Then there were two. An undoubtedly tumultuous weekend played out for a number of NCAA tournament hopefuls, resulting in blemishes on the record of three top-10 squads.
Plattsburg and No. 3 Elmira took turns knocking each other from the ranks of ECAC West teams in search of clean slates. The No.1 Cardinals, despite having an advantage in shots on goal by a 37-24 margin in the opener of the weekend series, could not overcome a late first period goal by the Soaring Eagles Cassidy Delaine in a 2-0 loss. Elmira’s triumph marked the first time the Cardinals have allowed a multi-goal game. Elmira goaltender Lisa Marshall withstood a Plattsburgh offensive rush in the third in facing 14 shots by the visitors. On Saturday, an extremely high-powered effort by the Cardinals came to the forefront in a 58-shot, 2-1 overtime victory.
Erin Harper’s breaking of an 11-game, personal goalless string did not bode well for visiting St. Thomas in the opening game of a weekend series with Bethel. Harper, a sophomore defenseman, tapped home a rebound early in the final period that ultimately held up as the game-winner in a 5-3 defeat of the previously unbeaten Tommies, who were 10-0-2 MIAC action. Courtney Umland’s notched the deciding goal in the return matchup on Saturday in a tight 3-2 victory by St. Thomas. Bethel remains four points in arrears to Gustavus Adolphus and St. Thomas, who are both tied with 24 points at the head of the conference.
No. 2 Middlebury took a pair from pesky Connecticut College by scores of 3-2 and 3-0. In the opener, the Panthers were taken to the hilt when Courtney Dumont beat Middlebury goalie Annabelle Jones with 5:54 left in the third. Sara Ugalde broke the deadlock with under a minute to go in the OT, providing the Panthers with a fourth consecutive win. Jones turned away all 22 bids by the Camels the following day in upping her season record to 11-0-3.
Both game-winning goals in Norwich’s successful road trip came as a result of the Cadets’ power play unit. At the Terry Connors rink in Stamford, Conn., Friday, Norwich (No. 4) received a two-goal performance from Vanessa Champagne on the way to a 5-1 win over the Valiants. Champagne connected on the decisive tally early in the third period while her club was skating with an advantage. Taylor Cross did the game-winning honors the next afternoon in a 3-0 whitewash of Nichols, scoring on a power play at 14:06. The Bisons were outshot 58-15 in the loss. Overall, Norwich hit on three of seven power play chances for the weekend. The Cadets moved into third nationally with an efficiency rate of 28.7 percent. On the other side of the ledger, Norwich has killed off 13 of its last 15 short-handed disadvantages. The Cadets are one of six teams nationally that sport a PK percentage at 90 percent or over.
Junior defenseman Kendal Evenson provided No. 5, Wisconsin-River Falls with the conclusive goal in a 3-2 win over No.7 Wisconsin-Superior. In a matchup between two of the nation’s top goaltenders, the Falcons’ Ashley Kuechle prevailed, finishing with 23 stops. Yellowjackets senior Shanley Peters made 33 saves in taking the loss. The Falcons improved to 3-0-1 in head-to-head contests against Superior this year.