A lot of college hockey people believe Hockey East is the strongest conference in the country, and with good reason. Boasting programs such as Boston College, Boston University and Notre Dame will create that image. However the past few years have seen a rise in success from ECAC clubs, including the last two National Champions Yale and Union. In 2013, the title game featured two sides from the league that was once dubbed the “Easy AC”. This upcoming weekend will be a good indicator as to which schools are ready to make a run for the leagues third straight National Title. Conference play is heating up so let’s take a look.
League leader and 13th ranked Quinnipiac hosts second place and 20th ranked St. Lawrence on Friday night, likely the biggest game of the weekend. A win puts QU five points ahead in the standings and if they can come back and beat Clarkson on Saturday night they’ll be in a comfortable position to win the Cleary Cup during the coming weekends. Yale, ranked 15th, looks to strengthen their spot for a playoff bye with a game against defending champs Union, who have been surprisingly inconsistent. Meanwhile 14th ranked Harvard NEEDS to rebound after a three loss week and eight place standings drop with a strong home weekend against tough sides Colgate and Cornell.
Everybody makes the league playoffs so teams are not just playing for conference standings but also a possible at-large bid for the NCAA tournament, so look for the coming weekends to offer up some fantastic hockey. A few heavily biased weekend picks:
QU 4, St. Lawrence 2 and QU 3, Clarkson 1
Yale 3, Union 3 and Yale 5, RPI 1