Three of four regular-season titles decided
Heading into the final week of play, the season championship has been mathematically clinched in three of the four leagues, and in each case the decisive win came on the road. By virtue of its victory at Wisconsin on Friday night, Minnesota claimed the WCHA crown. Mercyhurst captured another CHA trophy when it won on Sunday at Penn State. Boston College earned its first Hockey East season title with a win over Maine on Sunday.
Three teams remain in contention for the top rung in ECAC Hockey. Cornell holds the inside track, leading both Clarkson and Harvard by a point, thanks in large part to the Golden Knights’ win over the Crimson on Friday. Maintaining the lead in the ECAC in recent weeks has often proven precarious, so it remains to be seen whether the Big Red can close the deal when they host Quinnipiac and Princeton.
Back from the dead
At certain points of the season, No. 8 Mercyhurst’s hope off adding to its string of consecutive CHA titles looked to be fading, but the Lakers made it a dozen straight years atop the CHA. They took care of business at Penn State by scores of 4-0 and 4-1 to eliminate Robert Morris.
Amanda Makela earned both wins, including her sixth shutout. In the first game, Christie Cicero, Kaleigh Chippy, Emily Janiga, and Christine Bestland each had a goal and an assist. Bestland repeated that feat on Sunday, joined this time by Jenna Dingeldein and Molly Byrne, while Janiga contributed three helpers.
With each passing week, a possible Mercyhurst return to the NCAA tournament for a 10th straight year appears more probable as well. Lakers … Lazarus. I think there’s a similarity there if you say it fast enough.
Double the fun
The Hockey East title may have been a first for No. 7 Boston College, but it wasn’t its first championship of the week. BC claimed the Beanpot Tuesday with a 3-0 blanking of Northeastern. Corinne Boyles registered 25 saves while Taylor Wasylk, Meagan Mangene, and Melissa Bizzari lit the lamp.
BC posted twin 4-1 wins at Orono over the weekend. Haley Skarupa was one of four Eagles to score in the first game, and then she exploded for a hat trick in the third period on Sunday.
Spoiling all the fun
No. 1 Minnesota defended its WCHA title, as it took the league for the eighth time, and in the process put a damper on the festivities in Madison. The No. 2 Badgers paid honor to their senior class before Friday night’s game, and drew first blood on a power-play goal by Brittany Ammerman. That proved to be their only lead of the weekend. Dani Cameranesi ultimately scored the game-winning goal in the third period in Friday’s 3-2 Minnesota win.
On Saturday, Wisconsin was energized by an NCAA record crowd of 13,573 fans in the Kohl Center, but Amanda Leveille stopped all 24 shots by the Badgers to subdue the partisans. Kelly Terry scored the first goal and assisted on another to help the Gophers to a 4-0 triumph. The one concern for Minnesota was the loss of Hannah Brandt to injury in the final period.
Are the Olympics almost over?
For the fourth straight week, No. 4 North Dakota was unable to record a sweep while missing players due to the Olympics. This result was the most painful, as UND was swept on home ice by Minnesota State, 4-2 and 2-1. North Dakota struck first in each contest and Meghan Dufault scored in both games for the hosts, but Danielle Butters made 45 stops in the first game and another 40 in the second as the Mavericks rallied. Lauren Barnes led the charge in the opener with a goal and two assists, as Katie Johnson, Shelby Moteyunas, and Nicole Germain also tallied. Outside of Butters, the Mavericks didn’t wake until the third period on Sunday. Once they did, Kari Lundberg one-timed a pass from Barnes on a power play to tie the game. With 3:30 remaining, Nicole Germain cleaned up a rebound after Tracy McCann drove the net and depleted the defenses to stun North Dakota.
Yale did a better job of coping this weekend in the absence of Swiss Olympian Phoebe Staenz. The Bulldogs went on the road and claimed three points. Versus No. 10 Quinnipiac, Krista Yip-Chuck, Kate Martini, and Hanna Åström scored in response to earlier tallies by Bobcats Shiann Darkangelo and Nicole Connery. Quinnipiac needed a goal from Kelly Babstock with 65 seconds to play to salvage the 3-3 tie.
Princeton wasn’t as fortunate. After taking a 3-1 lead on a goal by Hilary Lloyd and two by Fiona McKenna, the Tigers had a great view of the Jackie Raines show. Raines scored four times for Yale, and Yip-Chuck added another and assisted twice as Yale won, 5-3.
The haves and the have-nots
Some separation occurred in Hockey East as the top four teams enjoyed sweeps over those in the bottom half. In addition to BC over Maine, Boston University swept Providence, Northeastern did the same to Connecticut, and Vermont took a pair from New Hampshire.
How the rest of the top 10 fared
The struggles of No. 9 Robert Morris continued. Rebecca Vint scored short-handed in the third period on Friday to give the Colonials a 2-1 win at RIT, but Ali Binnington made 22 saves to shut them out on Saturday. Celeste Brown scored the game’s only goal on a first-period power play.
No. 5 Clarkson swept on the road at No. 6 Harvard, 2-1, and Dartmouth, 6-1. Erin Ambrose scored with just over five minutes left to defeat the Crimson. Genevieve Bannon led the way with two goals and two assists in the thumping of the Big Green.
Despite the setback at the hands of the Golden Knights, Harvard enjoyed a winning week. Samantha Reber scored with 10 seconds left in overtime to defeat BU in the Beanpot consolation game, 3-2. Reber had three points to key a 5-2 win over St. Lawrence.
No. 3 Cornell survived more than it flourished in defeating Union, 2-0, and Rensselaer, 6-5. Jessica Campbell and Jillian Saulnier scored unassisted goals against the Dutchwomen in support of Paula Voorheis’ 18-save shutout. Saulnier and Hanna Bunton netted a pair apiece on Saturday. Bunton’s second tally came in overtime after Ali Svoboda scored for the Engineers with 25 seconds remaining in regulation to extend the game.