ECAC field set for Lake Placid
LAKE PLACID — The field is set for this weekend’s 57th Eastern College Athletic Conference men’s ice hockey championships taking place at the Olympic Center.
Three Ivy League schools — Cornell, Harvard and Princeton — will join Clarkson University as this year’s four teams battling for the ECAC title, and along with it, an automatic berth in the NCAA Division I championship tournament. All four squads advanced with quarterfinal playoff round series victories over the weekend.
Cornell heads into Lake Placid as the top seed and will take on Princeton in Friday’s first semifinal, which starts at 4:05 p.m. Clarkson and Harvard will tangle in the second game of the doubleheader slated to start at 7:35 p.m.
The Big Red swept their best-of-three quarterfinal series against Quinnipiac by 8-1 and 2-0 scores. Cornell finished as the ECAC regular season champion with a 17-3-2 record and is ranked second in the USCHO and USA Today polls. Cornell brings a record of 25-4-2 into the championships and will face a Princeton team that was the only squad that took down a higher-ranked opponent in the quarterfinal round.
The Tigers are seeded seventh and pulled off an upset sweep over second-seeded Union College in games played in Schenectady Friday and Saturday. Princeton punched its ticket to Lake Placid in dramatic fashion, beating the Dutchmen 3-2 on Saturday on a game-winning goal scored by David Hallisey with 9.5 seconds remaining in regulation. The Tigers currently own a 17-12-4 mark and are making their first appearance in the ECAC finals since 2009.
Clarkson is seeded third and was the last team to qualify for Lake Placid when it topped Colgate 5-1 Sunday evening to win its series 2-1. The Golden Knights lost the first game and came back with victories Saturday and Sunday to move on. Clarkson is currently ranked 10th nationally with a 20-9-6 record and has not competed in the ECAC finals since 2007, the year it won the Whitelaw Cup when the tournament was held in Albany.
Fourth-seeded Harvard is the defending ECAC champion, and despite hovering just above the .500 level with a 15-13-4 mark, the Crimson should never be counted out as they make their fourth straight appearance in the ECAC finals.
After losing to Dartmouth 4-1 in Friday’s first quarterfinal matchup, Harvard roared back to with an 8-1 victory Saturday to tie the series and then clinched a trip to Lake Placid with a 4-2 win on Sunday. In that game, Ryan Donato, the son of head coach Ted Donato, netted a hat trick to power Harvard.