LAKE PLACID - If the seedings heading into this year's ECAC men's ice hockey postseason tournament were an indication of how things would unfold this weekend in Lake Placid, the final four teams still left alive should provide for an exciting final four.
The top three seeds in order - Harvard, Union and Cornell - will be joining fifth seed and defending champion Quinnipiac as the teams competing for the title in the Olympic Center's 1980 Herb Brooks Arena. All four squads are nationally ranked in the top 20, according to the latest USCHO.com poll.
The semifinals are set for Friday at 4:05 p.m. and 7:35 p.m., with the winners of those games clashing for the title Saturday at 7:35 p.m. Harvard and Quinnipiac will square off first Friday in a rematch of last year's championship game that saw the Bobcats win 4-1 on the strength of three power-play goals in the second period. The Crimson enter the contest as the nation's second ranked team behind the University of Denver.
Ryan Burton, right, applies pressure as Union teammate Nick DeSimone controls the puck during Tuesday’s team practice at the Olympic Center’s 1980 Herb Brooks Arena. The Dutchmen will be back on the same ice sheet tonight in the second semifinal game against Cornell as Lake Placid hosts the ECAC Championships. Doubleheader action gets underway at 4:35 p.m. with the first semifinal pitting top-seeded Harvard against Quinnipiac.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)
Harvard brings its 24-5-2 record to Lake Placid to take on Quinnipiac, which advanced by upsetting fourth-seeded St. Lawrence in a 2-1 quarterfinal series, in which the Bobcats dropped the first game and then came back to defeat the Saints twice on the road.
Harvard is coached by Ted Donato and led by six players who have recorded 30 or more points so far this season.
Three senior forwards top the Crimson's scoring list. Alexander Kerfoot, of Vancouver, British Columbia, leads the team with 16 goals, 24 assists and 40 points. San Diego's Tyler Moy is second with 18 goals, 21 assists and 39 points and Sean Malone, who hails from Western New York and was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2013 NHL entry draft, is third with 15 goals, 23 assists and 38 points.
Ryan Donato, a sophomore who is the son of Harvard's head coach, has chipped in 36 points.
Merrick Madsen, a junior from California, has appeared in all 31 games for Harvard and has recorded 736 saves while posting a 2.26 goals-against average.
Under head coach Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac advanced all the way to the NCAA Division I championship game in 2016 after claiming the ECAC crown in Lake Placid. The Bobcats own a 23-14-2 mark and are ranked 19th nationally by USCHO.com.
Chase Priskie a defensman and Florida native, leads Quinnipiac in scoring with seven goals, 19 assists and 27 points. Senior Tim Clifton and junior Bo Piper are the Bobcats' only double-digit goal scorers with 13 tallies each.
The Bobcats have utilized a two-goalie system this season, with freshman Andrew Shortridge and junior Chris Truehl spending nearly equal time between the pipes. Shortridge, who hails from Anchorage, Alaska, has played 1,211 minutes in goal and has made 477 saves. He has a .921 save percentage and a 13-6 mark.
Truehl, of Madison, Wisconsin, has logged 1,104 minutes and had an .899 save percentage with a 10-8-2 record.
Both goalies have recorded one shutout each.
Union and Cornell will meet in Friday's second semifinal. The Dutchmen are making their first ECAC semifinals appearance since 2014, the year they won the title in Lake Placid to begin their march all the way to the school's first NCAA Division I men's ice hockey championship.
Led from behind the bench by head coach Rick Bennett, Union brings a 25-8-3 record and a national ranking of sixth into Lake Placid.
The Dutchmen are propelled by the ECAC's two highest scores in Mike Vecchione and Spencer Foo. Vecchione, a senior from Saugus, Massachusetts, has a league high 62 points, including 29 goals, which tops the ECAC.
Foo, a junior forward from Edmonton, Alberta, is the ECAC's top playmaker with 35 assists. He also has 24 goals and 59 points.
Alex Sakellaropoulos, a senior from Tinley Park, Illinois, is Union's go-to-guy in goal. He has played in 27 games while compiling a 21- 4-2 record and a 2.35 goals-against average. Sakellaropoulos has made 774 saves for a save percentage of .924.
Cornell is ranked ninth nationally with a 20-7-5 record and is guided by longtime head coach Mike Schafer. The Big Red are the ECAC's all-time leading title winners with 10 and last appeared in the league's final four in 2010.
Mitch Vanderlaan, a sophomore from New Brunswick, tops the team in scoring with 15 goals, 12 assists and 27 points. Senior defensman Patrick McCarron of Toronto is next with 24 points, and Trevor Yates, a junior hailing from Beaconsfield, Quebec, and Jake Weidner, a senior from Grand Valley, Ontario, are tied for third in Big Red scoring with 22 points apiece.
Mitch Gillam, a senior from Peterborough, Ontario, anchors Cornell in goal. In 30 games played, Gillam has compiled a 20-6-4 record and a 2.16 goals-against average. He has steered aside 727 shots for a .919 save percentage.