The nation’s smartest conference is off to a hectic start. With only four spots available for the tournament on Columbia’s Robert Kraft Field, we can expect everyone to get up for it. So let’s go team-by-team and determine who’s in.
Yale 6-1, 2-0
The Elis are ranked second in the country and look to have fully reloaded from last year’s title run. They have the game’s best faceoff man in TD Ierlan, best underclassman defenseman in Chris Fake, best mascot in Handsome Dan and stars all over the field. The only question remaining is whether they’ll go undefeated in Ivy League play.
Also, if you haven’t listened to Coach Shay on Carc’s podcast, dial it up (after you finish reading this blog, of course). You’ll find it next to impossible to vote against the former Zamboni driver’s squad.
Penn 4-3, 2-0
Here’s where it gets interesting. Preseason polls had the Quakers unranked, behind Yale, Cornell and Princeton. But Penn is one of the hottest teams in the nation right now. With four straight wins, including last week’s thriller over Cornell, they’ve climbed to 13 in the IL Media Poll. Saturday’s home tilt against Yale is an opportunity for them to make a huge statement. They’ll need to continue making teams pay for turnovers and penalties (two things Yale doesn’t do much) combined with strong play out of Kyle Gallagher at the face to keep the dream alive.
Cornell 5-3, 0-2
Last year’s one man show is a thing of the past, as the Big Red’s young stars have stepped up around Jeff Teat in a big way. They should be able to get that elusive first conference win this weekend against Dartmouth but they’ll need to find consistency and a defense that can get stops in big situations to make a push for the postseason.
Princeton 3-5, 0-2
If you’re a fan of one-man shows, Michael Sowers is absolutely lighting it up for the Tigers. In this week’s win against Denver, they finally proved that they can finish games and be the team we thought they could be. Their season will likely come down to the regular season’s pivotal final game against Cornell. If they can handle Brown, Dartmouth and Harvard, that is.
Brown 3-5, 1-0
Brown is a better team than their record would suggest, having lost three one-goal games to good teams. Having only played Harvard, they still have the meat of their conference schedule looming. However, if they continue to get stellar play out of Phil Goss, one of the most underrated goalies in the country, they could pull off an upset or two to punch a ticket to NYC.
Harvard 4-4, 1-1
The Crimson are loaded with under-the-radar talent. Steve Cuccurullo has been strong at the faceoff dot and Kyle Salvatore, a former UA All-American out of Taft, is having a breakout year. They took home a huge win over Albany last night for the first time in program history and are a dangerous dark horse in the Ivy. But their four remaining games against Cornell, Penn, Princeton and Yale are going to be real tough. It would be a surprise to see them in the tournament but it’s entirely possible.
Dartmouth 2-5, 0-1
It pains me to say that the Big Green offense, led by fellow Arlington product Ben Martin and former Bucknell OC Joe Connor, has had trouble scoring this year. With the hardest remaining schedule in the conference, it looks like they might be the only team left with no real shot at making the dance.
The playoff picture should come into focus after this weekend’s slate of games. It’s going to be a bloodbath and I can’t wait.: