Is it back to normal or just the new normal?
Either the results this past week weren’t as wild as in previous weeks, or I’m starting to adjust to the current landscape, because the winners and losers weren’t as surprising. That’s not to say that there weren’t some scores that raised a few eyebrows, due to either being lopsided or remarkably close.
All up and running
With the first games for Harvard, Brown, and Dartmouth, all of the D-I programs have commenced play.
Harvard made the biggest splash of those three, first getting the best of a road duel at Quinnipiac with senior Laura Bellamy backstopping a 2-0 shutout, then pummeling Princeton, 9-1, behind a five-point effort from senior Jillian Dempsey.
Brown lost its opener at Cornell by a 2-0 score, but given the second goal was into an empty net, that was an encouraging start after the team’s return to the postseason in 2012. The Bears got into the win column on Saturday, besting Colgate, 4-1. Brown got strong goaltending, as Katie Jamieson stopped 35 of 36 shots versus the Big Red and Aubree Moore was only beaten on one of the Raiders’ 27 attempts.
Dartmouth played the same opponents as the Crimson in the opposite order and did not fare as well. The Big Green’s 3-1 decision at Princeton was satisfactory enough, although not as impressive as Harvard’s foray into Hobey Baker Rink. Dartmouth’s disappointment came on Saturday, as the Bobcats administered an 8-3 thrashing. After Lindsay Holdcroft, last season’s primary netminder, patrolled the crease in the win, sophomore Katie Milligan got the call in game two. Milligan had no answers for Quinnipiac’s top line, as Nicole Kosta celebrated a hat trick and Kelly Babstock had a goal to go with her four assists.
Yale produces best weekend in two seasons
Yale earned its first win of the season at Colgate on Friday; the 3-0 triumph was only the second win for the Bulldogs in a stretch of 32 contests dating to the start of last year. Just as impressive for Yale was taking Cornell down to the wire on Saturday. The Big Red needed a third-period, power-play goal to take a 3-2 verdict, despite enjoying a 42-10 bulge in shots on goal.
In what figures to be the first of many series matching new CHA members Penn State and Rochester Institute of Technology, RIT claimed a comfortable 4-1 win on Thursday before needing to scramble back for a 2-2 tie on Friday. The result gives the Tigers third place at the expense of the Nittany Lions. Lindenwood and Robert Morris have yet to debut in league play.
Results involving the top 10
Two series matched a pair of ranked competitors, and in each the higher-ranked team swept. No. 5 Mercyhurst likely brought an end to No. 10 Minnesota State’s stay in the poll, humbling the Mavericks by scores of 8-1 and 3-1.
No. 1 Minnesota trailed for the first time this season and was challenged in both games at No. 8 North Dakota, but found a way to settle matters in its favor. Noora Räty recorded both wins, becoming the winningest goaltender ever at Minnesota with 85. Other win marks for the senior to challenge would be Wisconsin’s Jessie Vetter’s total of 91, most by a WCHA goalie, and the NCAA threshold of 100 posted by Mercyhurst’s Hillary Pattenden in March.
Next up for UND is a series hosting No. 4 Clarkson. The Golden Knights quietly went about their business, dispatching visitors Union and Rensselaer by tennis scores of 6-0 and 6-2 respectively. Seven different players recorded a pair of points versus the Dutchwomen, as Erica Howe produced her third blanking of the campaign, while freshman defenseman Erin Ambrose’s four points highlighted the derailing of the Engineers.
No. 2 Cornell played three times on the week and got less impressive with each successive win. A 5-1 dismissal of St. Lawrence on Tuesday began the week that ended with the aformentioned closer-than-expected weekend. Nonetheless, a perfect week figures to be sufficient for the Big Red to retain its perch.
However, some tightening of the gap down to No. 3 Boston University seems to be in order after the Terriers controlled both Maine and Robert Morris. Kayla Tutino and Sarah Lefort came up with two-goal games over the weekend.
No. 7 Northeastern tied Robert Morris, 3-3, before bouncing back with a 3-0 win at the expense of Maine. Kendall Coyne had a pair of two-goal games and Rachel Llanes totaled four points.
Harvard’s strong start makes the No. 9 Crimson the likeliest team to ascend the rankings. After a third straight week of .500 play or less by No. 6 Boston College, this time splitting 3-2 decisions at home against Minnesota-Duluth, the Eagles look to be deserving of a demotion.
As for a squad poised to jump back into the 10 best, consider Ohio State. The Buckeyes rolled to 4-1 and 10-1 dismantlings of Bemidji State, including a Taylor Kuehl hat trick.
After a coming back from an 0-2 hole to tie visiting St. Cloud State, Providence notched a 4-2 win on the strength of a hat trick from Nicole Anderson. The series win moves the Friars above the .500 mark for the season.