ECAC Hockey: Quarterfinals Preview

ECAC Hockey gets down to business in the quarters March 1-3. Let's take a quick peek at the matchups.

ECAC Hockey: Quarterfinals Preview
Cornell's Izzy Daniel (#12, kneeling in center) celebrates a goal scored against Brown with her teammates. (Featured on @NCAAIceHockey on X/formerly Twitter)

We are approaching the best time of the year — that being the NCAA Tournament which is in just a couple short weeks. First, though, come the conference championships, themselves their own little joyous events. These precursors to the national show allow their respective schools a bid for the National Tournament, a potential ranking in the national polls, and/or the chance to make history for their schools — all exciting in their own right.

Emma already previewed Hockey East for y'all a little earlier this week, so if you're interested in seeing where that very topsy-turvy league stands, check it out. For my part, here's a look at what can be considered the second-best league in the NCAA, with a handful of teams in the top 10. Let's see what's in store.

Brown at No. 5 Colgate

Honestly, what more can I say about Colgate? They've had a hell of a season, they have an unbelievably fun and talented roster scoring almost five goals per game, and they might be (other than Clarkson) the only saving grace when it comes to a WCHA-heavy national tournament. Danielle Serdachny, Dara Greig, Emma Pais, Sydney Bard, Elissa Biederman, and others have helped the Raiders maintain a top-five presence all season, achieving a 27-6-1 record overall and a sparkling 18-4-0 record in-conference — which earned them their first regular-season title since 2021.

Brown has been up and down in the standings, mostly down if we're being honest (especially on the road, where they're just 3-9-2). Offense has been a big struggle for them, which doesn't bode well against a team that has it in spades. Still, if they can make it close and wear down the Raiders a bit, they might have a shot (though not a big one) against Hannah Murphy or Kayle Osborne. Maybe.

No. 12 Princeton at No. 3 Clarkson

Clarkson has quietly been surging back to their former glory of the 2010s. They're one of, if not the, only ECAC rivals to trounce Colgate multiple times, and they have a better overall and conference record than them (29-3-2; 18-3-1), thus being ranked higher in the national polls. With a handful of steady, 30-plus point scorers and a brick wall in net, they've lost just three games overall and just one at home all year, so the Tigers have a sizable order to tackle in their road trip this coming weekend.

For Princeton's part, they do have an absolute sniper in Sarah Fillier, who is ranked first in the nation in so many categories (including goals per game this year, career goals per game, and career points per game). Alongside her, Issy Wunder, Emerson O'Leary, and Sarah Paul have also hit 20-plus points at least. Still, it's hard to shut down an offensive presence like Clarkson's, which has scored fewer than three goals just eight times in 34 games. It's even tougher to get past a goaltender like Michelle Pasiechnyk (.944%, 8 SO). In fact, the Tigers have failed to score a goal against the Knights all year. While they kept it close, with a pair of 1-0 losses (one an overtime loss), it just proves one goal is all you need especially with competition like this — and it also proves that Clarkson, who has only blown out a handful of games this year, can thrive in a high-pressure situation like a conference championship.

No. 9 Quinnipiac at No. 6 Cornell

Both of these teams would definitely be higher up in the conference and national rankings if not for the juggernauts that are Colgate and Clarkson. Izzy Daniel has had a hell of a season for Cornell, with 20 goals and 53 points in 29 games played, and she should definitely be alongside players like Fillier and Kristýna Kaltounková when it comes time for awards talk (from a stats perspective, anyway). The secondary scoring is there for Cornell, but it does fall off a bit dramatically, whereas the Bobcats do have a few more players with heftier point totals overall. Still, both of these teams are really well matched when it comes to special teams, faceoffs, and competitiveness with other teams in the conference — so really, this could go either way.

The regular season series does in fact stand at 1-1 for each team, with the Bobcats taking the first game 3-1 on Nov. 17 and the Big Red getting a 4-3 revenge win on Jan. 20. The consistency in terms of wins has definitely given Cornell the edge, though, as they're on a more sustained hot streak heading into this matchup (five consecutive wins to Quinnipiac's two, including a 1-0 upset of Clarkson).

No. 13 Yale at No. 7 St. Lawrence

The Connecticut-based Bulldogs have certainly seen better results than this season. While still competitive, they've been abysmal on the power play (12 percent) and slightly on the anemic side when it comes to overall offense (2.6 goals per game), despite putting up 30-plus shots a night. Still, they have a good goalie in Pia Dukaric and could at the very least keep things close against a good St. Lawrence squad.

The Saints, meanwhile, have been a lot of fun to follow peripherally. They've been able to stun some of their higher-ranked conference rivals and beaten all of the Ivies at least once, putting together an excellent 25-9-0 overall record. They also have an absurd 32 percent power play percentage (second only to Colgate in the conference if I calculated it properly), scoring 37 times on the skater advantage during the regular season. Combined with their equally good penalty kill (86 percent), they are a special teams monster, and Yale's going to have to watch out for the whistle if they want a shot against them.

Games for all teams have been scheduled for March 1 and 2, with a tiebreaker game set for March 3 if needed. Streaming is available via ESPN+.