ECAC Hockey

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The new ECAC Hockey logo.

Background

ECAC Hockey (Formerly the ECAC Hockey League, now also known by ECACH, or often just ECAC) is one of six Division I men's and 4 Division I women's ice hockey conferences. It is the only Division I conference in which the same list of teams compete in both the men's and women's leagues, and only achieved that status with the addition of RPI to the D-I women's hockey lineup in the 2006-2007 season.

The league is headquartered at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY, and is headed by Commissioner Steve Hagwell. Working under Hagwell are an assistant commissioner, men's and women's supervisors of officials, and related support staff. The league works closely with all member schools to create a fair and balanced schedule in which each team plays every other twice per season in league contests. This has been the case every year since 1986, except for 1999-2000 when Vermont canceled half of its season due to a hazing incident.

Member Schools

Scheduling

The league schedule is based on a travel partner system for both the men's and women's teams, where on any given weekend (assuming full league play), three pairs of teams (six teams total) will travel to the remaining three pairs of teams and play one game at each team in the pair. The current travel partners are:

  • Brown and Yale
  • Clarkson and St. Lawrence
  • Colgate and Cornell
  • Dartmouth and Harvard
  • Princeton and Quinnipiac
  • Rensselaer and Union

As an example of the travel partner system, on a given weekend, Brown and Yale may be on the road against Colgate and Cornell. On Friday night, Brown would play Colgate and Yale would play Cornell, while on Saturday night the matchups would switch so each team has played both partners once. Later in the season Colgate and Cornell would be on the road at Yale and Brown, where the second matchup against each team would occur.

Some teams dedicate a single weekend to playing their travel partner (RPI and Union have a "home and home" series where one game is played at RPI and one at Union in a single weekend) while others choose to schedule these games during weeknights and sometimes spread apart by several weeks. This scheduling is primarily left up to the individual schools.

Competition In and Out of the ECAC

While teams in the ECAC play a schedule comprised of roughly 2/3 to 3/4 league matchups, each team will play several out-of-conference games against teams from the other leagues. In D-I men's hockey, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and Hockey East are considered the other three powerhouse leagues, and often are the most desirable out-of-conference opponents as they reflect well on a team's strength of schedule at the end of the year, an important component of the NCAA Tournament selection process. Teams from Atlantic Hockey are typically weaker and occupy the lower echelons of the national rankings, and are often less desirable as out-of-conference opponents.

Many hockey fans outside the ECAC belittle the league and comment on its quality due to infrequent championship wins and relative lack of contenders in the NCAA tournament. Most commonly this disparity is attributed to the lack of scholarships on many ECAC teams. Neither the Ivy League schools (Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale) nor Union offer athletic scholarships to their players, which makes recruiting top talent a difficult task. The other three powerhouse conferences are comprised in large part of large state schools with immense recruiting resources and scholarship dollars to match, luring many of the top high school and junior players away from the ECAC.

The women's league does not face quite so much scruitny, as members Dartmouth, Harvard, and St. Lawrence field quality competitive teams each year. Harvard and Dartmouth have several players from the 2006 Winter Olympics on their roster, and are frequently in the upper levels of the national rankings.

The ECAC men's league is considered one of the most competitive top-to-bottom, where many seasons' standings are not even close to being concrete until the final weekend of play. Rarely is there a dominant team that destroys all its opponents, nor is there a single team with whom the floor is wiped. In the 2006-2007 season, with one week of play remaining, any of six out of twelve teams still had the potential for either home or road playoffs in the first round, and only 5 points separated the bottom seven teams in the league.

The women's league is slightly less balanced, with teams such as Dartmouth, Harvard, and St. Lawrence making strong showings on a regular basis while Cornell, Quinnipiac, and Union tend not to fare so well. Union's record in the 2006-2007 season was 0-22-0 in conference play. RPI finished 8th in its inaugural season in the league, clinching a playoff berth by beating Brown, Cornell, Quinnipiac, and Union in the standings.

Playoffs

Men's Playoffs

All twelve ECAC men's hockey teams are granted a chance to play in the ECAC playoffs. Seeding for the playoffs is determined by regular season standings at the conclusion of the final weekend of league play. Ties in the standings are resolved by head to head record then record against top teams in the league.

Teams seeded 1-4 at the end of the regular season are given a bye for the first round and get a week's rest before the quarterfinals the following week. Teams seeded 5-8 host teams seeded 9-12, such that the matchups are 5-12, 6-11, 7-10, 8-9 at the arena of the higher seed). The winners of the four first round games are reseeded and go on to play the top four teams in the quarterfinals, such that the team seeded 1 plays the lowest seed from the first round and the team seeded 4 plays the highest seed from the first round.

The four winners of the quarterfinal games proceed to the ECAC Championship Tournament. The teams are reseeded and top seed plays bottom while the two middle teams play each other in a semifinal round. The two winners play in the championship game while the losers play a consolation game. The ECAC Championship Tournament was held at Boston Arena from 1962 - 1967, Boston Garden 1968 - 1992, and Olympic Arena in Lake Placid, NY 1993 - 2002. The Times Union Center in Albany, NY has held the tournament since 2003, but it will move to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ in 2011.

The winner of the ECAC Championship is awarded the Whitelaw Cup and given an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

List of ECAC Men's Tournament Champions

  • 1962 - St. Lawrence
  • 1963 - Harvard
  • 1964 - Providence
  • 1965 - Boston College
  • 1966 - Clarkson
  • 1967 - Cornell
  • 1968 - Cornell
  • 1969 - Cornell
  • 1970 - Cornell
  • 1971 - Harvard
  • 1972 - Boston University
  • 1973 - Cornell
  • 1974 - Boston University
  • 1975 - Boston University
  • 1976 - Boston University
  • 1977 - Boston University
  • 1978 - Boston College
  • 1979 - New Hampshire
  • 1980 - Cornell
  • 1981 - Providence
  • 1982 - Northeastern
  • 1983 - Harvard
  • 1984 - Rensselaer
  • 1985 - Rensselaer
  • 1986 - Cornell
  • 1987 - Harvard
  • 1988 - St. Lawrence
  • 1989 - St. Lawrence
  • 1990 - Colgate
  • 1991 - Clarkson
  • 1992 - St. Lawrence
  • 1993 - Clarkson
  • 1994 - Harvard
  • 1995 - Rensselaer
  • 1996 - Cornell
  • 1997 - Cornell
  • 1998 - Princeton
  • 1999 - Clarkson
  • 2000 - St. Lawrence
  • 2001 - St. Lawrence
  • 2002 - Harvard
  • 2003 - Cornell
  • 2004 - Harvard
  • 2005 - Cornell
  • 2006 - Harvard
  • 2007 - Clarkson
  • 2008 - Princeton
  • 2009 - Yale
  • 2010 - Cornell
  • 2011 - Yale
  • 2012 - Union
  • 2013 - Union

Women's Playoffs

Only the top eight out of twelve teams gain a berth in the ECAC women's hockey playoffs. The teams are seeded 1-12 based on the same criteria as the men's league at the end of regular season play, with seeds 9-12 eliminated and their season over. The playoffs consist of two rounds as opposed to the men's league's three.

In the quarterfinal round, seeds 1-4 host seeds 5-8, such that the matchups are 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5 at the arena of the higher seed. The four winning teams are reseeded and proceed on to the championship weekend, which takes place at the arena of the highest remaining seed. The newly seeded teams 1-4 and 2-3 play each other, and the victors go on to the championship game, while the losers play a consolation game for third place.

The winner of the ECAC Championship is given an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

List of ECAC Women's Tournament Champions

  • 1985 - Providence
  • 1986 - New Hampshire
  • 1987 - New Hampshire
  • 1988 - Northeastern
  • 1989 - Northeastern
  • 1990 - New Hampshire
  • 1991 - New Hampshire
  • 1992 - Providence
  • 1993 - Providence
  • 1994 - Providence
  • 1995 - Providence
  • 1996 - New Hampshire
  • 1997 - Northeastern
  • 1998 - Brown
  • 1999 - Harvard
  • 2000 - Brown
  • 2001 - Dartmouth
  • 2002 - Brown
  • 2003 - Dartmouth
  • 2004 - Harvard
  • 2005 - Harvard
  • 2006 - Harvard
  • 2007 - Dartmouth
  • 2008 - Harvard
  • 2009 - Dartmouth
  • 2010 - Cornell
  • 2011 - Cornell
  • 2012 - St. Lawrence
  • 2013 - Cornell

External Links