ALBANY, N.Y. — According to this year’s preseason coaches and media polls, the race for the top spot among the ECAC Hockey League’s women will be a tight one, with just a handful of points separating first through third place. Dartmouth tops the coaches’ list, while Harvard has the media’s attention.
Both Harvard and Dartmouth finished out of the top three in the ECACHL regular season standings last season, but both have been boosted by players returning from the Turin Olympics. Dartmouth returns seniors Katie Weatherston, Cherie Piper, and Gillian Apps from the gold-medal winning Canadian team and U.S. phenom Sarah Parsons, while Harvard brings Julie Chu and Caitlin Cahow from the U.S. team and Sarah Vaillancourt from the Canadian program.
Dartmouth captured 117 points and eight first-place votes from the coaches to claim the No. 1 spot. St. Lawrence was just three points behind with the other four first-place votes, and Harvard was the No. 3 pick with 100 points.
Harvard earned four first-place votes and 112 points from the media to take the top spot. Dartmouth was second with 110 points and four first-place votes, followed by St. Lawrence with 103 points and two first-place nods.
This is second year the ECACHL has run a media poll for women’s hockey. Last season, St. Lawrence was the No. 1 pick in the coaches poll, while Harvard was No. 1 in the media poll. St. Lawrence ended up winning the ECACHL regular seaon title, while Harvard claimed the postseason crown for the third straight season.
Preseason All-League Team
Returning Olympians claimed six of eight spots on the ECACHL coaches’ preseason All-League team, and four of six spots on the inaugural ECACHL media preseason All-League team. Harvard led the coaches’ team with three selections and the media team with two selections. The Olympians dominated both rosters despite only one senior graduating from the All-ECACHL First Team from this past postseason.
Last season’s Goaltender of the Year and first-team selection, Clarkson’s Kira Hurley, leads the way on both teams. The senior netminder posted a 1.25 goals against average and a .936 save percentage in 20 league games last season, which included 12 victories and seven shutouts.
St. Lawrence defenseman Annie Guay is another returning first-team selection from last year and was named to both preseason teams. Guay was an important key to the Saints’ defensive success last season, as the team held league opponents to a scant 1.10 goals per game. The junior also provided some offense for with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in league games, which led all ECACHL blue liners.
Yale’s Helen Resor, who was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team, was also picked as a top defenseman by both the coaches and media. Entering her sophomore season, she was an all-rookie team pick in 2005 after posting five goals and two assists in league games and helping her team to the ECACHL semifinals.
Three Harvard Olympians – Caitlin Cahow, Julie Chu and Sarah Vaillancourt — were selected to the Coaches list, with Chu and Vaillancourt also being named to the Media team. Vaillancourt, who was the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2005, won a gold medal with Canada at the recent Olympics in Italy and returns at forward for her sophomore season. Cahow and Chu were forces for the United States Olympic team and return for their junior and senior years, respectively. A forward, Chu was a first-team all-league pick in 2005, while Cahow, a defenseman, had 22 points in league games that same season. Cahow was an All-Tournament NCAA selection in 2005.
Dartmouth also has multiple selections, with forward Katie Weatherston named to the coaches team and Gillian Apps selected as a top forward by both the coaches and media. The two athletes were both members of the Canadian Olympic team last year. In 2004-05, Apps finished the league season with 26 points, while Weatherston tallied 27, including 20 goals, and was a second-team all-league pick.