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Men’s hockey eliminated from ECAC play by Quinnipiac, find themselves in NCAA purgatory

Cornell’s ECAC season is over. After going the distance with #1 Quinnipiac and becoming the only ECAC team to go to three games in the quarterfinals, Cornell fell 6-3 on Sunday at High Point Solutions Arena in Hamden, Connecticut.

Game one was a 5-2 victory for Quinnipiac, and it was as lopsided in favor of QU as it could get. Coach Mike Schafer summed it up as simply as, “I thought they played well, and I didn’t think we played well.” Cornell allowed two goals in the first two minutes and ten seconds of the second period, and it fell apart from there. The Big Red were able to bring the score within one on a goal from Jeff Kubiak on a power play, but goals from Quinnipiac’s Landon Smith and Soren Jonzzon put them in comfortable territory.

Game two was obviously a must-win, and the Red played like it was. They spent much of the game down, but a four-goal second period put them in a position for a Trevor Yates game-winner with five minutes and 44 seconds left in the third period.

With one last chance at a semi-finals berth, Cornell fell apart in game three. Even though Matt Buckles was able to bring the score within one in the second period, Quinnipiac began to pile on as they scored three goals in the second period off the sticks of Andrew Taverner, Sam Anas, and Bo Pieper. Then, QU played as defensively minded as possible in the third to hold on to the victory.

This series was somewhat predicable. There was certainly a shot they could come away with a couple of wins against a very good team–they had played QU well before–but we all knew it was unlikely. They played admirably, but I will say that this weekend was not what did them in. What did them in was very poor second half play. Going into the spring semester they had a first round bye in their grasp, and very lackluster play down the stretch let their placing in the ECAC slip considerably.

Their one saving grace, though, was their play against the upper echelon teams. With some really nice showings against Boston University, Quinnipiac, Harvard, and Providence, Cornell gets a boost in the pairwise rankings that currently leaves them at 16th overall. This means that even though they’re eliminated from conference play, they still have a chance (12%) at a NCAA Tournament at-large bid if things fall their way next weekend. Here is the probability matrix, courtesy of College Hockey News:


cornell_odds

This scenario is pretty unlikely, and they would need most of the favorites to win next week to get in. Here is one scenario they would need:

So basically if all the higher seeds win the remaining games with exception of Michigan winning Big Ten, Cornell would be last team in. — Brandon Thomas (@BT_unassisted) March 14, 2016

Another scenario, according to CHN, would look like this:


outcomes

I’m sure there are a few scenarios where they get in, so I’d encourage people to play around with the You Are The Committee feature on CHN’s website to see other chances where Cornell gets a berth. Stay tuned for updates next weekend as we’ll see the tournament picture unfold. For now, though, Coach Schafer and company will cross their fingers.

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