Shocking or explainable?
Five of the top eight teams in the most recent USCHO poll suffered defeats in the last week, four of them at home. How do we react to such developments? Should we decide that those losing teams are not as strong as we thought and lower their stock, or conclude that hockey is a game with volatile results and avoid making knee-jerk reactions to a small sample size? No matter what conclusion is reached, additional outcomes will soon surface to contradict that conclusion.
The situation looked dire for the Lakers heading into a road series at No. 3 Clarkson. Losing both games would have dropped Mercyhurst to 2-5 on the season and made its NCAA tournament prospects bleak. However, Mike Sisti hasn’t put together 12 straight seasons of at least 23 wins by accident. His teams consistently rise to such challenges, and this year’s squad did as well. Goalie Amanda Makela and the Lakers’ defense combined to shut out the Golden Knights, one of the country’s top offenses, on just 19 shots in the opener. Kaleigh Chippy scored a first-period goal on a power play, and Christie Cicero sealed a 2-0 win into an empty net. On Saturday, Christine Lambert gave Clarkson a lead in the first period, Emily Janiga answered in the second frame, and Makela and Erica Howe stopped everything else as the teams finished tied, 1-1. Thanks in large part to Makela saving 49 of 50 shots in the series, Mercyhurst gained three points and was able to square its record at 3-3-1 after playing six of seven games on the road.
New Hampshire still poses a riddle
A 3-1 loss on home ice versus New Hampshire leaves No. 2 Boston College still looking for its first clean sweep of the Wildcats in a season series in the NCAA era. Vilma Vaattovaara made 36 saves while Arielle O’Neill, Nicole Gifford, and Cassandra Vilgrain scored for UNH. The Eagles rebounded with a 4-3 win over Yale on Saturday with a shortie by Taylor Wasylk deciding the matter. On Sunday, BC scored the final six goals in defeating Dartmouth, 7-2, in the Big Green’s debut, with Emily Field netting a pair in the win and Lindsey Allen scoring both in the losing effort.
Too little, too late
North Dakota, tied with Cornell at No. 5, came up short in its attempt to complete a sweep of visiting Ohio State. UND pulled away for a 5-2 win in the opener with freshman Halli Krzyzaniak scoring her first goal and adding an assist. On Saturday, the hosts spotted the Buckeyes first-period goals by Kendall Curtis and Taylor Kuehl, and 27 shots over the final two periods only halved the deficit. Lisa Steffes made 36 saves in total in earning the 2-1 win, her first of the campaign.
A tale of two goalies
No. 7 Boston University, the only ranked team to fall on the road, had few problems winning the opener at Robert Morris, 5-2. The Terriers solved Courtney Vinet five times on 28 shots; two of the goals belonged to Sarah Lefort. However, BU had no answer for freshman Jessica Dodds on Saturday when the Colonials won, 3-0. Dodds has now won all three of her starts, allowing two goals in total while saving 97 percent of the shots she has faced.
Home away from home
Minnesota-Duluth, tied at No. 7 with BU, was the only ranked team to lose to a higher-ranked opponent, but the Bulldogs were also the only one to suffer a sweep. Over the first 12 years of this rivalry, No. 1 Minnesota had little success in games played in Duluth, sweeping only once. The Gophers have fared much better in AMSOIL Arena, adding 4-0 and 6-3 wins this weekend. Amanda Leveille made 26 saves in Friday’s shutout, and senior Sarah Davis and rookie Dani Cameranesi each scored three goals on the weekend.
How the rest of the top 10 fared
Wisconsin had little trouble with St. Cloud State in 4-1 and 6-0 wins. Ann-Renée Desbiens made her debut in net for the No. 4 Badgers in the second game and earned the shutout. Brittany Ammerman had a six-point series.
No. 5 Cornell got off to a quick start with a sweep of Northeastern by scores of 6-2 and 3-0. Goaltender Lauren Slebodnick backstopped both wins and Emily Fulton found the net three times.
No. 10 Quinnipiac turned in a convincing sweep of Maine in Orono, 4-0 and 5-2. Chelsea Laden had both wins, including the 20-save shutout. Kelly Babstock’s hat trick highlighted game two.
Give and take
Splits were common in other action. Syracuse and Providence, Union and Penn State, plus RIT and Colgate all saw each competitor handed a loss to go with its win.