Early women’s results not following form
In the movie “Moonstruck,” the character played by Olympia Dukakis speaks the line, “What you don’t know about women is a lot.”
I was reminded of that over the weekend, as once again I was forced to conclude that what I don’t know about women’s hockey is a lot. I’ve been told as much by a number of readers and even an assistant coach of one team.
However, consider the NFL, where ESPN analysts spend all summer poking around every team headquarters and training camp site, dredging up all sorts of news about what case of turf toe doesn’t seem to be improving and which star running back is unhappy with his current contract. They take these nuggets of information, combine them with more statistical data than the U.S. Census Bureau would ever think to gather, factor in the eyewitness reports of an army of former players and coaches, and tell us the order in which the league’s teams will finish. The season begins, and voilà, they’re wrong about as often as the average broken clock.
So here are a few of the revelations and curious happenings over the weekend. We’re now left to wonder whether they are predictors of how the season will unfold or deceptions dealt to us by the hockey gods.
Mavericks spoil North Dakota’s opener
Minnesota State went on the road to Grand Forks and caused No. 5 North Dakota to stumble on the opening night of the farewell tour of the Lamoureux sisters. After blowing a two-goal, third-period lead to lose, 3-2, UND righted the ship on Saturday and bounced back with a 4-1 win.
One surprise in the upset was that the highly-touted UND offense was held to just 18 shots on goal for the game, including only two in the second period. It did have to play without Michelle Karvinen, the WCHA’s most recent Rookie of the Year, who missed the action due to injury.
Another problem for the hosts was that they were whistled for 16 minutes in penalties, and that issue continued in the Saturday win, as another 21 penalty minutes were assessed to North Dakota. The team led the nation in penalty minutes per game each of the last two seasons, and one weekend into 2012-13, UND is back on top of that statistical category.
Looking at the upset from the other side, it isn’t entirely a shock in hindsight. MSU debuted with a series versus Wisconsin a week before, and one would think that would help them to be better prepared for 60 minutes of hockey.
Eric Means has been serving a WCHA mandated suspension, so thus far, the Mavericks have been without their head coach, and their results were better than expected both versus Wisconsin and North Dakota. In 2009, then Mavericks coach Jeff Vizenor resigned in January, MSU got hot in February and advanced to the WCHA semifinals for the only time in its history. Maybe Mankato players respond better under interim coaches.
Boston University bounces Boston College
In the first game of the year for each, No. 3 Boston College fell at home to No. 6 Boston University by a 4-2 score. Newcomer Sarah Lefort had both the tying and winning goals for the Terriers. BC lost its opening game for the second straight year, but that didn’t prevent it from ultimately reaching the Frozen Four last season. Whether or not one considers this result an upset is likely dependent on how one views BU. When the Terriers played well last season, they were one of the country’s premier teams, but they also had stretches where their level dropped. If they’re healthy, the Terriers will be dangerous.
Clarkson sweeps St. Lawrence
No. 7 St. Lawrence lost a pair of one-goal decisions to neighboring Clarkson, a team just outside of the top 10, in a home-and-home series, as Erica Howe out-dueled Carmen MacDonald in a battle of two of the ECAC’s top goaltenders. These were nonconference meetings and serve as a prelude to the Saints and Golden Knights ECAC home-and-home series scheduled for February.
Ohio State invades Duluth
The unranked Buckeyes took down No. 8 Minnesota-Duluth on consecutive days by 3-1 and 3-2 scores. The road wins served notice that OSU will be stronger than expected after graduating two of the top scorers in program history in Laura McIntosh and Natalie Spooner. Chelsea Knapp backstopped both wins, as Ohio State featured a balanced attack. The Buckeyes have little time to rest on their laurels, as they’ll see North Dakota and Minnesota over the next two weekends.
The Bulldogs have been beset by injury and illness, but they’d best get well soon, because No. 4 Wisconsin comes calling this weekend.
Lakers win series at Quinnipiac
No. 9 Mercyhurst earned some crucial points on the road with a 4-4 tie and 4-3 win versus Quinnipiac. Both the Lakers and Bobcats host Hockey East opponents next weekend in Providence and Maine respectively.
Penn State launches program in style
Penn State earned its first Division-I victory in its inaugural game by a 5-3 margin at Vermont. Shannon Yoxheimer scored the program’s first goal and later added another; Micayla Catanzariti also tallied twice. Nicole Paniccia was between the pipes for the historic win. The Nittany Lions didn’t have to wait much longer to experience defeat as the Catamounts turned the tables with a 3-1 triumph on Sunday thanks to two third-period goals.