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2011-2012 Women’s D-I Season Preview

D-I Women’s Conference Previews

Long before the NCAA or the conference tournaments are contested, teams will embark on the marathon courses of league play. The following is a quick peek at what each will likely offer.

CHA
In the NCAA era, no team has embodied a sure thing like the Mercyhurst Lakers, winners of all nine previous CHA campaigns. The league has experienced a tumultuous offseason, with the Wayne State women’s team following their men’s program and former conference member Findlay into oblivion. With the feline reinforcements – the Lindenwood Lady Lions and the Penn State Nittany Lions – still beyond the horizon, what can we expect from the four-team CHA of 2011-2012?

Mercyhurst Lakers
Projected Finish: 1st
Previous Season: 1st, 16-0-0, 32 points
Key Departures: Meghan Agosta, Vicki Bendus, Melissa Lacroix, Jesse Scanzano, Cassea Schols, Samantha Watt, associate head coach Paul Colontino
Arrivals: Shelby Bram, Hailey Brown, Gina Buquet, Molly Byrne, Kristine Grenier, Vaila Higson, Caroline Luczak, Amanda Makela, Jill Szandzik, assistant coach Delaney Collins
Key Players: Christine Bestland (18-24-42), Bailey Bram (15-27-42), Hillary Pattenden (2.04 GAA .905 save percentage)
Prognosis: A lot can be said about the firepower that the Lakers lost to graduation, but the fact remains that they are still the most talented team in their conference, and five returning players exceeded 20 points last season. Coach Mike Sisti has demonstrated that he can win without an explosive offense if need be, but the Mercyhurst roster looks to offer more than enough goals to overcome the league challenge.

Syracuse Orange
Projected Finish: 2nd
Previous Season: 3rd, 7-6-3, 17 points
Key Departures: Isabel Menard, Ashley Cockell, Stefanie Marty, Julie Rising
Arrivals: Jordyn Burns, Shiann Darkangelo, Nicole Ferrara, Kaillie Goodnough, Casey Hirsch, Julie Knerr, Allie LaCombe, assistant coach Alison Domenico
Key Players: Akane Hosoyamada (2-16-18), Kallie Billadeau (2.08 GAA, .908 save percentage)
Prognosis: A team that only averaged 2.44 goals per game lost its top four goal scorers, so offense figures to be in short supply. However, with new regimes in place at Niagara and Robert Morris, and more sizzle in the incoming class than the competition, Paul Flanagan figures to be able to slip his charges into second place.

Robert Morris Colonials
Projected Finish: 3rd
Previous Season: 4th, 2-9-5, 9 points
Key Departures: head coach Nate Handrahan, Daneca Butterfield, Sara O’Malley
Arrivals: Chelsea Burdzy, Maddie Collias, Katie Fergus, Taylor Sakundiak, Katelyn Scott, Erin Staniewski, Courtney Vinet, Rebecaa Vint, head coach Paul Colontino, volunteer assistant Brianne McLaughlin
Key Players: Thea Imbrogno (12-17-29), Brianna Delany (11-18-29), Dayna Newsom (5-16-21)
Prognosis: The Colonials figure to be better positioned than Niagara, returning more experience in net and a little more proven offense. Colontino’s experience with the league should allow RMU to get out of the basement and perhaps make a run at second.

Niagara Purple Eagles
Projected Finish: 4th
Previous Season: 2nd, 8-6-2, 18 points
Key Departures: head coach Chris MacKenzie, Jenni Bauer
Arrivals: Erin Burns, Kalli Funk, Kelsey Gunn, Amy Helfrich, Delaney Middlebrook, Kayla Raniwsky, Abby Ryplanksi
Key Players: Jessica Hitchcock (6-10-16), Jenna Hendrikx (11-3-14), Kristen Richards (7-7-14)
Prognosis: Josh Sciba ascends to the head coaching position, inheriting a team that neither allowed, nor scored, many goals – 1.48 and 2.33 goals per game respectively. His immediate challenges figure to be selecting a goalie to succeed graduated Jenni Bauer and discovering a little more pop at the other end.

ECAC
A better question than who will win the ECAC title is “Who finishes second?” Cornell ran away with the crown a year ago, and figures to do so once again, as the Big Red are loaded throughout their roster. The next few spots will likely come down to the final weekend before everything is sorted out.

Cornell Big Red
Projected Finish: 1st
Previous Season: 1st, 20-1-1, 41 points
Key Departures: Hayley Hughes, Karlee Overguard, Amber Overguard
Arrivals: Erin Barley-Maloney, Emily Fulton, Monika Leck, Katelyn Pippy, Jillian Saulnier
Key Players: Rebecca Johnston (26-24-50), Brianne Jenner (23-27-50), Laura Fortino (9-32-41),
Prognosis: The big surprise last season was not that Cornell went unchallenged for the title, but that they didn’t sweep their conference games, so dominating were the Big Red through January. That will likely be the only drama associated with their ECAC race once more.

Quinnipiac Bobcats
Projected Finish: 2nd
Previous Season: 5th, 12-9-1, 25 points
Key Departures: Kelley Davies
Arrivals: Nicole Kosta, Breann Frykas, Morgan Fritz-Ward, Anna Borgfeldt, Chelsea Laden
Key Players: Victoria Vigilanti (1.68 GAA, .932 save percentage), Kelly Babstock (30-29-59)
Prognosis: The Bobcats continued their upward progression in coach Rick Seeley’s third season, finishing with 22 wins, the first 20-win season in their 10-year history. Back-to-back Rookies of the Year Vigilanti and Babstock have solidified the defense and sparked the offense respectively. Most of this young team returns, suggesting a top-four league finish is there for the taking.

Dartmouth Big Green
Projected Finish: 3rd
Previous Season: 3rd, 15-7-0, 30 points
Key Departures: Amanda Trunzo, Katie Horner, Alyssa Boehm
Arrivals: Morgan Illikainen, Sam Zeiss, Abbie Lund, Karlee Odland, Katie Milligan
Key Players: Sasha Nanji (14-16-30), Camille Dumais (18-20-38), Lindsay Holdcroft (2.34 GAA, .902 save percentage)
Prognosis: After slumping to ninth and missing the playoffs two years ago, the Big Green rebounded to their accustomed form and garnered an NCAA bid. The scorers of 91 of their 112 goals are back, along with both goaltenders, so look for Dartmouth to be hosting once more come ECAC playoff time.

Clarkson Golden Knights
Projected Finish: 4th
Previous Season: 6th, 10-8-4, 24 points
Key Departures: Melissa Waldie, Lauren Dahm, Daris Tendler
Arrivals: Jenna Boss, Taylor Gedig, Emily Horn, Christine Lambert, Daniella Matteucci, Jennifer Shields
Key Players: Jamie-Lee Rattray (7-18-25), Juana Baribeau (10-11-21), Erica Howe (1.87 GAA, .928 save percentage
Prognosis: A young Golden Knights squad struggled out of the gate last season, but showed signs of improvement later in the year. Expect this edition to be more ready for prime time and move back up the standings.

Harvard Crimson
Projected Finish: 5th
Previous Season: 2nd, 14-5-3, 31 points
Key Departures: Kate Buesser, Liza Ryabkina, Leanna Coskren, Katharine Chute
Arrivals: Sarah Edney, Hillary Crowe, Samantha Reber, Michelle Picard, Tiana Press, assistant coach Jeff Pellegrini
Key Players: Jillian Dempsey (14-14-28), Josephine Pucci (12-13-25), Marissa Gedman (5-12-17)
Prognosis: The Crimson add some good players, but they graduated 44 percent of the goals and 43 percent of the points from last season, so there are definitely holes to fill. Harvard will need improvement in net to stay in the hunt while waiting for the offense to come around.

St. Lawrence Saints
Projected Finish: 6th
Previous Season: 7th, 11-11-0, 22 points
Key Departures: Maxie Weisz, Lauren Brozowski, Kirsten Roach
Arrivals: Amanda Boulier, Jessica Hon, Margo Lund, Jessa McAuliffe, Jacqueline Wand, Ellie Williams, Carmen MacDonald
Key Players: Kelly Sabatine (15-19-34), Brooke Fernandez (7-19-26), Vanessa Emond (14-11-25)
Prognosis: Weisz played roughly two-thirds of the minutes in goal last season; she has now graduated, so identifying her replacement will be crucial. The producers on offense are back, so some ascension in the standings is indicated.

Princeton Tigers
Projected Finish: 7th
Previous Season: 4th, 13-8-1, 27 points
Key Departures: Sasha Sherry, Laura Martindale, assistant coaches Amy Bourbeau and Jessica Link
Arrivals: Ashley Holt, Brianna Leahy, Brianne Mahoney, Ali Pankowski, assistant coaches Cara Morey and John Zdunkiewicz
Key Players: Rachel Weber (1.77 GAA, .931 save percentage), Olivia Mucha (9-12-21), Sally Butler (9-10-19)
Prognosis: The Tigers neither allow many goals nor score many of their own. Although their primary goaltender and top forwards are all back, they lost both their best offensive and defensive performers on the blue line. Historically, veteran D have proven problematic to replace in the short term.

Rensselaer Engineers
Projected Finish: 8th
Previous Season: Three-way tie for 8th, 8-12-2, 18 points
Key Departures: Sonja van der Bliek, Kendra Dunlop, Sydney O’Keefe
Arrivals: Eleeza Cox, Taylor Mahoney, Alicia Miksic, Kelly O’Brien, Brianna Piper, Kathryn Schilter, Ali Svoboda, Mariana Walsh
Key Players: Taylor Horton (12-11-23), Jordan Smelker (10-10-20), Alisa Harrison (8-11-19)
Prognosis: The Engineers must improve on last season’s 2.77 GAA, and a big part of that will be determining who is between the pipes. With the announcement that junior Shannon Ramelot is out with an injury, that figures to be one of three newcomers: Piper, O’Brien, or Miksic. On the other end, RPI would benefit from a number of players upping their point total from a year ago in order to extend the season beyond the league quarterfinals.

Colgate Red Raiders
Projected Finish: 9th
Previous Season: Three-way tie for 8th, 8-12-2, 18 points
Key Departures: Jessi Waters, Jordan Brickner, Jacquie Colborne
Arrivals: Susan Allen, Brittney Brooks, Katie Case, Dockus Casey, Taylor Craig, Miriam Drubel, Lauren Fritzgerald, Melissa Kueber
Key Players: Brittany Phillips (15-18-33), Jenna Klynstra (13-14-27), Kimberly Sass (2.88 GAA, .899 save percentage)
Prognosis: Colgate appears to be stuck in a bit of a rut. In each of their 10 D-I seasons, all but the first under coach Scott Wiley, they’ve reached double-digit wins, but never as many as 20. Primary goaltender Sass is back, along with the scorers of 89 percent of their goals. That could indicate improvement, but neither the offensive nor defensive numbers were great last season, and Colgate will be integrating eight rookies into the lineup, so look for the Red Raiders to be battling for the final ECAC playoff spot once more.

Yale Bulldogs
Projected Finish: 10th
Previous Season: Three-way tie for 8th, 8-12-2, 18 points
Key Departures: Jackee Snikeris, Bray Ketchum, Samantha MacLean, assistant coach Paul Nemetz-Carlson
Arrivals: Stephanie Mock, Lynn Kennedy, Madi Murray, Kelsey Summers, Jaimie Leonoff, assistant coach Eddie Ardito
Key Players: Jackie Raines (9-10-19), Jenna Ciotti (9-6-15), Aleca Hughes (10-3-13)
Prognosis: Replacing Snikeris and her .941 save percentage figures to present a challenge. Optimistically, 84 percent of the goal scoring is back, but that translates into only 44 goals. The teams above them look to have a bit more potential.

Brown Bears
Projected Finish: 11th
Previous Season: 11th, 1-17-4, 6 points
Key Departures: head coach Digit Murphy, Erica Kromm, Erica Farrer
Arrivals: head coach Amy Bourbeau, Shannon Flatley, Kaitlyn Keon, Brittany Moorehead, Sarah Robson, Lauren Vella, Janice Yang
Key Players: Alena Polenska (10-7-17), Laurie Jolin (10-7-17), Katie Jamieson (3.26 GAA, .907 save percentage)
Prognosis: Once a national power, Brown has been stuck in a downward spiral in recent years. Digit Murphy has been replaced by Amy Bourbeau as the Bears look to improve on just a single conference win in each of the last two seasons.

Union Dutchwomen
Projected Finish: 12th
Previous Season: 12th, 1-19-2, 4 points
Key Departures: Callee Heywood, Perri Maduri, Marissa Gentile
Arrivals: Shenae Lundberg, Alex Tancrell-Fontaine, Kelly McGrath, Christine Valente, Camille Corbin, Bryanne Panchuk, Talia Menard
Key Players: Kate Gallagher (3.08 GAA, .916 save percentage), Lauren Hoffman (4-7-11)
Prognosis: Union was once dreadful. Under coach Claudia Asano, their last-place finishes have been much more respectable. To ever escape the cellar, however, they’ll have to compile more than last season’s 18 goals in the ECAC slate.

Hockey East
Top to bottom, the conference looks to be its toughest ever. For years, New Hampshire had strong squads, but the rest of the league lagged behind. Ironically, with Hockey East on an upswing last season, the Wildcats plummeted to seventh and missed the postseason. Boston University has emerged as the new HEA ruler.

Boston University Terriers
Projected Finish: 1st
Previous Season: 1st, 15-3-3, 33 points
Key Departures: Catherine Ward, Jillian Kirchner, Holly Lorms
Arrivals: Isabel Menard, Sarah Bayersdorfer, Caroline Campbell, Shannon Stoneburgh, Kayla Tutino
Key Players: Marie-Philip Poulin (24-23-47), Jenn Wakefield (32-22-54), Kerrin Sperry (1.63 GAA, .929 save percentage)
Prognosis: Olympian Ward will be missed on the blue line, no doubt, as will the other seniors that were instrumental in the rise of the program to its first NCAA tournament two years ago and the national championship game last year. With the emergence of Sperry in net, Menard and the other additions should help maintain the Terriers as the team to beat.

Providence Friars
Projected Finish: 2nd
Previous Season: 3rd, 12-8-1, 25 points
Key Departures: Alyse Ruff, Amber Yung, Jean O’Neill
Arrivals: Hillary Drake, Haley Frade, Beth Hanrahan, Suzie Lundeen, Allison Micheletti, Brooke Simpson, Victoria Virtue
Key Players: Genevieve Lacasse (1.83 GAA, .941 save percentage), Kate Bacon (16-14-30), Jennifer Friedman (7-16-23)
Prognosis: The Friars have been a model of consistency for as long as Hockey East has existed, never finishing lower than fourth, and usually finishing higher. The presence of Lacasse is the biggest reason to expect the trend to continue this year. To improve on their third-place finish of a year ago, they will need to up their goal scoring in league games, where they had only 53 compared to 102 overall. Luckily, scorers of 85 percent of the goals return.

Boston College Eagles
Projected Finish: 3rd
Previous Season: 2nd, 13-4-4, 30 points
Key Departures: Molly Schaus, Kelly Stack, Katelyn Kurth
Arrivals: Alex Carpenter, Emily Field, Erin Kickham, Kate Leary, Megan Miller, Emily Pfalzer, Jackie Young
Key Players: Mary Restuccia (11-28-39), Danielle Welch (10-15-25), Taylor Wasylk (15-9-24)
Prognosis: The Eagles won the Hockey East tournament and advanced to the Frozen Four last season, and have added a great class. What they will miss is the leadership of their seniors, particularly Olympians Schaus and Stack. Expect Carpenter to be a great player during her BC career, but look for the 2011-2012 Eagles to follow a recent pattern of regression the year after an NCAA appearance.

Northeastern Huskies
Projected Finish: 4th
Previous Season: 5th, 6-10-5, 17 points
Key Departures: Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Lori Antflick, Julia Marty, Kristi Kehoe, Leah Sulyma
Arrivals: Kendall Coyne, Chloe Desjardins, Ann Doherty, Ayla Frank, Leanne Gallant, Chelsey Goldberg, Chelsiea Goll, Colleen Murphy, Lucie Povova
Key Players: Florence Schelling (2.02 GAA, .930 save percentage), Rachel Llanes (12-19-31), Katie McSorley (15-6-21)
Prognosis: With Schelling guarding the cage and Coyne arriving to spark the offense, great things are possible for Northeastern. If they unfold just right, NU could easily wind up second. Conversely, the wrong player could suffer an ill-timed injury, and the Huskies could miss the playoffs. Let’s go with the middle of that range.

New Hampshire Wildcats
Projected Finish: 5th
Previous Season: Tie for 6th, 7-13-1, 15 points
Key Departures: Courtney Birchard, Courtney Sheary, Kayley Herman
Arrivals: Brynja Bogan, Casey Stathopoulos, Heather Kashman, Jenna Lascelle, Jess Ryan, Caroline Broderick, Kayla Mork, Moe Bradley, Jenn Gilligan
Key Players: Lindsey Minton (1.84 GAA, .926 save percentage), Kristina Lavoie (9-11-20), Arielle O’Neill (11-8-19)
Prognosis: When a team has made the NCAA tournament five years in a row and then has a losing season, one wonders if it is an aberration or the start of a decline. Goaltending, which proved to be the Wildcats’ Achilles’ heel at times during their glory years, was ironically very strong as they struggled. While I don’t see the national tournament on UNH’s 2012 horizon, a slight recovery is suggested.

Maine Black Bears
Projected Finish: 6th
Previous Season: Tie for 6th, 6-12-3, 15 points
Key Departures: Jennie Gallo, Jordan Colliton
Arrivals: Jessica Hall, Brittany Huneke, Katy Massey, Megan Menotti, Jennifer More, Tori Pasquariello, Nikola Tomigova, Megan Treacy, assistant coach Tyler Bilton
Key Players: Brittany Ott (2.49 GAA, .921 save percentage), Myriam Croussette (14-12-26), Brittany Dougherty (14-12-26)
Prognosis: Coach Maria Lewis managed to breathe some new life into the Black Bears in her first year in Orono, getting them out of the Hockey East cellar and into the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Maine had some impressive results, posting wins against BU, BC, and Quinnipiac. Yet they were outscored nearly three to two collectively if their Sacred Heart games are excluded. A little belief can go far however, so I expect Lewis to find a way to work Maine into the postseason once more.

Connecticut Huskies
Projected Finish: 7th
Previous Season: 4th, 9-9-3, 21 points
Key Departures: Jennifer Chaisson, Brittany Murphy, Jody Sydor
Arrivals: Christie Brauer, Kayla Campero, Rachel Farrel, Caitlin Hewes, Sarah MacDonnell, Silvana Moccia, Emily Snodgrass, Maggie Walsh
Key Players: Alexandra Garcia (2.60 GAA, .921 save percentage), Taylor Gross (12-11-23), Sami Evelyn (5-14-19)
Prognosis: This seems like a bad pick even as I make it. They finished fourth last season, and the coaches slotted them fifth. The Huskies return an excellent goalie in senior Alexandra Garcia, and most of their offense is back. However, they went 1-6-2 down the stretch, and I just don’t get the feeling that they are heading in the right direction. Five players with eligibility remaining from last year’s roster are gone, and it remains to be seen if that was coincidental or an indication of a deeper problem, and if so, whether any discontentment remains.

Vermont Catamounts
Projected Finish: 8th
Previous Season: 8th, 4-3-14, 12 points
Key Departures: Celest Doucet, Peggy Wakeham, Saleah Morrison
Arrivals: Krystal Bauman, Megan Bergland, Meghan Huertas, Kaitlyn LaGue, Delia McNally, Klara Myren, Amanda Pelkey, Gina Repaci, Greer Vogl, Brittany Zuback
Key Players: Roxanne Douville (1.91 GAA, .931 save percentage), Erin Wente (8-4-12), Chelsea Rapin (5-6-11)
Prognosis: Vermont has an excellent recruiting class and should be improved. They’ll be in good shape in goal, but they only return four players who had at least five points, and nobody with more than 12. It can take time for a team with 10 rookies to gel, and somebody has to finish last, so I’ll say that their young talent is still a year away from making a climb.

WCHA
The easy pick is Wisconsin; that’s likely the smart pick as well. The Badgers won by more than six games over the Bulldogs and Gophers last time, they have most of their cogs back, and they will be formidable once more, but so will Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota, and North Dakota. Although they take a backseat to the Badgers and Bulldogs at tournament time, the Gophers own as many regular-season titles as UMD and UW combined, and they’ll claim another come February.

Minnesota Golden Gophers
Projected Finish: 1st
Previous Season: Tie for 2nd, 18-8-2, 57 points
Key Departures: Terra Rasmussen, Laura May, assistant coach Natalie Darwitz
Arrivals: Stephanie Anderson, Rachael Bona, Meghan Lorence, Rachel Ramsey, Shyler Sletta
Key Players: Noora Räty (1.77 GAA, .941 save percentage), Amanda Kessel (19-31-50), Sarah Erickson (21-22-43)
Prognosis: Coach Brad Frost says this is his best team, and he won league titles in half of his first four seasons, albeit with nothing to spare. The scorers of 127 of the team’s 132 goals are back, as is the entire blue line and All-American goaltender Räty. The major concerns are her health, given primary backup Alyssa Grogan is still sidelined, and an inability to post a winning record against any of the league’s upper-division teams.

Wisconsin Badgers
Projected Finish: 2nd
Previous Season: 1st, 24-2-2, 76 points
Key Departures: Meghan Duggan, Mallory Deluce, Geena Prough, assistant coach Tracey DeKeyser
Arrivals: Jordan Brickner, Ilana Friedman, Katy Josephs, Karley Sylvester, Blayre Turnbull, Katarina Zgraja, associate head coach Dan Koch
Key Players: Hilary Knight (47-34-81), Brianna Decker (34-46-80), Brooke Ammerman (17-28-45)
Prognosis: It is hard to bet against any roster possessing the talent of Wisconsin, especially up front. At times however, they are less invincible in their own end than their previous championship squads. Along with the challenge of replacing the ultimate leader in Kazmaier winner Duggan, I see them coming up one or two points short in the standings. The Badgers will still be the favorite come the postseason.

North Dakota Fighting Sioux
Projected Finish: 3rd
Previous Season: 4th, 16-10-2, 50 points
Key Departures: Stephanie Roy
Arrivals: Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Michelle Bonapace-Potvin, Andrea Dalen, Josefine Jakobsen, Leah Jensen, Josie Johnson, Shannon Kaiser, Michelle Karvinen, Layla Marvin, Monique Weber, Tori Williams
Key Players: Jocelyn Lamoureux (28-29-57), Monique Lamoureux-Kolls (22-32-54), Alyssa Wiebe (13-21-34)
Prognosis: The best team in the history of the WCHA from a city other than Duluth, Madison, or Minneapolis, UND is a legitimate NCAA title hopeful. They have more options in net, are much deeper up front, and the addition of Karvinen gives them another international star. If the Sioux can reduce the goals allowed, the league crown is a definite possibility.

Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
Projected Finish: 4th
Previous Season: Tie for 2nd, 18-7-3, 57 points
Key Departures: Kim Martin, Elin Holmlov, Jocelyne Larocque, Laura Fridfinnson, Tara Gray, assistant coach Maria Rooth
Arrivals: Zoe Hickel, Shara Jasper, Brigette Lacquette, Jenna McParland, Emma Stauber, Paige Turner, Tea Villila, assistant coach Steve Macdonald
Key Players: Haley Irwin (18-30-48), Jessica Wong (15-23-38), Jennifer Harss (1.85 GAA, .931 save percentage)
Prognosis: UMD teams of late tend to be weighted to every second class; the trend continues, as much of the strength of this edition is in the junior and incoming classes. The rookies will need to come up to speed rapidly, as the outgoing seniors were vital to the most recent Bulldogs’ titles. Coach Shannon Miller may have them ready to pursue a Frozen Four title in Duluth come March, but being able to conquer the WCHA during the regular season looks to be a challenge that arrives too soon.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Projected Finish: 5th
Previous Season: 6th, 8-17-3, 30 points
Key Departures: Shannon Reilly, Teal Bishop, Christina Mancuso, head coach Jackie Barto
Arrivals: Stacy Danczak, Danielle Gagne, Taylor Kuehl, Kari Schmitt, Sara Schmitt, Kayla Sullivan, head coach Nate Handrahan, assistant coaches Scott Spencer and Candice Moxley
Key Players: Laura McIntosh (14-33-47), Natalie Spooner (26-13-39), Hokey Langan (13-18-31)
Prognosis: Handrahan leaves Robert Morris to become the second head coach in Buckeyes history. Inconsistency has plagued OSU over the years, with an upset win followed by a couple of losses in games they were expected to win. The Schmitt sisters bring size to a blue line that has lacked it, and Chelsea Knapp returns after a season lost to injury to bolster the depth in net. The Buckeyes should gain a spot, but home ice in the WCHA quarters looks to be a reach.

Bemidji State Beavers
Projected Finish: 6th
Previous Season: 5th, 11-13-4, 39 points
Key Departures: Erin Cody, Annie Bauerfeld, Erin Johnson, assistant coach Heather Farrell
Arrivals: Kayleigh Chapman, Alexandria Citrowske, Kristin Huber, Rachael Kelly, Kristi King, Natasha Kostenko, Tegan Rose, Whitney Wivoda, assistant coach Amber Fryklund
Key Players: Zuzana Tomcikova (1.84 GAA, .933 save percentage), Emily Erickson (16-11-27), Montana Vichorek (2-14-16)
Prognosis: The additions should make BSU a deeper team; they only had half a dozen players with more than 10 points, and three of those graduated. However, they will miss leading scorer Cody, who was involved in more than half of their goals and in the middle of every big victory. A team with a goaltender of Tomcikova’s caliber always has a chance, and the hard-working Beavers have overachieved in the past.

Minnesota State Mavericks
Projected Finish: 7th
Previous Season: 7th, 7-20-1, 22 points
Key Departures: Nina Tikkinen, Amy Udvig
Arrivals: Erin Krichiver, Shelby Monteyuunas, Kara Powers, Natalie Stolz
Key Players: Kathleen Rogan (12-9-21), Lauren Smith (4-11-15), Alli Altmann (3.16 GAA, .900 save percentage)
Prognosis: Last season’s Mavericks had a couple of basic problems – they allowed far too many goals (122), while not scoring enough of their own (53). Beyond Rogan, there were many disappointing offensive outputs, and the team defense needs tightening. If they don’t improve in one of those areas,  they are more likely to be overtaken by St. Cloud State than challenge those above them.

St. Cloud State Huskies
Projected Finish: 8th
Previous Season: 8th, 1-26-1, 5 points
Key Departures: Ashley Nixon, Diana Karouzos, assistant coaches Jason Johnson and Jennifer Kranz
Arrivals: Amanda Arbogast, Julie Friend, Audrey Hanmer, Abby Ness, assistant coaches Jim Fetter and Brita Schroeder
Key Players: Julia Gilbert (6-5-11), Molli Mott (5-5-10), Alex Nelson (5-3-8)
Prognosis: The Huskies top four scorers graduated two seasons ago, so some decline from a third-place finish was to be expected, but not the train wreck that materialized. The young team had a late-season win over Minnesota State and bested Minnesota-Duluth in a shootout, but to find a bright spot beyond that, one had to stare at the lights. The highest-scoring senior being a goaltender suggests that this year’s team can only improve, and the incoming class offers promise as well.


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