Next up in our NCAA season preview is a look at the ECAC.
How last season went
The ECAC was ridiculously close last season, and three teams ended up making the NCAA championship; Clarkson earned an automatic bid after it won the ECAC title, and both Cornell and Princeton picked up at-large bids.
Unfortunately, none of those teams skated away with a championship. Both Princeton and Cornell fell to Minnesota, Princeton in the quarterfinals and Cornell in the semifinals, and Clarkson was shutout by Wisconsin, who went on to win the national championship, in the semifinals.
Top Team Predictions
Clarkson is the team that most people might expect to finish at the top of the pack this season, and for good reason; in the past six years, the Golden Knights have won three national championships.
That said, they have a lot of questions going into this season: Patty Kazmaier winner Loren Gabel and starting netminder Kassidy Sauve graduated. The loss of Gabel will hurt, but Clarkson still has Patty Kaz nominee Elizabeth Giguere to lead the forward group, and they picked up Caitrin Lonergan from Boston College, who will also contribute offensively.
Meanwhile, both Princeton and Cornell will be fighting for the top spot in the ECAC. Both teams earned at-large bids to the national tournament last year. Cornell has senior defender Michah Zandee-Hart, who will anchor the Big Red’s blue line, and goalie Lindsay Browning and last year’s leading scorer Maddie Mills are both back.
However, a formidable top line could make Princeton one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. Incoming sophomore Sarah Fillier was the NCAA Rookie of the Year and finished in the top 15 in scoring nation-wide, along with teammates Maggie Connors and senior Carly Bullock. This is a young team who turned a lot of heads last season. If they can withstand the pressure, they should have another impressive year.
Dark Horse Team
I’ll be keeping an eye on Colgate this season. After falling just short of a national championship in 2018, losing in overtime to Clarkson, the team failed to qualify for the postseason. It just goes to show how close the ECAC is - a win or loss here or there could be the difference between a playoff berth and a disappointing end of the season.
That said, Colgate’s rookie class was ranked as the best in the country, headlined by freshman Danielle Serdachny, who played an instrumental part in Canada’s most recent U18 championship. With just two seniors on the team, goalie Liz Auby and defender Caroline Ross, the Raiders will need their rookies to step up. If they can, expect to see Colgate in the postseason.
5 Players to Watch
I had Serdachny as one of my freshmen to watch, and I’m honestly super intrigued to see how she does with Colgate. She’s shown with Team Canada that she can come up clutch under pressure. Colgate will need her to have a big freshman season to compete for a playoff spot.
Giguere was named one of the top 10 Patty Kazmaier nominees and led the nation in points and assists - and she was only a sophomore.
Giguere will be one of the conference’s top players, and if she plays like she’s capable of, we could very well see her as one of the top three Patty Kaz finalists this season.
Lonergan’s departure from Boston College before her senior season was a shock, but her timing couldn’t have been better for Clarkson. Another top-ten Patty Kaz nominee, Lonergan will be another boost to the Golden Knight’s offense.
Cornell is another dark-horse team in the ECAC, and senior Micah Zandee-Hart will be the cornerstone of her squad. She’s a smart and reliable presence on the blue line, and continues to rack up experience at the international level with Hockey Canada. It’s sometimes difficult for defenders to stand out, but Zandee-Hart is the real deal and certainly worth watching.
Sarah Fillier & Co. - Okay, maybe this is cheating, but if Fillier ends up on a line with teammates Maggie Connors and Carly Bullock, it has the potential to be one of the most fun lines in hockey. Fillier steals the show here after winning Rookie of the Year honors at the national, ECAC and Ivy League level, but I’ll be watching Connors and Bullock, too.
5 Series to Watch
Oct. 24, 2019 - Korean national team vs. St. Lawrence
There are a few games on the ECAC schedule against non-NCAA schedule team, but a chance to see the Korean national team is rare, making this a game worth watching.
Nov. 9, 2019 - Clarkson vs. Cornell
Cornell gets a shot at revenge after Clarkson bested them last year in the ECAC championship game.
Jan. 14-15, 2020 - Princeton vs. Ohio State
Who wants to go to Vegas? Princeton will travel to Las Vegas to face off in a back-to-back series against THE Ohio State University.
Feb. 4 and 11, 2020 - Beanpot: Harvard
The Beanpot is ALWAYS worth watching, and especially so for Harvard fans this year after their team fell in overtime in last year’s championship game.
March 15, 2020 - Princeton vs. Clarkson
Odds are these two teams will be battling for the top spot in the ECAC, and this late matchup may be a crucial one down the home stretch.
How to Watch
Streams can be found on the ECAC website on the schedule page here.