge victorious.