Only four teams were in action last weekend as ECAC women’s hockey wrapped up play before the holidays. No team will hit the ice again until Dec. 29, so here at The Back Page, we took this opportunity to look back on the first half of the 2010-11 season. One team is on the fast track to the conference crown, and two seem to be already out of the playoff chase, but everything else is still up for grabs in this week’s edition of power rankings.
1. Cornell (13-1-0, 8-0-0 ECAC, 1st in conference)
Cornell has had one of the most dominant first halves in ECAC history, holding onto a slim lead over Wisconsin in the national polls despite its bye week. The Big Red’s only loss came at the hands of No. 4 Mercyhurst, and it’s won all but one of its conference games by at least two goals. Cornell only has five games left at home, but with its nonconference schedule behind it, look for the Big Red to cruise through the conference and earn home ice in the NCAA tournament.
2. St. Lawrence (9-8-2, 4-3-0, 7th)
St. Lawrence upset then-No. 3 Mercyhurst on Friday night with a dominating 6-2 win, proving that the program is well on its way to returning to its former powerhouse status. Though the Lakers brought the Saints back to earth with a 7-3 win in the second game of the series, St. Lawrence is poised to make a run for home ice in the conference playoffs—particularly since it has four more conference games left on its schedule than Quinnipiac and Princeton.
3. Quinnipiac (13-6-1, 6-5-0, 2nd)
Quinnipiac’s been on a roll lately, and though it already has its toughest ECAC tests behind it—the Bobcats have dropped two games to Cornell—road trips to Dartmouth, Harvard, and St. Lawrence still loom. Look for Jan. 7’s matchup between Quinnipiac and the Saints to be a big momentum boost for whichever team emerges victorious.
4. Harvard (5-6-2, 4-2-2, t-3rd)
Harvard did something it hasn’t done since 2003 on Thursday night—it beat New Hampshire (and at the massive Whittemore Center, no less). And then on Friday, it did something it’s never done before—it lost to BU for the first time since the Terriers became a varsity program. The Crimson’s endured one of the toughest schedules in the country in the last month, playing six out of its last seven games against ranked teams, so look for the Harvard women to string some wins together against weaker conference opponents in January.
5. Princeton (6-10-1, 4-6-1, t-5th)
After sweeping Syracuse in a weekend set, Princeton heads into the holiday break riding a three-game winning streak. A date with No. 6 Boston College on New Year’s Eve could put a stop to that momentum, and the Tigers draw Quinnipiac, St. Lawrence, and Harvard in four of their first six conference games of 2011.
6. Dartmouth (6-5-0, 5-3-0, t-3rd)
Dartmouth—a team that was ranked No. 9 in the country less than a month ago—is reeling after four straight losses, including being shut out by a lowly New Hampshire team. The Big Green opens play in 2011 against a comparable Connecticut team.
7. Rensselaer (6-7-6, 4-3-1, t-5th)
Rensselaer finishes the first half of the season with a few signature wins (over No. 8 Providence, Quinnipiac, and St. Lawrence) and a couple of glaring missteps (a loss to Brown, a tie with Union). Things don’t get easier in January: the Engineers’ next four weekends of play come against Cornell, Colgate, Harvard, and Dartmouth.
8. Yale (4-8-2, 3-4-1, t-8th)
Yale’s on the verge of breaking into the middle tier of the ECAC for good, but it draws a pair of top-10 teams—Boston College and Cornell—in the first week of 2011. Luckily, the Bulldogs have a Jan. 12 matchup with Brown to look forward to.
9. Clarkson (6-10-3, 3-3-1, t-8th)
After graduating three of its top five scorers from a team that made it to the ECAC championship game last season, Clarkson has struggled in the first half of the 2010-11 campaign. Senior goaltender Lauren Dahm’s goals-against average is a full point higher than last year, and the potent Quinnipiac offense will provide yet another test on Jan. 8.
10. Colgate (6-12-0, 3-5-0, 10th)
Colgate’s looking...well, mediocre. It’s got no major upsets, no particularly glaring miscues, and no standout players. The Raiders get to warm up against four relatively easy opponents before going head-to-head with Cornell in a home-and-home series the weekend of Jan. 21.
11. Union (1-14-3, 0-6-2, 12th)
Union’s the team you really want to root for, but the Dutchwomen still haven’t quite found a way to break through. The squad played Connecticut and Maine close last week, coming away with a tie and a pair of one-goal losses, and it gets to start 2011 with six straight home games.
12. Brown (2-8-2, 1-5-2, 11th)
In the first 15 days of 2011, Brown will have to play against the No. 1, No. 3, and No. 4 teams in the country, facing off twice with Mercyhurst. That’s just unfortunate scheduling for a team that hasn’t won a game since Nov. 13.