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ECACHL writer
02-04-2010, 12:47 PM
Think I'm spot-on or way off the mark on this one? Is ECAC Hockey failing on the national stage?

35-Year Go Big Red Fan
02-04-2010, 06:51 PM
Of course, the ECAC needs more wins against better NC opponents. But easier said than done. The real question is whether the ECAC schedulers are doing the best they can or are they ducking better NC opponents.

As I recall last year the league did quite well against NC opponents last year and put 3 ECAC teams into the NCAA's. That should have helped scheduling games during the past off-season, but some of those games might not be played for years

The real problem may be the league's lack of recent success in NCAA games (with the exception of one team -- Cornell). It's not a coincidence that recently Cornell has been able to schedule better NC competition. Tough NC competition wants to play teams that will boost its Strength of Schedule, not dilute it.

Harvard was similarly successful in scheduling better NC competition for games scheduled during the period it was winning ECAC titles and making the NCAAs.

Success is the only thing that allows you to schedule better NC competition. There is no easy fix.

gemlover
02-04-2010, 08:08 PM
I remember with great satisfaction watching us play BU, BC, NH, Maine, even Middlebury on a regular basis. Sherwood's goaltending (substitute for Nichol) in a shut out win over BU is one of my fondest. The ECAC has lost much with the loss of teams from the league, and would greatly enhance it reputation by playing teams from the other conferences (and winning). My experience now with college hockey is entirely done over the internet listening to streaming broadcast of games. There are not many college hockey teams in South Carolina.

John, gemlover

SLUdave
02-04-2010, 08:53 PM
The biggest problem that the ECAC faces is getting the out-of-conferences games in their home arena. Againts Hockey East teams, it is not as big of a problem due to the proximity of those schools and traditional rivalries (Cornell-BU, SLU-UVM, etc.) For schools from the WCHA or the CCHA, there are two factors that go hand-in-hand towards contributing to their unwillingness to go on the road. The first is the number of possible games they have available, and the second is the financial aspect.

Since the NCAA limits the number of games that can be played per season, the athletic department would want to schedule as many home games as they could because the gross income from tickets, concessions, and parking would benefit their bottom line. Paying to send a team to the North Country for games at Clarkson and St. Lawrence is not an attractive option when that team could get Bemidji State,LSSU, or Ferris St at home for the weekend. Credit goes to North Dakota who regularly travels east to play, with Cornell, SLU, and Harvard on their schedule recently. The financial aspect is also a reson why SLU-Clarkson has been on the schedule as a non-league game the past few seasons. They don't have to travel, and the game also creates excitement in the community and among the students.

Additionally, more ECAC schools are willing to go on the road at the beginning of the season to accomodate those western teams so long as they receive a cut from the gate receipts, regardless of if they agree to a home-and-home deal. This helps cover their expenses for the season, but also provides the opportunity for team bonding and tweaking the lineups, among other things. Ivy League teams cannot make these early season trips because of their individualized rules prohibiting play before a certain date. Instead, they must play these teams later in the season and the likelihood of an upset is diminished.

For league recognition and overall perception, it is obviously very important to win as many of these games as possible. It will not only help the individual team for NCAA purposes but the league will benefit through the common opponents portion of PWR.

The quickest fix is to have a strong showing in the NCAA tournament this year, with hopefully 2 teams representing and at least one making the Frozen Four. If that does not occur, then the perception of the ECAC as an also-ran conference will persist for another year.

rodney
02-05-2010, 08:17 AM
Brian... some nice comments on the state of non-conference scheduling, but a few things to add/mention...

- your comment about timing when you play your non-conference games and putting them in bye weeks or something is good in theory. But while the non-Ivies have 12 games to fill, WCHA and CCHA teams have six free games (eight if going to Alaska) and HE teams have seven free games. While there is flexibility for the ECAC teams, it doesn't exist for the other league teams, especially with the CHA going away.

- location is a major issue. Teams can take a guarantee and go to Minnesota for a pair one season, but that trip isn't being reciprocated. It's great that North Dakota has done that with Cornell and Harvard recently, but the Michigans and Wisconsins aren't giving up full houses to come play in front of under 2000 fans at Princeton, Union, Brown, Colgate, etc. I know of several coaches in our league that won't play a team that won't reciprocate, which definitely limits the pool of potential opponents.

- scheduling is done well in advance... 2-3 years. Seth Appert touched on it in your blog. You gave credit to Princeton for playing UMass Lowell, but other than being a decent Hockey East opponent, Princeton couldn't have known that Lowell would have been a top-10 team when they agreed to play two years ago. Sure there are perennial powers and you try to assess where teams are going, but it's not an exact science. Same thing with RPI playing Michigan and BU. On paper those names mean more than their actual performance has been this season. Kudos to RPI beating them by the way.

- i know you don't like the Ivy Showcase/Invitational/whatever, but it's not going anywhere. Arguably Princeton's two most important wins in terms of getting into the NCAA tournament last year were over Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota State in late December (scheduled five years in advance by the way). If those games are played the first weekend of the season with Princeton untested and the opponents already with six games under their belts, Princeton probably doesn't get two wins. Brings up a whole other issue altogether, but that's for another day.

Funny thing is that I think the league is probably as strong this year as it has been in recent memory, but the lackluster non-conference record and teams beating up on in each other in league games may be the perfect storm to keep it to one ECAC team in the NCAA tourney.

TimU
02-05-2010, 01:05 PM
I know of several coaches in our league that won't play a team that won't reciprocate, which definitely limits the pool of potential opponents.

And those coaches are doing a disservice to their own teams and the rest of the league.


Funny thing is that I think the league is probably as strong this year as it has been in recent memory, but the lackluster non-conference record and teams beating up on in each other in league games may be the perfect storm to keep it to one ECAC team in the NCAA tourney.

Not sure I agree with that. The best team in the league this year is not as good as the Cornell teams of several years ago. And I don't think the second-and third-best teams are quite as good this year as they've been in recent years, either. I love Yale's team, but they've got issues in goal, which doesn't do much for your NCAA chances if you manage to get in. After that, what? Union? They're pretty good, but I wouldn't bet my house on them in the NCAA tournament. Princeton? Nope. SLU and RPI? They've achieved a lot this year, but NCAA tournament wins are not reasonable expectations to put on those teams this year (hopefully soon).

35-Year Go Big Red Fan
02-05-2010, 03:56 PM
And those coaches are doing a disservice to their own teams and the rest of the league.


I don't think you can make a blanket statement on the subject of reciprocation. I fully support Cornell decision to only reciprocate. The Cornell hockey team is THE moneymaker for Cornell athletics (at least it has been over time-- right now basketball and wrestling are probably also in the black). In order to fulfill that responsibility, it needs to sellout home games. Right now it is able to attract some top level teams to Lynah or to a neutral location where it can share the revenues (BU at MSG; the Florida tournament). While it can sustain reciprocation it should.

However teams that don't sell out their home rinks, can't have substantial ticket prices or have smaller rinks may very well rationally make other decisions about their bottom lines. If they don't carry their athletic departments, the opportunity to play NC teams without reciprocation may be the wisest choice to give their teams opportunities.

The league benefits with wins against top-level NC competition; there may be different routes to that end.

TimU
02-05-2010, 09:58 PM
I don't think you can make a blanket statement on the subject of reciprocation. I fully support Cornell decision to only reciprocate. The Cornell hockey team is THE moneymaker for Cornell athletics (at least it has been over time-- right now basketball and wrestling are probably also in the black). In order to fulfill that responsibility, it needs to sellout home games. Right now it is able to attract some top level teams to Lynah or to a neutral location where it can share the revenues (BU at MSG; the Florida tournament). While it can sustain reciprocation it should.

However teams that don't sell out their home rinks, can't have substantial ticket prices or have smaller rinks may very well rationally make other decisions about their bottom lines. If they don't carry their athletic departments, the opportunity to play NC teams without reciprocation may be the wisest choice to give their teams opportunities.

OK, but then they shouldn't be surprised when their league schedule drags them down, in part because there are so few opportunities for quality ECAC teams to get quality wins against the WCHA/CCHA. It was great for Cornell when they won 18 of 22 games, because their winning percentage gave them a good seed in the NCAAs anyway, but that doesn't happen very often. As long as interconference play is so severely limited, if the stronger ECAC teams refuse to hit the road and play at Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, the whole league will suffer.

LynahFan
02-06-2010, 01:50 AM
And those coaches are doing a disservice to their own teams and the rest of the league.
It's not the coaches. They're the ones you see interviewed in the media, but their bosses set the policy. Since no intelligent coach would ever publicly rant against his boss, of course all the public comments from the coach are, "we aren't going to travel, we have to do this for the athletic dept, etc." Privately, I bet they seethe against these policies, too, if they have the same perceptions that we do about team and league competitiveness.