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


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


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


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


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


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.

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.

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


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


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


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


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

Women’s D-III wrap: Jan 13

Startling day for Sabres

Boosted by junior forward Amanda Waigand’s natural hat trick, Marian ended a seven game winless slide with a season-defining upset over sixth ranked St. Scholastica, Saturday afternoon in Fond du Lac. Waigand, the all-time scoring leader for the Sabres, scored twice in a span of 56 seconds in the third. The Saints had held a 2-1 edge midway through the final period before Waigand struck. Waigand, who currently has 36 career goals, completed her sharp performance with an empty net goal with 55 seconds remaining in the period. Marian held the nation’s top scorer, Nina Waidacher pointless for the first time this season.  Waidacher collected a pair of goals, and was named the third star of the game in the series opening 6-3 Saints victory, Friday night. In registering five goals, the Sabers tied for their highest offensive output of the season.

Sophomore goalie Ali Glazer finished with 43 saves in gaining her second win of the season. The successful result for Marian provided the Saints with their initial loss of the season away from home.  The Sabres (4-8-1) triumph marked the programs’ first against a ranked opponent. With the win, Coach Jamie Kivi’s team surpassed their three win total of a year ago (3-20-2).

Beacons successful in reset mode

In spite of being outshot 43-13, Massachusetts-Boston squeezed by St. Anselm 1-0 at the Clark Athletic Center in the Beacons lone action of the past weekend.  Following an unpromising 1-6-1 start to the season, the Beacons have spun off a seven game unbeaten run (5-0-2) and improving its overall record to the .500 level. In the competitive ECAC-East, the Beacons have moved within two points of fourth place Castleton. The Beacons are certainly labeling themselves as a tough draw, given the second half surge. In addition to its most recent win, UMB has well against top clubs such as Colby (4-3), Southern Maine (3-0) and St. Thomas (1-1).

Batters, Falcons take three

Wisconsin-River Falls capped a three-win week with a 2-1 win over host Concordia (Minn.) at the Moorhead Sports Center, Saturday afternoon. Katie Batters was front and center, producing a record-tying five-point performance (3-2-5), as the Falcons overwhelmed host St. Olaf 8-1, Wednesday night. The Falcons limited Concordia to a scant 16 shots on goal in a 3-0 win on Friday. Batters, tied for eighth in goals nationally, finished with a seven point week. The Falcons (10-3-2, 3-2-1 WIAC) are 8-0-2 in their last ten. The three road victories upped W-RF’s mark to 8-2-0 overall.

NESCAC at the top

A pair of conference wins over Colby this week elevated Amherst into a tie with Middlebury at the head of the NESCAC standings. The Jeffs and Panthers are both 5-0-1 in conference action.  Senior goalie Kerri Stuart lowered her GAA to 1.40 and record to 5-0-0 in conference with the 4-1 and 2-1 result over the Mules. Amherst will host Middlebury this upcoming weekend at the Orr Rink on Friday and Saturday.

Crusaders repeat

Holy Cross junior forward Nicole Giannino earned MVP honors at the Rutland Herald Invitational, as the Crusaders captured the tournament for the second consecutive season. Giannino put four points on her stat sheet for the weekend, including a goal and a helper in a 3-2 win over host Castleton in the championship game. Giannino finished with a dozen points in 27 games a year ago. Her weekend efforts advanced point total to 14 (6-8-14).


Women’s D-III picks: Jan. 10-11

A number of high echelon clubs look to get their postseason run-up in focus this week. An ECAC East-West perspective gets things underway Friday in New York, with No. 3 Norwich and No. 4 Elmira.

Friday-Saturday, Jan. 10-11

Gustavus Adolphus at Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Both teams have performed strikingly away from home. In that vein, the Golden Gusties and Pointers are a combined 9-0-2 on the road. The Pointers have lost twice on their home sheet, most recently in a 3-1 defeat against St. Norbert last Saturday. Given the emphasis on taut defensive play, the two-game series could hinge on the production of special teams. Coach Mike Carroll’s Gusties are ranked ninth with the skater advantage and fifth nationally on the PK. However, Gustavus Adolphus is yet to secure a triumphant outcome against a WIAC club this season (0-2-2). Wisconsin-Stevens Point has a clean 4-0-0 slate in matchups with MIAC entities. Wisconsin-Stevens Point over Gustavus Adolphus, Gustavus Adolphus over Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Colby at Amherst
A sweep would propel third place Colby past their hosts in the conference. Directed by first-year coach Mallory Young, the Mules have hit a few flat spots in the early portion of the schedule,  as in not closing out winnable contests. Colby, 3-2 in one-goal affairs, will need to take advantage of any and all opportunities afforded them while skating with the power play. The Mules have the sixth-ranked PP setup in the nation at 25.0 percent. Still, a tall task looms for Young’s charges in pursuit of success against the Jeffs. Amherst has been the lone club to score on No.1 Plattsburgh in a 1-1 deadlock in November at the East/West Classic. Amherst over Colby (both)

Rutland Herald Invitational
Host Castleton (7-5-2, 3-2-0 ECAC-East) has yet to taste team victory in the Invitational, now in its fifth edition. The Spartans invite Salve Regina (6-4-2, 2-3-0 ECAC-East), the University of New England (5-5-3 D-III Independent) and Holy Cross (6-5-0, 3-2-0 ECAC East) to Rutland’s Spartan Arena. Sophomore Taylor Steadman, a Vermont native, formerly of last season’s national championship Elmira squad, has entered the program at Castleton for the second half of the campaign. Steadman finished with seven goals and 11 points in 30 games along with a pair of game-winning goals a year ago. Along with Spartans forward Nicoline Jensen (7th in the nation in scoring), the Castleton offense is bound to witness a positive spike. Championship Game: Castleton over Holy Cross

Friday, Jan. 10 Castleton vs. University of New England, Holy Cross vs. Salve Regina
Saturday, Jan. 11 Consolation Game, 12:00 pm, Championship Game 3:00 pm

Friday, Jan. 10

Norwich at Elmira
The Cadets reversed poll spots with the Soaring Eagles this week in moving into third. At the East/West Classic last November, Norwich fell behind early before responding with three consecutive goals in the opening period en route to a 3-2 win. The Elmira camp will be eager to play in a friendly setting, given that only two of its 11 games thus far have been at home. Coach Dean Jackson’s crew last suited up at the Murray Athletic Center on Nov. 23 in a 5-1 victory over Williams. Norwich’s lone loss on the road came against No.1 Plattsburgh. Both teams are capable of generating quick-paced offense. Norwich’s Tori Charron and Elmira’s Ashley Ryan are both embedded among the nation’s top 10 scoring leaders, and there appears to be little wiggle-room, talent wise, between Cadets’ goalie Taylor Fairchild (1.48) and Elmira senior Lisa Marshall (5-2-1, 1.48).  The Soaring Eagles make the most of a home date. Elmira over Norwich

Women’s D-III wrap: Jan. 5

With the semester layoff in the background, the nation’s top four teams were back at it in earnest in their collective return. No.1 Plattsburgh hosted No.3 Norwich and No. 2 Middlebury invited No.4 Elmira to the Green Mountain State for a Saturday night contest. The latter proved the more entertaining of the two.

At Plattsburgh’s Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena, Cardinals goalie Sydney Aveson penciled in her eighth whitewash of the season and 25th of her storied career in a 6-0 battering of the Cadets. Aveson made 27 saves in the lopsided affair. Plattsburgh killed of all five Norwich power-play opportunities, improving their seasonal statistical perfection to a brilliant 42-of-42.

Middlebury’s Katie Mandigo score 1:50 into overtime propelled the No. 2 Panthers to a 3-2 win over No. 4 Elmira Saturday night at Kenyon Arena. The Soaring Eagles gained a tenuous 2-1 edge midway through the second period on a tally by Briana Saltstone at 10:57, but the host club drew even on Pam Schulman’s second goal of the season with 7:44 remaining in regulation. In addition to outshooting the opposition 31-23, Middlebury played its first penalty-free contest of the season.

Pointers split first test of 2014
Wisconsin-Stevens Point (No.5) split with St. Norbert in a weekend set in which each road team prevailed. Pointers goalie Janna Beilke-Skoug recorded her 25th career win in Friday’s 3-1 victory. The following afternoon at Ice Hawks Arena, St. Norbert’s Rachel Koppang broke a 1-1 tie with the lone score in the middle period as the Green Knights secured a 3-1 win as well.

Tommies Maine adventure
St. Thomas returned from break with a 3-1 win over host Bowdoin Sunday afternoon. The Tommies two-game Eastern trip concludes Monday with a matchup with Massachusetts-Boston. The Tommies ended a three-game winless streak with the positive result. Sophomore forward Karina Marette sent home the game-winning goal with 9:00 remaining in the third period. Senior goalie Alise Riedel upped her record to 6-1-1 with the 25-save outing.

Tournament time
Both Massachusetts-Boston and St. Michael’s prevailed at their own tournaments this weekend, and in the process garnered a number of program “firsts.”

The Beacons captured the Codfish Bowl title after six previous years of coming up empty-handed. Further north, the Purple Knights eradicated themselves from a winless season with a 5-1 defeat of Nichols at Cairns Arena on Saturday in the deciding game of the St. Michael’s DoubleTree Hockey Classic.

St. Michael’s, 0-9-0 going into weekend action, battled Sacred Heart to a scoreless tie in its opener on Friday. Purple Knights freshman goaltender Tina Frasca earned her first career shutout, making a season-high 37 stops. Pioneers goalie Alexius Schutt finished with 31 saves.

Sacred Heart rebounded less than 24 hours later, completing a 2-1 win over Plymouth State. Schutt mirrored her effort from the previous game, registering 31 saves in the victory.

The Purple Knights’ Amanda Kempainen registered the 11th hat trick in program history in the triumph over the Pioneers. Kempainen (4-1-5), a sophomore forward, had one goal in 15 games a year ago for her club.

The Beacons ran their unbeaten string to five games with a 2-0 win over Connecticut College in the championship game of the Codfish. Tournament MVP, defenseman Samantha Fallon got the game-winner 7:32 into the opening period and the Beacons defense, bolstered by the play of goalie sophomore Casey Schaejbe (29 saves), took over from there. Schaejbe lowered her GAA to 1.58 with the performance.

Women’s D-III picks: Jan. 3-5

Friday, Jan. 3, Saturday, Jan. 4

Wisconsin-Stevens Point at St. Norbert (home-and-home)
The Pointers concluded 2013 with a five-game win streak, their last loss coming at the hands of Wisconsin-Superior last Nov. 23. The Green Knights, paced by scoring leader Ali Parker, registered a pair of wins against upper echelon opponents Lake Forest and Adrian in the early portion of the schedule. St. Norbert heads into the weekend with a 4-2-0 record away from Resch Olympic Pavilion. St. Norbert over Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin-Stevens Point over St. Norbert

Saturday, Jan. 4

Manhattanville at Bowdoin
Both teams hope to make the best of a second chance afforded them by a change in the calendar. The two preseason top 10 favorites have bounced along on bumpy ice since the outset of the campaign. The Valiants and Polar Bears are a combined 8-7-1 overall heading into weekend action. Bowdoin’s power play unit has a huge advantage in this one, coming in rankedthird in the nation. In contrast, you’ll have to scroll down the list to find the Valiants, who check in at 43rd with a power play percentage of 7.84 (4-of-51). Bowdoin over Manhattanville

Sunday, Jan. 5

Norwich at Plattsburgh
Norwich faltered on all six power-play opportunities in the initial meeting of the season between the two clubs in the season-opening East/West Hockey Classic held at the Kreitzberg Arena, in which Plattsburgh prevailed 6-0. The Cadets will have to break through against a Cardinals penalty killing crew that has been perfect in all 37 short-handed situations if they intend to gain a positive outcome. The matchup with the Cardinals is the first of eight consecutive road contests for the Cadets. The Cardinals remain unbeaten on home ice. Plattsburgh over Norwich

St. Michael’s Ice Hockey Classic, Friday, Jan.3, Saturday, Jan. 4
The opening tilt matching Nichols College and Plymouth State shakes out to be the most competitive in the ninth annual tournament. In addition to taking a 3-0 victory over the Panthers earlier in the season, the Bison have overcome a former top-10 squad, taking a 4-3 road win against Manhattanville last month. Sacred Heart. currently in the midst of a seven-game winless streak, will open the tournament against host St. Michaels.

Plymouth State University (2-7) vs. Nichols College (2-6): Nichols over Plymouth State
Saint Michael’s College (0-9) vs. Sacred Heart University (1-7-3): Sacred Heart over St. Michael’s
Plymouth State vs. Sacred Heart: Plymouth State over Sacred Heart
Saint Michael’s vs. Nichols: Nichols over St. Michael’s

Codfish Bowl preview

Massachusetts -Boston serves up a hearty portion of classic New England fare in hosting the seventh edition of the Codfish Bowl, beginning Thursday at the Clark Athletic Center Ice Arena.

Lake Forest, the defending champion, opted to stay at home this time around, thus guaranteeing a new victor for 2014.

The Beacons welcome first-time participant Connecticut College to the festivities, joining both Neumann and Stevenson. Coach Kristin Steele’s Camels are the lone squad with a winning record in the tournament, which has regularly been the domain of NESCAC participants.

The hosts, seeking their initial championship victory in the Codfish, have a 5-7 slate in the history of the tournament. The Beacons will kick off play in a matchup against Stevenson and one of the nation’s leading goal scorers in sophomore Mackenzie Taggart. In Thursday’s second tilt, the Camels tackle Neumann University.

Friday’s title contest begins at 4:00 p.m.

Our look.

Thursday, January 2

The Beacons defense will be up to task against Taggart and her teammates in the opener. Goaltenders Casey Schaejbe and Moe Bradley have both provided the Beacons with quality goaltending in the latter portion of 2013. Massachusetts-Boston over Stevenson

Connecticut College heads into the game with considerable advantages over the Knights. Neumann’s offensive exploits will be hard pressed to upend the strong Camels defensive scheme. Connecticut College over Neumann

Friday January 3

Consolation game: Stevenson’s offense trumps whatever the Knights can muster in response. Stevenson over Neumann

Championship: Significant victories over Colby and Southern Maine characterized a solid month of December for the Beacons. The Camels also headed into the break with the momentum in their favor, closing with a three-game winning streak. A tight, close-to-the vest, championship game is in store. Connecticut College over Massachusetts-Boston


Thursday, January 2

Massachusetts- Boston (3-6-2 overall, 1-4-1 ECAC-East) vs. Stevenson University (3-7-1 Independent), 1:00 p.m.
Neumann University (2-8-0 overall, 1-5-0 ECAC-West) vs. Connecticut College (4-2-2 overall, 1-1-2 NESCAC), 4:00 p.m.

Friday, January 3

Consolation Game, 1:00 p.m., Championship Game, 4:00 p.m.

Team comparisons: (national rank)          Team offense                    Team defense
Massachusetts Boston                                  1.55 (41st)                            2.00 (15th)
Connecticut College                                       2.75 (18th)                           1.50 (6th)
Neumann                                                        1.50 (42nd)                          3.40 (42nd)
Stevenson                                                       2.45 (26th)                           3.55 (45th)

Leading scorers

Massachusetts-Boston: Katie Loiselle  (3-3-6), Neumann:  Meghan Power (2-4-6), Connecticut College: Olivia Farrell  (4-2-6), Stevenson: McKenzie Taggart (11-1-12)

Frosh defenders

Integrating  freshman into an established lineup can be a daunting task for coaches.  Finding personnel that can immediately make an impact on the blue line is often a particularly difficult exercise. The following newcomers have stepped into their respective defensemen roles in a big way.

Kendall Appelbaum, Oswego:  The 5-foot-9-inch Eden, N.Y., native, a graduate of the North American Hockey Academy, is tied for the team lead in power-play goals with three, and is  among the top scorers on the Lakers with 3-2-5 numbers. Coach Diane Dillon’s  squad currently ranks second in the nation with a goals-per-game-against average of 1.00. Appelbaum has meshed well with established defensemen, seniors Leslie Jarvis and Chelsea Hunt. Appelbaum was among three immediate contributors to the class of  2017 that includes forwards Ashley Lyman and Bridget Hamlin. Lyman is quite familiar with Appelbaum’s level of play, as both skated for the Buffalo Bisons of the NAHA. Oswego finished off 2013 winning five of its last six. Appelbaum registered her first career game-winning goal in a win over Canton on Dec. 7.

Paige Johnson, Wisconsin-River Falls:  The Falcons have adequate offense to be competitive (4.08 points per game), which frees up Johnson to defend the fort. In that capacity, the Marshfield, Wis., defenseman has been a pleasant surprise for Joe Cranston’s 17th ranked defense. Johnson has just nine shots on goal through a dozen games, but has a plus-minus of plus-7, to go along with her six assists and one power-play score. Johnson has shown an early penchant to be front and center  in high level contests. In the Falcons final game before the semester break, a 3-0 victory over No. 5 Gustavus Adolphus, Johnson was a plus-2 and added an assist on the insurance goal, while aiding in the Ashley Kuechle’s third  shutout of 2013.

Jane Pagano and Cassie Hunter, Connecticut College: The departure of senior defenseman Molly Murphy, who suited up for 93 career games, was a significant loss to the Camels heading into the 2013-14 season, but head coach Kristen Steele, now in her 13th year in New London, received a double dose of skill in Pagano and Hunter, who have combined for five goals and three assists in eight games. Both players are tied for third in overall team scoring. The pair have recorded 11 penalties for 22 minutes to go along with one game-winning goal and a power-play goal apiece.

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