Weekend wrap: Oct. 5

Contenders flex muscle
The scoreboard operators at Conte Forum better be ready this season, because No. 3 Boston College will require that constant changes be made. The Eagles made sure there would be no repeat of last year’s mystifying loss to Syracuse. After the teams traded goals on power plays in the opening minutes, BC scored the next five goals and breezed to a 10-2 romp. Senior defenseman Emily Pfalzer had six points, blue line partner Lexi Bender recorded a hat trick, while Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa netted a pair.

No. 10 Minnesota-Duluth’s Kayla Black held off No. 2 Wisconsin for 35 minutes, but Badgers’ rookie Emily Clark finally beat her twice and Brittany Ammerman and Courtney Burke added empty-net goals in a 4-1 win on the road. Wisconsin completed the sweep with a routine 6-2 win on Saturday. Zoe Hickel gave UMD a 1-0 lead, but the Badgers scored twice late in the first frame as part of a five-goal run. Sarah Nurse and Blayre Turnbull had two-goal games. Ann-Renée Desbiens earned her first two wins of the season.

Fortunes vary for new coaches
Four teams have new coaches this season, and so far, they’ve experienced either feast or famine.

For Jim Scanlan at Bemidji State, it has been all good news. After opening with a road sweep at Robert Morris, the Beavers took care of home ice at the expense of Rensselaer, 4-0, and Vermont, 4-0. It has been a team effort for Scanlan’s charges. Freshman Erin Deters and sophomore Brittni Mowat backstopped shutouts to improve their personal records to 2-0 on the year. Eight different Beavers scored on the weekend. For the season, 11 have found the net, led by three from Stephanie Anderson, and 17 have contributed points, where Megan Lushanko is tops with five.

Meanwhile, Scott Spencer at Lindenwood, Hilary Witt at New Hampshire, and Eric Rud at St. Cloud State are still looking for a first victory in their new jobs. Lindenwood was idle this weekend, but the other two teams suffered sweeps.

UNH took different routes to a pair of one-goal losses at Ohio State. Claudia Kepler’s goal at 5:06 of the second period, assisted by Kendall Curtis and Bryanna Neuwald, stood up for a 1-0 Buckeyes win. Freshman Kassidy Sauve made 24 stops to notch her first shutout. On Saturday, Danielle Gagne, Kayla Sullivan, and Alexa Ranahan scored as OSU cruised to a 3-0 lead. The Wildcats turned the game around when Cassandra Vilgrain and Jonna Curtis answered in the second period and Amy Boucher tied it up 7:10 into the third period. However, Kepler struck with 32 seconds remaining to lift the Buckeyes to a 4-3 triumph, her second game-winning goal in as many days.

Rud’s Huskies opened with a pair of neutral-site games in Minneapolis, dropping decisions to No. 6 Boston University, 5-2, and Penn State, 3-2. Although badly outplayed for much of Friday’s game, St. Cloud State drew even at 2-2 when Providence transfer Molly Illikainen stuffed in a wraparound goal 6:32 into the third period. That revived the Huskies, who skated with the Terriers for several minutes and nearly edged ahead when a shot kissed metal, but BU gained the advantage with just over five minutes to go. Rebecca Russo flew around the defense to score, SCSU sagged, and Marie-Philip Poulin and Victoria Bach added insurance. Payge Pena gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead halfway through their game with Penn State, but they immediately committed a penalty, and Shannon Yoxheimer tied the game a minute into the power play. Yoxheimer added the difference maker in the third period for the Nittany Lions to make a winner of Hannah Ehresmann in her NCAA debut.

NCAA rematch
No. 1 Minnesota eliminated Boston University in each of the last two NCAA tournaments, and on Saturday, the Gophers got the best of the Terriers once more, 5-2. BU got a couple of rebound goals from newcomer Rebecca Leslie. After her first tally tied the game, 1-1, early in the second period, Minnesota killed off 68 seconds of five-on-three, took the lead on a Hannah Brandt redirection, and capitalized on its own five-on-three advantage with two goals to seize control of the game. The Gophers opened their season with an 8-0 shutout of Penn State. For the weekend, Meghan Lorence and Milica McMillen had three goals, and freshman Cara Piazza scored in both contests.

How the rest of the top 10 fared
No. 9 Mercyhurst didn’t surrender a goal in sweeping Providence, 3-0 and 2-0. Amanda Makela needed 37 saves to grab the early lead in shutouts. Juniors Emily Janiga and Jenna Dingeldein jumped to the team scoring lead with four and three points respectively.

No. 7 Clarkson split a home-and-home series with St. Lawrence. After the Golden Knights came from two down to tie the opener in Canton, Jessica Hon scored late in the third and Kailee Heidersbach hit an empty net to give the Saints a 5-3 win. Brooke Webster scored twice for SLU, and Shannon MacAulay did the same for Clarkson. The next night in Potsdam, Erin Ambrose decided the game with a later power-play goal after Amanda Titus and Webster had traded goals. Freshman Shea Tiley got her first college win in the Knights’ 2-1 victory.

No. 8 North Dakota handled Rensselaer comfortably, 7-1, thanks to a hat trick from junior Becca Kohler and the first two goals of sophomore Marissa Salo’s career. The going got tougher on Saturday when Vermont came to Grand Forks and claimed a 3-1 win that included two goals from Cassidy Campeau and 29 saves by Madison Litchfield.

No. 10 Quinnipiac stifled Connecticut, 3-0, outshooting the Huskies, 36-9. Chelsea Laden earned the win and Nicole Brown, Nicole Connery, and rookie Taylar Cianfarano supplied the offense.

Other action
Robert Morris dropped its third straight, falling at Maine, 3-2, on Victoria Hummel’s tally 1:11 into overtime. The Colonials finally got in the win column the next day courtesy of Courtney Vinet’s 18-save shutout and Rikki Meilleur’s third-period goal.

Ali Binnington bested Shenae Lundberg in RIT’s home sweep of Union by 2-1 and 2-0 scores. Four different Tigers scored the goals, and four had two-point weekends. The shutout was Binnington’s 15th for RIT.

Syracuse started the week’s action with a 2-1 win over Colgate. Goals by Eleanor Haines and Julie Knerr outweighed the first goal of Breanne Wilson-Bennett for the Raiders. UNH transfer Jenn Gilligan recorded her first win for the Orange.

Women’s D-I picks: Oct. 3

Well, after winning the first two years of our friendly wager on the picks contest, Arlan finally beat me out last year, getting the six pack of beer that goes along with it. He beat me pretty handily in the end too, so this year, it’s up to me to be a better prognosticator.

This is the first full weekend of games, with a lot of interesting nonconference matchups and many of the top teams in action. Let’s get to it!

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 3-4

Wisconsin at Minnesota-Duluth
Candace: The Bulldogs should be stronger this year, but they looked at little flat last weekend against Connecticut, and I have to favor Wisconsin. Wisconsin 3-1, 4-2
Arlan: I’m 50/50 on the first game with UMD at home, but I’ll say the Badgers’ incoming class has a little more impact. Wisconsin 3-2, 4-1

Robert Morris at Maine
Candace: Robert Morris didn’t get off to a good start last weekend, and I have to think they’ll come out with more fire this weekend. Robert Morris 3-2, 3-1
Arlan: The Colonials didn’t inspire a lot of confidence last weekend, or dating back to February. Robert Morris 2-1, Maine 3-2

Providence at Mercyhurst
Candace: The Friars are going to have a tough time this year getting to the top of their conference. The Lakers started slow last year, but I think home ice helps. Mercyhurst 4-1, 3-2
Arlan: Providence could use a quick start to get confidence back, but I don’t see it happening. Mercyhurst 4-2, 5-3

New Hampshire at Ohio State
Candace: The Wildcats are a team in turmoil with a new coach and few stars gone, and while I think new coach Hilary Witt will settle things down, I don’t see UNH winning. Ohio State 3-1, 3-1
Arlan: Signs last weekend that neither of these teams is quite ready to fire. Ohio State 3-2, 2-0

Union at RIT
Candace: The Tigers need to start strong if they have any hopes of challenging Mercyhurst for the CHA. RIT 3-2, 3-1
Arlan: The loss to a club team should have the Tigers’ attention. RIT 3-1, 2-0

Clarkson vs. St. Lawrence
Candace: I got burned picking St. Lawrence in this arch-rivalry last year, and while a lot of Clarkson’s top players are gone, I think the Golden Knights still have a bit too much for the Saints. Clarkson 3-2, 3-1
Arlan: A vote for home ice. St. Lawrence 2-1, Clarkson 4-1

Friday, Oct. 3

Vermont at Bemidji State
Candace: I’m tempted to go for the Catamounts here, but I think the long travel might take its toll. Bemidji State 3-2
Arlan: Vermont has done well under Jim Plumer, but it hasn’t started well. Bemidji State 4-2

Connecticut at Quinnipiac
Candace: Connecticut played very well against Minnesota-Duluth last weekend, and I think this game will be close, but I also think the Bobcats have too much firepower, plus a proven senior netminder in Chelsea Laden. Quinnipiac 2-1
Arlan: The Bobcats have a lot of confidence heading into this season. Quinnipiac 2-1

Boston University at St. Cloud State
Candace: I don’t think this one will be very close. Boston University 4-1
Arlan: Too much to tackle in Eric Rud’s first game coaching the Huskies. Boston University 5-1

Rensselaer at North Dakota
Candace: North Dakota isn’t going to be that down this year, especially with a senior netminder in Shelby Amsley-Benzie. North Dakota 4-1
Arlan: North Dakota is playing the sort of nonconference schedule that the Pairwise Rankings require a team to sweep. North Dakota 3-0

Saturday, Oct. 4

Syracuse at Boston College
Candace: The Eagles were upset on the road last year by the Orange, but I don’t see it happening again. Boston College 3-1
Arlan: I don’t expect the Eagles will underestimate the Orange again. Boston College 4-2

Boston University at Minnesota
Candace: Even with Amanda Kessel gone, the Gophers are one of the strongest teams in the country, and while the Terriers have Marie-Philip Poulin back, I don’t think she can carry her team to victory. Minnesota 4-2
Arlan: The Terriers have the advantage if firepower, but the hosts have the edge on the back end. Minnesota 3-2

Vermont at North Dakota
Candace: North Dakota gets off to great start. North Dakota 4-2
Arlan: I expect this will be a very entertaining game, but it would be better two months from now. North Dakota 4-3

Rensselaer at Bemidji State
Candace: Bemidji could be looking very good after this weekend. Bemidji State 3-1
Arlan: Sanford Center was a tough place to play in Zuzana Tomcikova’s day, and Jim Scanlan hopes to make it so again. Bemidji State 2-1

Weekend wrap: 09/28/14

Pucks have been dropped
A number of programs’ seasons are underway. Most teams are practicing, others have played exhibitions, and a few have started bona fide NCAA competition. Let’s look at the results of the latter.

Scanlan makes history at Bemidji State
Under new coach James Scanlan, Bemidji State opened its season with a road sweep at Robert Morris. The Beavers had never started with two wins in any of their previous 16 seasons.

The outcome is disappointing for the Colonials, who received votes in USCHO’s preseason poll and were ranked for much of last season until a late slump.

Both games were up for grabs in the third period. On Friday, BSU seized a 2-0 lead by the game’s midpoint on goals by Whitney Wivoda and Madison Hutchinson, only to see Rebecca Vint and Erin Staniewski score to forge a 2-2 tie with 8:08 gone in the final frame. Stephanie Anderson scored the eventual winning goal on a power play four minutes later, and Kaitlyn Tougas and Megan Lushanko added insurance goals in a 5-2 Bemidji State win.

Robert Morris struck first in Saturday’s rematch, with Staniewski converting on a power play with 15:41 elapsed. Freshman Erin Deters, making her first collegiate start for the Beavers, slammed the door the rest of the way and finished with 29 saves. Jenessa Philipczyk knotted the score a period later, and rookie Alexis Joyce put BSU ahead to stay 7:16 into the third period. Anderson salted that victory with an empty-net goal; she was one of five Beavers to turn in two-point weekends.

Black Bears earn first conference points
Only one league game was played on the weekend, and Maine became the first team to assume a conference lead with a 2-1 win over Hockey East foe New Hampshire. St. Lawrence transfer Margo Lund opened the scoring at 3:39 to give UNH its first lead of the Hilary Witt era, but Hailey Browne answered eight minutes later. Kelsey MacSorley’s second-period tally proved decisive. Meghann Treacy turned aside 25 shots to earn the victory.

Bulldogs better Huskies
No. 10 Minnesota-Duluth saw its season get off to a rocky start, falling into an early 3-0 hole at Connecticut, with Sarah MacDonnell scoring twice for the hosts. Starting goaltender Kayla Black was yanked from the game after allowing three goals on six shots in the opening 14:38. Karissa Grapp played the remainder of the period, and Black returned to the crease after intermission. Her team clawed its way back, scoring twice in the second and twice in the third, with sophomores Lara Stalder and Ashleigh Brykaliuk each netting a pair. Just 44 seconds after Brykaliuk put UMD ahead with a short-hander, Margaret Zimmer capitalized on the same power play for UConn. Neither team could find the net in the five-minute overtime, and each had to settle for a 4-4 verdict. The Huskies earned the tie in large part thanks to Elaine Chuli’s 54 saves.

Black had a far less turbulent outing on Saturday, stopping all 27 shots she faced. Power-play goals by Zoe Hickel and Tea Villali in the second period and an empty-net goal by freshman Michelle Lowenheilm boosted UMD to a 3-0 triumph.

Badgers survive absences
No. 2 Wisconsin gained a sweep at Lindenwood by scores of 5-1 and 6-0. Neither the absence of five Badgers who were attending a Hockey Canada camp in Calgary, Alberta, nor 91 saves by the Lions’ Nicole Hensley, could derail the visitors. Senior Karley Sylvester led the attack with six points, and classmate Katy Josephs scored three times and was one of three Badgers with a four-point series. UMD transfer Shara Jasper had the only marker for the hosts. Jorie Walters got the start in the second game and earned the shutout.

Women’s D-I picks: March 21

Well, last weekend I could only go 2-2 (.500), putting me at 26-17 in the playoffs so far. Let’s see if I can do any better this time around.

Friday, March 21

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
Another classic battle between these rivals. Minnesota won all four games this season, though three were close. I think the Gophers advance to the title game again. Minnesota 3-2

Clarkson vs. Mercyhurst
This is a game I am really not sure about. I wish I had a better handle on Erin Ambrose’s health, because her play gives Clarkson better defensive capability, but I’ll go with the Golden Knights in a squeaker. Clarkson 3-2

First-time participant Clarkson highlights Frozen Four quartet

Entering the NCAA tournament, most thought that Boston College was the road team with the best chance of earning a win. Instead, the Eagles were the only team not to come within a goal at any point of the third period as Clarkson reached its first Frozen Four.

Leading into the game, the big questions were: would Erin Ambrose be able to play, and could Clarkson win if she didn’t? The answers were, “No,” and an emphatic, “Yes.”

In the absence of its talented sophomore blueliner, Clarkson got big efforts from its senior class in a 3-1 victory over BC. Patty Kazmaier Award top-three finalist Jamie Lee Rattray assisted on all three tallies. Vanessa Gagnon netted a pair, the game’s first goal on a deflection and a rebound opportunity to make it 3-0 early in the final period. Brittany Styner scored the ultimate game-winner and added an assist, and defenseman Vanessa Plante got into the act with a helper. All told, the senior class accounted for eight points while Erica Howe made 23 saves to ensure her resume would include a Frozen Four trip.

The Golden Knights improve to 29-5-5 on the season, surpassing the 28 wins from last year as the most in program history.

Mercyhurst derails Cornell for second straight season
When Mercyhurst dropped No. 2 seed Cornell in overtime last year, it was a surprise. This time, the Lakers didn’t need OT to end the Big Red’s season in Lynah Rink, outshooting the hosts in every period.

Cornell’s Emily Fulton opened the scoring with 7:39 gone and netted her second with 4:29 remaining, but in between, Christine Bestland assisted on one goal and scored two more; Mercyhurst held on for a 3-2 triumph. The three points give Bestland 226 for her career, moving her ahead of Jesse Scanzano into second place in program history. Kaleigh Chippy had the other tally, and Amanda Makela made 29 stops to advance Mercyhurst to its fourth Frozen Four in six years.

The Lakers will face Clarkson in the late semifinal on Friday.

Minnesota repeats win over Boston University in championship rematch
Senior Kelly Terry’s four-point game included a hat trick, her second of the year and the third of her career. Terry’s opening goal off a defender’s skate was quickly answered by Sarah Lefort’s 32nd goal of the season, tops in the country. Minnesota went back up on a second-period, five-on-three goal by Rachel Ramsey. Terry added two goals early in the third period and Maryanne Menefee completed the scoring, giving the Gophers a 5-1 win. Amanda Leveille recorded 28 saves as Minnesota reached the Frozen Four for the 10th time.

Wisconsin stops Harvard to reach seventh Frozen Four
Alex Rigsby got the best of Harvard’s Emerance Maschmeyer in a battle of two of the premier goaltenders in the country. Wisconsin won 2-1, as all three goals were scored with 16 minutes and change elapsed in a period. Blayre Turnbull started the scoring in the first period, and Katy Josephs doubled the Badgers’ advantage in the next frame. Maschmeyer made 42 saves to keep the Crimson in the game, and Dylanne Crugnale finally got them on the board with 3:23 remaining.

However, Rigsby made 23 saves, including a diving effort with her stick to knock down a puck headed for a wide-open net. The win gives her 100 in her career, tying her with Hillary Pattenden for second-most in NCAA history.

Wisconsin will meet Minnesota on Friday. The Badgers hold a 2-1 edge in the teams’ prior national tournament encounters.

Women’s D-I picks: March 14

Last weekend, I went a dismal 6-6 (.500) thanks to all the upsets. For the playoffs, I am 24-15 (.615). Let’s see if I can do any better in the NCAA tournament.

Saturday, March 15

Boston University at Minnesota
A rematch of last year’s championship game, but I don’t see any different outcome. Minnesota 4-2

Mercyhurst at Cornell
A rematch of last year’s quarterfinal, where the Lakers upset the Big Red in OT. I think Cornell will be extra on guard against that happening this time. Cornell 4-2

Boston College at Clarkson
I figure if there is one upset, this is the most likely spot for it, especially if the Golden Knights are without Erin Ambrose. Boston College 3-2

Harvard at Wisconsin
If both teams are affected by the power outages that have plagued them at times, this game could be a mutli-OT scoreless epic. I think home ice wins though. Wisconsin 3-2

Women’s D-I wrap: March 9

Chaos returns in the second weekend of conference tournaments
After the higher seed advanced in all 14 pairings of the conference quarterfinals, results reverted to the occasional randomness seen over the season in the semis and finals. Underdogs prevailed in half of the 12 games. Minnesota was the only top-seeded team able to back up its WCHA regular-season title with a playoff crown. The semifinals were hard on the second seeds, as only one made it to the final, but that one, Boston University, took the Hockey East Championship. The third seed proved to be the most advantageous, because Cornell parlayed that route into the ECAC Hockey crown, as did RIT in the CHA. The Tigers’ tournament victory was particularly impressive, coming in just their second season as a Division-I program.

Tigers tame CHA
Ali Binnington saved all but one of the 63 shots she faced, and Lindsay Grigg scored 13:43 into the second overtime to give RIT a 2-1 victory over host Mercyhurst and its first CHA Championship. Grigg had assisted on Erin Zach’s power-play goal in the last minute of the second period for a 1-0 Tigers’ lead. Christie Cicero pulled the Lakers even during a delayed penalty early in the third stanza. Binnington’s heroics earned her recognition as the tourney’s MVP.

It was RIT’s second upset in as many days, as it took down Robert Morris, 4-1, on Friday. Melissa Bromley and Carly Payerl staked the Tigers to a 2-0 lead in the middle frame, and after Rebecca Vint cut the margin in half, Kourtney Kunichika and Cassie Clayton put the game out of reach.

Mercyhurst reached the final with a 2-1 defeat of Syracuse. Two goals by Kaleigh Chippy with helpers from Shelby Bram were enough to vanquish the Orange, who could only muster a tally from Allie LaCombe.

In an ironic twist, RIT’s season ends with a seven-game winning streak, while Mercyhurst moves on to its 10th straight NCAA tourney.

Gophers continue reign atop WCHA
Minnesota answered a power-play goal from Josefine Jakobsen with two of its own in defeating North Dakota in the WCHA final for a second straight year. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Rachel Ramsey and Hannah Brandt scored with the advantage and Dani Cameranesi iced the 3-1 win into an empty net.

North Dakota upended Wisconsin, 1-0, on Friday to keep its season alive for another day. Meghan Dufault scored an unassisted goal off of her own rebound to provide all of the offense that goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie would need for a 35-save shutout.

Minnesota-Duluth had the Gophers on the ropes in the other semifinal, but was unable to keep them there. Katerina Mrázová earned the Bulldogs a second period lead, but Kelly Terry answered six minutes later, and goals by Rachael Bona, Milica McMillen, and Cameranesi allowed Minnesota to pull away to a 4-1 triumph.

Big Red bounce back in ECAC
After losing the regular-season prize on the final weekend, Cornell had its revenge in the playoff, holding off Clarkson, 1-0, to claim its fourth championship in five years. Cassandra Poudrier, who missed the first round due to injury, scored the only goal 14:27 into the contest, and goalie Lauren Slebodnick was perfect in handling 26 chances.

Both teams displayed a lot more offense in semifinal wins.

Cornell outlasted Harvard, coming back from a two-goal deficit to win, 6-4. Jillian Saulnier and Emily Fulton contributed a pair of tallies, Jess Brown added another, and Jessica Campbell’s three points included a goal. Miye D’Oench scored twice and assisted once for the Crimson.

Shannon MacAulay led the way with two goals in Clarkson’s 6-0 demolition of Quinnipiac. Carly Mercer, Christine Lambert, Shelby Nisbet, and Erin Ambrose picked up goals and Brittany Styner had three assists. Erica Howe needed only 12 saves to turn in her 14th shutout. The win came at a cost, as Kazmaier top 10 finalist Ambrose suffered an injury.

Terriers grab Hockey East automatic bid
Boston University posted its third straight 3-2 victory to conquer the Hockey East tournament, the final coming over Boston College. Louise Warren and Maddie Elia scored third-period goals to reverse a one-goal deficit. First-frame tallies by Dana Trivigno and Taylor Wasylk sandwiched around one from Rebecca Russo had put the Eagles up by one. Kerrin Sperry made 40 saves and was named the event’s MVP for the second year. The Terriers were outside the top eight needed to secure an at-large invitation, but the automatic bid enters them into their fifth straight national tourney.

The Terriers reached the championship by holding on for a 3-2 verdict over Northeastern. Sarah Lefort, Russo, and Elia struck in the second period to give BU a 3-1 lead, bettering the goal by Kelly Wallace. The Huskies could add only a Colleen Murphy counter with under five to play.

BC advanced, 3-1, over Vermont thanks to a pure hat trick off the stick of Kate Leary.

NCAA field
Struggles late in the season dropped North Dakota and Robert Morris out of the picture, and Quinnipiac was likely the last team eliminated by the Terriers earning an automatic bid. The resulting eight-team field is very similar to that of last season, with the only change being Wisconsin returning at North Dakota’s expense.

A highlight of the quarterfinal pairings includes BU and Minnesota reprising their national final at Ridder Arena. Mercyhurst and Cornell meet in the NCAA tourney for the third time in five years, having traded upset wins. Harvard gets another shot at Wisconsin after coming up short in 2008 and in a record four-overtime tilt in 2007. BC looks to extend its string of three consecutive Frozen Four appearances as it visits Clarkson, where the Golden Knights are searching for a first win in an NCAA tournament game.

Women’s D-I picks: March 7

Well, I didn’t get off to that great a start in my postseason picks. The ECAC really messed with my percentages, but overall, I did well, and correctly picked all but two series. I went 18-9 (.666).

Let’s see how I can do this weekend. If my semifinal picks are wrong, I will update this page.

Friday, March 7

Syracuse at Mercyhurst
This should be a close one, but I expect the Lakers to come out on top. Mercyhurst 3-2

RIT vs. Robert Morris
I’m seriously tempted to go with the Tigers for the upset, but I think RMU will come through. Robert Morris 3-2

Minnesota-Duluth vs. Minnesota
The Gophers are still the tournament favorites until proven otherwise. Minnesota 4-1

North Dakota vs. Wisconsin
The Badgers have generally been kryptonite to UND. Despite their misstep last weekend against Minnesota State, I think they will win a close defensive battle. Wisconsin 2-1

Saturday, March 8

Quinnipiac at Clarkson
The Bobcats won this battle a couple of weeks ago, which might help Clarkson, as it will know to avoid the letdown. Clarkson 2-1

Cornell vs. Harvard
Which wins, offense or defense? Generally, I’d say defense, except Harvard’s has been porous of late. Cornell 4-2

Vermont vs. Boston College
The Catamounts played the Eagles tough the last time these two faced each other, but I don’t think they can contain BC’s high-flying offense. Boston College 4-1

Northeastern vs. Boston University
Both looked shaky last weekend, so I’ll go with the Huskies as my upset special. Northeastern 3-2

Robert Morris vs. Mercyhurst
These two split their season series, and RMU won over the Lakers in the tournament two years ago, but I think home ice gives Mercyhurst the edge. Mercyhurst 3-2

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
The Badgers couldn’t put a dent in the Gophers all season long, and I don’t think they will here either. Minnesota 3-1

Sunday, March 9

Cornell at Clarkson
A game that should see a little bit of everything. Clarkson is at home, and Cornell has looked shaky defensively, so I’ll go with Clarkson. Clarkson 4-2

Northeastern vs. Boston College
A rematch of the Beanpot final won’t produce a different result. Boston College 3-1

Women’s D-I wrap: March 2

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.

Women’s D-I picks: Feb. 28

Congrats to Arlan for beating me in our regular season picks contest and winning a six pack of microbrew from me. Last weekend, both Arlan and I went 17-7-2 (.692). I finished the regular season 272-91-42 (.723), while Arlan finished the regular season 280-83-42 (.743).

Arlan usually doesn’t pick the playoffs, so I’ll bid him adieu with a pledge to take the picks crown back from him next season. In the meantime, here is my outlook on the first round playoff matchups.

Friday, Feb. 28

New Hampshire at Boston College
The Wildcats own one win against the Eagles this season, but have looked underwhelming over the last few months, while BC has been on a roll. I think Katie King Crowley will prevent any letdown. Boston College 4-2

Connecticut at Northeastern
The battle of the Huskies. Connecticut played better in spurts this year, but Northeastern has been on a tear, and swept two games two weeks ago against UConn without giving up a goal. Northeastern 4-1

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-March 1

Penn State at RIT
RIT impressed last weekend by sweeping Syracuse in a home-and-home, and Penn State is still building its program. RIT 4-2, 4-1

Lindenwood at Syracuse
This is an interesting series, because Lions goalie Nicole Hensley is capable of stealing a game for the visitors, and Lindenwood did beat Syracuse once back in December in Syracuse, but when they faced off again back a couple of weeks ago, Syracuse swept, so I’ll go with the Orange in two. Syracuse 2-1, 3-1

Dartmouth at Clarkson
The Big Green are having a down year, and while they usually play better against the top teams, it won’t be enough. Clarkson 3-2, 4-1

Princeton at Cornell
A rematch of a game from last weekend won by the Tigers. Cornell has been reeling of late and has goaltending issues, and Princeton played the Big Red tough in two contests in the regular season, but I just don’t see Princeton taking two games in Ithaca. Cornell 3-2, Princeton 4-3, Cornell 5-3

Yale at Harvard
This one could be a major upset. Yale had great success against the Crimson this year, almost winning both games before Harvard rallied to tie on Saturday. The Bulldogs were one of the few teams that demonstrated scoring ability against Crimson netminder Emerance Maschmeyer. Yale will also have Phoebe Staenz back from the Olympics. I’ll go with the upset in three. Harvard 2-1, Yale 2-1, 3-2

St. Lawrence at Quinnipiac
Another case of a lower seed that won the season series against the higher seed. There’s also the rematch factor, as St. Lawrence beat Quinnipiac in three games last year in the ECAC tournament. I think Quinnipiac reverses that result, but it will take three games. Quinnipiac 2-1, St. Lawrence 3-2, Quinnipiac 3-2

St. Cloud State at Minnesota
If I could only bet on one series all weekend, I’d take the Gophers in a sweep. Minnesota 4-2, 4-1

Minnesota State at Wisconsin
These two faced off last weekend in Madison, and the Badgers swept. They will again. Wisconsin 2-1, 4-2

Bemidji State at North Dakota
North Dakota finally has its full roster again, and is hoping that can lift them out of their four-game losing streak. I’ll go with a UND sweep, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Bemidji takes this to three. North Dakota 3-2, 4-2

Ohio State at Minnesota-Duluth
This is the series I would be least likely to bet on, because I think you could flip a coin 100 times and have better odds of predicting it correctly. The Buckeyes played very well in the second half and had two ties against the Bulldogs in Duluth back in January. Overtime in all three of these games would not surprise me. OSU swept this series on the road last year. Ohio State 2-1, Minnesota-Duluth 3-2, Ohio State 3-1

Saturday, March 1

Providence at Boston University
The Friars never really got untracked, and the Terriers seem to have fixed whatever was ailing them in January. Boston University 4-2

Maine at Vermont
Possibly an upset special, as the Black Bears played the Catamounts tough a couple of weeks ago in Burlington, losing 2-1, but I’ll go with home ice. Vermont 2-1

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