ECAC Coach Poll Reaction and My Own Poll
The league's coaches have picked RPI to finish 6th this season
On Wednesday, the ECAC had its media day for the men’s programs to go along with the release of the preseason poll and awards. While the media poll was not released for some reason, the coach poll was released, which is what I’ll be going over.
For the most part, I don’t think any team is significantly overrated. I knew even before the poll was released that Quinnipiac and Harvard would be 1 and 2. Quinnipiac just had an absolutely dominant season with bonkers numbers defensively. Harvard returns a ton of talent and NHL draft picks.
With that being said, I’d have both of them lower. Quinnipiac lost a good amount of offense and only returns the 5th most scoring in the conference. Their defense should be elite again, but I highly doubt they go another full season only allowing 1 goal per game.
Harvard is really good without a doubt, but I don’t trust their defense as much as the other top 4 teams. Rifai was a great defensive defenseman for them, and he’s gone. Moore and Siedem are both really good defensively, but beyond them, there’s no real standouts on that end. Thrun has elite offense, but his defense is average. Bar and Aucoin are NHL draft picks, but they didn’t have good years last season. I also think Mitch Gibson is an overrated goaltender due to his draft status. He’s very good, but Yaniv Perets, Ian Shane, Jack Watson, Clay Stevenson, and Connor Murphy all had better seasons last year. The defense will be above average, but it won’t be as good as Quinnipiac, Clarkson or Cornell.
It’s tough to call a team predicted to be 8th overrated, but Union belongs in the bottom 4. The first year of a new head coach in a rebuild always goes poorly. Just look at the first seasons of Dave Smith, Reid Cashman and Brent Brekke with RPI, Dartmouth and SLU, respectively. If you want to venture outside of the ECAC, Greg Carvel had 5 total wins in his first year at UMass, and Ben Barr at Maine had 7 wins last season. Then, you factor in everything Union lost, and I really don’t understand them being outside the bottom 4. Union returns the 3rd least scoring in the conference, and they lost their best two defensemen from a defense that already was bad. I like their recruiting class a lot, but those players won’t be helping Union that much this season. Connor Murphy is going to be a busy man this year.
We’ll start off here with Cornell since I specifically tweeted about them.
The tweet makes the main point, but I actually did a bit of math wrong. Cornell returns the second most points per game in the conference; they are 0.01 points per game behind Harvard there. Not that it makes a huge difference, but I still wanted to correct the false information. Anyways, Cornell’s offense looks to be formidable with the returning scoring they have. On defense, they bring back their top 4 and 5 of their top 6. Ian Shane had a stellar freshman year and should have no problems building on that with the defense that Cornell will put in front of him.
Dartmouth is underrated since they were bad last year, but I think they’ll improve this year. They have a good core of players to build around; they actually return the 6th most offense in the conference. Their defense was awful, but they return Palocsik and Pierce. Cooper Black will be capable filling in for Stevenson since he was the top goalie in the BCHL in save percentage. I think they’ll host a playoff series this season, but if they don’t, I bet there were in the race at minimum.
Yale is slightly underrated for the same reason as Dartmouth, but I think they’ll be better than predicted for different reasons. Even though the offense was terrible last year, they return pretty much everybody. Their returning offense is only 8th in the conference, but it’s very close to St. Lawrence who is 7th. Defense should be a strength for Yale though; they only lose Lillibridge, and Herzog and O’Hearn were outstanding as freshmen. Both Reid and Pearson were capable last season, so I don’t expect goaltending problems either.
My Own Poll
I think one of the main problems with the preseason polls is a lack of willingness to move teams significantly from where they were the year before. ECAC reporter Josh Seguin alluded to this a bit in a tweet reply to me.
Because Quinnipiac just had a crazy good season, no one wants to move them down in their preseason poll despite the team losing some really good players. I think you should only factor in the players returning and coming in for a prediction even if you end up moving down a team like Quinnipiac.
One other note I want to make before I post my personal poll is that I totally agree with Josh here about the top 5. Quinnipiac, Clarkson, Harvard, Cornell and Colgate all look like very strong teams, and I could see those 5 finishing in basically any order. It should be a good year for the strength of the conference as a whole.
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