December has arrived, and the ECAC women’s hockey season is in full swing. The conference has a clear frontrunner—the top team in the nation, no less—but besides Cornell, the league’s having a rough opening to the season. The Back Page takes a look at who’s trending up and who’s crashing down in the first edition of ECAC power rankings.
1. Cornell (11-1-0, 6-0-0 ECAC, 1st in conference)
This one’s a no-brainer. After blanking Niagara by a combined 12-0 score in last weekend’s two-game set, the Big Red rose to No. 1 in the national polls, and Cornell kept its seven-game win streak going with a 4-1 win over Syracuse last night. The Big Red is far and away the best team in the ECAC, and it should have no problem handling Clarkson and St. Lawrence at home this weekend.
2. Quinnipiac (11-6-1, 4-5-0, 4th)
Though they got off to a rocky start in the ECAC, dropping games to weaker Colgate and Rensselaer early on, the Bobcats are back on the upswing after winning the Nutmeg Classic last weekend. Rookie Kelly Babstock leads the nation in points (33) and game-winning goals (five), and junior Kate Wheeler was named the ECAC player of the week for her five-point weekend.
3. Harvard (4-4-2, 4-2-2, t-2nd)
Harvard has flitted in and out of the bottom of the polls all season, currently out after being swept by No. 7 Minnesota in Minneapolis last weekend. The Crimson hasn’t found a consistent presence in the net, and its penalty kill is the worst in the country. But the offense got going on Sunday against a strong Gopher squad, and if it plays well, Harvard’s got a chance to take down No. 6 Boston College this weekend.
4. St. Lawrence (7-6-2, 3-2-0, t-7th)
St. Lawrence has been on a roll lately, winning its last three games and dropping just one contest in the month of November—a 4-1 loss at the hands of archrival Clarkson. The Saints may be better than their record indicates, as they beat and tied Boston College Nov. 12 and 13 and played No. 5 BU close back in October. Friday’s tangle with Cornell should give a better indication of just how good St. Lawrence is.
5. Dartmouth (6-4-0, 5-3-0, t-2nd)
After vaulting into the national rankings two weeks ago, traditional powerhouse Dartmouth—which failed to make the conference playoffs last season—has hit a rough patch. The Big Green has now dropped three straight after starting the season 6-1, though those losses came at the hands of respected programs in Harvard and Boston College. Dartmouth gets the weekend off as the Big Green skaters prepare for exams.
6. Rensselaer (5-8-4, 3-3-0, t-7th)
The Engineers have been inconsistent this season, topping Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence while falling to weaker teams like Princeton and Brown. Rensselaer has been off playing mediocre CHA teams for the last few weeks, earning three ties and a win in four games with Niagara and Syracuse, and the Engineers are welcomed back to the ECAC with a set against conference doormat Union. For now, at least, life’s pretty good at Rensselaer.
7. Clarkson (6-8-3, 3-1-1, t-5th)
Overtime is a concept the Golden Knights have become comfortable with in the last few weeks. Three of Clarkson’s last four games have gone longer than 60 minutes, but unfortunately, extra time has not brought extra success, as the Golden Knights settled for draws with lowly Brown and Vermont and allowed a golden goal against Yale. Clarkson bounced back with a 4-0 win over the Catamounts on Sunday, giving it a two-game unbeaten streak heading into a weekend at Colgate and Cornell.
8. Yale (3-7-2, 2-3-1, 9th)
First-year coach Joakim Flygh finally got his team on a bit of a roll in November, as the Bulldogs had won three of four games before falling to Quinnipiac in the Connecticut-based Nutmeg Classic final. Though Yale’s had some good showings thus far—including a tie with Harvard in the conference opener—it’s still a rebuilding team that has a ways to go.
9. Princeton (3-9-1, 3-5-1, t-5th)
The Tigers haven’t won a game since Nov. 6, with their only point in that time coming in a 2-2 tie with Harvard on Nov. 13. Princeton’s had a rough schedule over the last two weeks, facing both the Big Red and Boston University on the road, and it managed to hold Cornell’s powerful offense to a single goal in a 1-0 loss. But the Terriers’ 8-2 thrashing of the Tigers last Friday couldn’t have helped morale much.
10. Colgate (5-11-0, 2-4-0, t-10th)
The Raiders have also spent the last few games off in CHA-land, coming away winless in games with Syracuse and No. 4 Mercyhurst. Colgate’s struggling defense, which is allowing nearly three goals per game, is making life tough for a rejuvenated offense which has scored multiple goals in four of its last five games.
11. Brown (2-6-2, 1-3-2, t-10th)
The Bears managed to string together a four-game unbeaten streak early in November, but that’s been replaced by a three-game losing streak since Nov. 20. Brown’s offense has scored more than two goals just once this season, and that was against Sacred Heart, a team that doesn’t even play a full Division I schedule.
12. Union (1-11-1, 0-5-1, 12th)
Poor Union. At least Brown’s beaten a true D-1 team: the Dutchwomen’s only win so far has come against Sacred Heart. Union’s averaging just 1.23 goals per game and can’t capitalize on the .934 save percentage goalie Kate Gallagher has put up, which is third-best in the ECAC. It seems like the Dutchwomen are doomed to another season of doormat status.