For the second straight year the Elmira College Soaring Eagles have been ousted in the ECAC West Play-In round. Last year Utica knocked off EC 2-1 and this year it was Potsdam that downed the Soaring Eagles by the same score.
Last year Marissa Hotaling stopped 52 shots to lead Utica to the upset win and this year Jen Conophy stole the show from EC behind a 46 -save performance.
After looking like it was well on its way back to being a national championship contender again this year, Elmira suffered the same fate that they did last season with an early round playoff exit. Just two weeks ago, EC controlled its own destiny and needed to manage only a split against RIT to clinch the ECAC West regular season crown, a first round bye, and hosting rights to the ECAC West final four. However, RIT swept Elmira to not only prevent Elmira from the top spot, it also knocked the Soaring Eagles all the way down to third place in the standings.
As crazy as it sounds, Elmira is still in the hunt for a Pool C “at-large” bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Soaring Eagles are 20-5-1 as opposed to 16-8-2 like last year. However, EC will still need A LOT of help to make the tournament. Elmira will be doing a lot of scoreboard watching this weekend hoping that Norwich wins the ECAC East, Plattsburgh or RIT wins the ECAC West, Middlebury or Amherst wins the NESCAC, Gustavus Adolphus wins the MIAC and Wis.-River Falls wins the NCHA. Should all those things happen, I think Elmira still grabs the final Pool C slot.
The only team that might have a claim to a Pool C slot should the above scenario happen would be Concordia (Minn.). However, the Cobbers didn’t do anything to help their resume with their tie against Augsburg last weekend.
Elmira was the only major upset victim over the weekend in the first round of playoff action. Oswego and Potsdam both picked up their first ever playoff victories and will now get the task of trying to take down Plattsburgh and RIT to continue their cinderella runs.
The MIAC joins the fun this week with a play-in game between St. Olaf and Bethel tomorrow and then the semifinals on Thursday. Ironically, even though the MIAC just finished their regular season this past weekend, they’ll be the first conference to play its semifinals.
The NCHA and MIAC will both hold their championship games on Saturday while all three East Region conferences will play their finals on Sunday. The NCAA committee will announce the eight-team field and pairings on Monday morning with a live on-line selection show.
For the first time this year, every team will have to earn their bid to the Frozen Four. There will be no more byes after there were originally six teams in the NCAA Tournament when they first started sponsoring a D-III championship and then later moved to seven.
That also means we won’t find out who is hosting the Frozen Four until the week of the championship since there will be no guaranteed teams playing in the semifinals. Strap in we’re about to embark on the best week of the season with playoff games almost every night!