This past weekend marked one of the biggest weekends in recent Division III women’s hockey with the top two teams battling it out in four of the five conferences. So what did we learn?
For starters, Plattsburgh and Gustavus Adolphus continue to cement themselves as the cream of the crop currently. Plattsburgh swept Elmira 4-1 and 5-4 at home to hand the Soaring Eagles back-to-back losses after they hadn’t lose since Nov. 24 in a 4-3 OT loss to Middlebury. Gustavus Adolphus also swept St. Catherine in a battle of the top two Minnesota schools.
Plattsburgh now can legitimately start to set its sights on an unbeaten regular season after this weekend. The Cardinals lone stiff test remaining lies with a home game against Middlebury on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Gustavus is in a similiar boat, but they have a pesky home series to get through this weekend against Concordia-Moorhead, who made the NCAA Tournament last year, as well as an away game at UW-Superior on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Not only did Gustavus pick up a huge weekend sweep to once again cement its stranglehold on the top of the MIAC, the Golden Gusties also picked up head coach Mike Carroll’s 300th career victory with the first win on Friday night. Carroll is just the second Division III coach to win 300 games, with Middlebury’s Bill Mandigo holding the all-time women’s coaching wins record at any level with 461 victories. Carroll’s 301 victories rank eighth overall and sixth among active coaches at any level.
In other action, Bowdoin put themselves in great position to take the NESCAC regular season title by splitting a series with Middlebury. The Panthers still lead the standings by two points, but Bowdoin has two games in hand. Bowdoin still has some challenges left, including back-to-back road series at Williams and Trinity. Bowdoin then hosts Hamilton for two games before finishing up at Amherst. Certainly not the easiest road, but the Polar Bears atleast hold destiny in their own hands while Middlebury is forced to pray and hope for a slip up.
In the ECAC East, Norwich rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to come back and beat Manhattanville 4-3 to hand the Valiants their first ECAC East league loss of the season. The Cadets are now comfortably out front as they chase their third straight league regular season title.
In less than two weeks on Saturday, Feb. 2, Norwich will be hosting its inaugural Military Appreciation Night at Kreitzberg Arena in conjunction with the Vermont National Guard. The Cadets will be wearing special-edition camaflauge jerseys that are available through an auction right now at www.cadetscamo.com.