Cornell leads a pack of five top teams in the conference.

Michael Wenye Li / Sun Senior Photographer

Cornell leads a pack of five top teams in the conference.

January 22, 2020

ECAC Men’s Hockey Power Rankings: Cornell Reigns Atop the Conference

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The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) consists of 12 teams from the Northeast, including six members of the Ivy League. Through the first 16 games of the season, Cornell men’s hockey has compiled a 13-1-3 record and has earned the top spot in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Here’s how the Red stacks up with its conference competition.

1). Cornell (13-1-3, 8-1-1 ECAC)
When Cornell achieved the No. 1 ranking two years ago, its performance subsequently went flat, falling to Rensselaer in a 2-1 decision at home. This time around, the Red avoided a similar fate, earning three points against a scrappy Northern Michigan team. Though Cornell remains No. 1, the ECAC is still a powerhouse in college hockey, and a conference title is a difficult feat to achieve. The Red will face Dartmouth and Harvard this upcoming weekend in a pair of games that will have major implications in the conference standings.

2). Clarkson (16-5-2, 10-3)
While Cornell may boast the top national ranking, it is actually Clarkson that sits atop the conference standings with 20 league points. The Golden Knights, which have played three more conference games than the Red, hold a three-point edge. Casey Jones ’90, a former assistant under Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86, has helped Clarkson develop the nation’s third-best scoring defense, one that allows only 1.87 goals per game. To start the new year, the Golden Knights have gone 4-2, suffering missteps against Rensselaer and Dartmouth.

3). Dartmouth (10-5-3, 7-3-1)
In one of the more surprising storylines of the season, Dartmouth has catapulted its way near the top of the standings. Following a 13-win season that saw the Green exit the ECAC quarterfinals, Dartmouth went winless in its first three games, and appeared to be heading toward a similar trajectory. But the Green has the look of a new, energized team, one that dealt Cornell its only loss of the season and recently pulled off an upset over Clarkson.

4). Quinnipiac (13-8-1, 7-4-1)
Following a 26-win season in 2018-19, Quinnipiac has solidified itself as a top competitor in the ECAC. While the Bobcats have notched a number of impressive wins, such as victories over ranked opponents like Harvard and Massachusetts, they have also endured some lulls, including a winless four-game streak and a three-game skid, both of which occurred in November.

With 15 league points, Quinnipiac is in the thick of the race for the top spot in the ECAC.

Ben Parker / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

With 15 league points, Quinnipiac is in the thick of the race for the top spot in the ECAC.

5). Harvard (9-6-2, 7-4-1)
Rounding out the top five is Harvard. Along with Cornell, the Crimson was the last undefeated team left in the nation after rattling off six wins in a row to kick off the season. Since then, though, Harvard has struggled. Ever since a 4-2 loss to Boston College snapped its streak, the Crimson has gone 3-6-2. Still, Harvard trots out arguably the scariest top line in the conference, one that includes three of the top-15 point scorers in the nation in Jack Drury, Casey Dornbach and Nick Abruzzese.

6). Rensselaer (10-12-1, 7-7-1)
After the No. 5 spot, the next seven teams all possess sub-.500 overall records. But in a conference like the ECAC, these squads can still be dangerous opponents — and there’s no better example than Rensselaer. This team has traditionally dwelled near the bottom of the ECAC standings, but it experienced a mini breakthrough this season. Picked to finish 10th in the ECAC preseason poll, the Engineers have already garnered seven ECAC wins, which is tied for the third-best total in the conference. Among those seven wins is Rensselaer’s crowning achievement — a stunning 3-1 upset of Clarkson on the road.

7). Colgate (8-10-4, 6-3-1)
Colgate has also taken a big step forward and has nearly matched its 10-win total from last season. To open the year, the Raiders struggled immensely, only notching a single win in eight games. But once conference play started up, Colgate flipped the switch, and it has since tallied a 6-3-1 mark in ECAC matchups, including victories over Dartmouth, Quinnipiac and Harvard.

8). Yale (8-9, 6-6)
With an 8-9 record, Yale has failed to earn a single win against a team ranked in the top five, but it has done a great job in beating up on teams residing in the bottom half of the standings. Yet when pitted against quality foes like Cornell, Harvard, Clarkson or Dartmouth, the Bulldogs have been outscored 27-7. While an approach like this may result in a decent finish in the regular season, it will not get Yale very far in the postseason.

9). Union (6-17-1, 4-9-1)
Winners of three consecutive Whitelaw Cups from 2012-2014 and national champions in 2014, the Dutchmen have struggled to sustain that success, failing to make it past the ECAC quarterfinals in the last five seasons. Given Union’s total of six wins thus far, it is very likely that the drought will extend to six seasons. The Dutchmen lost 11 of their first 13 games and their most impressive performance was battling for a 3-3 tie with Cornell on Jan. 11.

10). Brown (4-15, 4-8)
After unexpectedly making its way to the ECAC semifinal last season, Brown does not appear to have the tools to make a playoff run this year. The Bears have only mustered four wins in 19 games. Before beating Union on Saturday, Brown was in the midst of a 10-game losing streak that extended all the way from Nov. 26 to Jan. 17.

The Bears experienced a winless drought that lasted for nearly two months.

Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

The Bears experienced a winless drought that lasted for nearly two months.

11). Princeton (3-12-4, 1-8-3)
Initially receiving votes in the national polls during the beginning of the season, the Tigers have fallen a long way since then. Tabbed to finish eleventh in the ECAC preseason poll, Princeton currently finds itself in that same spot in the conference standings 19 games into the season. After the Tigers’ three-point weekend against then-No. 16 St. Cloud State, there was hope that they could perhaps outperform their initial projection. The team earned several hard-fought ties at the beginning of the year, but as it stands, Princeton has displayed an inability to close out games, resulting in only three wins on the season.

12). St. Lawrence (3-19-3, 1-12)
Buried at the bottom of the ECAC, St. Lawrence has struggled mightily this season. In the first month of the season, the Saints picked up three victories over Mercyhurst, Bentley and Union. Ever since its Nov. 9 win against the Dutchmen, St. Lawrence has gone winless, a stunning streak that exposed the team’s weaknesses on both ends of the ice. The Saints’ scoring average of 1.76 goals per game ranks near the bottom of the conference, but even more alarming is their inability to stop opponents. Through 25 games, St. Lawrence has given up 85 goals, 15 more than the next highest total in the ECAC.