The first tournament volley
Teams compete all season attempting to gain home ice for the postseason, and in the quarterfinal rounds in three conferences, that advantage proved decisive in 80 percent of the matchups. The only teams to buck the trend were found in ECAC Hockey. St. Lawrence, one of the country’s hottest teams over the last couple of months, was undaunted by traveling to Thompson Arena, where Dartmouth wound up a .500 team on home ice, despite a strong 10-2-2 record elsewhere. Quinnipiac, more off than on in 2012, came alive against Clarkson and ended the Golden Knights’ season in three games.
Brown put up notable resistance in losing 4-2 on Friday, less in a 6-0 defeat Saturday, and Cornell moves on to host the remainder of the ECAC tournament. Chelsea Karpenko and Catherine White led the Big Red offense with five- and four-point weekends, respectively, and Amanda Mazzotta had fairly quiet duty in picking up two wins in the crease.
Second-seeded Harvard swept Princeton, but there were some anxious moments along the way for the Crimson. They blew a two-goal, third-period lead in the opener before getting the game-winner with less than four minutes to play and adding an empty-net goal for a 5-3 win. Game two proved even tougher to close out. The Crimson went up 3-2 late, as Jillian Dempsey deflected in a shot to complete a hat trick. This time however, the Tigers were successful with the extra attacker, with Sally Butler finding the net with just over a minute remaining in regulation. Harvard had to toil an extra 18 minutes, but Marissa Gedman spared her team the need to play a third game, firing a blast from the point that eluded Rachel Weber’s blocker for a 4-3 win.
The aforementioned Saints needed overtime as well in their first game at Dartmouth. Camille Dumais twice scored for the Big Green to erase single-goal deficits, and after 60 minutes, the game was knotted at 3-3. Kelly Sabatine ended matters after only 22 seconds in the extra session, hammering a drive from the slot for her 100th career point for the Saints. Freshman Carmen McDonald took over in game two, denying all 32 Dartmouth shots. In the third period, Vanessa Emond backhanded in the game winner, and Mel Desrochers added some insurance in SLU’s 2-0 win. Next up for the Saints is Harvard.
In the only series to go three games, visiting Quinnipiac took both of the odd games to knock off Clarkson. The Bobcats seized control of the opener early with three goals in a stretch of 2:38 within the first seven minutes and sealed a 4-1 win into an empty net. The Knights pulled even on Saturday, forging a 2-0 lead and limiting the guests to a single power-play tally in the final frame. Clarkson was unable to solve Bobcats goaltender Victoria Vigilanti in the deciding game, and Nicole Kosta and Brittany Lyons provided the goals in a 2-0 Quinnipiac victory. The Bobcats advance to face Cornell in a Friday semifinal.
Hockey East quarterfinals
The Providence power play supplied four of the team’s six goals, and Genevieve Lacasse took care of the rest, saving all 38 Maine shots. The ease with which the Friars dispatched the Black Bears, coupled with PC winning six of its last eight games, the only exceptions being a tie and one-goal loss versus Northeastern, suggest that the Friars may be a dangerous foe for NU in one semifinal.
On the other side of the bracket, Boston University embarrassed New Hampshire with a 9-1 trouncing. The Terriers raced to a 4-0 lead by the first intermission and blew the game wide open with four more goals in the final eight plus minutes of the game, including three short-handed goals. Jenn Wakefield supplied a hat trick in her final appearance against her former team. BU moves on to its fourth meeting of the season with Boston College, having taken two of the previous games, including a 6-0 shellacking in the most recent contest in January.
The first round of the WCHA playoffs went according to seed. Wisconsin breezed by Minnesota State with 7-0 and 4-0 shutouts. In the aftermath of being overlooked in the Kazmaier nominations, Brooke Ammerman responded with four goals in game one and another goal and assist on Saturday.
Minnesota handled St. Cloud State by a similar composite, 6-1 and 6-0. Amanda Kessel tallied a hat trick in the clincher.
North Dakota displayed defensive prowess in limiting Bemidj State to 15 shots in a 3-1 win, and the Fighting Sioux backed it up with a 19-save shutout by Stephanie Ney. UND advances to its second consecutive WCHA Final Face-Off, where it will take on the Gophers.
Host Minnesota-Duluth will be competing as well after taking out Ohio State with a pair of one-goal wins. Jennifer Harss stood strong in goal, allowing UMD to win, 4-3, on Friday despite being outshot 37-23. In game two, freshman Shara Jasper scored the biggest goal of her Bulldogs career at 6:40 of overtime to propel her team to a 3-2 triumph and a semifinal date with the top-seeded Badgers.
CHA bracket finalized
In the final regular-season games of the year, Niagara and Syracuse split overtime wins. The results give Niagara the third seed and a matchup with Robert Morris; the Orange face Mercyhurst. The Purple Eagles have now played beyond 60 minutes in three straight games and 13 times on the season.