Several top contenders faced off over the weekend, and each proved capable of inflicting some damage on the other.
No. 4 Cornell gained revenge for its loss to No. 6 Clarkson back in November with a 3-1 win on home ice by limiting the Golden Knights to 17 shots on goal. That completed a strong week for the Big Red, as they also thumped Syracuse, 8-1, and St. Lawrence, 6-0, their third straight win over the Saints. Junior Brianne Jenner had a huge week, recording six goals and five assists, nearly half of the production that she’d managed over her first 13 games.
No. 2 Boston College extended its unbeaten streak to 18 and its winning streak to 13 with a 5-1 mugging of No. 8 Mercyhurst on Friday. Alex Carpenter and Ashley Motherwell each found the net twice, but the Eagles lost high-scoring rookie Haley Skarupa to injury. The Lakers scored the first two goals on Saturday, and BC stormed back to tie 3:10 into the third period. Mercyhurst went back on top on a Jenna Dingeldein goal just 84 seconds later, and Stephanie Ciampa made the 3-2 lead stand up. Ciampa made 40 stops in improving to 10-1-0 on the season, and Christine Bestland and Christie Cicero had a hand in all three goals for the Lakers.
North Dakota, a team that continues to lurk just outside the rankings, hung a goose egg on No. 7 Wisconsin in a 3-0 win Friday, the fifth whitewashing that the Badgers have endured this season. Jocelyne Lamoureux scored twice with a helper, Meghan Dufault provided a pair of primary assists, and Shelby Amsley-Benzie turned away all 19 shots. The defending WCHA season champs struck back on Saturday, as Madison Packer blocked a shot late and beat everyone down the ice to finish on a breakaway for a 2-1 win. Alex Rigsby made 28 saves in the Wisconsin net, beaten only by Lamoureux’s 26th goal of the season, second most in the country.
Providence and No. 10 Northeastern played in a defensive classic last year in a Hockey East semifinal with the Friars winning, 2-0, the second goal scored into an empty net. That seemed fitting for teams coached by former goaltenders. The Friars and Huskies met again on Sunday at Northeastern for Skating Strides, and if that most recent meeting was close to the vest, then it was a vest still hanging in a closet. The hosts emerged with an 8-7 victory.
Northeastern grabbed an early 3-0 lead, and the teams alternated goals until the score was 7-5 after two periods. Rachel Llanes scored what proved to be the game-winner 2:50 into the final chapter. The Friars answered with consecutive power-play goals, the second by Rebecca Morse coming with 9:37 remaining. Providence was unable to find the equalizer, in part because it couldn’t maintain possession of the puck long enough to clear its own zone over much of the final minute plus. Casey Pickett and Kendall Coyne each netted a pair for the Huskies, as did the Friars’ Molly Illikainen.
Wildcats starting late but quickly
New Hampshire made us wait for its 2013 debut before rattling off three road wins. Two weeks passed before UNH took to the ice, dispatching Union, 4-2, and sweeping Connecticut by 3-1 and 2-0 scores. Sophomore Jenn Gilligan backstopped all three victories, denying 58 of 61 shots in total. Megan Armstrong, Arielle O’Neill, and Kristina Lavoie each potted a couple of tallies for the week.
Big Green: hot or not?
Dartmouth stretched its unbeaten streak to six games with a 3-0 win over Union and a 2-2 tie with Rensselaer. The latter had to feel a bit empty, as the Big Green were outshot, 12-3, over the final period and overtime and allowed a 2-0 lead to slip away on goals by Eleeza Cox and Jenn Godin in the last six minutes of regulation. Dartmouth looks to be solidly positioned for an ECAC playoff berth, and is only a point shy of fourth place and the final home-ice spot as it prepares for a crucial three-game sequence versus St. Lawrence, Clarkson, and Harvard, three higher teams in the standings.
How the rest of the top 10 fared
No. 5 Boston University eased by Northeastern, 5-4, on Wednesday as the teams combined to score three goals in each period in a game that seems high scoring until compared to Northeastern versus Providence. The Terriers built a 5-2 lead behind a hat trick from rookie Sarah Lefort, and held on as the Huskies rallied in the final two minutes plus.
No. 1 Minnesota swept Minnesota State, 8-1 and 6-0, to tie Wisconsin’s NCAA record unbeaten streak of 32 games. Amanda Kessel followed up her four-point hat trick on Friday with three assists on Saturday to bring her career point total to 201. The junior leads the country in both goals and assists.
No. 2 Harvard played three games at Bright Hockey Center, dropping Connecticut, 5-1, RPI, 4-1, and Union, 1-0. The Crimson have won seven straight and have not lost over their last 13. Jillian Dempsey had three goals on the week, including the game’s only tally versus the Dutchwomen. Laura Bellamy earned two of the wins and leads the country in goals-against average (0.54) and save percentage (.968), and is tied for second in shutouts (five).
Chelsea Knapp saved 54 of the 56 shots she faced for No. 9 Ohio State to aid the Buckeyes to a 1-1 tie and 3-1 win versus visiting St. Cloud State. Junior Ally Tarr had a pair of goals on Saturday after scoring the only marker of the shootout on Friday to give OSU the bonus point in the WCHA standings. The Buckeyes sit a game back of Wisconsin for second place with two games in hand and lead Minnesota-Duluth, their next opponent, by a game.