In the final weekend of the regular season, ECAC hockey teams battled for playoff position, and Cornell clinched the tournament’s first seed with a pair of wins.
Harvard and Dartmouth, with two wins each this weekend, earned the second and third seeds. Along with Yale, these top teams have a bye into the second round. The first round best-of-three series begin March 7 when the lower eight teams compete.
Brown, which was tied with Dartmouth for fourth place at the beginning of the weekend, tied both of its games and fell to fifth place. Though the Bears do not have a bye, they face last-place Princeton this weekend. Sixth-place Union will host eleventh-place RPI in what will be a heated series between regional rivals.
Vermont will travel to Potsdam, N.Y., to face Clarkson, and Colgate will host St. Lawrence in the other two first-round series.
Cornell 2, Princeton 1
For the second straight year, Cornell won the Cleary Cup, awarded to the regular season champion of the ECAC. They earned the trophy in an unimpressive victory at Princeton Friday night.
Before a sellout crowd at Princeton’s Hobey Baker Rink, the Big Red were outshot by the last-place Tigers. Doug Murray and Daniel Pegoraro lit the lamp to give Cornell a 2-0 lead, but Neil Stevenson kept the Tigers close with a goal near the end of the second period. Princeton goalie Eric Leroux made just 16 saves in the loss.
The Tigers have won only three games this season, but the tight game against Cornell and a tie with eighth-place Colgate Saturday night make them optimistic for the playoffs.
Harvard 5, St. Lawrence 0
In its final home game of the regular season, Harvard dominated St. Lawrence, giving the Cantabs momentum as they enter the playoffs.
Only two minutes into the game Saturday night, Dominic Moore tallied for Harvard, and two more Harvard goals followed in the first period. Kenny Turano scored a pair of goals for the Crimson, and backup goalie John Daigneau earned his first career shutout.
Each of the teams tied Friday night, and Saturday’s game left Harvard in second place and St. Lawrence tenth for the regular season.
Dartmouth 2, Union 1
Dartmouth completed a four-point weekend with a victory over Union in Schenectady, N.Y., Saturday night. After dominating RPI in a 7-1 win Friday, the Big Green clinched the third seed in the standings, leaping over Yale, with the win over the Dutchmen.
Goalie Nick Boucher starred for Dartmouth, stopping 33 shots and only relinquishing a goal to Jason Visser. Lee Stempniak scored the game-winning goal for Dartmouth at the beginning of the third period.
While Dartmouth was clearly satisfied with its playoff position, Union was also pleased with its final weekend of the regular season. After a 5-3 win over Vermont Friday night, the Dutchmen are playing well as they prepare to host rival RPI.
Brown 3, Clarkson 3 (OT)
Though Clarkson outshot the Bears 49-29, the two teams played a relatively even game at Clarkson’s Cheel Arena Saturday night. The score reflected the even play, and both the Bears and the Golden Knights finished their weekends with a pair of ties.
Clarkson jumped to a two-goal lead after one period and had a 3-1 lead early in the third period. Goals from Chris Swon and Gerry Burke pulled Brown even late, and stellar play by both goalies kept the score tied through a five-minute sudden death overtime. Brown goalie Yann Danis stopped 46 shots.
Clarkson missed a chance to earn a higher seed by blowing the lead and earned the ECAC’s seventh seed instead.