It all comes down to this. The upcoming weekend marks the end of the regular season, but much is yet to be decided. Remarkably, the only lock is Quinnipiac finishing first. Just about everything else is up for grabs with many teams having a wide range of possible finishes.
Lets take a look at how the teams stack up as the regular season is set to close:
1. QUINNIPIAC (23-4-5 overall, 16-1-3 ECAC) LAST WEEK (LW): 1
Saturday's 3-3 tie against Brown will keep the #1/1 Bobcats from being the first ECAC team with 40 points since Harvard finished with 40 during the 1988-1989 campaign. Even with two wins to close out the regular season, Quinnipiac would max out at 39 points, which would rank as the highest single year point total in the league since Cornell racked up 39 in 2002-2003.
2. RPI (15-12-5, 10-7-3) LW: 2
RPI's eight game winning streak in league play came to an end with Friday's 4-1 loss at Cornell and the four goals allowed were the most given up by RPI in a single game since surrendering four at Princeton on Jan. 12. The weekend was salvaged when Matt Neal scored with ten seconds left in overtime to propel the Engineers to a 3-2 win at Colgate on Saturday. The second place Engineers remain in possession of a first round bye.
3. ST. LAWRENCE (16-12-4, 9-7-4) LW: 3
The Saints have a first round bye to lose and going on the road to conclude the regular season isn't the worst thing. With nine road wins, the Saints have the second most victories away from home in the league (Quinnipiac has 10). Additionally, St. Lawrence is the only team in the league with more road wins (9) than home wins (7).
4. BROWN (10-11-6, 6-8-6) LW: 6
Is there a peskier team in the league than the Bears? According to Dartmouth men's hockey SID Patrick Salvas, Brown has not lost a game to the eventual regular season champ last season (Union) or this season (Qunnipiac). The Bears went 2-0 against Union a year ago and are 0-0-2 versus Quinnipiac this season. On Saturday, the Bears used two late third period goals to tie the Bobcats, 3-3.
5. YALE (14-10-3, 10-9-1) LW: 5
The best news for #13/14 Yale over the weekend was the return of netminder Jeff Malcolm, who stopped 17-of-20 shots in Saturday's 4-3 triumph against Princeton. His return couldn't have come soon enough as the team lost all five games he missed. Another encouraging sign was scoring four goals on Saturday, which was as many as Yale had in the previous four games combined.
6. CORNELL (11-13-3, 7-10-3) LW: 11
Which team is tied with St. Lawrence for the second highest goals per game (GPG) average in league play? Quinnipiac? Nah, they comfortably top the list at 3.40 GPG. RPI? Nope, the Engineers are seventh at 2.60. It's Clarkson at 2.90 GPG. The Golden Knights wouldn't have been my first guess, either. According to USCHO.com ECAC columnist Brian Sullivan, Clarkson can finish as high as third and as low as 11th after next weekend. The Knights travel to RPI and Union to wrap up the regular season.
8. DARTMOUTH (13-10-4, 9-8-3) LW: 8
#19/RV Dartmouth is tied with Yale for the final first round bye and return home for a chance to solidify their positioning. The good news? The Big Green protect their home as well as anyone in the league, as evidenced by a 10-3 mark in games played at Thompson Arena this season. The bad news? The clubs coming in, Princeton and Quinnipiac, are 2-0 against Dartmouth this year.
9. UNION (15-12-5, 8-8-4) LW: 4
After two home wins last weekend, there was a feeling the team had righted the ship and looked poised for a strong finish. But this past weekend erased those thoughts. On Friday, the Dutchmen lost, 4-1, to a Colgate team which entered the game on a six game winless streak. The next night, Union essentially lost the game in the first ten minutes after falling behind 3-0 at Cornell. There were some strong spurts later in the contest, but it was an inconsistent effort that left a desire for a full sixty minute effort. I don't think there are many people who know what to expect from #20 Union going forward.
10. HARVARD (8-16-3, 5-13-2) LW: 10
You want your best players to step up late in the season and that's happening for Harvard. Top scorer Alex Fallstrom has a point in six straight contests, his longest streak of the season, and Marshall Everson has scored seven of his 11 goals in the same six game run. In that span, the Crimson are 5-1.
11. COLGATE (14-14-4, 6-11-3) LW: 12
If Colgate has a run in them, it will come from their underclassmen. Five of the team's top seven point getters are either freshmen or sophomores. The top three goal scorers, Kyle Baun, Tylor Spink, and Darcy Murphy are all freshmen. Even if the rest of the season fails to yield desirable results, a nice foundation is in place in Hamilton.
12. PRINCETON (9-14-4, 7-10-3) LW: 9
The Tigers haven't had much roar lately. Princeton has lost its past four contests, and worse yet, all four losses have been at home. Before the slide, Princeton was beaten at home just two times in the first four-plus months of the season. Their regular season ends with trips to Dartmouth and Harvard.