Picking the championship final

It’s down to No. 1 Plattsburgh and No. 2 Elmira.


For all the marbles in women’s Division III.

Candace and Matt take the floor for one final time this season.

Elmira at Plattsburgh
Candace: These two have each beaten the other this season, and are the two most recent national champions. I have to think home ice makes a difference. Plattsburgh 3-2
Matt: Too close to call. Really, it is. Both teams have so much talent that it’s unfair one team has to lose. These powerhouses are so similar in every facet of the game, each team has its high-end players and top-end coaches. But I still have to pick a winner. Hmmm… I can’t. No, I will. Elmira, 3-2.

Third-place game: Norwich vs. Wisconsin-River Falls.
Candace: Norwich didn’t looked a little more raw than the Falcons. Wis.-River Falls 4-2
Matt: I have River Falls here, 4-1.

NCAA semifinals picks

This is it – the final four games of the year.

One of Plattsburgh, Norwich, Elmira, or Wisconsin-River Falls will be crowned women’s Division III national champion Saturday night.

But who?

Candace and Matt carefully make their final picks of the season and then put the magic 8-ball away for another seven months.

Friday, March 20

Wisconsin-River Falls vs. Elmira
Candace: I have to think Elmira comes out on top in this one, but it will be close. Elmira 3-2
Matt: Elmira has the two top guns in the country in Ashley Ryan and Ashton Hogan. That much is certain. River Falls has Alice Cranston, Chloe Kinsel and Dani Sibley. Can we expect a shootout? Possibly, but I see it more like a 5-3 win for UWRF.

Friday – Norwich vs. Plattsburgh
Candace: Norwich couldn’t push the Cardinals in January, and I don’t think Plattsburgh will lose on home ice. Plattsburgh 4-1
Matt: Plattsburgh has home-ice advantage and that goes a long way in my estimation. The Cardinals were either ranked No. 1 or No. 2 all season long – and for good reason. Norwich was blown out by Plattsburgh 5-0 back in January and methinks another shutout is in order from Camille Leonard in a win. Plattsburgh 3-0


Weekend wrap – four left standing

The four teams left standing in the women’s Division III ranks all earned the right to play for the national title next weekend in Plattsburgh, N.Y., after winning hard-fought games this past Saturday.

Elmira, Norwich, Plattsburgh, and Wisconsin-River Falls — one of those teams will be hoisting some hardware next Saturday night.

Elmira came from behind with three unanswered goals to beat Trinity 3-2 on Erin Weston’s power-play goal 26 seconds into overtime.

Brooke Wilgosh had tied the game 2-2 at 18:48 of the third period and also assisted on Weston’s game-winner.

Anna Tude also scored for the Soaring Eagles and Kyle Nelson made 18 saves in net.

Cheeky Herr had a goal and an assist for Trinity, while Lucy Robinson also scored and Emma Tani chipped in two assists. Bantams’ goalie Sydney Belinskas finished with 34 saves.

Norwich edged Middlebury 3-2 as Vanessa Champagne scored the tying goal and game-winning goal in the second period and Celeste Robert stopped 30 shots, including all 10 in the third period, to lead the Cadets to the win.

Liz Gemmiti added the other Norwich goal and Adelle Murphy contributed a pair of assists.

For the Panthers, Katie Sullivan and Hannah Bielawski scored and goalie Madeline Marsh kicked out 14 shots.

Top-ranked Plattsburgh defeated the only unranked team in the field of eight, St. Thomas, by a 4-1 count.

Shannon Stewart went for a goal and two assists, while Bridget Balisy and Melissa Sheeran added a goal and an assist apiece.

Giovanna Senese scored as well, and goalie Camille Leonard finished with 28 saves.

Tori Bailey scored for the Tommies and Taylor Neisen made 25 stops.

Wisconsin-River Falls earned its berth with a 3-1 victory over Lake Forest.

Chloe Kinsel, Karleigh Wolkerstorfer, and Dani Kocina scored for the Falcons, and Angie Hall needed to make just 14 saves in goal.

Lake Forest’s lone goal came from Morgan Pope, and goalie Allie Carter made 29 saves.

Wisconsin-River Falls plays Elmira in one semifinal and Plattsburgh battles Norwich in the other semifinal on Friday.

The national championship game is set for next Saturday at 7 p.m. EST.

Women’s D-III First-round NCAA tournament picks

The first four games of the women’s Division III tournament are scheduled for this Saturday on campus sites.

Those four winners advance to the Frozen Four next weekend at the home of the highest seed.

Check out Candace’s and Matt’s picks below to find out where the semifinals and finals may be held.

No. 6 Trinity at No. 2 Elmira
Candace: I like the Bantams a lot, but Elmira will be totally up for this game, especially after getting spanked by Plattsburgh last week. Elmira 2-1
Matt: While upsets do happen this time of year, it won’t be this game. I just can’t see Elmira losing, especially after such a dominant regular season that saw the Soaring Eagles ranked No. 1 for a stretch. Elmira 4-1.

No. 4 Norwich at No. 5 Middlebury
Candace: The most interesting first-round game on tap, IMO. Both Vermont teams. Middlebury won a close one last month, and I think the Panthers do again. Middlebury 2-1
Matt: Very. Intriguing. Matchup. Two very similar teams with similar players and statistics. Does that all go out the window here and one team routs the other? Nah. I’ll say Middlebury, 3-2 in overtime with Jessica Young getting the winner.

St. Thomas at No. 1 Plattsburgh
Candace: I had thought Plattsburgh looked a little vulnerable down the stretch, then the Cardinals crushed Elmira, so I don’t see anybody getting in their way. Plattsburgh 4-1
Matt: Plattsburgh is No. 1 in the country for a reason, but can be beaten. Problem for St. Thomas is that it won’t happen here. This may be the lone romp of the tournament. Plattsburgh 5-0, and the Cardinals will host the semifinals and championship final.

No. 8 Lake Forest at No. 3 Wisconsin-River Falls
Candace: Lake Forest went on a nice run to make the NCAA tournament, but it ends here. Wis.-River Falls 3-1
Matt: Wis.-River Falls hasn’t lost in, like, forever. Lake Forest surprised us all by winning the NCHA tournament, but won’t surprise UWRF in this game. Wis.-River Falls 4-2

Weekend wrap: Six conference champions

Six women’s Division III conference champions were crowned this past weekend.

Norwich (ECAC East), Plattsburgh (ECAC West), St. Thomas (MIAC), Lake Forest (NCHA), Trinity (NESCAC), and Wisconsin-River Falls (WIAC) all got the job done in their respective championship finals.

Which teams get in to the NCAA tournament will be unveiled Monday morning.

Vanessa Champagne scored the lone goal of the game in the second period and Celeste Robert stopped all 25 shots as Norwich blanked Castleton 1-0 for the ECAC East title Sunday afternoon.

Norwich beat Massachusetts-Boston 6-1 on Saturday and Castleton edged Salve Regina 3-2 on Saturday to set up the Sunday showdown.

Most predicted the championship final on Sunday to be Elmira and Plattsburgh, but a 4-0 shutout for Plattsburgh? Not sure anyone saw that coming.

Giovanna Senese scored twice and Shannon Stewart and Bridget Balisy each had a goal and an assist to lift the Cardinals, last season’s national champions. Camille Leonard finished with 23 saves for the win in goal.

Plattsburgh bounced Oswego 4-2 on Saturday and Elmira defeated Utica 6-3 in the semifinals.

Heidi Winiecki scored her second goal of the game at 13:23 of the third period and that stood as the game-winner as St. Thomas took the MIAC title 3-2, ending Bethel’s Cinderella postseason run.

Rachel Friberg also scored for St. Thomas and goaltender Taylor Neisen made 17 saves between the pipes.

Bethel goalie Michelle Klimstra finished with 25 stops in the loss.

Favorite Adrian was upset in the semifinals Friday, 2-1 by Concordia (Wis.) and in the other semifinal, Lake Forest upended St. Norbert 5-3.

In the championship final Saturday, Michelle Greeneway’s goal with three seconds remaining in regulation snapped a 1-1 tie and Lake Forest took a dramatic 2-1 win over Concordia.

Allie Carter made 20 saves in the win, while Bridget Slater stopped 44 in the loss.

Trinity won both its semifinal and the title game in overtime, downing Amherst 2-1 Saturday and then Middlebury 3-2 on Sunday.

Cheeky Herr was the hero in both games for the Bantams.

Middlebury had beaten Bowdoin 4-2 on Saturday to reach the title game.

The WIAC title game was never in doubt as Wisconsin-River Falls rolled to a 6-1 win over Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Carly Moran potted a pair of goals, Chloe Kinsel added three assists, and Angie Hall needed to make just 13 saves in net for the Falcons.

Katherine Nejedlo scored for UWSP and conference player of the year Janna Beilke-Skoug made 34 saves in the Pointers’ crease.

The women’s Division III selection show is scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m. EST.

Conference tournament final picks: March 6

The six women’s Division III conference playoff championships will be decided this weekend.

That much is fact.

What isn’t known is which team skates away with their respective trophy and by what score.

Women’s editor Candace Horgan and women’s writer Matt Mackinder take a stab at both.

Candace: This tournament is Norwich’s to lose, but who do the Cadets face? I like Castleton in the other. Semis: Norwich 5-1, Castleton 3-2, Final: Norwich 5-4
Matt: I like No. 5 Norwich beating Massachusetts-Boston and then Salve Regina downing Castleton in the semifinals and then in the finals, let’s go with Norwich winning the title, but not easily. Norwich 4, Castleton 3

Candace: Number one will play number two in what could very likely be a preview of the NCAA Championship. Elmira has had Plattsburgh’s number, and I think the Soaring Eagles take it. Semis: Elmira 5-1, Plattsburgh 4-1, Final: Elmira 3-1
Matt: This will be the best final of the bunch. I see top-ranked Elmira handling Utica in the first semi and then No. 2 Plattsburgh beating Oswego in the second game. How to pick a winner here? I’ll go with the Soaring Eagles in overtime on an Ashton Hogan goal. Elmira 2, Plattsburgh 1 (OT)

Candace: Can Cinderella keep up its run? Something tells me yes, so I’m going with Bethel. Bethel 2-1
Matt: Bethel has been on a roll and no one thought the Royals would be here. Kind of like the Kansas City version in the MLB’s World Series last October. That said, St. Thomas has also been playing some pretty good hockey as of late and prevails here, ending the Cinderella run for Bethel. St. Thomas 3, Bethel 1

Candace: A really hard one to pick, but I think Adrian is going to come out on top in a tight few games. Semis: Adrian 3-1, St. Norbert 3-2, Final: Adrian 2-1
Matt: If home ice is really an advantage, then No. 4 Adrian beats Concordia (Wis.) in the semis and then St. Norbert in the final. I do think there is such a thing as home-ice advantage. The Green Knights get to the final with a win over Lake Forest. Adrian 3, St. Norbert 0

Candace: Middlebury looked very vulnerable last week, but I think the Panthers are rested enough to take this. Semis: Middlebury 3-1, Trinity 2-1, Final: Middlebury 3-2
Matt: See the ECAC West. Just too hard to call here, especially with three ranked teams. Let’s say No. 8 Amherst beats No. 10 Trinity in the semis and No. 3 Middlebury beats Bowdoin in the other semifinal. That leaves an upset to be had in the finals. Amherst 3, Middlebury 2.

Candace: This should be another barn-burner between two very evenly matched squads. I like River Falls. Wis.-River Falls 2-1
Matt: What is it with these ranked teams? Sheesh. No. 6 Wisconsin-River Falls takes on seventh-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Man, oh man. I like Janna Beilke-Skoug in the Pointers’ net and if a No. 7 team beating a No. 6 team is an upset, then so be it. Wis.-Stevens-Point 3-1

Weekend wrap: March 1

The first round of the six women’s Division III conference tournaments went down this past weekend and all six, plus the ECAC Open, had a flair for the dramatic.

In the ECAC East, two games went to overtime as Castleton took down Maine 2-1 and then Salve Regina beat Nichols 3-2, both on Friday night.

Hannah Rose was the hero for Castleton 15:17 into extra time, while Taylor Shepherd’s second goal of the game 6:40 into the OT won it for Salve Regina.

In the other two games, Massachusetts-Boston edged Manhattanville 3-2 on Kristen Embrey’s game-winner early in the third and No. 5 Norwich blanked the University of New England 6-0 as Maki Shuchuk posted a natural hat trick in the third period.

Oswego beat Cortland 2-1 and Utica defeated Buffalo State 4-1 in the two ECAC West contests.

Rachel Lenard scored both Oswego goals and Bridget Smith made 28 stops for the Lakers. Morgan Reed’s hat trick led Utica. The game was actually tied 1-1 midway through the second period before the Pioneers scored three unanswered.

Bethel is off to the MIAC semifinals after beating St. Mary’s 7-1 last Thursday and then stunning No. 7 Gustavus Adolphus 6-3 Saturday night. Michelle Klimstra stopped 26 shots for Bethel Saturday night and Lindsay Burman and Lauren Kolak each scored two goals for the Royals.

In the other MIAC quarterfinal, St. Thomas beat Concordia (Minn.) 3-2 on Hannah Bird’s game-winner early in the third period and Taylor Neisen’s 34-save performance in goal, matching Madison Denny at the other end.

Over in the NCHA, No. 10 St. Norbert topped Marian 4-2 and Concordia (Wis.) edged St. Scholastica 2-1.

St. Norbert goalie Leigh Grall made 25 saves and four different players scored for the Green Knights. Samantha Reither’s power-play goal at 19:45 of the third period pushed Concordia past St. Scholastica in a certain upset and Bridget Slater finished with 31 saves for the Falcons.

Three NESCAC games went to overtime as No. 9 Amherst beat Colby 2-1 on a Tori Salmon goal 10:33 into the extra session and then No. 3 Middlebury eked out a 3-2 win over Hamilton on Emily Fluke’s game-winner 6:35 into the fourth OT on a Panthers’ power play.

Bowdoin eliminated Connecticut College 3-2 as Ariana Bourque won it at 15:23 of the extra period. Rachel Kennedy had tied the game 2-2 for Bowdoin at 18:30 of the third period.

The other NESCAC game saw Trinity goalie Sydney Belinskas stop all 37 shots and Emma Tani score the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Williams.

The WIAC semifinals saw No. 6 Wisconsin-River Falls sweep Wisconsin-Eau Claire and No. 8 Wisconsin-Stevens Point win both against Wisconsin-Superior.

River Falls won 6-1 Friday and 5-1 Saturday, while UWSP won 2-1 Friday and 5-0 on Saturday. In the 5-0 shutout for the Pointers, Janna Beilke-Skoug pushed aside all 29 shots she faced. Brianna Breiland scored two goals in River Falls’ clinching game Saturday.

In the ECAC Open, Holy Cross won the event after a 4-1 win over Franklin Pierce on Sunday. The Crusaders spotted Franklin Pierce an early 1-0 lead before coming back with four unanswered.
The other ECAC Open games had St. Anselm shutting out St. Michael’s 5-0 on Sunday and Holy Cross 3-1 winners over St. Anselm on Saturday and Franklin Pierce beating St. Michael’s 6-1, also on Saturday.

Weekend picks: Tournament time

Tonight starts the women’s Division III conference tournaments and all six (well, seven) figure to be riddled with competition, which for those loyal diehards, is par for the course at this level.

Candace and Matt make their picks for this weekend’s games.

Thursday, Feb. 26

Bethel at St. Mary’s
Candace: I like the home team in this one, but it will be closer. St. Mary’s 3-2
Matt: Home ice seems to matter in the playoffs and that’s the case here as St. Mary’s wins 4-1.

Friday-Sat. Feb. 27-28

Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Wisconsin-River Falls
Wisconsin-Superior at Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Candace: Both home teams have been strong throughout the year, and should advance to a much-anticipated clash. Wis.-River Falls 4-1, 3-1 Wis.-Stevens Point 3-1, 2-1
Matt: River Falls and Stevens Point should meet in the finals, so both get the win here at home.

Saturday, Feb. 28

Southern Maine at Castleton
Massachusetts-Boston at Manhattanville
Univ. of New England at Norwich
Nichols at Salve Regina
Candace: A tough conference to pick, except for Norwich. Castleton 2-1, Manhattanville 3-1, Norwich 4-0, Nichols 3-1
Matt: Norwich is my pick to come out of the ECAC East, so the Cadets win here, along with Castleton, Manhattanville and Salve Regina.

Cortland at Oswego
Buffalo State at Utica
Candace: Oswego has been probably the third best team in this conference. Oswego 3-0, Utica 3-1
Matt: Oswego has been my dark horse all season and the Lakers get the duke here. So does Utica.

Concordia (Minn.) at St. Thomas
Matt: St. Thomas is just too well-rounded for Concordia and gets the win, let’s say 4-0.

Marian at St. Norbert
Concordia (Wis.) at St. Scholastica
Matt: St. Norbert poses a serious threat to Adrian, waiting in the wings next weekend and the Green Knights win here. St. Scholastica has Nina Waidacher and she’s the difference against Concordia.

Colby at Amherst
Bowdoin at Connecticut College
Hamilton at Middlebury
Williams at Trinity
Candace: I don’t see anything stopping an Amherst-Middlebury final. Amherst 4-1, Bowdoin 2-1, Middlebury 4-1, Trinity 1-0
Matt: Middlebury is my lock to win the NESCAC, so let’s pick a Panthers’ win here, in addition to wins by Amherst, Bowdoin in a major upset, and Trinity.

ECAC Women’s Open
Holy Cross vs. St. Anselm
Franklin Pierce vs. St. Michael’s
Candace: St. Anselm has been the bane of the Crusaders of late, but I’m picking my alma mater to face St. Michael’s. Holy Cross 3-2, St. Michael’s 3-1
Matt: Always been a fan of Holy Cross, so the Crusaders win in what should be a tightly contested affair. I also like Franklin Pierce’s talent base and it carries the squad to a win in this event.

Weekend wrap: Feb. 21 – champions crowned

Six women’s Division III regular-season championships became official over the weekend, as conference championships get underway this upcoming week.

In the ECAC East, Norwich went 15-0-2 in conference play and finished out the regular season by beating Castleton and Holy Cross. Celeste Robert made 26 saves in goal in a 5-2 win over Castleton Friday night and then Norwich scored three unanswered goals, including a pair by Taylor Cross in beating Holy Cross 3-1 on Saturday.

Over in the ECAC West, Elmira went a perfect 18-0-0 to take the crown and also the No. 1 ranking in the country in the process. This past weekend, the Soaring Eagles blanked Oswego in two straight games, 6-0 and 4-0. Cassidy Delainey scored two goals, including her NCAA-record 15th with the man-advantage, in Saturday’s win and then Ashley Ryan’s two goals paced Elmira in a 4-0 win Sunday. Kyle Nelson earned both shutouts, stopping 13 shots Saturday and 15 Sunday.

Gustavus Adolphus put together a 15-2-1 mark to win the MIAC. Last weekend, GAC split a home-and-home with Bethel as each team won on the road. After losing 4-2 Friday, the Gusties came back to beat the Royals 5-2 on Saturday on the strength of Kaitlyn Klein’s two-goal, one-assist performance and Lindsey Hibbard’s 28 saves in goal.

With a 15-0-3 conference mark, Adrian was crowned NCHA champion and this past weekend, allowed just two goals in a pair of wins over Marian and Concordia (Wis). Jade Walsh stopped 27 shots in a 5-1 win over Marian on Friday and on Saturday, Walsh stopped 19 and Adrian erased a 1-0 deficit with three unanswered goals, including two from Courtney Millar, in a 3-1 win over Concordia.

In the NESCAC, Middlebury’s 13-1-2 record was enough to take the regular-season title. The No. 3 Panthers fell to No. 2 Plattsburgh 4-3 on Saturday in their lone game of the weekend. Katie Sullivan netted two goals for Middlebury and Madeline Marsh stopped 27 shots between the pipes.

Finally, the WIAC crown went to Wisconsin-River Falls, which finished 10-1-1. Last weekend, the Falcons beat Wisconsin-Eau Claire 6-1 in their one and only contest. After UWEC grabbed an early 1-0 lead, six different players scored for UWRF and Angie Hall took the win in goal.

Look for our conference tournament previews later this week on USCHO.com.

Weekend picks: Feb. 20

The final weekend of the regular season is upon us, and while some regular-season championships have been decided, some haven’t.

In any event, all the games this weekend have meaning and with that, let’s get to Candace and Matt with the picks.

Saturday, Feb. 21

No. 2 Plattsburgh a No. 3 Middlebury
Candace: This could very well be a tie, but I like the slight underdog on home ice. Middlebury 3-2
Matt: This will be the marquee matchup of the weekend and one we could see in a few short weeks in the NCAA tournament. Both teams have been playing well and it’s really hard to choose a winner here, but I will anyway. Kayla Meneghin pots the OT winner as Plattsburgh wins 2-1.

No. 5 Norwich at Holy Cross
Candace: I’d like to pick my alma mater, but Norwich looks very strong overall. Norwich 2-1
Matt: I’ve always liked Holy Cross’ game and the fact the Crusaders are well above .500 says they’re doing something right. Then again, being ranked fifth in the nation means the same thing for Norwich, which takes a 5-3 win here.

Saturday/Sunday, Feb. 21-22

Oswego at No. 1 Elmira
Candace: Elmira stays on a roll, and enters the postseason as the favorite to win another national championship. Elmira 4-2, 4-1
Matt: Hard to see why Oswego’s 18-4-1 record only gets them votes in the USCHO.com Division III Women’s Poll, but it is what it is. Elmira has been on a roll here, but a hunch here says this weekend is a split. Elmira wins 3-1 Saturday and then Oswego squeezes out two points Sunday afternoon. Expect both in the NCAA tournament, though.

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