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Mid-Year Report: The ECAC is the strongest conference in the country.

Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Qunnipiac, and Colgate all vie for the top of the conference and national recognition

Pat McCarthy

The ECAC has been a powerhouse in the first three months of the season, consistently placing four or five teams in the SB Nation Division 1 Poll. With the holiday break upon us (and all apologies to the WCHA), let’s check in on the nation’s strongest conference.

Top Team: Clarkson

As the year ends, Clarkson (15-3-4 overall, 9-0-1 in the ECAC) find themselves at the top of the ECAC, undefeated in conference play. There’s no time to rest on laurels, though, as St. Lawrence (15-1-2, 8-1-1), Quinnipiac (13-4-3, 7-2-1), Colgate (15-2-2, 6-2-1), and Cornell (8-4-1, 6-2-1) are all just a few points back.

The Golden Knights have already taken out rivals St. Lawrence and Quinnipiac in conference play. Two games against Colgate and home match-ups against Cornell and Quinnipiac may decide who gets the top spot in the ECAC. A pair of early home losses to No. 1 Wisconsin and a non-conference defeat to the Saints show that the Golden Knights still have a ways to go if they want to be national title contenders, but don’t be surprised to see them in (suburban) St. Louis come March.

The Golden Knights sit at the top of a tough ECAC.
Clarkson Athletic Department

Biggest Surprises

  • St. Lawrence looks like the real thing. Goaltender Grace Harrison has been spectacular, second only to Wisconsin’s all-everything netminder Ann-Renée Desbiens nationally. Junior Kennedy Marchment is tied for fourth nationally in points, averaging 1.61 per game. The Saints have already beaten Clarkson in a non-conference match-up and Qunnipiac on the road. They catch Colgate and Cornell twice each and the Bobcats come to Canton after the break, so they’ll have a chance to prove they belong in tourney discussions.
  • The bottom falls out of Harvard. Co-captain Sydney Daniels started the year off with a bang, but a brutal early schedule and major talent departures have left the Crimson (1-9-1 overall, 1-5-1 in the ECAC) struggling to return to their 2014-15 national runner-up form.
  • Defense rules. Offenses are finding it tough sledding in the ECAC. St. Lawrence (1.11), Qunnipiac (1.35), Cornell (1.62), Clarkson (1.73), and Colgate (1.84) all average less than two goals allowed per game. Four of the top six goaltenders nationally reside in the conference, including Harrison (.940 SV%, 1.24 GAA), Cornell’s Paula Voorheis (.959, 1.30 while sharing time with Marlene Boissonnault), Quinnipiac’s Sydney Rossman (.919, 1.48), and Colgate’s Julia Vandyk (.937, 1.57). Three more - Clarkson’s Shea Tiley, Boissonnault, and Princeton’s Alysia DaSilva are all also in the top 20 nationally.

Mid-Year All-Conference First Team

  • Forward: Jessie Eldridge, Colgate (9 G, 20 A, 1.53 Pt/GM)
  • Forward: Kennedy Marchment, St. Lawrence (11 G, 18 A, 1.61 Pt/GM)
  • Forward: Cayley Mercer, Clarkson (11 G, 17 A, 1.27 Pt/GM)
  • Defense: Kelsey Koelzer, Princeton (5 G, 11 A, 1.00 Pt/GM)
  • Defense: Lauren Wildfang, Colgate (4 G, 17 A, 0.95 Pt/GM, 3 PP)
  • Goaltender: Grace Harrison, St. Lawrence (13-1-2, .940 SV%, 1.24 GAA)

Mid-Year All-Conference Second Team

  • Forward: Taylar Cianfarano, Quinnipiac (11 G, 7 A, 0.90 Pt/GM)
  • Forward: Karlie Lund, Princeton (14 G, 12 A, 1.62 Pt/GM)
  • Forward: Brooke Webster, St. Lawrence (10 G, 18 A, 1.56 Pt/GM)
  • Defense: Savannah Harmon, Clarkson (7 G, 10 A, 0.77 Pt/GM)
  • Defense: Cat Quirion, Colgate (5 G, 11 A, 0.84 Pt/GM)
  • Goaltender: Sydney Rossman, Quinnipiac (11-4-2, .919 SV%, 1.48 GAA)

Projected Tourney Teams: St. Lawrence, Clarkson, Quinnipiac

Last year, the ECAC put three teams in the NCAA tournament (Clarkson, Quinnipiac, and Princeton). With a deep and talented batch of teams, the conference is poised to repeat the feat. St. Lawrence (No. 12-ranked offense nationally, No. 2 defense), Clarkson (No. 5 offense, No. 9 defense) and Quinnipiac (No. 16 offense, No. 3 defense) are the type of strong, balanced teams that tend to make runs in March. Don’t sleep on Colgate (No. 9 offense, No. 11 defense) either.