Originally standing for Eastern College Athletic Conference, ECAC Hockey parted ways with this organization in 2004, but kept the abbreviation as its name for simplicity’s sake. ECAC Hockey is the only conference outside of the WCHA with a team that has won a women’s NCAA national championship. Founded in 1961, ECAC Hockey started hosting a women’s tournament in 1985, and eventually added women’s hockey to the conference starting with the 1993-94 season. The conference was part of the American Women’s College Hockey Alliance (AWCHA), which ran from the 1997-98 season through 199-00 season before the NCAA began regulating women’s hockey for the 2000-01 season. Members of ECAC Hockey won two of the three national titles offered by the AWCHA. It is the largest conference in women’s DI hockey, boasting twelve teams with corresponding men’s teams from the same schools.
Now for a brief overview of the ECAC’s teams and how they are doing as of the midseason break:
Now in their 53rd season, Brown has the undisputed oldest women’s hockey program. Starting in 1963, the Bears have played in the ECAC Hockey tournament since it began in 1985 and formally joined the conference when it began admitting women in 1993. Since joining ECAC Hockey they have been the regular season champions four times and won three tournament championships. Brown played in the 2002 Frozen Four championship game and played in two AWCHA championship games, but have yet to win a national title. The team has had a number of head coaches in their history and their current one is Robert Kenneally, who is in his second season with the team. Recent times have been tough on the Bears, as they haven’t had double digits in the win column since the 2006-07 season.
Brown is having a tough year so far. They are tied at tenth place in the standings with Dartmouth after winning only one game in conference and have a record of 1-7-0. Their overall record is in similar shape at 3-10-0 and they limped into the midseason break on November 29th after an eight game losing streak. However, things could be worse for the Bears, as they’ve already won as many games as they had all of last season. Brown will be back in action on December 30th against CHA first ranked Robert Morris.
Clarkson Golden Knights
The Clarkson Knights hold the distinction of being the only non-WCHA team to ever win a National Championship, which occurred during the 2014 Frozen Four in a 5-4 win over Minnesota. The 2003-04 season was the first time Clarkson iced an NCAA DI women’s team and they joined the ECAC a year later, but ladies have been playing club hockey at this school since 1974. Clarkson has made three appearances in their conference tournament finals, but has never won. They were back-to-back regular season ECAC champions in 2013-14 & 2014-2015.
Going into their eighth season with Matt Desrosiers as head coach, the Golden Knights have been 15-3-4 overall and 9-0-1 in conference this season. That places them first in the conference as of the midseason break and they are currently ranked third nationally. This suggests the team plans to go deep into the post season this year and bring home some hardware. Clarkson will resume play against Yale University on January 13th and spend the rest of the regular season playing in conference teams.
The Colgate Raiders have a less storied history than some women’s teams. Originally founded for the 1997-98 season, they moved up into DI hockey and ECAC 2001 when the NCAA started managing women’s hockey. They have yet to make it past the semifinals of the conference tournament or appear in the NCAA tournament. Generally the team finishes the season ranked in the bottom half of the ECAC, but they once finished in fourth place. Greg Fargo is in his fifth year as head coach for the team.
This year the Raiders are doing well for themselves. They have a 6-2-1 in conference record, and are 15-2-2 overall, which puts in tied for fourth place in the ECAC with Cornell. More impressively, they are ranked seventh nationally as of the midseason break. However, the second half of their season is loaded with far more in conference games, which may make them falter. Otherwise this could be Colgate’s year to finally make something of the postseason. Colgate flies out west to play a series against St. Cloud starting on January 6th.
Cornell Big Red
Cornell has had a women’s hockey team since to the seventies, 1971 to be precise though they first played during the 1972-73 season. They also joined the ECAC in 1993. They have won four regular season championships, four tournament championships, and 12 Ivy League Championships. The Big Red has also played in five Frozen Fours, which included one national championship game in 2010. Doug Derraugh, Cornell’s current head coach in his 12th season, turned the women’s hockey program into a culture of success and produced wins the like of which this program hadn’t seen since the 70s.
Cornell is 8-4-1 overall and 6-2-1 in conference this season, which leaves them tied for fourth place in the ECAC rankings with Colgate. In the second half of the season the Big Red will play three out of conference games and then battle ECAC rivals for the rest of the regular season. Since they haven’t played a game since December 3rd, Cornell will be more than ready to resume their season on January 6th against Providence.
Dartmouth Big Green
The Dartmouth Big Green first iced a women’s team in the 1977-78 season. They were competing in the ECAC’s tournament by 1989 and formally joined the conference in 1993. They have had seven NCAA tournament appearances, four of which included making it to the Frozen Four, and played in the 2000 AWCHA tournament. Perhaps more impressively, the Big Green has taken part in every ECAC tournament from 1992-2015, save for 2010, winning four titles and appearing in an additional four championship matches. Dartmouth has won three regular season championships.
This season Dartmouth has a new head coach, Laura Schuler, who replaces thirteen-year veteran Mark Hudak. With Schuler at the helm the Big Green are 1-6-0 in conference and 2-10-0 overall this season. This ties them for 10th place in the ECAC with Brown. The team must have been ready for a break after their game against Vermont on December 10th, as they were on a five game losing streak. Hopefully, they’ll use their time off to regroup before their in conference heavy second half of the season. Dartmouth skates again on January 6th against Princeton.
The Harvard Crimson started playing women’s hockey in the 1978-79 season. They started playing in the ECAC tournament in 1985 and then formally joined the conference in 1993 when that became an option. Katey Stone has been the team’s head coach since the 1994-95 season and has steered the Crimson to many victories. Harvard has six regular season championships, six conference tournament titles in the ECAC. They won the AWCHA national title in 1999 and have appeared in 11 NCAA tournaments, which included four championship games.
This season the Crimson are 1-5-1 in conference and 1-9-1 overall, placing them ninth in the standings. Their sole win came at Dartmouth’s expense back on October 23rd, so the 3-3 tie against Colgate on December 3rd to start their midseason break must have felt pretty great because it finally snapped a nine game losing streak. Unless something dramatic happened to Harvard over the break it, it seems unlikely they’ll have a significant post season this year. Harvard’s season resumes on January 6th against Quinnipiac.
The Princeton Tigers’ history dates back to the 1979-80 season. They joined the ECAC as soon as they were able to in 1993 and became a DI program in the 2000-01 season like everyone else in the conference. Princeton tends to finish the regular season somewhere in the middle of ECAC rankings, with a best of second place in the 2005-06 season. Though they have regularly played in the ECAC’s conference tournament since 1992, Princeton has yet to make it past the semifinals. The Tigers have appeared in the first round of two NCAA tournaments. Jeff Kampersal has been the Princeton women’s hockey team head coach for 21 seasons.
This season Princeton is firmly in sixth place in the ECAC, with a six-point lead over seventh place Yale, due to their in conference record of 5-6-1, 9-6-1 overall. The Tigers started their midseason break on a good note, finishing a sweep of Mercyhurst on December 11th, which was part of a four game win streak. If they can keep the momentum going in the second half of their season, this might be the year the Tigers finally play in an ECAC tournament championship game. Princeton will be back at the rink before the new year, hosting Penn State on December 31st.
Quinnipiac’s women’s hockey team is a fairly young one, forming for the 2001-02 season and first playing in the ECAC Eastern conference as a NCAA DI team. After that they were independent for two seasons, spent a year in the CHA conference before joining the ECAC for the 2005-06 season. They played in the 2005 CHA tournament semifinals and have appeared in the ECAC tournament every year since 2010. The Bobcats won the ECAC tournament and were the regular season champions in 2016. They have also qualified for the last two NCAA tournaments. Their head coach, Cassandra Turner, is in her second season with the team.
This season Quinnipiac are 7-2-1 in conference and 13-4-3 overall. That ranks them third in the ECAC and eighth nationally as of the midseason break. When the Bobcats went on break after beating RPI on December 3rd, they were riding a three game winning streak and hadn’t lost since November 5th against St. Lawrence. Losing last season’s graduating seniors must not have hit the team that badly as the team seems primed for another deep post season if they can keep their stride. Quinnipiac will be back in action on December 30th against Penn State.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) started their women’s hockey program for the 1995-96 season as a DIII team in the ECAC East conference. The Engineers moved up to DI play for the 2005-06 and then joined the ECAC a year later. Since moving into the ECAC RPI has struggled against some of the conference’s more successful teams, generally finishing the regular season in the bottom half of the rankings, though they have twice finished in sixth place, and have played in six conference tournaments, which included one championship game. The Engineers have yet to qualify for the NCAA tournament. John Burke is in his 14th season as RPI’s women’s hockey head coach.
With a conference record of 2-6-0 and an overall one of 5-14-1 RPI is ranked eighth in the ECAC. They finished the first half of their season on December 3rd with a three game losing streak, so the Engineers are likely hoping to regroup and reenergize over the midseason break. They spend the rest of the season playing in conference rivals, which means every game counts. RPI resumes their season on January 6th against Brown.
St. Lawrence Skating Saints
St. Lawrence Saints is another women’s hockey team dating back to the 1978-79 season. Historically they played DIII hockey and won three conference titles in the ‘90s. When the ECAC began allowing women into the conference in 1993, the Saints moved up to DI play and joined. Since then they have won the 2012 ECAC tournament and appeared in three other championship games. In 2006 they were the ECAC’s regular season champions and generally finish in the top half of the conference’s standings. St. Lawrence played in the first NCAA national championship game and has since appeared in the Frozen Four an additional four times. Their head coach, Chris Wells is in his ninth season with the team.
St. Lawrence is having a great season. With a record of 8-1-1 in conference and 15-1-2 overall, they are currently second in the ECAC and fourth nationally. While they entered the midseason break after a tie and lost to Clarkson on December 3rd, the Saints will likely use that frustration to fuel an explosive second half to their season. St. Lawrence plays an exhibition match against Carleton University on January 4th and then resumes the regular season with a series against Mercyhurst on January 7th.
Union College Dutchwomen
Union’s Dutchwomen started out as a DIII women’s hockey team in the 1999-00 season, but switched the DI and joined the ECAC for the 2003-04 season. The Dutchwomen are perennially at the bottom of the ECAC, typically finishing the season in 11th or 12th place, though their season best was 10th, and have yet to qualify for the conference tournament, much less the NCAA tournament. Josh Sciba is Union’s new head coach, coming in after Union went all of last season without a single win.
Union is having a better season than they have in the past couple years. Though they still haven’t had a win in conference yet, their 0-8-0 record placing them at the bottom of ECAC rankings, they’re 3-17-0 overall. Considering one of those wins came splitting the series with Minnesota State as they entered the midseason break on December 17th, the Dutchwomen must have felt pretty good. The second half of their season is fully composed of ECAC match ups, so one can only hope Union will snag a couple of wins in conference. Perhaps that first win will come for Union when they face off against Yale on January 6th.
The Yale Bulldogs women’s team has an inglorious history, despite its length. Starting as a club team in 1975, the Bulldogs became a varsity team for the 1977-78 season. By the 1998-99 season they were part of the ECAC and were a DI team when the NCAA started managing women’s hockey. They have yet to win a title—in the regular season, conference tournament, or national—or even qualify for the NCAA tournament. They have qualified for their conference’s tournament nine times, once making it to the semifinals. The Bulldogs’ best regular season finish was fourth place and they typically finish their season in the bottom half of the ECAC. Joakim Flygh is the Yale women’s hockey head coach and has been so for seven seasons.
This year Yale is 2-5-1 in conference and 4-7-2 overall. This ranks them seventh in the ECAC as of the midseason break. Though that break started for the Bulldogs on December 10th, their last win was against Union College on November 5th. Perhaps this will be the year they find success in the post season, but they have a hard road ahead of them to accomplish that. Yale is back in action on December 30th against Vermont.