ECRHA Championships PreviewECRHA February 27th, 2017 at 9:53AM February 27th, 2017 4:05PM
ECRHA Championships time is among us, and with that said, it looks to be that 2017 could be the year with the tightest competition among all of the divisions. In D1, We had 4 teams finish within 6 points of each other at the top of the standings, trading games amongst them. In D2, almost each of the 6 seeds headed into All Star weekend shifted and changed by the end of the weekend. In D3, we saw Farmingdale cruise through the regular season, but the playoffs are certainly a different animal. And in D4, we have an undefeated RIT team, however we also have Millersville winning 11 straight, as well as Lock Haven and Niagara who got hot at all star weekend winning 4 straight to finish the season. As has been mentioned throughout the season, the ACC accepted a new playoff format for D1-D3 this year, which should make things a lot more interesting. Divisions 1 through 3 will go straight into a double elimination bracket, so from the first game of the weekend, everything matters. D4 will remain in round robin format, but that does not take away the importance of each and every match.
Division 1 play will kick off Friday at Noon, where West Chester will meet Rowan in the 3/6 matchup. The Rams and Profs have split their season series, with both of their games coming in October in Sewell, and both games being 5-4 games in overtime. Since then, to end the season, West Chester has gotten red hot, winning 7 straight with great play defensively conceding only 54 goals against, while Rowan has traded games back and forth. Expect a fast paced matchup between these two to stay in the winner’s bracket, and hope to play an excellent Farmingdale side later Friday afternoon.
Our additional Winner’s round 1 matchup is between UMass and Rhode Island. UMass, in their first year since being bumped up from D2, has had multiple impressive wins on their resume, while Rhode Island, who seems to always find themselves in the thick of things come playoff time, has won 4 of their last 5 games. The story of this game will be Rhode Island’s ability to slow down the duo of Ryan Dougherty and Aaron Marcel, all while D1 Player of the Year finalist Will Lalor tries to solve the UMass defense. Expect a tactical matchup between these two, as the winner hopes to gain momentum before facing leading scorer Tyler Kraft and the regular season champion Neumann Knights in Winner’s Round 2.
The Division 1 bracket will be thrilling and exciting throughout, as teams make their way through both the winner’s and loser’s bracket. Every game matters now, will we see an upset early on? Or could we see a loser’s bracket run to the final? Only time will tell.
If you want to look at a bracket that seems to be almost impossible to predict, look no further than the D2 playoff bracket. We saw seeds change all the way throughout All Star Weekend in Bethpage, and throughout the season it’s been shown that any team can win this division. Rightfully so, D2 will jumpstart our weekend early Friday at 11 am, as the 3 seed Yeshiva will face off against Penn State. Yeshiva, a team who was a win away from a regular season championship, and a team that can certainly light up the scoreboard has stormed into D2 with one goal in mind. A championship. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions, barring the loss of numerous graduating seniors, have found the right fit of players to find themselves in the playoffs yet again. Yeshiva found themselves on the winning side of things in both of the team’s matchups in the regular season, both in 5-2 and 5-3 victories however, don’t count Penn State out. The story of this game will be simple, who can play the best defensively to stop the opposition’s top scorers such as Ari Drazin and PSU’s Tyler Murphy. As the two teams battle it out, Northeastern will surely be watching from the stands, as they will await the winner at 2 pm later Friday.
On the opposite side of the bracket, We’ll see Endicott vs. Oswego. Oswego came into Bethpage two weeks ago unsure if they’d even be participating in playoffs this year, however with three wins in their last four games, now they find themselves as the 5 seed, and playing their best hockey of late. Meanwhile, Endicott is a similar story, winning their last six games to end the season. The Gull’s are the story of “winning the games they should” if that counts for anything in this division. Endicott’s only losses this season have come to the three teams above them in the standings, and they find themselves comfortable, and know the winning formula for their team headed into the weekend. In any case, the winner of this first round matchup meets Stony Brook at 2 pm Friday, while the loser falls into the loser’s bracket, and will play for their lives from there.
If you can accurately predict how the division two playoffs will go, kudos to you. By simply looking at the first round games, and potential matchups in both the winner’s and loser’s bracket, anyone that plans on attending playoffs this weekend will be in for a treat, and an ample amount of excitement.
Division 3 will have plenty of eyes watching this weekend. The Rams of Farmingdale have dropped plenty of jaws throughout this year. With four of the top five leading scorers, and goaltender Daniel Perepezko breaking the D3 save percentage record. However, if there is anything we’ve learned in all of our years in the ECRHA, no one should be counted out come playoff time, and that is just what the remaining five D3 teams will hope to prove.
Rowan and Northeastern will start the weekend in the 3/6 matchup in the first round, and it’s quite possible that we see our first upset of the weekend. In the season series between these two teams, Rowan came out on top in two out of three. However, all three of those games were decided by two or less goals. What could be the deciding factor in this game is special teams. With a history of close matchups between these two teams, if one can capitalize on their opportunities with an extra man, or gain massive momentum with a shorthanded tally, expect that team to come on top and look ahead to the Neumann Knights in winner’s round two.
Our other first round matchup will see Cortland facing off against Hofstra. And very similar to our previous match, expect a very close game between these two. Cortland has gotten the better of the Pride in all three of their regular season games, all in one goal games. That certainly does not solidify the Dragons as a lock to win this game. What it will come down to certainly will be who can stay out of the penalty box. Both of these teams are 4th and 5th in goals for, so whichever team can solve the opposition’s defense will most likely take advantage and move on to face Farmingdale in the second round.
Very similar to divisions one and two, the new playoff format could prove beneficial for many teams in division three. As all six of these teams know, if they can win when they need to win this coming weekend, they will look quite appealing to the national selection committee. But, what teams need to be careful of is focusing so much on getting to Fort Myers, because an ECRHA Championship looks a lot better than a couple extra notches in the win column throughout the bracket.
Division Four will certainly be a treat throughout the weekend. With a lot of talk regarding the other divisions going to double elimination format, Division 4 has still remained with two pools. One pool consisting of RIT, Niagara, Syracuse, and Cornell. While the other is made up of Millersville, St Joseph’s (NY), Lock Haven, and Farmingdale.
In Pool A, First Place RIT will certainly come into the weekend looking to handle business. They have not lost a game all season, and do not hope to this weekend. Meanwhile, upsets are on the mind of Niagara, Syracuse, and Cornell alike. A player to certainly watch will be Syracuse’s Anthony Bellman. The Orange ended the season with back to back wins, getting themselves into the fourth seed, and Bellman played a large part in their wins throughout the season, leading the division in goals with 27. Niagara also comes into the weekend extra hot. Winning their last four games, and putting up double digits in each of those four victories. Cornell, the seeming underdog of the pool, is by no means a wash. They defeated Syracuse earlier this year in overtime, and have showed signs of promise throughout, but they will certainly have to play their best hockey to hope to get out of pool play and into the bracket, as only the top three teams will make it out.
In Pool B, we are in for some great hockey. Millersville’s only loss of the year so far has come at the hands of RIT way back in October, since then, they’ve won 10 straight, and hope to continue that heading into playoffs. St. Joseph’s (NY) is coming into pool play winning five of their last seven, with their only two losses coming to RIT, who they won’t have to worry about in their three pool play games. If St. Joseph’s hopes to get the first seed in their pool, they’ll have to rely on goaltender Joseph Tedesco as he’ll certainly face a barrage of shots and can change the tempo of any game with a timely save. Lock Haven, a team faced with the loss of last year’s leading scorer Hayden White, started off slow this year at 2-5. However, led by Dan Barnaby and Tyler Gilbert, the Bald Eagles can definitely fill up the scoresheet. Don’t look past Lock Haven to surprise a few people this weekend, and possibly win their pool, or make a deep run in bracket play. Farmingdale has been a team that hasn’t seemed to be able to win those close games. With five of their seven losses being less than three goal games, the Rams certainly have the ability to upset the higher seeded team in their pool. If Farmingdale can stop the high scoring teams in their pool, such as Millersville and Lock Haven, they could end any of the three team’s hopes of a championship and slip into bracket play and make a run at the title.
Unlike the other three divisions in the ECRHA, division 4 teams do not have a national tournament. The ECRHA Championships is the end of the road for the seniors in this division, this is the title that these teams play for. But the lack of a national tournament does not stop them from traveling hundreds of miles throughout a year and battling through a grueling season. This division is as wide open as any, and if any of the 8 teams in this tournament can get hot, they will be hard to stop by the end of the weekend.
Make sure to grab your tickets in advance by pre-ordering now by visting our online store. All of the funds raised by admissions costs will be directed to the teams heading to Nationals! Last year we raised $254 per team.