Weekend wrap: 09/28/14

Pucks have been dropped
A number of programs’ seasons are underway. Most teams are practicing, others have played exhibitions, and a few have started bona fide NCAA competition. Let’s look at the results of the latter.

Scanlan makes history at Bemidji State
Under new coach James Scanlan, Bemidji State opened its season with a road sweep at Robert Morris. The Beavers had never started with two wins in any of their previous 16 seasons.

The outcome is disappointing for the Colonials, who received votes in USCHO’s preseason poll and were ranked for much of last season until a late slump.

Both games were up for grabs in the third period. On Friday, BSU seized a 2-0 lead by the game’s midpoint on goals by Whitney Wivoda and Madison Hutchinson, only to see Rebecca Vint and Erin Staniewski score to forge a 2-2 tie with 8:08 gone in the final frame. Stephanie Anderson scored the eventual winning goal on a power play four minutes later, and Kaitlyn Tougas and Megan Lushanko added insurance goals in a 5-2 Bemidji State win.

Robert Morris struck first in Saturday’s rematch, with Staniewski converting on a power play with 15:41 elapsed. Freshman Erin Deters, making her first collegiate start for the Beavers, slammed the door the rest of the way and finished with 29 saves. Jenessa Philipczyk knotted the score a period later, and rookie Alexis Joyce put BSU ahead to stay 7:16 into the third period. Anderson salted that victory with an empty-net goal; she was one of five Beavers to turn in two-point weekends.

Black Bears earn first conference points
Only one league game was played on the weekend, and Maine became the first team to assume a conference lead with a 2-1 win over Hockey East foe New Hampshire. St. Lawrence transfer Margo Lund opened the scoring at 3:39 to give UNH its first lead of the Hilary Witt era, but Hailey Browne answered eight minutes later. Kelsey MacSorley’s second-period tally proved decisive. Meghann Treacy turned aside 25 shots to earn the victory.

Bulldogs better Huskies
No. 10 Minnesota-Duluth saw its season get off to a rocky start, falling into an early 3-0 hole at Connecticut, with Sarah MacDonnell scoring twice for the hosts. Starting goaltender Kayla Black was yanked from the game after allowing three goals on six shots in the opening 14:38. Karissa Grapp played the remainder of the period, and Black returned to the crease after intermission. Her team clawed its way back, scoring twice in the second and twice in the third, with sophomores Lara Stalder and Ashleigh Brykaliuk each netting a pair. Just 44 seconds after Brykaliuk put UMD ahead with a short-hander, Margaret Zimmer capitalized on the same power play for UConn. Neither team could find the net in the five-minute overtime, and each had to settle for a 4-4 verdict. The Huskies earned the tie in large part thanks to Elaine Chuli’s 54 saves.

Black had a far less turbulent outing on Saturday, stopping all 27 shots she faced. Power-play goals by Zoe Hickel and Tea Villali in the second period and an empty-net goal by freshman Michelle Lowenheilm boosted UMD to a 3-0 triumph.

Badgers survive absences
No. 2 Wisconsin gained a sweep at Lindenwood by scores of 5-1 and 6-0. Neither the absence of five Badgers who were attending a Hockey Canada camp in Calgary, Alberta, nor 91 saves by the Lions’ Nicole Hensley, could derail the visitors. Senior Karley Sylvester led the attack with six points, and classmate Katy Josephs scored three times and was one of three Badgers with a four-point series. UMD transfer Shara Jasper had the only marker for the hosts. Jorie Walters got the start in the second game and earned the shutout.

Women’s D-I picks: March 21

Well, last weekend I could only go 2-2 (.500), putting me at 26-17 in the playoffs so far. Let’s see if I can do any better this time around.

Friday, March 21

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
Another classic battle between these rivals. Minnesota won all four games this season, though three were close. I think the Gophers advance to the title game again. Minnesota 3-2

Clarkson vs. Mercyhurst
This is a game I am really not sure about. I wish I had a better handle on Erin Ambrose’s health, because her play gives Clarkson better defensive capability, but I’ll go with the Golden Knights in a squeaker. Clarkson 3-2

First-time participant Clarkson highlights Frozen Four quartet

Entering the NCAA tournament, most thought that Boston College was the road team with the best chance of earning a win. Instead, the Eagles were the only team not to come within a goal at any point of the third period as Clarkson reached its first Frozen Four.

Leading into the game, the big questions were: would Erin Ambrose be able to play, and could Clarkson win if she didn’t? The answers were, “No,” and an emphatic, “Yes.”

In the absence of its talented sophomore blueliner, Clarkson got big efforts from its senior class in a 3-1 victory over BC. Patty Kazmaier Award top-three finalist Jamie Lee Rattray assisted on all three tallies. Vanessa Gagnon netted a pair, the game’s first goal on a deflection and a rebound opportunity to make it 3-0 early in the final period. Brittany Styner scored the ultimate game-winner and added an assist, and defenseman Vanessa Plante got into the act with a helper. All told, the senior class accounted for eight points while Erica Howe made 23 saves to ensure her resume would include a Frozen Four trip.

The Golden Knights improve to 29-5-5 on the season, surpassing the 28 wins from last year as the most in program history.

Mercyhurst derails Cornell for second straight season
When Mercyhurst dropped No. 2 seed Cornell in overtime last year, it was a surprise. This time, the Lakers didn’t need OT to end the Big Red’s season in Lynah Rink, outshooting the hosts in every period.

Cornell’s Emily Fulton opened the scoring with 7:39 gone and netted her second with 4:29 remaining, but in between, Christine Bestland assisted on one goal and scored two more; Mercyhurst held on for a 3-2 triumph. The three points give Bestland 226 for her career, moving her ahead of Jesse Scanzano into second place in program history. Kaleigh Chippy had the other tally, and Amanda Makela made 29 stops to advance Mercyhurst to its fourth Frozen Four in six years.

The Lakers will face Clarkson in the late semifinal on Friday.

Minnesota repeats win over Boston University in championship rematch
Senior Kelly Terry’s four-point game included a hat trick, her second of the year and the third of her career. Terry’s opening goal off a defender’s skate was quickly answered by Sarah Lefort’s 32nd goal of the season, tops in the country. Minnesota went back up on a second-period, five-on-three goal by Rachel Ramsey. Terry added two goals early in the third period and Maryanne Menefee completed the scoring, giving the Gophers a 5-1 win. Amanda Leveille recorded 28 saves as Minnesota reached the Frozen Four for the 10th time.

Wisconsin stops Harvard to reach seventh Frozen Four
Alex Rigsby got the best of Harvard’s Emerance Maschmeyer in a battle of two of the premier goaltenders in the country. Wisconsin won 2-1, as all three goals were scored with 16 minutes and change elapsed in a period. Blayre Turnbull started the scoring in the first period, and Katy Josephs doubled the Badgers’ advantage in the next frame. Maschmeyer made 42 saves to keep the Crimson in the game, and Dylanne Crugnale finally got them on the board with 3:23 remaining.

However, Rigsby made 23 saves, including a diving effort with her stick to knock down a puck headed for a wide-open net. The win gives her 100 in her career, tying her with Hillary Pattenden for second-most in NCAA history.

Wisconsin will meet Minnesota on Friday. The Badgers hold a 2-1 edge in the teams’ prior national tournament encounters.

Women’s D-I picks: March 14

Last weekend, I went a dismal 6-6 (.500) thanks to all the upsets. For the playoffs, I am 24-15 (.615). Let’s see if I can do any better in the NCAA tournament.

Saturday, March 15

Boston University at Minnesota
A rematch of last year’s championship game, but I don’t see any different outcome. Minnesota 4-2

Mercyhurst at Cornell
A rematch of last year’s quarterfinal, where the Lakers upset the Big Red in OT. I think Cornell will be extra on guard against that happening this time. Cornell 4-2

Boston College at Clarkson
I figure if there is one upset, this is the most likely spot for it, especially if the Golden Knights are without Erin Ambrose. Boston College 3-2

Harvard at Wisconsin
If both teams are affected by the power outages that have plagued them at times, this game could be a mutli-OT scoreless epic. I think home ice wins though. Wisconsin 3-2

Women’s D-I wrap: March 9

Chaos returns in the second weekend of conference tournaments
After the higher seed advanced in all 14 pairings of the conference quarterfinals, results reverted to the occasional randomness seen over the season in the semis and finals. Underdogs prevailed in half of the 12 games. Minnesota was the only top-seeded team able to back up its WCHA regular-season title with a playoff crown. The semifinals were hard on the second seeds, as only one made it to the final, but that one, Boston University, took the Hockey East Championship. The third seed proved to be the most advantageous, because Cornell parlayed that route into the ECAC Hockey crown, as did RIT in the CHA. The Tigers’ tournament victory was particularly impressive, coming in just their second season as a Division-I program.

Tigers tame CHA
Ali Binnington saved all but one of the 63 shots she faced, and Lindsay Grigg scored 13:43 into the second overtime to give RIT a 2-1 victory over host Mercyhurst and its first CHA Championship. Grigg had assisted on Erin Zach’s power-play goal in the last minute of the second period for a 1-0 Tigers’ lead. Christie Cicero pulled the Lakers even during a delayed penalty early in the third stanza. Binnington’s heroics earned her recognition as the tourney’s MVP.

It was RIT’s second upset in as many days, as it took down Robert Morris, 4-1, on Friday. Melissa Bromley and Carly Payerl staked the Tigers to a 2-0 lead in the middle frame, and after Rebecca Vint cut the margin in half, Kourtney Kunichika and Cassie Clayton put the game out of reach.

Mercyhurst reached the final with a 2-1 defeat of Syracuse. Two goals by Kaleigh Chippy with helpers from Shelby Bram were enough to vanquish the Orange, who could only muster a tally from Allie LaCombe.

In an ironic twist, RIT’s season ends with a seven-game winning streak, while Mercyhurst moves on to its 10th straight NCAA tourney.

Gophers continue reign atop WCHA
Minnesota answered a power-play goal from Josefine Jakobsen with two of its own in defeating North Dakota in the WCHA final for a second straight year. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Rachel Ramsey and Hannah Brandt scored with the advantage and Dani Cameranesi iced the 3-1 win into an empty net.

North Dakota upended Wisconsin, 1-0, on Friday to keep its season alive for another day. Meghan Dufault scored an unassisted goal off of her own rebound to provide all of the offense that goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie would need for a 35-save shutout.

Minnesota-Duluth had the Gophers on the ropes in the other semifinal, but was unable to keep them there. Katerina Mrázová earned the Bulldogs a second period lead, but Kelly Terry answered six minutes later, and goals by Rachael Bona, Milica McMillen, and Cameranesi allowed Minnesota to pull away to a 4-1 triumph.

Big Red bounce back in ECAC
After losing the regular-season prize on the final weekend, Cornell had its revenge in the playoff, holding off Clarkson, 1-0, to claim its fourth championship in five years. Cassandra Poudrier, who missed the first round due to injury, scored the only goal 14:27 into the contest, and goalie Lauren Slebodnick was perfect in handling 26 chances.

Both teams displayed a lot more offense in semifinal wins.

Cornell outlasted Harvard, coming back from a two-goal deficit to win, 6-4. Jillian Saulnier and Emily Fulton contributed a pair of tallies, Jess Brown added another, and Jessica Campbell’s three points included a goal. Miye D’Oench scored twice and assisted once for the Crimson.

Shannon MacAulay led the way with two goals in Clarkson’s 6-0 demolition of Quinnipiac. Carly Mercer, Christine Lambert, Shelby Nisbet, and Erin Ambrose picked up goals and Brittany Styner had three assists. Erica Howe needed only 12 saves to turn in her 14th shutout. The win came at a cost, as Kazmaier top 10 finalist Ambrose suffered an injury.

Terriers grab Hockey East automatic bid
Boston University posted its third straight 3-2 victory to conquer the Hockey East tournament, the final coming over Boston College. Louise Warren and Maddie Elia scored third-period goals to reverse a one-goal deficit. First-frame tallies by Dana Trivigno and Taylor Wasylk sandwiched around one from Rebecca Russo had put the Eagles up by one. Kerrin Sperry made 40 saves and was named the event’s MVP for the second year. The Terriers were outside the top eight needed to secure an at-large invitation, but the automatic bid enters them into their fifth straight national tourney.

The Terriers reached the championship by holding on for a 3-2 verdict over Northeastern. Sarah Lefort, Russo, and Elia struck in the second period to give BU a 3-1 lead, bettering the goal by Kelly Wallace. The Huskies could add only a Colleen Murphy counter with under five to play.

BC advanced, 3-1, over Vermont thanks to a pure hat trick off the stick of Kate Leary.

NCAA field
Struggles late in the season dropped North Dakota and Robert Morris out of the picture, and Quinnipiac was likely the last team eliminated by the Terriers earning an automatic bid. The resulting eight-team field is very similar to that of last season, with the only change being Wisconsin returning at North Dakota’s expense.

A highlight of the quarterfinal pairings includes BU and Minnesota reprising their national final at Ridder Arena. Mercyhurst and Cornell meet in the NCAA tourney for the third time in five years, having traded upset wins. Harvard gets another shot at Wisconsin after coming up short in 2008 and in a record four-overtime tilt in 2007. BC looks to extend its string of three consecutive Frozen Four appearances as it visits Clarkson, where the Golden Knights are searching for a first win in an NCAA tournament game.

Women’s D-I picks: March 7

Well, I didn’t get off to that great a start in my postseason picks. The ECAC really messed with my percentages, but overall, I did well, and correctly picked all but two series. I went 18-9 (.666).

Let’s see how I can do this weekend. If my semifinal picks are wrong, I will update this page.

Friday, March 7

Syracuse at Mercyhurst
This should be a close one, but I expect the Lakers to come out on top. Mercyhurst 3-2

RIT vs. Robert Morris
I’m seriously tempted to go with the Tigers for the upset, but I think RMU will come through. Robert Morris 3-2

Minnesota-Duluth vs. Minnesota
The Gophers are still the tournament favorites until proven otherwise. Minnesota 4-1

North Dakota vs. Wisconsin
The Badgers have generally been kryptonite to UND. Despite their misstep last weekend against Minnesota State, I think they will win a close defensive battle. Wisconsin 2-1

Saturday, March 8

Quinnipiac at Clarkson
The Bobcats won this battle a couple of weeks ago, which might help Clarkson, as it will know to avoid the letdown. Clarkson 2-1

Cornell vs. Harvard
Which wins, offense or defense? Generally, I’d say defense, except Harvard’s has been porous of late. Cornell 4-2

Vermont vs. Boston College
The Catamounts played the Eagles tough the last time these two faced each other, but I don’t think they can contain BC’s high-flying offense. Boston College 4-1

Northeastern vs. Boston University
Both looked shaky last weekend, so I’ll go with the Huskies as my upset special. Northeastern 3-2

Robert Morris vs. Mercyhurst
These two split their season series, and RMU won over the Lakers in the tournament two years ago, but I think home ice gives Mercyhurst the edge. Mercyhurst 3-2

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
The Badgers couldn’t put a dent in the Gophers all season long, and I don’t think they will here either. Minnesota 3-1

Sunday, March 9

Cornell at Clarkson
A game that should see a little bit of everything. Clarkson is at home, and Cornell has looked shaky defensively, so I’ll go with Clarkson. Clarkson 4-2

Northeastern vs. Boston College
A rematch of the Beanpot final won’t produce a different result. Boston College 3-1

Women’s D-I wrap: March 2

Underdogs denied as conference playoffs commence
There were a few tense moments along the way, but in the end, the higher-seeded, home teams advanced from all 14 quarterfinal pairings across the four conferences. Five games went to overtime, and three series required a deciding third game.

Hockey East follows form
The playoff structure used in Hockey East, with single-game quarterfinals rather than best-of-three series, would figure to make upsets more likely. However, the top four seeds all advanced. Three of those teams did surrender the first goal, and the one that did not had to toil for over 117 minutes in order to punch its ticket to Hyannis.

New Hampshire’s 8-1 loss to top-seeded Boston College could represent its season in microcosm: a promising start followed by one disaster after another. Sara Carlson gave the Wildcats a lead 71 seconds into the game, but Dana Trivigno’s response at 4:56 started an avalanche of eight BC goals in less than 40 minutes. Haley Skarupa had two of them and added three assists; Kristyn Capizzano scored twice with a pair of helpers.

Northeastern and Connecticut squared off in a far different contest that was scoreless into the third period before Northeastern rallied late for a 2-1 win. Elaine Chuli stymied Northeastern with 34 saves, and Sarah MacDonnell’s second-chance goal 6:08 into the final stanza looked like it might be enough to spring the upset. Kayla Campero had a chance to provide some insurance on a breakaway with seven and a half minutes remaining, but Chloe Desjardins forced her to shoot wide. That enabled Sonia St. Martin to tie the game seven seconds into a power play with 2:24 left in regulation. St. Martin moved across the high slot and feathered a shot inside the left post for the second goal of her senior season. At the 18:59 mark, Brittany Esposito picked up the puck along the side boards and skated to the front of the net, where she picked the top corner on Chuli’s glove side. Connecticut pressured with a six-on-four advantage in the final seconds, but could not find an equalizer.

Boston University turned to leading scorers Sarah Lefort and Louise Warren to supply the offense. Warren responded with a pair of goals, including a third-period game-winner, Lefort tallied once, and that was a enough for a 3-2 victory for the Terriers. The duo has now combined for 56 of BU’s 106 goals on the season. Kerrin Sperry made 37 saves to earn the win. Beth Hanrahan gave Providence a lead in the opening minute of the second period, and Lexi Romanchuk tied the game after BU took its first lead. However, the Friars saw the repeat of an all-too-familiar theme, losing a game despite outshooting an opponent, 39-22 in this case. For the first time, Providence will not be part of the field for Hockey East’s semifinals.

Vermont hosted a postseason game for the first time in the Division-I history of the program, and the Catamounts like the experience so much that they didn’t want it to end. They took a 2-0 lead over Maine in the first period. Victoria Andreakos followed her own shot to open the scoring, and Rachael Ade converted another rebound for her first goal of the season. The lead held up until the 10:56 mark of the third period when Emilie Brigham grabbed a loose puck and wristed a shot by Roxanne Douville to pull the Black Bears within one. Hailey Browne deflected in a shot with 3:16 remaining in the period, and the teams went to overtime tied at 2-2. Goalies Douville and Meghann Treacy matched save for save until Amanda Pelkey attacked parallel to the goal line and Brittany Zuback crashed down the slot and scored upstairs to give Vermont a 3-2 win. The game ended at 17:12 in the third overtime, the longest game in the history of both programs. The Catamounts advance to their first league semifinal.

Top four advance in the CHA
Mercyhurst and Robert Morris had first-round byes, and RIT and Syracuse moved on with series sweeps.

The Tigers swept their series from Penn State, but they needed an overtime winner from Celeste Brown 10:15 into the extra session in game one to take a 3-2 decision. Shannon Yoxheimer had tallied twice for the Nittany Lions, and RIT offset that with goals from Jess Paton and Caitlin Wallace, the latter being her first collegiate goal. Nicole Paniccia made 44 stops to keep PSU in the game, and Ali Binnington registered 34 saves and earned the win. On Saturday, Binnington kept a clean sheet, thwarting all 31 PSU shots and posting her sixth shutout on the year, 3-0. Melissa Bromley opened the scoring late in the second period, and Erin Zach and Emilee Bulleid added insurance goals. RIT advances to the semifinals for the second straight year.

Syracuse posted relatively easy 4-1 and 6-0 triumphs over Lindenwood. Heather Schwarz opened the scoring late in the second period for the Orange, and Allie LaCombe, Nicole Renault, and Jessica Sibley added insurance goals in the third period before Caitlyn Post scored late to deny Jenesica Drinkwater a shutout. Julie Knerr got Syracuse on the board 61 seconds into Saturday’s game, and the Orange also got a pair of tallies from Melissa Piacenti, and one each from Margot Scharfe, Schwarz, and Cara Johnson. This time, Drinkwater did finish the shutout with 22 saves.

Seeds hold in ECAC Hockey
Second-seeded Harvard dropped the opening game of its series to Yale, but the home team prevailed in the league’s other eight quarterfinal games.

The first two games between the Bulldogs and Crimson went to double overtime. Janelle Ferrara scored the deciding goal after 97:33 played on Friday. Jaimie Leonoff made 55 saves as Yale won, 3-2. Jackie Raines had three points, including the first goal, and Jamie Haddad tallied as well for the Bulldogs. Hillary Crowe and Samantha Reber scored the Harvard goals. On Saturday, Miye D’Oench’s second goal of the game at 4:01 of the second OT was the game-winner in the Crimson’s 3-2 victory. Dylanne Crugnale had the tying goal with 4:02 left in regulation, and Brianna Laing got the call in net and made 32 saves to earn the win. Phoebe Staenz netted both goals for the Bulldogs, and Leonoff was called on to make 53 saves in defeat. Laing posted a 30-save shutout in the rubber match as Harvard won, 4-0. Crowe led the offense with two goals.

Top-seeded Clarkson took care of Dartmouth with twin 2-0 triumphs. Erica Howe needed 15 and 16 saves respectively for the two shutouts, tying her for the NCAA lead with 13 on the year. Jamie Lee Rattray scored both of the goals in the opener; Cayley Mercer and Christine Lambert tallied in the clincher.

Cornell came from behind Princeton to win on back-to-back days. Friday’s rally required three third-period goals, with Jessica Campbell scoring both the tying and winning goals for the 3-2 final. Jillian Saulnier had the first Big Red goal after Sally Butler and Hilary Lloyd staked the Tigers to a two-goal lead. Cornell wrapped up the series with a 5-3 win on Saturday, with Saulnier scoring twice and assisting on two goals.

Quinnipiac advanced on the strength of 5-0 and 2-1 wins over St. Lawrence. Shiann Darkangelo had a big series with three goals and two assists, and Chelsea Laden made 53 saves while yielding only the one goal.

Cinderella falls short in the WCHA
Minnesota State and Ohio State sprang upsets in the middle game of their series at Wisconsin and Minnesota-Duluth, respectively; Bemidji State forced OT before falling in game two. Beyond that, it was business as usual as the favorites advanced to the WCHA Final Face-Off to be held in Bemidji.

The Mavericks went quietly on Friday in Madison, as they had no answer for goals by Sarah Nurse, Madison Packer, Sydney McKibbon, and Katy Josephs. Alex Rigsby made 26 saves in backstopping the 4-0 shutout. Saturday was a different story; Danielle Butters proved invincible despite 51 shots fired by the Badgers, and Melissa Klippenstein, Kari Lundberg, and Kelsie Scott provided offensive support. Minnesota State couldn’t get anything going offensively on Sunday, as Rigsby kept them stuck on zero while Blayre Turnbull scored the winning goal in the second period and Courtney Burke added an insurance tally in the third.

UMD opened its series with a 1-0 shutout of Ohio State on Friday. Jamie Kenyon scored the game’s only goal in the second period and Kayla Black made all 26 saves asked of her. In game two, Ally Tarr and Kari Schmitt scored to turn a 2-1, third-period deficit into a 3-2 win for the Buckeyes. On Sunday, Zoe Hickel scored twice, Sidney Morin potted the winning goal in the second period, and the Bulldogs added a couple of empty-net goals to advance with a 5-1 win.

Hannah Brandt had a six-point weekend as Minnesota took over in the second period in both games in sweeping St. Cloud State, 4-1 and 7-1. Maryanne Menefee and Meghan Lorence found the net in each game, while senior Julia Gilbert scored both tallies in her last weekend for the Huskies.

Women’s D-I picks: Feb. 28

Congrats to Arlan for beating me in our regular season picks contest and winning a six pack of microbrew from me. Last weekend, both Arlan and I went 17-7-2 (.692). I finished the regular season 272-91-42 (.723), while Arlan finished the regular season 280-83-42 (.743).

Arlan usually doesn’t pick the playoffs, so I’ll bid him adieu with a pledge to take the picks crown back from him next season. In the meantime, here is my outlook on the first round playoff matchups.

Friday, Feb. 28

New Hampshire at Boston College
The Wildcats own one win against the Eagles this season, but have looked underwhelming over the last few months, while BC has been on a roll. I think Katie King Crowley will prevent any letdown. Boston College 4-2

Connecticut at Northeastern
The battle of the Huskies. Connecticut played better in spurts this year, but Northeastern has been on a tear, and swept two games two weeks ago against UConn without giving up a goal. Northeastern 4-1

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-March 1

Penn State at RIT
RIT impressed last weekend by sweeping Syracuse in a home-and-home, and Penn State is still building its program. RIT 4-2, 4-1

Lindenwood at Syracuse
This is an interesting series, because Lions goalie Nicole Hensley is capable of stealing a game for the visitors, and Lindenwood did beat Syracuse once back in December in Syracuse, but when they faced off again back a couple of weeks ago, Syracuse swept, so I’ll go with the Orange in two. Syracuse 2-1, 3-1

Dartmouth at Clarkson
The Big Green are having a down year, and while they usually play better against the top teams, it won’t be enough. Clarkson 3-2, 4-1

Princeton at Cornell
A rematch of a game from last weekend won by the Tigers. Cornell has been reeling of late and has goaltending issues, and Princeton played the Big Red tough in two contests in the regular season, but I just don’t see Princeton taking two games in Ithaca. Cornell 3-2, Princeton 4-3, Cornell 5-3

Yale at Harvard
This one could be a major upset. Yale had great success against the Crimson this year, almost winning both games before Harvard rallied to tie on Saturday. The Bulldogs were one of the few teams that demonstrated scoring ability against Crimson netminder Emerance Maschmeyer. Yale will also have Phoebe Staenz back from the Olympics. I’ll go with the upset in three. Harvard 2-1, Yale 2-1, 3-2

St. Lawrence at Quinnipiac
Another case of a lower seed that won the season series against the higher seed. There’s also the rematch factor, as St. Lawrence beat Quinnipiac in three games last year in the ECAC tournament. I think Quinnipiac reverses that result, but it will take three games. Quinnipiac 2-1, St. Lawrence 3-2, Quinnipiac 3-2

St. Cloud State at Minnesota
If I could only bet on one series all weekend, I’d take the Gophers in a sweep. Minnesota 4-2, 4-1

Minnesota State at Wisconsin
These two faced off last weekend in Madison, and the Badgers swept. They will again. Wisconsin 2-1, 4-2

Bemidji State at North Dakota
North Dakota finally has its full roster again, and is hoping that can lift them out of their four-game losing streak. I’ll go with a UND sweep, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Bemidji takes this to three. North Dakota 3-2, 4-2

Ohio State at Minnesota-Duluth
This is the series I would be least likely to bet on, because I think you could flip a coin 100 times and have better odds of predicting it correctly. The Buckeyes played very well in the second half and had two ties against the Bulldogs in Duluth back in January. Overtime in all three of these games would not surprise me. OSU swept this series on the road last year. Ohio State 2-1, Minnesota-Duluth 3-2, Ohio State 3-1

Saturday, March 1

Providence at Boston University
The Friars never really got untracked, and the Terriers seem to have fixed whatever was ailing them in January. Boston University 4-2

Maine at Vermont
Possibly an upset special, as the Black Bears played the Catamounts tough a couple of weeks ago in Burlington, losing 2-1, but I’ll go with home ice. Vermont 2-1

Women’s D-I wrap: Feb. 24

Clarkson emerges on top of roller-coaster finish in ECAC Hockey
There are times when hockey may be more enjoyable for those who don’t have a team in the race but are interested observers. Sure, Clarkson fans are ecstatic now that the Golden Knights have earned their first league championship. But when a three-team, see-saw battle comes down to the final day with only a single point of separation between the leader and two pursuers, that causes many a tense moment.

Friday’s action proved pivotal in the ECAC. Trailing Cornell by a point and tied with Harvard, Clarkson needed assistance and Quinnipiac and Yale delivered.

Jessica Campbell put Cornell up, 1-0, 10:46 into the game versus the Bobcats, and through two periods, it looked as though that may be enough, as Paula Voorheis saved 16 shots flawlessly. But Emma Woods scored a couple of minutes into the final frame, and Kelly Babstock, who had an assist on the Woods goal, tallied unassisted at the 9:15 mark. Quinnipiac and goaltender Chelsea Laden, who finished with 27 stops, were able to close out a 2-1 win as the Big Red watched control of the title slip away.

Elizabeth Parker got the Crimson off and running less than four minutes into their game at Yale. However, the Bulldogs responded with goals by Taylor Marchin, Jackie Raines, and Krista Yip-Chuck to take a 3-1 lead. Miye D’Oench pulled Harvard within one, and Sydney Daniels tied it with just over a minute to go, but the Crimson had to settle for a 3-3 tie and one point in the standings rather than two.

Clarkson made the third period a formality in its game versus Rensselaer, taking a five-goal lead early in the second period and coasting to a 6-0 win. Vanessa Gagnon found the net twice, and both Jamie Lee Rattray and Erin Ambrose added a goal and two assists. Erica Howe needed just nine saves to post her 11th shutout of the year, the 26th of her career.

The Golden Knights needed only a win over last-place Union in their final league game to clinch the crown. That proved to be anything but trivial. Erin Ambrose scored for Clarkson 13 seconds into the second period, but Christine Valente drew the Dutchwomen even on a power play with five minutes gone in the third. Shenae Lundberg stopped the other 30 shots she faced in regulation, so the two teams went to overtime tied at 1-1. Harvard had won, 3-1, at Brown, so Clarkson needed to score in the five minutes of overtime for an outright title. A minute into the extra session, Olivia Howe struck, giving Clarkson a 2-1 win and its first ECAC trophy.

Dartmouth claims last ECAC playoff spot
Three teams were in contention for the eighth and final playoff spot heading into the weekend: RPI, Dartmouth, and Colgate. The bottom two of those, Dartmouth and Colgate, recorded wins on Friday to keep all three alive heading into Saturday. The Big Green got goals from Lindsey Allen, Devon Moir, and Kennedy Ottenbreit, plus a 26-save shutout by Lindsay Holdcroft, to subdue Brown, 3-0. Ashlynne Rando made 20 stops and freshman defenseman Hannah Rastrick scored her first goal to lift Colgate over Princeton, 1-0. The situation mirrored that found in the race for first; here, Dartmouth led, and Colgate and RPI were a point behind.

Ultimately, Dartmouth won on Saturday, 2-1 over Yale, while its closest pursuers fell short, and the Big Green took eighth place by three points. Ottenbreit and Moir scored the goals, and Holdcroft made 17 saves. Rensselaer lost at St. Lawrence, 3-2, and Colgate couldn’t get any transaction in getting throttled by Quinnipiac, 3-0.

Amanda Colin, Shiann Darkangelo, and Cydney Roesler tallied, and Chelsea Laden rejected 12 shots in the shutout for the Bobcats as they wrapped up fourth place and home ice for the quarterfinals.

ECAC playoff foes
The quarterfinal round features best-of-three series hosted by the four highest seeds. Clarkson hosts Dartmouth. Yale travels to Harvard, an opponent against whom the Bulldogs had success this season. Princeton finished the regular season with a 4-3 win at Cornell; the Tigers head back to Ithaca for the postseason. Quinnipiac will be at home versus St. Lawrence, and the Saints took three of four points from the season series.

North Dakota famine continues
Michelle Karvinen was back with her NCAA team on Friday in Columbus, but North Dakota’s suffering continued as Ohio State won, 2-0. Kari Schmitt and Sara Schmitt scored the goals, and Lisa Steffes saved 32 shots. Both teams changed goaltenders to start Saturday’s rematch. Amy Menke scored first for UND midway through the opening period, but Ally Tarr tied the game five minutes later. Kendall Curtis and Danielle Gagne tallied for the Buckeyes in the final period and Chelsea Knapp made 30 saves to earn Ohio State a 3-1 victory. The defeats increased UND’s losing streak to four. North Dakota played at a 1-6-1 pace in the last month while trying to compensate for Olympic absences, and barring a miracle, needs to win the WCHA tournament to return to the NCAAs for a third straight year.

Pairings set in the WCHA
The quarterfinal slate in the WCHA is the same as it was in 2012: Minnesota hosts St. Cloud State, Wisconsin welcomes Minnesota-State on the heels of the Badgers sweeping the Mavericks in Mankato over the weekend, Bemidji State visits North Dakota, and Ohio State ventures to Minnesota-Duluth. This is the third consecutive year for the Buckeyes and Bulldogs facing off in Duluth, and they exchanged sweeps, with Ohio State coming out on top last year.

Two quarterfinals on tap in CHA
Robert Morris headed into a bye week with a sweep of Penn State, 5-2 and 4-0, the Colonials first sweep since taking two from St. Lawrence to open 2014.

Mercyhurst also gets a bye into the semifinals; the Lakers will host the final two rounds of the CHA playoffs. They had to settle for a 2-2 tie with Lindenwood in their last game after opening the series with a 4-1 triumph thanks to a Christine Bestland hat trick. Nicole Hensley made 41 saves in the tie for the Lions, and Mercyhurst’s Jenna Dingeldein scored the tying goal.

RIT swept both ends of a home-and-home series with Syracuse to garner the third seed. On home ice, the Tigers got goals from Erin Zach and Kolbee McCrea to break a 1-1 tie. When the action moved to Syracuse, Melissa Bromley netted the game-winning goal 2:31 into overtime in a 2-1 win for RIT in which Ali Binnington recorded 37 saves. Kourtney Kunichika scored in each game.

The results mean that RIT will host Penn State in a quarterfinal series, while Lindenwood ventures to Syracuse.

Hockey East quarterfinal games
Maine opened the weekend in last place, but thanks to 4-1 and 5-2 wins at Connecticut, the Black Bears moved up to fifth in the standings. They scored the final five goals in the second game to claw back from an early hole, aided by a hat trick by Audra Richards. That series shuffled the deck for the quarterfinals, where the four higher seeds will host a single game versus a team from the lower division.

It seems like a long time ago that New Hampshire got off to a strong start and led the league in the early going. The Wildcats put up a good fight but proved unable to stop a revived Northeastern. The Huskies swept a weekend series, coming back to win, 5-4, on home ice and taking over in the second period for a 4-2 victory in Durham. Brittany Esposito scored twice in the first game and improved that to a hat trick in the second. As a result, New Hampshire has the unenviable task of facing Boston College in the quarterfinal round, while Northeastern hosts Connecticut.

BC enjoyed a sweep of its own at Boston University’s expense. Lexi Bender and Andie Anastos scored in the third period, the latter with five seconds left, to give the Eagles a come-from-behind 3-2 win. Anastos had three more points on Sunday in a 5-1 triumph, giving her five points on the weekend.

BU hosts Providence. The Friars losing streak reached seven as they were swept out of Vermont. Roxanne Douville made 40 saves in a 2-1 win on Friday, and had an easier time in a 3-1 victory the next day as Amanda Pelkey had a hand in all three goals. The Catamounts next host Maine.

Golden Olympics
Once Americans get over the devastation of the tournament’s final result, and the Swedes and Finns look past the disappointment of coming home without a medal, I believe that most would concede that this was about as entertaining an Olympic competition as it would be possible to stage with these eight teams. Japan wouldn’t be able to defeat the Canadians once if the two squads squared off every day for a year, so luckily, the format used spared us watching the Japanese make a futile attempt at doing so. The rosters in the bottom tier featured far better skaters than we’ve seen in Olympics past, so although teams may have faced a disadvantage in skill, strength, and stamina, at least there were far fewer reasons to feel pity for an athlete. That emotion was reserved for those having to put up with the overmatched officiating.

Women’s D-I picks: Feb. 21

Whelp, I concede. After winning the picks race the last two years, Arlan spanked me this year, and as such wins the six-pack wager we place at the start of every year. Last week, I went 16-7 (.695) to move to 255-84-40 (.725) on the year, while Arlan went 17-6 (.739) to move to 263-76-40 (.746) on the year.

Congrats to Arlan on his win. Come back next week, as I start anew and pick the playoff races. Arlan doesn’t usually join me in those prognostications, though he is welcome to.

Friday, Feb. 21

Dartmouth at Brown
Candace: Brown wants to play spoiler, but the Big Green are shooting for the playoffs. Dartmouth 3-2
Arlan: Brown is improving but dug too deep of a hole in going winless in its first 10 ECAC games. Dartmouth 2-1

Rensselaer at Clarkson
Candace: RPI has troubled top teams this year, but won’t be able to make a dent on the Golden Knights. Clarkson 3-1
Arlan: Ultimately, it will be a case of one tie too many for the Golden Knights. Clarkson 4-0

Princeton at Colgate
Candace: Princeton has been a very uneven squad, and could be ripe for an upset. How many games behind can I finish? Nah, I’ll go with the Tigers. Princeton 3-2
Arlan: I’ll pick the favorite, even though I get the sense that Colgate is playing better and could surprise. Princeton 3-2

Quinnipiac at Cornell
Candace: This will be a close contest, but I’ll go with home ice. Cornell 4-2
Arlan: I have doubts about Cornell’s goaltending and Quinnipiac’s ability to exploit it. Cornell 3-2

Union at St. Lawrence
Candace: Union has really fallen off, and the Saints are playing for home ice in the first round. St. Lawrence 3-1
Arlan: A Union win at SLU doesn’t appear imminent, but then it didn’t look poised to win at Yale either. St. Lawrence 3-0

Harvard at Yale
Candace: Harvard won’t come out with anything but its best, which should be enough for the win. Harvard 3-1
Arlan: I don’t expect Harvard to allow the Bulldogs to sweep the season series. Harvard 2-0

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 21-22

Syracuse home-and-home with RIT
Candace: RIT has been one of my trouble teams this year, but I can’t pick an Orange sweep. Actually, sure I can. Syracuse 3-2, 3-2
Arlan: The Tigers have but one win in this series, but each held serve on home ice this year, so I’ll go with that. RIT 3-2, Syracuse 1-0

Providence at Vermont
Candace: Providence just never quite got it going this season. Vermont 3-2, 3-1
Arlan: The Friars have had a tough schedule in February, and they struggled with it. Vermont 3-2, 4-2

Wisconsin at Minnesota State
Candace: I don’t expect the Mavericks to be able to pull off a second straight major upset. Wisconsin 3-1, 3-1
Arlan: This series will likely be reprised in Madison in a week. Wisconsin 3-0, 3-1

North Dakota at Ohio State
Candace: North Dakota has been in disarray. This is likely a split. Ohio State 3-2, North Dakota 3-2
Arlan: These games carry more weight for UND than for its opponent, but that was true last week as well. North Dakota 2-1, 4-3

Bemidji State at St. Cloud State
Candace: St. Cloud hasn’t won since early January. Coincidentally, that win was against Bemidji. Bemidji State 3-1, St. Cloud 3-2
Arlan: The series has playoff implications only for the Beavers, but many teams seem to play better with nothing at stake. Bemidji State 1-0, 2-1

Minnesota-Duluth at Minnesota
Candace: The Gophers won’t take one of their major rivals lightly, even if the Bulldogs are having a down year. Minnesota 4-1, 4-1
Arlan: If these teams have ever met with less on the line, I don’t remember when it happened. Minnesota 3-1, 3-2

Saturday, Feb. 22

Quinnipiac at Colgate
Candace: Quinnipiac should be able to close the season on a good note. Quinnipiac 3-1
Arlan: The Bobcats are playing at a 4-3-4 pace in 2014, but for some reason, it feels like they’ve stumbled even more. Quinnipiac 3-2

Princeton at Cornell
Candace: I don’t expect as wild as contest as back in November, when Princeton scored four goals after falling behind 5-0, but you never know. Cornell 5-3
Arlan: The Big Red look to lock down their fifth-straight ECAC crown. Cornell 5-3

Rensselaer at St. Lawrence
Candace: Does this game end the Engineers’ season? Possibly. St. Lawrence 3-2
Arlan: SLU fights for home ice; RPI battles to continue playing. St. Lawrence 3-1

Dartmouth at Yale
Candace: Dartmouth looks to qualify for the playoffs. Dartmouth 3-2
Arlan: The season just never quite clicked for the Big Green. Yale 3-2

Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 22-23

Boston University home-and-home with Boston College
Candace: I don’t know if either team has ever swept the season series, but it might happen after this weekend. Boston College 3-2, 4-2
Arlan: The Terriers lack the depth to stay with the best teams. Boston College 5-2, 3-1

New Hampshire home-and-home with Northeastern
Candace: New Hampshire has never quite recovered after the blowup in December. Northeastern 3-1, 3-2
Arlan: Do the Wildcats have a last hurrah in them? Don’t know, I’m just happy to be done picking Hockey East for another year. Northeastern 4-1, 2-1

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