Underdogs denied as conference playoffs commence
There were a few tense moments along the way, but in the end, the higher-seeded, home teams advanced from all 14 quarterfinal pairings across the four conferences. Five games went to overtime, and three series required a deciding third game.
Hockey East follows form
The playoff structure used in Hockey East, with single-game quarterfinals rather than best-of-three series, would figure to make upsets more likely. However, the top four seeds all advanced. Three of those teams did surrender the first goal, and the one that did not had to toil for over 117 minutes in order to punch its ticket to Hyannis.
New Hampshire’s 8-1 loss to top-seeded Boston College could represent its season in microcosm: a promising start followed by one disaster after another. Sara Carlson gave the Wildcats a lead 71 seconds into the game, but Dana Trivigno’s response at 4:56 started an avalanche of eight BC goals in less than 40 minutes. Haley Skarupa had two of them and added three assists; Kristyn Capizzano scored twice with a pair of helpers.
Northeastern and Connecticut squared off in a far different contest that was scoreless into the third period before Northeastern rallied late for a 2-1 win. Elaine Chuli stymied Northeastern with 34 saves, and Sarah MacDonnell’s second-chance goal 6:08 into the final stanza looked like it might be enough to spring the upset. Kayla Campero had a chance to provide some insurance on a breakaway with seven and a half minutes remaining, but Chloe Desjardins forced her to shoot wide. That enabled Sonia St. Martin to tie the game seven seconds into a power play with 2:24 left in regulation. St. Martin moved across the high slot and feathered a shot inside the left post for the second goal of her senior season. At the 18:59 mark, Brittany Esposito picked up the puck along the side boards and skated to the front of the net, where she picked the top corner on Chuli’s glove side. Connecticut pressured with a six-on-four advantage in the final seconds, but could not find an equalizer.
Boston University turned to leading scorers Sarah Lefort and Louise Warren to supply the offense. Warren responded with a pair of goals, including a third-period game-winner, Lefort tallied once, and that was a enough for a 3-2 victory for the Terriers. The duo has now combined for 56 of BU’s 106 goals on the season. Kerrin Sperry made 37 saves to earn the win. Beth Hanrahan gave Providence a lead in the opening minute of the second period, and Lexi Romanchuk tied the game after BU took its first lead. However, the Friars saw the repeat of an all-too-familiar theme, losing a game despite outshooting an opponent, 39-22 in this case. For the first time, Providence will not be part of the field for Hockey East’s semifinals.
Vermont hosted a postseason game for the first time in the Division-I history of the program, and the Catamounts like the experience so much that they didn’t want it to end. They took a 2-0 lead over Maine in the first period. Victoria Andreakos followed her own shot to open the scoring, and Rachael Ade converted another rebound for her first goal of the season. The lead held up until the 10:56 mark of the third period when Emilie Brigham grabbed a loose puck and wristed a shot by Roxanne Douville to pull the Black Bears within one. Hailey Browne deflected in a shot with 3:16 remaining in the period, and the teams went to overtime tied at 2-2. Goalies Douville and Meghann Treacy matched save for save until Amanda Pelkey attacked parallel to the goal line and Brittany Zuback crashed down the slot and scored upstairs to give Vermont a 3-2 win. The game ended at 17:12 in the third overtime, the longest game in the history of both programs. The Catamounts advance to their first league semifinal.
Top four advance in the CHA
Mercyhurst and Robert Morris had first-round byes, and RIT and Syracuse moved on with series sweeps.
The Tigers swept their series from Penn State, but they needed an overtime winner from Celeste Brown 10:15 into the extra session in game one to take a 3-2 decision. Shannon Yoxheimer had tallied twice for the Nittany Lions, and RIT offset that with goals from Jess Paton and Caitlin Wallace, the latter being her first collegiate goal. Nicole Paniccia made 44 stops to keep PSU in the game, and Ali Binnington registered 34 saves and earned the win. On Saturday, Binnington kept a clean sheet, thwarting all 31 PSU shots and posting her sixth shutout on the year, 3-0. Melissa Bromley opened the scoring late in the second period, and Erin Zach and Emilee Bulleid added insurance goals. RIT advances to the semifinals for the second straight year.
Syracuse posted relatively easy 4-1 and 6-0 triumphs over Lindenwood. Heather Schwarz opened the scoring late in the second period for the Orange, and Allie LaCombe, Nicole Renault, and Jessica Sibley added insurance goals in the third period before Caitlyn Post scored late to deny Jenesica Drinkwater a shutout. Julie Knerr got Syracuse on the board 61 seconds into Saturday’s game, and the Orange also got a pair of tallies from Melissa Piacenti, and one each from Margot Scharfe, Schwarz, and Cara Johnson. This time, Drinkwater did finish the shutout with 22 saves.
Seeds hold in ECAC Hockey
Second-seeded Harvard dropped the opening game of its series to Yale, but the home team prevailed in the league’s other eight quarterfinal games.
The first two games between the Bulldogs and Crimson went to double overtime. Janelle Ferrara scored the deciding goal after 97:33 played on Friday. Jaimie Leonoff made 55 saves as Yale won, 3-2. Jackie Raines had three points, including the first goal, and Jamie Haddad tallied as well for the Bulldogs. Hillary Crowe and Samantha Reber scored the Harvard goals. On Saturday, Miye D’Oench’s second goal of the game at 4:01 of the second OT was the game-winner in the Crimson’s 3-2 victory. Dylanne Crugnale had the tying goal with 4:02 left in regulation, and Brianna Laing got the call in net and made 32 saves to earn the win. Phoebe Staenz netted both goals for the Bulldogs, and Leonoff was called on to make 53 saves in defeat. Laing posted a 30-save shutout in the rubber match as Harvard won, 4-0. Crowe led the offense with two goals.
Top-seeded Clarkson took care of Dartmouth with twin 2-0 triumphs. Erica Howe needed 15 and 16 saves respectively for the two shutouts, tying her for the NCAA lead with 13 on the year. Jamie Lee Rattray scored both of the goals in the opener; Cayley Mercer and Christine Lambert tallied in the clincher.
Cornell came from behind Princeton to win on back-to-back days. Friday’s rally required three third-period goals, with Jessica Campbell scoring both the tying and winning goals for the 3-2 final. Jillian Saulnier had the first Big Red goal after Sally Butler and Hilary Lloyd staked the Tigers to a two-goal lead. Cornell wrapped up the series with a 5-3 win on Saturday, with Saulnier scoring twice and assisting on two goals.
Quinnipiac advanced on the strength of 5-0 and 2-1 wins over St. Lawrence. Shiann Darkangelo had a big series with three goals and two assists, and Chelsea Laden made 53 saves while yielding only the one goal.
Cinderella falls short in the WCHA
Minnesota State and Ohio State sprang upsets in the middle game of their series at Wisconsin and Minnesota-Duluth, respectively; Bemidji State forced OT before falling in game two. Beyond that, it was business as usual as the favorites advanced to the WCHA Final Face-Off to be held in Bemidji.
The Mavericks went quietly on Friday in Madison, as they had no answer for goals by Sarah Nurse, Madison Packer, Sydney McKibbon, and Katy Josephs. Alex Rigsby made 26 saves in backstopping the 4-0 shutout. Saturday was a different story; Danielle Butters proved invincible despite 51 shots fired by the Badgers, and Melissa Klippenstein, Kari Lundberg, and Kelsie Scott provided offensive support. Minnesota State couldn’t get anything going offensively on Sunday, as Rigsby kept them stuck on zero while Blayre Turnbull scored the winning goal in the second period and Courtney Burke added an insurance tally in the third.
UMD opened its series with a 1-0 shutout of Ohio State on Friday. Jamie Kenyon scored the game’s only goal in the second period and Kayla Black made all 26 saves asked of her. In game two, Ally Tarr and Kari Schmitt scored to turn a 2-1, third-period deficit into a 3-2 win for the Buckeyes. On Sunday, Zoe Hickel scored twice, Sidney Morin potted the winning goal in the second period, and the Bulldogs added a couple of empty-net goals to advance with a 5-1 win.
Hannah Brandt had a six-point weekend as Minnesota took over in the second period in both games in sweeping St. Cloud State, 4-1 and 7-1. Maryanne Menefee and Meghan Lorence found the net in each game, while senior Julia Gilbert scored both tallies in her last weekend for the Huskies.