Perfect 5-year model

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

The St. Lawrence University men’s hockey team has made life interesting in recent weeks, but now the question is it ready for the ultimate challenge?

The Saints, the defending ECAC Hockey champions in last season’s four-team set-up and playoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, survived this past weekend’s first-round playoff series against Brown. They literally survived, or perhaps outlasted the Bears — two evenly matched teams that went to a deciding third game at Appleton Arena.

The Saints scored the game’s final three goals to erase a 3-1 deficit for a 4-3 overtime victory, capped by Reilly Moran’s tally in the first minute of extra play in an elimination game.

Eighth-seeded St. Lawrence (11-17-7), which has endured offensive woes for most of the season, won the series but now meets top-seeded and No. 6 nationally ranked Quinnipiac (28-5-3).

These Bobcats pose a daunting challenge for the Saints, whose best-of-three quarterfinal series begins Friday at Hamden, Conn.

First-year goalie Yaniv Perets, a native of Quebec, will be a mighty road block for the Saints, who will have to figure out a way to score against the Bobcats’ stingy netminder. His stats are impressive — 18-4-2 record, with 11 shutouts, .956 save percentage and a microscopic 0.82 goals-against average. Quinnipiac has outscored its opponents, 117-34, and sports a lofty 15-2-1 home record.

In the past 13 games, Quinnipiac is 10-3, with six of the wins via shutout. SLU’s goal differential is minus-34.

While SLU will be a prohibitive underdog, second-seeded Clarkson (19-9-6) will be a favorite against No. 7 Union (14-17-4), which ousted No. 10 Princeton in the first round.

Clarkson, which received a top-four, first-round bye this past weekend, has outscored its foes, 113-75. Union, which withstood a midseason head coaching change, has been outscored by a 103-84 margin.

In odds posted by BetMGM.com, Quinnipiac is listed as a 12/1 favorite to win the national championship.

Other ECAC schools who are listed include Cornell (22/1), Harvard (40/1), Clarkson (50/1) and St. Lawrence (80/1).

Michigan is the overall favorite at 5/1, while former St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel’s team at UMass, the defending champion, is listed at 20/1.

■ Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in college basketball: 1. Gonzaga; 2. Baylor; 3. Arizona; 4. Auburn; 5. Kentucky; 6. Kansas; 7. Duke; 8. Purdue; 9. Villanova; 10. Tennessee.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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