For much of last season, it looked like a foregone conclusion that Cornell would be the team to face Wisconsin for the national title. The Big Red fell a game short of that climax in March, but they wrote the first chapter of a sequel last week, blowing out three opponents, Colgate, Yale and Brown, by a cummulative 24-2 tally. The defending ECAC champs return their top five scorers, each of whom exceeded 40 points last season, and they’ve added reinforcements to that cast. To date, the newcomer to Ithaca making the biggest impact is Jillian Saulnier. Skating with senior Rebecca Johnston and sophomore Brianne Jenner, Saulnier dented the twine four times in her first contest. Defensively, the Big Red allowed a national best 1.11 goals per game last season, and they’ve dropped that to a miniscule 0.67 thus far.
The Ivy League boasts the only other unbeaten team, Harvard. The Crimson debuted with a 7-1 defeat of St. Lawrence and followed it up with a 2-1 win in overtime over Clarkson.
Boston University, the team that dispatched Cornell in an NCAA semifinal and was ultimately dropped in the championship by Wisconsin, got another shot at the Badgers over the weekend and didn’t fare much better. Wisconsin claimed 3-0 and 6-1 victories in Madison to conclude a 7-1 October consisting of series against four top-ten opponents.
The most surprising result of the weekend was Maine’s 5-2 thumping of No. 4 Boston College on the road. Bemidji State took down No. 2 Minnesota, 2-1, but the Beavers were lurking just outside the rankings and playing at home.
Fit to be tied
Eight games on the weekend required overtime, and only the Harvard at Clarkson game reached a decision. Niagara and Vermont enjoyed bonus hockey so much that they played 65 minutes on consecutive days.
The Patty picture
Cornell’s trio of Jenner (3-7-10), Saulnier (7-3-10), and Johnston (2-7-9) tops the points per game statistics as the only players averaging at least three or better per game. Of those who’ve played more than a week, Jocelyne Lamoureux of North Dakota (9-15-24), and Brianna Decker (12-12-24) of Wisconsin, lead the way at 2.4 points per game. Seven of Decker’s points came in two games with Lindenwood, but 17 points in her other eight games is more than respectable, highlighted by a hat trick in the most recent win over BU.