ALBANY, N.Y. — St. Lawrence claimed the top spot in the ECACHL’s women’s coaches poll with eight of 11 first place votes to beat out Dartmouth and two-time defending champion Harvard. The Saints also were the only team to place two players on the All-League team announced on Tuesday.
Harvard earned top billing in the league’s first ever media poll. Harvard edged out St. Lawrence by one vote and Dartmouth by two votes among the five ballots. The Crimson, Big Green, and Saints have finished in the top three spots of the conference and advanced to the Frozen Four in each of the last two years.
The league also announced that the Jan. 30 Harvard at Dartmouth game will be televised on CSTV.
The Saints return 17 players, including four of their top five scorers and six defensemen. Emilie Berlinguette leads the returners after picking up 47 points a season ago with 22 goals. Two experienced netminders return between the pipes in Meaghan Guckian and Jess Moffat. The duo split time last year, racking up 25 wins between them.
Dartmouth and Harvard will need to overcome some losses, as both have top players who are in training for the 2006 Winter Olympics and are out of collegiate competition for the year.
Despite missing three Olympic hopefuls (Gillian Apps, Cherie Piper and Katie Weatherston), the Big Green’s lineup has added depth this year and each line should be a threat. Captain Tiffany Hagge will lead the way after scoring 27 goals last year, including 11 power-play markers and five game winners.
Harvard is taking a bigger hit this year, as its top five scorers from a season ago are gone because of graduation and National Team responsibilities (Julie Chu, Sarah Vaillancourt, Caitlin Cahow). Even with those losses, the Crimson has plenty of talent waiting in the wings. Senior Jennifer Raimondi is the returning offensive leader with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists), while four veteran defensemen return to patrol the blue line.
Yale was the surprise team last year, hosting a playoff round and advancing to the league’s championship weekend for the first time ever. A wealth of talent returns from last year’s team, including three of its top four scorers. Goaltender Sarah Love is also back and will anchor the defense from between the pipes.
Brown emerged as a top-four pick by the media, due in part to the return of 16 letter winners to the lineup. All-ECACHL defenseman Myria Heinhuis and Hayley Moore, an All-Rookie team pick, return to help lead the Bears.
Preseason All-ECACHL Team
St. Lawrence leads this year’s ECAC Hockey League women’s preseason all-league team with two selections. As voted on by the league’s 11 head coaches, players from St. Lawrence, Dartmouth, Princeton, Brown and Yale made this year’s preseason team.
Saints forward Emilie Berlinguette and blue liner Annie Guay were both selected to the team. Berlinguette finished among the league’s top 10 in scoring last year with 47 points on 22 goals and 25 assists. Thirty of her points came in league games, which was also among the best in the ECACHL. Guay emerged as a top defender last year, making the all-rookie team at the end of the season.
Dartmouth’s Tiffany Hagge and Princeton’s Liz Keady join Berlinguette at the forward position. Hagge was a second-team all-league pick after tallying 30 points in league games and finishing with 48 points overall. Keady was an honorable mention pick after netting eight power-play goals. Overall, she had 28 points with 15 goals and 13 assists.
On defense, Myria Heinhuis joins Guay on the blue line. Heinhuis was a second-team all-league pick last year and brings a strong physical presence to the lineup. She had 14 points last year, including six goals.
Providing the final line of defense is Yale goaltender Sarah Love. Love earned 14 wins in helping her team to its first-ever playoff win and appearance in the league semifinals. She posted a 2.65 goals against average and a .907 save percentage.