A little bit of everything and extra of some
I would claim that it was a wacky week, but as I seem to be doing that on a regular basis. Apparently, it was just a typical week in our game’s current landscape. The extra this week was bonus hockey, both due to making up games that had been postponed by earlier storms and playing beyond 60 minutes in eight different contests over the weekend.
Lakers still trophy takers
No. 9 Mercyhurst clinched its 12th CHA title in as many seasons by recording 5-3 and 3-2 wins at Syracuse. Lauren Jones’ second goal of the game into an empty net iced the Friday win. Christine Bestland and Stephanie DeSutter had scored five minutes apart in the back half of the final period to rally the Lakers from a goal down. On Saturday, Mercyhurst raced to a 3-0 lead and held off an Orange comeback. Margot Scharfe scored twice for Syracuse, but that was all that got by Stephanie Ciampa, as the Lakers’ defense stiffened and allowed but three shots in the final period.
No longer being considered
The final game played may have had the greatest impact, at least on first glance. Blayre Turnbull scored for No. 7 Wisconsin with 5:37 remaining in regulation to force overtime against visiting Minnesota-Duluth. Halfway through the extra session, Brianna Decker created the perfect ending to her Senior Day, scoring on an individual effort off of a faceoff for a 3-2 victory for the Badgers. Decker had also bagged the game’s first goal. Coupled with a 3-1 Wisconsin win on Saturday with Madison Packer scoring twice and Alex Rigsby providing 25 saves, the sweep dropped UMD down to 14 in the Ratings Percentage Index, where it is likely looking at a scenario where it will need to win the WCHA auto bid in order to reach its 11th NCAA tournament.
The Bulldogs’ plight also put a dent in No. 8 North Dakota’s prospects. With UMD no longer a Team Under Consideration, North Dakota’s record in the TUC category falls to 2-9. That is enough to cost UND the comparison with No. 10 Northeastern, as the Huskies win over Clarkson trumps UND’s split with the Golden Knights in common opponents, and Northeastern takes the comparison despite trailing by a considerable margin in RPI.
UND is the next opponent for the Bulldogs, so if they win their way back under consideration, that doesn’t really benefit UND either. The Huskies’ gain may prove to be hollow, as Northeastern still trails Wisconsin in RPI as well, and this time the Huskies lose the COP criterion because of going 2-1 versus New Hampshire, whereas the Badgers swept the Wildcats. North Dakota can still flip the PairWise comparison with Wisconsin, despite losing three of four games head-to-head with the Badgers. The RPI margin is tight, and a sweep in Duluth may prove to be enough. That would likely produce an equal number of PairWise comparisons won for Wisconsin, Northeastern, and UND, and because UND would have the highest RPI in this theoretical model, it would be ranked higher.
In the meantime, North Dakota controlled what it could, sweeping Ohio State by scores of 5-2 and 3-2 to tie the program’s high for victories in a season at 22. Monique Lamoureux celebrated senior weekend with a pair of three-point games, sister Jocelyne had a five-point weekend, and Michelle Karvinen and Meghan Dufault alternated two-goal games.
Northeastern is in the PairWise discussion thanks in large part to the Huskies’ successful defense of their Beanpot title. Northeastern opened the week with a 4-3 win over No. 2 Boston College in the championship game. Power-play goals by Brittany Esposito and Casey Pickett erased second-period deficits, and Paige Savage gave the Huskies their first lead. After a beautiful individual effort by Emily Field drew the Eagles even, Katie MacSorley deflected in the game winner 79 seconds later with less than 10 minutes to go.
The Huskies built their winning streak to four with a sweep at Maine. In Saturday’s 5-2 triumph, Esposito and Kendall Coyne each scored twice. Coyne potted another pair on Sunday as Northeastern won, 7-2, and linemates Rachel Llanes and Picket had three-point games.
Good news Bears
Only one team in the ECAC managed to put together a perfect week, and those without knowledge of the results would likely need a few guesses to identify that squad. Brown accomplished that feat by taking care of home ice. The Bears besting Union, 2-1, would raise few eyebrows, given that the Dutchwomen are winless in league play. Aubree Moore earned her third win by making 22 stops and getting offensive support from Emilie Dolan and Jennifer Nedow. Saturday’s 5-2 vanquishing of playoff-bound Rensselaer was less expected. Alena Polenska spearheaded the attack with a goal and three primary assists. With the four points, Brown moves within two points of the final playoff berth. The Bears have a busy week ahead, traveling to No. 5 Harvard on Tuesday before hosting Princeton and Quinnipiac.
So obviously the Dutchwomen and Engineers stumbled, but what about the rest of the ECAC? No. 4 Cornell and Dartmouth couldn’t hit a net between them over 65 minutes. Harvard lost to the Big Red. Clarkson fell to Princeton, who in turn succumbed to St. Lawrence. The Saints and Quinnipiac tied. Colgate and Yale didn’t post a win in five games between them. At least until Tuesday, Brown is the league’s hottest team.
Clarkson losing control
Despite being only a point out of first place, the Golden Knights’ title hopes are in a world of hurt. Cornell is a point up and has a seemingly easier road trip to RPI and Union, while Clarkson visits Dartmouth and Harvard. Even should the Knights grab all four points, they’ll need help on a couple of fronts as Harvard also plays Brown, St. Lawrence, and Yale. Clarkson is in this predicament because after Danielle Skirrow gave her team a 1-0 lead on home ice, Kelly Cooke and Corey Stearns collaborated three times in a 4-1 Princeton win. Kimberly Newell yielded but the single tally on 41 shots. Clarkson salvaged something from the weekend as Carly Mercer provided the game’s only goal against Quinnipiac 59:55 into the match. Erica Howe was perfect on 27 shots to make a hard-luck loser out of Victoria Vigilanti, who recorded 32 saves.
Cornell got the win it had to have by beating Harvard, 3-1, on Friday thanks to a pair of third-period goals from Jessica Campbel and a three-assist performance by Erin Barley-Maloney. But the Big Red really needed another win on Saturday to keep pressure on the Crimson, and they were foiled by a 34-save effort of Lindsay Holdcroft to offset the 23-save shutout of Lauren Slebonick in a 0-0 draw with Dartmouth. Despite Cornell’s recent run of success in the ECAC, the Big Green always manage to be a thorn in the Big Red’s side.
Nobody is blinking
Nothing was decided in the battle for Hockey East supremacy. After both BC and No. 3 Boston University tasted defeat on Tuesday in the second week of the Beanpot, each regrouped with a sweep over lesser foes in league play. Sophomore Alex Carpenter had seven points and passed the 100-point mark for her career when the Eagles overwhelmed Connecticut, 6-1 and 4-0. BU kept pace by surviving Vermont, 2-1 and 3-2. Marie-Philip Poulin had both goals on Saturday and Isabel Menard tallied twice in the finale. The Eagles and Terriers remain deadlocked with three games to play. BC finishes on the road at Providence followed by two at Vermont. BU hosts New Hampshire before a home-and-home with UConn.
UNH enjoyed a five-point week, shutting out UConn, 4-0, winning 6-4 at Providence, and coming back in the final minutes to tie the Friars, 3-3. Kayla Mork had the game-tying goal on Sunday, and Hannah Armstrong and Kristina Lavoie had hat tricks versus the Huskies and Friars, respectively. The Wildcats now sit a point above Providence in the battle for the final home-ice quarterfinal.
Bemidji State came closer to defeating No. 1 Minnesota than anyone else has over the past 40 games for the Gophers. After pasting the Beavers, 8-0, on Friday, the Gophers had to come from behind twice to outlast BSU, 3-2 in overtime. Freshman Kaitlyn Tougas scored a pair of goals in transition to give BSU leads, only to have Minnesota roar back moments later. The Gophers only lead of the game came on the final play 3:48 into overtime. Lieksa, Finland, native Mira Jalosuo slipped the puck into the net from the back door off of a feed from Kelly Terry. Jalosuo’s mother was attending her first collegiate series as Minnesota honored Jalosuo and her senior classmates. By taking the game to overtime, Bemidji State did end the Gophers’ streak of multi-goal wins at 39.
Climactic penalty shot
The final play of the game being a penalty shot is fairly common in the WCHA, because that is the only league that uses shootouts to settle ties. However, it is a rarity in the rest of the country. Alison Wickenheiser provided a true game-winner on a penalty shot 55 seconds into overtime on Friday as Lindenwood defeated Robert Morris, 3-2. Lyndsay Kirkham had scored a short-handed, extra-attacker goal in the final minute of regulation to force overtime. Brett Lobreau’s winning goal came earlier on Saturday, as the senior scored at 11:38 of the third period to put the Lions up 3-2; Wickenheiser added an empty-netter for a 4-2 final. Nicole Hensley made 88 saves in the series for Lindenwood, as it celebrated its first CHA sweep, upped its unbeaten streak to six games, and forged a tie with RMU for fourth and the opportunity to host a league quarterfinal.