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Women’s D-III wrap: Feb. 17

A number of conference races are yet to be resolved, as recent action left questions unanswered.

ECAC West
No significant movement transpired at the top of the conference, as No. 1 Plattsburgh and No.3 Elmira kept pace. The Cardinals overwhelmed Chatham 12-1 and 5-2 in a weekend series, while the Soaring Eagles took a pair of road wins over host Cortland (1-12-1). Oswego, on the strength of a six-game win streak, has advanced to third place with a 10-3-1 conference record. Backed by a solid performance from goalie Bridget Smith, the Lakers topped visiting Utica by identical 2-1 scores over the weekend. Oswego entered the weekend one point ahead of the Pioneers in the ECAC West standings, but currently enjoys a five-point cushion over Utica (8-6-0), which has fallen to fifth place. Potsdam (7-4-3) remains in fourth.

ECAC East
Norwich (No.3) put the finishing touches on a successful weekend, taking down New England College (4-0) and Castleton (4-0) in the process. In Rhode Island, Salve Regina continues to make its presence felt following 3-0, home victories over Manhattanville and Nichols. The Seahawks, 3-1-1 in the month of February, have secured a second seed for the upcoming playoffs, edging out third-place Castleton by one point.

NESCAC
Williams gave unbeaten No.2 Middlebury all it could handle in a crucial weekend home-and-home series. Friday night in Vermont, the Ephs’ Hanna Beattie connected on a power-play goal at 3:54 of the third period, evening the contest at 2-2. The Panthers however, used a holding call by the Ephs at 16:46 as a springboard to collect the game-winner with 2:45 remaining in regulation. Jennifer Krakower beat Williams goalie Chloe Billadeau for the decisive tally. With Billadeau pulled, sophomore forward Michaela Levine’s game-tying bid, with a near open net with 42 ticks left was turned aside by a quickly recovering Panthers goalie Annabelle Jones. Saturday at the Lansing Chapman Rink, Jones and Billadeau were front and center again in a 1-1 tie. Jones (12-0-4) finished with 22 saves and Billadeau had 24 in a tightly played defensive contest. Cristina Bravi’s unassisted score late in the first held up for the home team until the Panthers’ Pam Schulman evened the festivities up at 17:26 in the third with helpers from Katie Mandigo and Madeline Joyce. Williams remains a point behind second-place Amherst in the conference with two games remaining in the regular season.

MIAC
The status quo at the top of the MIAC standings remained as St. Thomas and Gustavus Aldolphus battled to a weekend split in a home-and-home set. Following a 3-1 loss on Saturday, Gustavus fell to 13-3-0 in the MIAC, while the Tommies, who lost by a 3-1 final the previous night, upped their record 12-2-2 in league play.  St. Thomas will engage in their final regular season series with a home-and-home series with St. Benedict, while the Gusties take on Bethel.

Women’s D-III picks: Feb. 14-15

As expected at this juncture in the season, jousting for conference seeding leaps to the forefront. For a number of teams on the periphery, this is not the time to falter.

Friday, Feb. 14

ECAC East

Manhattanville at Salve Regina
Living under the radar in the first half of the season, the surprising Seahawks ran off a string of nine unbeaten games since mid-January before falling to St. Anselm on the road last weekend in a 2-1 final. With two games remaining, Salve Regina (8-5-1) currently ranks third among the D-III schools in conference play with 17 points. Castleton, whuch faces off against Norwich in its final outing of the season, is a point ahead with an 8-4-2 slate. A win over the Valiants and a subsequent victory over Nichols the following night is a must for the Seahawks in order to gain a loftier seed. Salve took a 3-2 road win in the lone meeting between the clubs, last January. Salve Regina 4-2

Saturday, Feb. 15

NCHA

Adrian at Lake Forest
Embroiled in a four-team jam in the conference, the result, barring a tie, would slide the winning team into second place behind current top seed St. Scholastica. This will be the third meeting between the two teams at the Alumni Memorial Rink. The season-opening series for both teams resulted in a split. The Foresters enjoy the largest goal differential in the NCHA, while Adrian forward Kelsey Kusch is the leading scorer in the nation. A friendly rink takes it in tight battle. Lake Forest 4-3

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 14-15

MIAC

No. 8 St. Thomas at No. 9 Gustavus Adolphus (home-and-home)
Deadlocked at the top of the conference standings with 24 points apiece; this series is poised to be the tipping point in deciding the regular season champion. The Tommies watched a 10-game unbeaten string come to a halt last weekend in a 5-3 road loss to Bethel. The Gusties recovered nicely from a pair of upset wins by St. Benedict in sweeping St. Catherine in a home-and-home last weekend. St. Thomas goalie Alise Riedel and counterpart Lindsey Hibbard of Gustavus Adolphus are both ranked among the top eight goaltenders in the nation. Gustavus Adolphus 4-2, St. Thomas 3-2

NESCAC

No. 2, Middlebury at Williams (home-and-home)
Middlebury has a relatively comfortable advantage at the head of the NESCAC standings, while the Ephs hold a skinny, one-point edge over No. 10 Amherst. Williams, 0-2-1 against ranked teams, will need a big weekend from leading scorer Cristina Bravi and her linemates this time out to overcome the Panthers. Middlebury 5-3, 2-1

Women’s D-III wrap: Feb. 10

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.

ECAC West
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.

MIAC
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.

NESCAC
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.

ECAC East
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.

WIAC
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.

Women’s D-III picks: Feb. 8-9

A pair of  ECAC West clubs take to the ice to shake out the playoff seedings, while the NESCAC race becomes compelling.

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 7-8

ECAC West

No. 1 Plattsburgh at No. 3 Elmira
The definitive series of the season in regards to the ECAC West regular season title. The Soaring Eagles and Cardinals approach with healthy win streaks intact. Plattsburgh has captured nine consecutive games, while the hosts are hoping to extend their string past their current run of seven games. Both teams are humming along smoothly as the season ramps up to the playoffs. Having played just five home games this season as opposed to a dozen road contests, the Soaring Eagles welcome the home ice this time out. Plattsburgh 4-2, 2-0

NESCAC

No. 10 Amherst at Williams
The Ephs are faced with a prime opportunity to push into the top 10 and make the conference race extremely interesting over the course of the weekend.  Margaret Draper, who played in just two games before the break, has been a major contributor of the second half surge by Williams. The freshman is 5-0-0 with a pair of shutouts and a save percentage of .939 in 2014. With solid contributions up front, led by Cristina Bravi (15-12-27), the Ephs are better equipped, at this juncture of the season, to face a consistently strong Amherst defense. Four of the Jeffs losses have been to nationally ranked teams Amherst 3-1, Williams 3-2

MIAC

No. 8 St. Thomas at Bethel (home and home)
The Tommies, 8-0-2 over their last 10, have taken over the top slot in the conference and remain one of a handful of teams sporting unbeaten records in their respective conferences.  For Bethel, the opportunity to edge past second-place Gustavus Adolphus in the MIAC standings is within reach. The Royals head into play with the 10th-ranked offense, led by senior Cristina Masten. St. Thomas will counter with All-American goaltender Alise Riedel, who is second in the nation in save percentage (.954) and wins (12). Bethel 4-3, St. Thomas 3-1

Saturday, Feb. 8

WIAC

No. 7 Wisconsin-Superior at No. 5 Wisconsin- River Falls
Wis.-River-Falls outplayed the Yellowjackets in the middle period of last week’s matchup between the two rivals, resulting in a 4-1 road victory for the Falcons. Wis.-Superior garnered a 2-2 tie in the previous meeting at W.H. Hunt Arena last December. Falcons’ goalie Ashley Kuechle has fashioned a 1.62 GAA against Wis.-Superior in three meetings this season. Wis.-River Falls’ adeptness at keeping opposing offenses from going on a scoring outburst has been extremely consistent. Home team takes this one. Wisconsin-River Falls 3-1

Women’s D-III wrap: Feb. 3

As is the norm at this juncture in the schedule, the postseason structure begins to take on a semblance of order. Nevertheless, there are always a few unheralded teams willing to upset the applecart. Such was the case this week in both the NESCAC and MIAC. Consistency overcame unforeseen upsets however, as five teams (Norwich 12-0-0, ECAC East, Elmira 10-0-0 ECAC West, Plattsburgh 10-0-0, ECAC West, St. Thomas 10-0-2, MIAC, and Middlebury 9-0-3, NESCAC) stayed unbeaten in conference play, enhancing their respective chances at securing a No. 1 seed for the upcoming playoffs.

Ephs serve notice to NESCAC
A year ago, Williams stumbled to a seventh place finish in the always competitive NESCAC, compiling a 9-15-1 (5-10-1 NESCAC) record. Entering 2013-14 with only two winning seasons since the 2005-06 campaign (71-114-12 overall), the Ephs rolled out to a rather aggravating 3-5-0 start. Since the semester break however, Williams, led by third-year coach Meghan Gillis, had made an exemplary about face. With a sweep over formerly ranked Bowdoin this week, the Ephs advanced their slate to 8-1-1 in 2014.  Consequently, No. 9 Amherst’s split with Connecticut College (3-6-3 NESCAC) provided Williams with a three-point advantage over the Jeffs in the race for second place in the conference. Leading scorer Cristina Bravi (15-12-27) has collected 12 points in her last six games for Williams. Teammate Hanna Beattie, who leads the conference in scoring among freshman (7-14-21), is currently in the midst of a seven-game point streak. The Ephs last exceeded the .500 mark by going 12-11-2 in 2009-10 under coach Marissa O’Neil. O’Neil, now with Bowdoin, and Gillis, were teammates when they skated for the Polar Bears from 2003 to 2005.  With only six games left in the regular season, all of which are conference matchups, Gillis’ club is within reach of securing home ice for the quarterfinals of NESCAC playoffs, beginning Saturday, March 1.

Blazers monumental weekend
St. Benedict freshman Katie Cristan’s first collegiate goal midway through the third period of Saturday’s game with visiting Gustavus Adolphus stamped an exclamation point on what was unquestionably the utmost meaningful weekend in program history. With the embers still smoldering from the previous afternoon, (an upset 4-2 victory over the No. 7 Gusties), Cristan’s marker at 11:56 in the third unlocked a 2-2 stalemate and served as the jumping off point to a 4-2 triumph. The Blazers improved to 3-9-0 in the MIAC. Cristan had a run of 11 scoreless games before striking for the monumental goal. Coming into the matchup, Gustavus Adolphus had not been swept in conference play since 2003-04. St. Thomas moved past the Gusties in the standings with a pair of wins over Augsburg in a home-and-home set.

Cadets looking to run table in ECAC East
Following consecutive 4-0 wins over Southern Maine and Plymouth State, No. 4, Norwich (17-3-0, 12-0-0 ECAC East) ran its win streak to eight games. With the positive results, the Cadets closed to within one victory of securing the No. 1 seed for the conference playoffs. Leading scorer Tori Charron had two goals in Friday’s win over the Huskies, giving her 19 for the season and 99 for her career. Norwich held a significant advantage in shots on goal in both weekend contests, going 33-5 over Southern Maine and 50-4 against the Panthers.

NCHA playoff seeds in question
In an uncharacteristic low-scoring affair, St. Scholastica pulled out a 1-0 win over host No. 10 Adrian Friday night. Saints freshman goalie Lindsey Hartfiel finished with 39 stops in gaining her ninth win and third shutout of the season. Adrian outshot St. Scholastica 39-13. The Saints were without Nina Waichader for the second game, as the Olympian joined her Swiss teammates in Sochi last week. Weekend action left a logjam at the head of the NCHA standings. Adrian (10-4-0), St. Scholastica (9-3-2) and Lake Forest (9-3-2) are deadlocked with 20 points; St. Norbert is a point behind.

Women’s D-III picks: Jan. 31-Feb. 1

The WIAC provides the feature game as a pair of top 10 teams clash, while the NCHA gets second billing as exiting and combustible offensive units hit the ice.

Friday, Jan. 31

ECAC East

Southern Maine at No. 4 Norwich
Norwich junior goalie Taylor Fairchild is a clean 4-0-0 at Kreitzberg Arena. On the other side of the ledger, the Huskies have had visible difficulty putting the puck in the net, as evidenced by a total of four goals in their last five contests. Two weeks ago in Gorham, the Cadets narrowly outshot their hosts 18-17 in a 2-1 win, in which Norwich leading scorer Tori Charron was held pointless for only the fourth time this season. Norwich 4-1

NCHA

St. Scholastica at No.10 Adrian
Adrian has reeled of 10 consecutive wins since its last loss, a 7-3 thrashing by St. Scholastica on the Saints’ home ice last Nov. 23. For a majority of the first half of the season, the Saints offense, led by the Waidacher trio, topped the nation in scoring. Since the calendar flipped to 2014 however, the Saints have struggled. In a three-game stretch earlier this month with WIAC opponents, the Saints suffered three shutouts. The top three scorers in the nation will be featured, with Adrian’s Kelsey Kusch (18-18-36) and the Saints duo of Nina (22-14-36) and Isabel Waidacher (15-21-36). Adrian’s second half consistency and scoring strength take this one. Adrian 5-2

Saturday, Feb. 1

ECAC West

Potsdam at No.1 Plattsburgh
Potsdam freshman forward Jordan Ott has collected seven points in her last three games, and is among the leading freshman point scorers in the nation. And while the Bears hold a healthy .625 win percentage away from home, taking out the Cardinals, who have allowed two tallies in nine home games, would be monumental. Plattsburgh 6-0

WIAC

No. 5 Wisconsin-River Falls at No. 8 Wisconsin-Superior
St. Thomas short-circuited the Falcons 14-game unbeaten streak Wednesday night, taking a 2-1 victory. WRF nabbed a 5-2 win over the Yellowjackets’ last November, but senior goalie Shanley Peters has pieced together an outstanding second half for Wis.-Superior. Peters, on point for her career best campaign, rolled out four consecutive shutouts in her last four starts. Peters’ counterpart at the opposite end of the rink, senior Ashley Kuechle, is currently on a six-game unbeaten run as well. Wisconsin-Superior 5-4

Women’s D-III wrap: Jan.26

As the impending postseason nears, the top teams are intent on tightening up any remaining loose ends before jumping into the playoffs. For the most part, this past weekend was all about keeping said momentum.

Junior defenseman Brooke Wilgosh’s goal at 3:53 of overtime capped a successful weekend for Elmira, which remained undefeated in the tight ECAC West race. The Soaring Eagles (13-3-1, 8-0-0 ECAC-West) kept pace with No. 1 Plattsburgh following a two-game sweep of Oswego at the Campus Center Hockey Arena. The two victories away from home upped Elmira’s road record to 9-3-0. Wilgosh got helpers from the nation’s fourth leading scorer in Ashley Ryan and classmate Ashton Hogan in wrapping up the win for the visitors.

In its first week as a resident of the top 10, Utica took the brunt force of a momentum-fueled Plattsburgh team over the weekend, falling twice by way of shutouts. The records continue to topple whenever the Cardinals step on the sheet. Goalie Sydney Aveson earned her 27th career shutout in the latter game, a 2-0 win over the Pioneers. The shutdown of the Pioneers put the senior goaltender at the top of the D-III all-time list for career shutouts.

Norwich remained clean in the ECAC East standings following a pair of wins over conference opponents, Massachusetts-Boston and St. Anselm’s. The Cadets improved to 10-0-0 (14-3-0 overall) and 7-0-0 on the road as a result of a 5-1 win in Boston and a 4-0 victory in Manchester, N.H. Norwich senior Meghan Papagano, who came into the weekend looking for her first goal of the season, found that and a bit more. Papagano scored 4:20 into the first in the win over the Beacons and backed that performance with a two-goal afternoon in the victory over the Hawks. Papagano’s initial tally at 2:22 of the opening period proved to be the game-winner. The Wakefield, Mass., native closed out the scoring in the second. Papagano’s goals provided book ends for top scorer, Tori Charron, who hit on a power play midway through the first before notching her 17th score of the season late in the second.

No. 5 Wisconsin-River Falls stayed on point, if you will, taking a 4-2 win and forging back from a late 1-0 deficit to earn a 1-1 tie over visiting No. 6 Wisconsin-Stevens Point over the weekend. Dani Sibley scored for the Falcons with 2:59 remaining in regulation. Pointers goalie Janna Beilke-Skoug preserved the deadlock in overtime, making seven saves. The Falcons improved their unbeaten run to 14 games.

Goalie Annabelle Jones backstopped No. 2 Middlebury to a 4-0 win over Bowdoin at the Kenyon Arena in the series opener between the two NESCAC entities at Kenyon Arena. Saturday brought an entirely different scenario however, as the Panthers required an early third-period power-play score by Jennifer Krakower to even things up. Krakower’s goal was the lone score for the highly ranked power play unit on the afternoon in five opportunities. Jones and Bowdoin goalie Lan Crofton turned aside three and two shots respectively in the extra stanza. The 1-1 result was the third tie in the Panthers’ last six games.

Women’s D-III picks: Jan. 24-25

This weekend pits some top squads facing each other, including a key matchup between No. 1 Plattsburgh and No. 10 Utica and another between No. 5 Wisconsin-River Falls and No. 6 Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Friday, Jan.24

ECAC East

No. 4 Norwich at Massachusetts-Boston
A scarcity of scoring against opponents over .500 has been the unwanted path for the Beacons over the last three games. An 8-1 thrashing of (1-16-0) New England College could very well be a jump point to the offense, but the Cadets, with the eighth best defense in the nation, are unlikely to come out on the negative side of a classic “trap game.” Norwich 5-1

Friday-Saturday, Jan.24-25

ECAC-West

No. 3 Elmira at Oswego
Elmira has been bolstered lately by goalie Lisa Marshall, who has won her last five starts while posting three shutouts. Forward Ashley Ryan, among the top five in points per game average (1.80), has collected nine points in her last five outings. The Lakers are playing in their first home game of the second half. Elmira, 7-3-0 away from home, has fallen to Middlebury on two occasions and Norwich at the East/West Showcase. Elmira is 13-0-1 all-time against the Lakers. Elmira 5-4, Tie 3-3

Plattsburgh at Utica
A new face to the polls at No.10, Utica is coming off a weekend sweep against Chatham. The Cardinals hold a dominant 27-1-4 all-time record in matchups with the Pioneers. Leading scorer Megan Myers (13-10-23) is averaging just over six shots per game for Utica. Myers and her linemates will have to take advantage of any quality opportunities they get against the nation’s top goalie in Sydney Aveson. Plattsburgh 3-1, 2-0

MIAC

Gustavus Adolphus at St. Mary’s (home-and-home)
The Golden Gusties took an 8-2 win over the Cardinals last November in the season opener. St. Mary’s top three scorers managed to combine for just one point in a two-game series with Bethel. Coach Mike Carroll’s Gusties are entering on a 25-game win string against the Cardinals. Gustavus Adolphus 6-2, 5-1

NESCAC

Bowdoin at Middlebury
Middlebury, 4-0-2 since the break, possesses the top power play in the country (33.3 pct.), as well as the third-ranked penalty kill unit at 91.4 pct. The Panthers lost a late third-period lead against No. 9 Amherst in a 5-5 tie last week. Bowdoin’s offense has slipped to 27th in the D-III rankings. Panthers’ goalie Annabelle Jones has been unbeaten on home ice. Middlebury stays the course. Middlebury 4-2, 4-1

WIAC

Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Wisconsin-River Falls
Goalies Ashley Kuechle (Wis.-River Falls) and Janna Beilke-Skoug (Wis.-Stevens Point) take center stage once again in a crucial conference series. The Falcons are working on a 12-game unbeaten run, the most recent loss coming at the hands of the Pointers last November. Wisconsin-River Falls 4-3, Tie 4-4

Womens D-III wrap: Jan. 20

Falcons shutdown Saints
Wisconsin-River Falls goalie Ashley Kuechle posted back-to-back shutouts (3-0, 2-0) on home ice against struggling St. Scholastica. The Falcons ran their victory string to eight as a result. Kuechle (9-2-2, 1.21) equaled a program record with her sixth whitewash of the season; Plattsburgh’s Sydney Aveson leads the nation with eight. The Saints bolted out the starting proverbial blocks in opening the season, fashioning an 8-0-2 record along the way, but have experienced a loss of noticeable offense coming out of the break. Kuechle squelched both Nina and Isabel Waidacher, turning aside a combined 18 shots from the county’s top two scoring leaders. The Saints extended their current loss streak to four.

MIAC
St. Thomas moved to within one point of first place Gustavus Adolphus in the MIAC, following a pair of wins in a home-and-home with St. Catherine.  The Tommies received a 19-save, 2-0, road win from goaltender Alise Riedel on Saturday. St. Thomas improved to 7-0-1 in conference action. Riedel backstopped a 5-2 win at home on Friday, turning away 15 bids by the Wildcats. Junior forward Paige Baldwin had a pair of goals and an assist in pacing the Tommies offensive pursuits.

Gustavus Adolphus stayed perfect in the MIAC (8-0-0) thanks to Emily Gustafson’s game-winning goal in the third period of the Golden Gusties matchup with Augsburg on Saturday at Don Roberts Ice Arena. The Auggies closed to within one with under two minutes remaining in regulation, but senior goalie Marah Sobczak, who relieved starter Lindsey Hibbard midway through the second period, held the Auggies in check in the final moments in preserving the victory. Surprisingly, the Augsburg crew stayed within reach of a potential upset, despite finishing with just seven shots on net. Backed by a four-goal second period, Hibbard earned the win in the opener as well; collecting 14 saves in a 5-2 Gusties win at the Augsburg Ice Arena.

NESCAC
Amherst outshot No. 2 Middlebury 34-15 in a 2-1 loss at the Orr Rink Friday night, allowing the Panthers to stay at the peak of the NESCAC conference. Madeline Joyce’s power-play score in the second proved to be the decisive goal. The following afternoon, the teams combined for six goals in the third, leading to an eventual 5-5 tie. Middlebury moves to 6-0-2, while the Jeffs stay close at 5-1-2.

Women’s D-III picks: Jan. 17-19

Friday-Saturday, Jan. 17-18

NESCAC

Middlebury at Amherst
In a battle for the top spot in the conference, tight defensive play will be front and center in an anticipated low-scoring affair. Statistically, the Panthers (1.36 goals against per game) and Jeffs (1.33 goals against per game) are nearly identical in aggressive play in their own end. Middlebury has an offensive edge however, scoring nearly four goals per contest. Amherst remains the lone mark on No. 1 Plattsburgh’s perfect record, having tied the Cardinals 1-1 at the Cardinal/Panther Classic last November. Last week, the Panthers had a minor letdown of sorts in a 2-2 tie with (3-6-3) Wesleyan. Middlebury 3-2; 2-2 tie

MIAC

St. Catherine vs. St. Thomas (home-and-home)
The Tommies, unbeaten away from home (4-0-1), have yet to see consistency in the power play area. Offensively, the Wildcats are led by junior forward Bailey Rasmussen and sophomore Kira Kuntz, who have combined for a modest 11-2-13 through 12 games. St. Thomas 5-2, 4-1

Nonconference

St. Scholastica at Wisconsin-River Falls
Falcons’ goalie Ashley Kuechle is heading to a career season. The senior is tied for second in the nation in shutouts, the most recent coming against No.7 Gustavus Adolphus. The Saints highly acclaimed offense was whitewashed for the first time last Tuesday in a 2-0 home loss to Wisconsin-Superior. Wisconsin-River Falls 4-3, 4-4 tie

 Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 18-19

ECAC West

Utica at Chatham
With a date with Plattsburgh on the immediate horizon (Jan 24-25), the classic “trap” game comes to mind. The Pioneers are outshooting conference opponents by an average of nearly 16 shots per game. Utica stays in the mix at the top of the ECAC West. Utica 6-2, 5-1