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College Hockey:
Midseason AA picks and first half analysis

Happy New Year! In this first blog post we’ll take a look at the first half of the season with some surprises and disappointments so far in the 2012-13 season as well as hand out some mid-season All-American recognition.

Three surprises

1. Elmira

With Greg Fargo leaving to take the Colgate job and former EC men’s assistant coach Dean Jackson taking over the reins of the women’s program, as well as leading scorer Tori Charron jumping ship to Norwich, I had my doubts coming into the season if the Soaring Eagles could maintain its level over the past few seasons. Although Elmira has seen back-to-back ECAC West Play-In round exits, the Soaring Eagles are 11-1-1 currently with their lone loss coming to Middlebury. EC still has some formidable opponents to play, including a looming showdown for ECAC West power at Plattsburgh on Jan. 19 and 20. Elmira will also host Manhattanville on Jan. 4 and Middlebury on Feb. 16 in two more crucial games. Sophomore Ashton Hogan, who transferred in over the summer from Plattsburgh has relished her new role with Elmira, leading the team with 12 and three assists for 15 points.

2. Hamilton

Under first-year coach Emily McNamara, Hamilton is off to its best start in program history with a 6-2-0 record entering the break. The last time the Continentals opened a season this strong was in 2000-01 when they were 6-3. Hamilton only ended up winning two more games that season to finish 8-12-1. McNamara came to Hamilton after serving for four years as an assistant coach under legendary Bill Mandigo at her alma mater Middlebury. Hamilton’s schedule gets a little tougher in the second half with five brutal road games at Elmira, Middlebury (2) and Bowdoin (2) as well as a pair of home games vs. Trinity. However, led by seniors Kate Zimmerman (11-2-13) and Becca Hazlett (5-2-0, .907 save percentage, 2.00 GAA) the Continentals are primed for making a run at the best season in Hamilton women’s hockey history.

3. Bowdoin

For the first time since the mid-2000′s it might be safe to say Bowdoin is Back. The Polar Bears, a national powerhouse in the early 2000′s with back-to-back Frozen Four appearances in 2002 and 2003, have fallen back over the past five or six seasons while Middlebury, Amherst and Trinity have rose to the top of the NESCAC. However, with a 6-1-1 record so far in 2012-13 including an impressive tie against Norwich where they dictated the play at times, Bowdoin is back and primed to make a run at the NESCAC and nation’s elite again. Led by the senior goalie tandem of Kayla Lessard and Tara Connolly along with a balanced offense, Bowdoin has picked up some nice wins over Holy Cross, St. Norbert and UMass-Boston. Their lone loss so far came at the hands of undefeated and top-ranked Plattsburgh in their first game of the season (4-1.). Junior defensemen Emily Tang and Madeline Lane might be two of the best defensemen in the country no one is talking about as well. I’d put Bowdoin as Middlebury’s chief challenger to the NESCAC crown this season.

Three Disappointments

1. Amherst

I don’t know if anyone could have predicted Amherst’s drop would happen this fast after previous head coach Jim Plumer left for Division I Vermont this summer. The Lord Jeffs also lost some key contributors to graduation but they still returned the reigning NESCAC Player of the Year Geneva Lloyd, along with Tori Salmon and Ashley Salerno. Amherst slipped over .500 coming into the break picking up two one-goal victories at Oswego and Utica to up its record to 5-4. On paper, who the losses came to aren’t terrible as Plattsburgh and Elmira both beat the Lord Jeffs at the Panther-Cardinal Classic. What was alarming is the scores with Plattsburgh winning 8-3 and Elmira downing Amherst 6-1. Granted, both of the games were close heading to the third and then opened up late, it still is an alarming number of goals going in for a team that built itself on defending from the net out. Amherst has given up 30 goals to date, they gave up 36 all of last year, and five of those came in its final game in the NCAA Quarterfinals at Norwich.

2. Norwich

While Norwich’s 6-1-3 record so far is certainly nothing to shake your fist at, it’s still not quite what everyone had in mind in Northfield coming into the season. The Cadets brought in a much-hyped recruiting class featuring numerous transfers from Division I and top Division III programs as well as some promising young rookies, including a Czech Republic National Team player. Three of Norwich’s blemishes have come at home where they have been close to unbeatable over the last four years. NU rallied to tie Elmira late with two third period goals in its season opener, and then they blew a two-goal lead vs. Plattsburgh at home after dominating the opening 40 minutes. The Cadets also had their record 44-game ECAC East regular season unbeaten streak snapped at the hands of Saint Anselm in a 4-3 OT loss in mid November.  NU closed the first semester, salvaging a tie with Bowdoin after being outplayed by the Polar Bears for stretches. Injuries took their toll on the Cadets a bit in the first half with No. 1 goalie Kelly Fisk missing the whole semester up until the Bowdoin game, as well as senior captain Jill DeBus missing the Saint Anselm game. So far, NU is still looking for some players to step into the roles vacated by Julie Fortier, Melissa Rundlett, Sarianne Lynn and Amanda Wilks and until that happens, Norwich will have a hard time making it back to its fourth straight national championship game in March.

3. River Falls

River Falls, like Norwich certainly hasn’t had “bad season” to date. The Falcons are 7-4-2 so far and all four of their losses have been by one goal, including two to unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Gustavus Adolphus to close the first semester. After sweeping Adrian to open the season though and beating Superior 4-0 in its next game, UWRF has gone 4-4-2 over their last 10 which is a stretch they are very unaccustomed to as of late. RF has dominated the top of the NCHA for several seasons now and this year they are in a logjam toward the top with Adrian, Eau Claire, Stevens Point and Superior all chomping at their heels to knock off the reigning champion. The tough part of UWRF’s schedule is over and I fully expect the Falcons to get on a roll in the second half.

Mid-Season All-American Picks

1st Team East:

F. Jenny Kistner, Plattsburgh
F. Tori Charron, Norwich
F. Katie Zimmerman, Hamilton
D. Geneva Lloyd, Amherst
D. Allison Era, Plattsburgh
G. Kayla Lessard, Bowdoin

2nd Team East:

F. Teal Gove, Plattsburgh
F. Ashton Hogan, Elmira
F. Katie Little, Manhattanville
D. Kayla Parsons, Norwich
D. Brooke Wilgosh, Elmira
G. Lauren Sullivan, Elmira

1st Team West:

F. Nina Waidacher, St. Scholastica
F. Kelsey Kusch, Adrian
F. Chloe Kinsel, River Falls
D. Alix Vallee, Adrian
D. Lindsey Hjelm, Gustavus Adolphus
G. Jess Nestrom, Bethel

2nd Team West:

F. Cassandra Salmen, Stevens Point
F. Cristina Masten, Bethel
F. Dani Schultz, Superior
D. Alex Blair, St. Scholastica
D. Amanda Ryder, River Fallls
G. Brittany Zeches, Adrian

Stay tuned later this week for the ever-popular yearly tradition of 20 Bold Predictions as well as an early look at the 2013 Laura Hurd Award watch.

Happy new year! drop the puck!

 

 

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  • derrick hansen

    unless they changed the name of the macnaughton cup, it would actually be und’s 15th time winning….

    • Sioux_Hockey_2011

      If the Sioux Play Tech in the 1st round it will be Sioux in 2 because the Huskies eat Pooh….LOL

      3 years later…I’m back!!

    • Anonymous

      It would be the 12th not 15th MacNaughton Cup. In actuality it’s the 14th time UND won the regular season title. Because MTU left the WCHA from 82-84 and took the MacNaughton Cup with them to the CCHA.

  • FS23

    It would be North Dakota’s 15th WCHA Champioinship, but there were a few years that the MacNaughton was given out to the WCHA Playoff Champion (1962-1965), and from the 1981-1982 season through 1983-1984 Michigan Tech took the MacNaughton with it while it played in the CCHA. Since the Sioux won WCHA titles in 62-63, 64-65 and 81-82 they didn’t receive the MacNaughton for winning the WCHA. That is how they are getting at 12 MacNaughtons. Even still, if the Sioux win the WCHA this year, they will have won their conference more than any other team in college hockey history has won its conference.

    • Anonymous

      The MacNaughton Cup has been in the WCHA since 1951, and UND won their first one in 1958.

      edit: Denver has the most MacNaughton Cups (13) UND has (11). So I see why Tyler said it’s the 12th MacNaughton Cup. From what I found, I see that UND has been the WCHA regular season champs 14 times. The 2000 season I guess UW and UND both won the MacNaughton Cup, but UND was not awarded it. Which would make it 14 regular season championships and 12 MacNaughton Cups. After looking around at past MacNaughton Cup winners. There was time (from 62-65) that the MacNaughton Cup was awarded to the WCHA playoff champs.

      • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

        UND finished in second in the WCHA standings but won the Final Five.

        • Anonymous

          Then when did they get the 14th WCHA regular season title?

          • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

            The man to ask is @UNDSID he would definitely know.

  • derrick

    yeah baby!!!!! look out fan forum! :)

  • Stickboy56

    UMinn will have a tough time advancing in the PWR with their remaining schedule.

    Wins over BSU and MTU will not likely flip the needed comparisons to move up – neither will first round wins over UAA.

    I predict they will need to win 2 games at the F5 to have a chance at the NCAA

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, UMinn needs alot of help in the PWR. I can see them loosing to BSU. If they get UAA in the first round, UAA showed they can beat UMinn.

  • Ryan

    When was the last time the MacNaughton Cup champ actually went on to make it to the Frozen 4? Kind of crazy.

    • Anonymous

      2005 Denver and they won the national title.

  • Mattgersz

    What the #$*%&$. The Sioux “IS” unbeaten in the five games since……The Sioux “IS” still ranked second in the Pairwise…..The Sioux HAS lost just once in Houghton…….Since when did The Sioux become a singular entity? The Sioux ARE many players, and they ARE Number 1.

    • JMF

      I’m no English major but he is referring to the team not the players. He essentially said the team is undefeated and the team has lost just once etc. Seems accurate to me, just sounds off he used the word Sioux, if he used UND is would read better.

  • bigskyvikes

    Can someone from the WCHA or a writer from WCHA tell me why when the Sioux win titles or trophy’s they are NOT on the WCHA final five tickets the following year? But when any other team wins it they are on the tickets the following year? Just curious on that! GO SIOUX!! By the way the Sioux have more WCHA championships than anyone! There is no argument there AT ALL!!

  • Anonymous

    North Dakota may end up with the cup, but I promise you, it is UNO fan’s fervent desire to play them again in the WCHA tournament, or, better still, in the NCAA Regional. Hopefully either in Green Bay but preferably in St Louis. Having seen all 4 games between the two teams it reminded me of heavy-weight fighters beating each others brains out. Split in each building that featured UNO shutting ND out in one of those games (the only other team that’s done that is DU) and UNO hanging the worst beating, ever, on ND at the Ralph. And, ND staged a beautiful comeback in Omaha in tough conditions in front of a humongous, seriously hostile crowd in what was a titanic struggle of a game for both teams. The best UNO game I have ever attended (out of more than 150), and we LOST the game.

    I respect ND enormously, the best opposing team I saw all season.

    That said, we are more than ready to step back in the ring with them. Hoping that we do. We need a rubber game.

    I think they might like to, too. ND fan was very respectful of us as well. I can’t begin to tell you how many of their fans approached me and said things like “Wow, you guys are really pretty good”. Dunno if they were blowing smoke, but, I appreciated it. UNO hasn’t gotten that many accolades for switching leagues and being a serious factor right out of the box like they have.

    Bring on the post season.

    • Beavers

      UNO just better hope they don’t get matched up with BSU in the first round. We all know what would happen then … A Bemidji State victory! They own UNO this year.

      • Anonymous

        I think some teams just match up well with/against others for whatever reason Concerns me, too, as far as BSU is concerned.

        Truthfully, ND looked so good against us and had such poor results that I came away thinking the same thing about them against us at various times during the 4 games they played against each other.

    • Matt

      Two words that came from North Dakota…Dean Blais. :-)

    • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

      You might want to be careful what you ask for.

    • FightinSioux4ever

      Well said. I was at the Ralph for that Friday night game, and I was a believer of UNO before that happened. We got worked. I still hae to stick to my guns and say that UND will be ready for all comers once the FF is underway. Also, it was nice to see the reception Blais got when he was announced right before the game. Him being the coach was enough to sell me on the program. Class act all the way.

  • MN Hockey

    Is it me, or does this writer seem like he’s hating on the Sioux? Fckin Haters

    • Guest

      The writer writes an article about UND winning before it happens and you think he is hating on the Sioux. Very interesting … wow!

  • siouxfanforlife

    I am a huge Sioux fan, and the only thing I would love to see more than winning the conference would be MAYBE winning the WCHA tournament, but for sure the National Championship. However, Tech proved this weekend that you never know what will happen, and Bemidji can still be very competitive when they show up, so I’m not assuming anything until it is over.

    • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

      Amen… Lets get 8…

  • Siouxdog

    As some have mentioned, North Dakota has 14 WCHA regular season banners hanging in the Ralph already. So this would be the 15th. So a couple of them must not have been winning the McNaughton Cup. Whatever you want to call it, Fiighting Sioux have the most WCHA titles with 14 going on 15 this year. I believe Denver is second.

  • SiouxForever

    It was hard to focus on the article when the grammar was so bad. Subject and verb did not agree. GO SIOUX!!! #8!!!!

  • MN Hockey

    Okay, “Beavers”, I should have stated that a different way.. This guy says how they have an easy schedule coming up, but what he fails to mention is that UND has had the hardest schedule in the NCAA this season, and the fact that Bemidji is a contender against any team. As for Michigan Tech, well they proved they can beat a contender in Denver.