Return to the rink
After everyone took some time off for the Christmas break, competition resumed over the last six days. Of the 34 teams in D-I conferences, 25 have returned to action.
No team was busier than Minnesota State over the last week. The Mavericks played four times in six days, and their defense was stout throughout, allowing only three goals and no more than one in any contest. That led to three straight wins, 3-0 and 3-1 over Lindenwood and squeaking by Bemidji State, 2-1. Melissa Klippenstein and Tracy McCann enjoyed two-goal games against the Lions, and McCann and Kari Lundberg came up with goals to topple the Beavers. But on Sunday, BSU earned a 1-0 win at Mankato as Brittni Mowat made 33 stops and Kristine Grenier scored the game’s only tally on a third-period power play.
Colonials looking legitimate
For the third straight season, Paul Colontino guided No. 10 Robert Morris into Christmas with three losses or less. The problem in the two previous campaigns was that the Colonials stumbled out of the break, going a cumulative 4-12-1 from the time action resumed until January ended to dash their national hopes.
January looks much more promising this year, as RMU got it started by sweeping visiting St. Lawrence, 4-2 and 3-0. Freshman Jessica Dodds notched both victories between the pipes, staying unbeaten as a collegian as she upped her personal mark to 15-0-1 and earned her fourth shutout.
For the weekend, the line of Rebecca Vint (2-1-3) between Thea Imbrogno (1-2-3) and Brittany Howard (0-3-3) sparked the offense. Kristen Richards and defenseman Anneline Lauziere each had a goal and a helper in the opener.
The victories extended the unbeaten streak for Robert Morris to 11 games and moved it up to a solid sixth in the PairWise Rankings. The Colonials now get a week off to prepare for what look to be the two biggest series in their season. Both occur on the road, where they are unbeaten at 6-0-1, although the trips to face No. 9 Quinnipiac in the final nonconference test and a CHA showdown at Mercyhurst figure to present the toughest road challenges to date.
The weather outside is frightful …
The anticipated outdoor meeting of Northeastern and No. 5 Harvard on Thursday as part of Frozen Fenway was vetoed by Mother Nature, so the pair faced off inside on Saturday at Bright-Landry Hockey Center. The Crimson took care of business on their home ice, but the 3-2 win didn’t come easily.
Both tallies by the Huskies were quickly matched by Harvard. NU struck first on a well-executed power play in the opening frame with Heather Mottau providing the finish. Mary Parker’s answer came 57 seconds later. The Crimson went up for the first time in the second period when Gina McDonald pounced on a turnover while short-handed, skated in alone, and slipped a backhand around Chloe Desjardins’ pad. Hayley Scamurra’s backhand shot fooled Emerance Maschmeyer to forge a tie with five minutes remaining. Sydney Daniels touched in the game-winner 3:15 later. Brittany Esposito nearly provided an immediate response for the Huskies, but her shot kissed the crossbar and stayed out.
Dutchwomen squeeze out series win
In a battle of two New York squads, host Union came out on top of RIT by the slimmest of margins. Celeste Brown scored the series’ first goal for the Tigers midway through the third period, but Stefanie Thomson tied Friday’s game at 1-1 five minutes later on a rush where the Dutchwomen never seemed to have control of the puck heading up the ice but got it into the net anyway. Kathryn Tomaselli walked out front and scored 3:51 into overtime to gain Union a 2-1 win.
The Dutchwomen looked positioned to sweep on Saturday, holding a 1-0 lead on the strength of a first-period goal from Jessica Kaminsky. However, Marissa Magueri drew RIT even at 10:12 of the third period. Although each team had power-play opportunities to net a winner — Union on a five-on-three and RIT in overtime — the game ended tied, 1-1. Union had to settle for the tie despite 48 saves from Maddy Dahl in her first start of the season.
New year, new result
So far, Ohio State likes 2014 much better than most of the 2013 portion of the schedule. The Buckeyes throttled Penn State, 8-0 and 4-0. Lisa Steffes was perfect on the 37 shots she faced, and she received a lot of support. In the opener, Claudia Kepler scored twice and Kari Schmitt, Taylor Kuehl, and Danielle Gagne had identical production with a goal and two helpers. Kuehl and Ally Tarr matched those three point efforts on Saturday, while Gagne had a hand in all four goals.
Orange take two
Syracuse snuck out of Vermont with a pair of one-goal decisions, 4-3 and 3-2. Akane Hosoyamada’s second goal of the game on a power play with eight seconds left won Saturday’s game in spite of a three-point game by the Catamounts Amanda Pelkey. After Vermont battled back from a two-goal deficit with third-period goals by Sarah Kelly and Pelkey on Sunday, Larissa Martyniuk tallied a couple minutes later to thwart the rally.
How the rest of the top 10 fared
Half of the ranked teams were idle, but No. 2 Wisconsin provided little drama in sweeping St. Cloud State by scores of 3-1 and 4-0. Julia Gilbert’s third-period goal did tie the opener at 1-1 early in the third period, but Rachel Jones got the lead back for the Badgers four minutes later. On Saturday, Sarah Nurse gave UW the only goal it needed before the game was two minutes old. Ann-Renée Desbiens contributed 50 saves on the weekend with Alex Rigsby still out with a knee injury. Brittany Ammerman and Katy Josephs scored in both games.
No. 3 Cornell had very similar results on the road. With Lauren Slebodnick returning to the net after an injury suffered on Nov. 30, the Big Red toppled Brown, 3-1. Goals by Jillian Saulnier and Janice Yang offset over the first two stanzas. Hanna Bunton and Emily Field helped Cornell pull away in the third. Versus Yale on Saturday, Alyssa Gagliardi provided an early lead and goals late in the middle period by Hayleigh Cudmore and Jessica Campbell put the 3-0 win out of reach. Paula Voorheis stopped all 16 shots from the Bulldogs to collect her first collegiate shutout.
Dartmouth provided plenty of resistance against No. 8 Boston University, but Sarah Lefort’s goal allowed the Terriers to post a 3-2 win. BU rookie Maddie Elia scored and added an assist.