Sports | 2:49 am | March 8, 2011 | By Max de la Bruyere and Alison Griswold

BOOLA BOOLA | St. Lawrence to visit Ingalls for Bulldogs’ playoff opener

It’s been a weekend of upsets in the ECAC playoffs, which doesn’t bode well for the men’s hockey team.

The three lowest-ranked teams in the conference all brought home surprising victories in the first weekend of playoff action, so the Elis will face off in the quarterfinals against a St. Lawrence team that sleepwalked its way to an 11th place regular season finish in the 12-team ECAC. Yale finished second.

That matchup looks like a cakewalk on paper for the Elis. They have the best scoring offense in the nation, and the second most stingy defense. St. Lawrence ranks 40th and 39th, respectively. But there’s a lesson to be learned from this past weekend’s upsets and from Yale’s ECAC playoff trainwreck last season: Beware the little guys.

Yale played a No. 11 team in the quarterfinals last year too. Brown, like St. Lawrence, had struggled through the regular season. But when the playoffs rolled around, the Bears caught fire and rolled all the way to a third-place finish in the ECAC tournament.

St. Lawrence is showing similar heat, though it backed into the playoffs with five losses in its last six games and another loss in its first playoff game against Princeton. The Saints bested Princeton 3–2 after scoring the tie-breaker in the third period Saturday night, and then opened up a two-goal advantage in Sunday’s game that Princeton could not close.

The series against Princeton was not the Saints’ first upset of the season. They handed the Bulldogs another tough loss in mid-February with a similar display of early game momentum — St. Lawrence built a three-goal lead in the first two periods and fended off a Yale comeback to preserve the win.

But that Eli loss came on the road. Yale will take on St. Lawrence in the ECAC quarterfinals from the friendly confines of Ingalls Rink, where the Bulldogs are undefeated and topped St. Lawrence by a definitive 4–1 margin in late January. The quarterfinal series will be held on March 11, March 12, and March 13 if necessary. All games will begin at 7 p.m.

As for complete playoff results around the ECAC:

No. 12 Colgate, which knocked out No. 5 RPI in double overtime Sunday, will compete at No. 1 Union.

No. 3 Dartmouth will host No. 10 Harvard.

No. 4 Cornell will host No. 8 Quinnipiac.

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