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2014 ECAC Hockey Tournament: Quarterfinals preview

The battle to reach Lake Placid is on this weekend in the ECAC.

Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere
Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere
Union Athletics

The quarterfinals of the ECAC Hockey Tournament start Friday night at the campus sites of the top four seeds. There wasn't much in terms of surprises in the first round with the exception of No. 12 Princeton taking No. 5 Clarkson to a third game. No. 10 Dartmouth rallied from a one-game-to-nothing deficit to upset No. 7 RPI, but that can't be considered too much of a shock considering how up-and-down the Engineers' season was.

The Whitney Ave. rivalry between Quinnipiac and Yale is certainly the showcase series of the four quarterfinal matchups, but the other intriguing series is in Ithaca where Cornell hosts Clarkson. It is a battle of the veteran coach, Cornell's Mike Schafer, and his former assistant, Casey Jones, now at Clarkson.

Here's a look at all four quarterfinal matchups in the ECAC Hockey Tournament.

No. 5 Clarkson @ No. 4 Cornell

All indications point to this series being a low scoring, grind it out slugfest between two big and physical teams. Both Cornell and Clarkson are top heavy in terms of the players and lines relied on for production. The goaltending advantage has to swing in Cornell's favor with the experience and ability of senior Andy Iles, but don't count Clarkson freshman Steve Perry out when it comes to the possibility of stealing a game or two in this series.

Prediction: Cornell wins series in three games.

Cornell Clarkson
Head Coach Mike Schafer Casey Jones
Record 15-8-5 (11-7-4) 20-15-4 (11-9-2)
Home/Away Split 6-4-2 (Home) 7-7-2 (Away)
Goals Per Game 2.32 (T-8th) 2.59 (T-6th)
Goals Against Per Game 2.27 (3rd) 2.91 (9th)
Power Play Percentage 15.4 (9th) 20.2 (4th)
Penalty Kill Percentage 84.9 (3rd) 79.8 (T-8th)
Top Scorer Brian Ferlin (24) Allan McPherson (30)
Leading Goal Scorer Brian Ferlin (12) Allan McPherson (13)
Assists Leader Joel Lowry (16) Ben Sexton (20)
Projected Starting Goalie Andy Iles (2.20/.920) Steve Perry (2.18/.911)

No. 6 Yale @ No. 3 Quinnipiac

The Whitney Ave. rivalry is renewed this weekend in probably the second biggest matchup in history between the two programs. Quinnipiac has the advantage in all statistical categories, but this should be a great, hard-fought series. The difference will likely be the abundance of riches up front for the Bobcats. Read full series preview here.

Prediction: Quinnipiac wins series in three games.

Quinnipiac Yale
Head Coach Rand Pecknold Keith Allain
Record 22-8-6 (12-6-4) 17-9-5 (10-8-4)
Home/Away Split 12-4-2 (Home) 5-4-3 (Away)
Goals Per Game 3.55 (2nd) 3.23 (4th)
Goals Against Per Game 1.95 (2nd) 2.55 (5th)
Power Play Percentage 22.8 (2nd) 21.5 (3rd)
Penalty Kill Percentage 92.2 (1st) 81.4 (6th)
Top Scorer Sam Anas (40) Jesse Root (34)
Leading Goal Scorer Sam Anas (19) Root/Agostino (14)
Assists Leader Matthew Peca (22) Jesse Root (20)
Projected Starting Goalie Michael Garteig (1.84/.913) Alex Lyon (2.23/.923)

No. 10 Dartmouth @ No. 1 Union

This is a very intriguing series as the Dutchmen are clearly the better team, but Dartmouth has been playing very well lately. The Big Green could make these two games closer than one would expect in a 1-10 matchup, but Rick Bennett's team just has too much talent for Dartmouth. The one area of weakness for Union is its special teams, with a particularly poor power play.

Prediction: Union wins series in two games.

Dartmouth Union
Head Coach Bob Gaudet Rick Bennett
Record 10-18-4 (7-13-2) 24-6-4 (18-3-1)
Home/Away Split 7-8-1 (Away) 11-3-1 (Home)
Goals Per Game 2.32 (T-8th) 3.77 (1st)
Goals Against Per Game 3.27 (10th) 1.91 (1st)
Power Play Percentage 16.5 (7th) 15.1 (11th)
Penalty Kill Percentage 79.8 (T-8th) 84.3 (4th)
Top Scorer Eric Neiley (28) Daniel Carr (36)
Leading Goal Scorer Eric Neiley (16) Carr/Ciampini (17)
Assists Leader Brandon McNally (14) Mat Bodie (25)
Projected Starting Goalie Charles Grant (3.05/.907) Colin Stevens (2.02/.927)

No. 8 St. Lawrence @ No. 2 Colgate

St. Lawrence brings its high-flying offense into Hamilton to face a Colgate squad that surged up the standings in the second half. Don Vaughn's team is playing complete hockey with solid goaltending from freshman Charlie Finn and a balanced attack up front. Of note, the SLU offense has been less dependent on Greg Carey than usual, but this weekend would be a good time as any for the senior Hobey Baker Award candidate to break out of his mini-slump.

Prediction: Colgate wins the series in three games.

Colgate St. Lawrence
Head Coach Don Vaughn Greg Carvel
Record 17-12-5 (13-6-3) 15-17-4 (7-11-4)
Home/Away Split 8-8-2 (Home) 8-7-3 (Away)
Goals Per Game 3.27 (3rd) 3.18 (5th)
Goals Against Per Game 2.68 (7th) 3.55 (11th)
Power Play Percentage 16.4 (8th) 27.7 (1st)
Penalty Kill Percentage 83.8 (5th) 69.4 (12th)
Top Scorer Tyson Spink (29) Greg Carey (54)
Leading Goal Scorer Darcy Murphy (15) Matt Carey (18)
Assists Leader Tyson Spink (21) Greg Carey (38)
Projected Starting Goalie Charlie Finn (2.42/.918) Matt Weninger (3.31/.877)

Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.