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NCAA Tournament Bracket Reaction

The eight-team field for the 2013 NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship was revealed this morning on www.ncaasports.com on a live selection show.

The three teams selected for the available at-large bids came as no surprise to join the five conference champions in this year’s quest to be the last team standing holding the gold trophy at Wessman Arena in a little less than two weeks.

UW-River Falls, Middlebury and Elmira joined conference champions Plattsburgh (ECAC West), Norwich (ECAC East), Bowdoin (NESCAC), St. Norbert (NCHA) and Gustavus Adolphus (MIAC) to round out this year’s field.

For the second year in a row we’ll see a first-round matchup flight take place as cinderella upstart St. Norbert will travel to Plattsburgh on Saturday to try and continue its nearly unfathomable run in just its third year as a program. The tournament field expanded to eight teams later year with Concordia (Minn.) being the beneficiary securing the final at-large bid into the tournament and getting a first round date with eventual national champion RIT.

Two years ago, Norwich became the last team to receive a bye to the Frozen Four after the Cadets were given the free pass to the semifinals while top-seeded RIT was forced to play Adrian in the first round in my opinion to avoid having to fly a team before the Frozen Four. The committee has debunked that theory in each of the last two seasons however since the field has expanded to eight teams and provided up with 5/3 splits each season without the ability to avoid a first-round flight.

All of the pairings make complete sense to me and I correctly assumed after looking at the numbers Sunday night. The only major surprise that I caught me off guard a bit was the potential semifinal matchup between Plattsburgh and Norwich. The last NCAA rankings that we saw on Feb. 26 had Norwich still as the No. 2 seed in the East and Bowdoin at No. 3. Norwich beat Southern Maine and NCAA ranked Manhattanville to win the ECAC East crown, while Bowdoin beat two NCAA ranked teams in Amherst and Middlebury.

That’s the only difference and it would appear that was enough for the committee to bump the Polar Bears up to No. 2 East since Norwich is paired up with Middlebury. The only other factor that could have happened is Bowdoin and Norwich were switched to avoid an intra-conference matchup in the quarterfinals, which the committee has shown a history and in the past there has been a guideline to avoid those when preventable.

I’m sure the potential of a semifinal showdown between the two Lake Champlain rivals raised more than few eyebrows on both sides this morning. Regardless, you’ve got to beat the best to the best and should those two meet next Friday in Superior, fans will be treated to one heck of a game as the previous two regular season meetings have been this year. Don’t forget these two teams also played to an 8-7 thriller last year at Plattsburgh and a 3-2 overtime win for Norwich at Norwich earlier in the season.

More to come later this week with a full preview on all four quarterfinal round matchups!

William Smith to add women’s hockey – possible conference realignment?

Hobart/William Smith officially announced today in a press release on its athletics website that they will be adding varsity women’s hockey in the near future. There was also a job posting on the before linked website for a varsity women’s hockey coaching position that goes into great detail about the position and responsibilities.

The Hobart men’s hockey program has become an established national contender over the last decade under head coach Mark Taylor. William Smith has a long tradition of success with its women’s athletic programs so I expect the Herons will hit the ground running with this varsity program and look to establish a commitment to winning from the outset.

William Smith currently fields a club women’s hockey team and has access to the Geneva Recreation Arena “The Cooler” right in downtown Geneva for a facility. With the addition of a full-fledged D-III women’s program, I have to start to wonder if possibly a new arena could be in the works in the future for Hobart/William Smith since they have to share ice currently with the local youth and high school programs and it is just a town municipal rink with limited capacity and limited locker room space.

The other question this brings to mind is how close are we to possible major realighment/restructuring in Division III women’s hockey?

When William Smith begins its inaugural varsity season in 2014-15, there will be four Division III teams without conferences to call home should nothing change by then. Univ. of New England, SUNY Canton and Stevenson being the other three.

As of right now, there will be 52 Division III teams in total by the 2014-15 season. 31 of those teams reside in the East which starts to beg the question is it time for realignment in the East so that we can find a home for those four teams currently without conferences?

A  SUNYAC women’s league could potentially be on the horizon with SUNY Canton becoming the sixth SUNY women’s program to go along with Plattsburgh, Buffalo State, Cortland, Potsdam and Oswego. I still feel like it would take one more SUNY school to start the league though so they can have an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. That leaves the onus on schools like Brockport, Fredonia or Geneseo possibly to make the move for a varsity team.

Assuming the SUNYAC can’t find a seventh member, here’s a rough sketch of how things could potentially lineup for a future logical realignment trying to keep geography as the No. 1 priority but also trying to maintain competitive balance and not load up a “Super Conference” with traditionally strong programs.

The NESCAC is for the most part set in stone, I don’t see anyone joining or leaving that conference. That leaves the realignment to the remaining 22 schools.

NESCAC (9)
Bowdoin
Middlebury
Williams
Colby
Conn. College
Hamilton
Wesleyan
Trinity
Amherst

ECAC West (8)-
Elmira
Stevenson
Buffalo State
Utica
Neumann
Chatham
William Smith
Cortland

ECAC New England (7)-
Norwich
Southern Maine
Castleton
UMass-Boston
New England College
Univ. of New England
Plymouth State

ECAC East (7) -
Plattsburgh
Potsdam
SUNY Canton
Nichols
Salve Regina
Manhattanville
Oswego

This is obviously just a rough guide and would take some RADICAL changes in administrations, leagues etc. However, it would be for the better advancement of Division III women’s hockey as whole giving every D-III playing and eligible team a conference to play in and chance to compete for an auto-bid to the NCAA’s.

I tried to keep teams as best as I could geographically and keep other teams that are close to them in the same conference for travel purposes. Finding a 7th team for the new “ECAC East” was very challenging…eventually I settled on Oswego since they are relatively closer to Plattsburgh, SUNY Canton, Potsdam etc.

There is obviously no perfect solution. Salve Regina and Nichols are probably stretches for the proposed new “ECAC East”. The formation of the women’s SUNYAC league though may force this proposed change however if they were able to find a seventh team.

Here’s how things could possibly look if that were the case:

NESCAC (9)
Bowdoin
Middlebury
Williams
Colby
Conn. College
Hamilton
Wesleyan
Trinity
Amherst

SUNYAC (7)-

Plattsburgh
Oswego
Buffalo State
Cortland
Potsdam
SUNY Canton
Brockport/Geneseo/Fredonia?

ECAC West (7)-
Elmira
Stevenson
Utica
Neumann
Chatham
William Smith
Manhattanville

ECAC East (9)-
Norwich
Southern Maine
Castleton
UMass-Boston
New England College
Univ. of New England
Plymouth State
Nichols
Salve Regina

Not nearly as radical changes here and all it requires is one more New York State school to add women’s hockey.

This scenario also leaves the Division II and Division I schools currently in the ECAC East out to dry. My solution to that is having Franklin Pierce, Saint Anselm, St. Michael’s, Sacred Heart and Holy Cross form their own new ECAC league. Who knows how tough that will be to make happen.

 

 

Weekend Rewind – Feb. 18 – Three things

Four out of the five conferneces wrapped up their regular season schedule this past weekend with the MIAC being the lone hold out with another week left of the regular season.

1. Plattsburgh completes unbeaten regular season

Although in my 20 bold predictions, I did predict that either Plattsburgh or Gustavus Adolphus would finish the regular season unbeaten, I honestly didn’t think we would see the day again where a Division III women’s hockey team could accomplish a feat like this again. The game seemed to have grown too much but not only does it look like one team is going to do it this year, it looks like Gustavus will have a great shot at replicating the feat next weekend. In a perfect world, these two teams would run the gauntlet in the postseason and ultimately meet each other for the title in Superior setting up every storyline you could possibly want.

Plattsburgh was fortunate to return pretty much everyone on offense from their Frozen Four team from a year ago, as well as their goaltender in Sydney Aveson. The Cardinals likely have the D-III Player of the Year in Teal Gove as well as a loaded supporting cast including Alison Era, Emma Rutherford, Jenny Kistner and Shannon Stewart. This team is loaded and will have the benefit of hosting throughout its duration in the postseason until the FF where it will have to fly out West to Superior should they make it that far.

2. First NCAA Rankings published

Last Tuesday the first NCAA regional rankings were published and for the next two weeks they will continue to appear every Tuesday afternoon until the final NCAA selection show on Monday, March 4th. These are the rankings that actually matter and you’ll want to pay close attention to find out how the top teams are stacking up with each other in terms of the criteria that the NCAA uses to determine and rank the NCAA Tournament field. http://www.ncaa.com/rankings/icehockey-women/d3/diii_regional_rankings

3. Neumann does the Harlem Shake

It’s a craze that is sweeping the nation amongst college athletic teams and yes, now it’s in D-III women’s hockey. Check out the Neumann women’s hockey team having a little fun at the end of warmups prior to their game against Plattsburgh State this past weekend. Give them credit for keeping it loose. Got to love the girl doing the worm in full pads and skates! Great job Neumann!

 

 

Carroll wins 300th, Cadets in Camo, Platty reigns supreme

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.

 

 

Picks for Jan. 18-20

There is a lot on the line this weekend with the top two teams in four out of the five conferences meeting each other. Three of the four matchups are two-game series and there is one solo matchup. Separation Saturday (Friday and Sunday as well) is upon us.

Norwich @ Manhattanville

Norwich and Manhattanville kick things off renewing their rivalry that seems to have escalated ever year since Norwich’s first varsity season in 2007-08. Lately, Norwich has gotten the better of Manhattanville, with wins in three of the last four meetings, including in last year’s ECAC East Championship. Due to damage at the Playland Ice Casino, Norwich will avoid having to play at Manhattanville’s home rink for another year. Norwich last played at Playland during the 2009-10 season. The game will take place at the Terry Connors Rink in Stamford, Conn. instead. Manhattanville is in the driver’s seat entering tonight’s game after Norwich dropped a 4-3 OT game to Saint Anselm. A Manhattanville win tonight will give it a firm grasp on the No. 1 seed and possible hosting rights for the ECAC East Tournament. Norwich on the other hand has picked up four straight victories since losing to Plattsburgh 4-2 on Jan. 6. The Cadets desperately could use this win to try and regain control of the ECAC East to try and host the tournament for the third straight season. Kaycie Anderson has started to regain her freshman season form for Norwich and the Cadets will need that to win tonight. I’ll go with Norwich 3-2 in OT.

St. Catherine/Gustavus Adolphus (2)

Gustavus Adolphus will look to cement its stranglehold on top of the MIAC standings again with a home and home series against second-place St. Catherine. The Gusties are perfect in 2012-13 and will be looking to secure head coach Mike Carroll’s 300th career coaching victory. St. Catherine will look to try and put a chink in Gustavus’ armour as they sit just two points behind GAC. I’m going with a split in this one, Gustavus 4-2 on day 1 at home and then St. Catherine steals a 2-1 (OT) victory at home the next night.

Middlebury @ Bowdoin (2)

Middlebury travels up to Maine this weekend for a pair of games facing a new foe as its chief challenger to the NESCAC crown after for years having to battle against Amherst and Trinity as well. Bowdoin has been the story of the season carrying a 12-1-1 record into this weekend. The Polar Bears only blemishes are a loss to Plattsburgh and a tie to Norwich. This weekend though they’ll get one of their stiffest tests to date with the perennial powerhouse Panthers. The Polar Bears have been blessed with a balanced attack and incredible goal play from Kayla Lessard. I think the Polar Bears scrounge up a victory and they split with Middlebury taking the first game 2-1 before Middlebury rebounds for a 3-1 win on day two. Bowdoin 2-1, Middlebury 3-1.

Elmira @ Plattsburgh

You can read my This Week in D-III Women column for all the info on this pair of games set to take place at Plattsburgh’s Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena on Saturday and Sunday. These two are about as good as it gets when it comes to rivarlies in women’s hockey. Will first-year head coach Dean Jackson be able to break the mold against Plattsburgh’s seasoned veteran and 10-year head coach Kevin Houle? Will Ashton Hogan be able to continue her torrid scoring pace for Elmira against the same Plattsburgh team she was a member of last year? Can Elmira deal Plattsburgh its first loss of the season? Can Elmira’s goaltending tandem continue their video-game like numbers? Or will Teal Gove, Jenny Kistner and the rest of the Cardinal Company spoil Elmira’s impressive start? Shocking, I’m taking a split in this one too with Plattsburgh winning 2-1 on Saturday and Elmira winning 1-0 on Sunday.

20 Predictions

The second half of the season ramped up into full swing yesterday afternoon with top-ranked Plattsburgh and No. 5 Norwich doing battle at the Stafford Ice Arena. Both teams were playing their first games in a month and after Norwich was able to jump out to a 2-0 lead, Plattsburgh like the consumate No. 1-ranked team in the country they have proven to be all season, rallied to score four unanswered goals for a 4-2 victory.

The Cardinals finally solved Norwich goalie Kelly Fisk with 11 seconds left in the second period. Shannon Stewart pounced on a loose rebound off a scrum in front of the net, flipping the puck over Fisk who was laying on the ice trying to cover the puck for a whistle to cut Norwich’s lead to 2-1.

From that point on it was all Cardinals as Plattsburgh outshot Norwich 14-6 in the final frame as well as tacking on three goals to complete the comeback victory. Teal Gove got things started with a power play goal just 1:46 into the period and then Ali Vokos, a junior forward transfer from UConn made an immediate impact in her first game as Cardinal scoring the eventual game-winning goal with 6:29 left. She also assisted on Mia Favretto’s insurance tally just 51 seconds later to take the wind completely out of Norwich’s sails.

After watching yesterday’s game in person, Vokos adds another weapon to already loaded roster. She’s a small but speedy player with great hands as evidenced by her picturesque top shelf  shot over the glove of Fisk for the game-winning goal.

Plattsburgh already was going to be an extremely tough out and the addition of Vokos will make it even tougher now. Between Kistner, Gove, Stewart, Rutherford, Era, Van Glahn, Vokos they’re as talented as anyone up front.

Back by popular demand for another year are my 20 bold predictions for the rest of the Division III women’s hockey season.

1. Plattsburgh’s Teal Gove leads the country in points.
2. One of Plattsburgh and Gustavus Adolphus finish the regular season undefeated.
3. Norwich’s Tori Charron leads the country in goals at the end of the regular season.
4. River Falls’ Chloe Kinsel leads the country in freshmen scoring.
5. Elmira’s Lauren Sullivan or Adrian’s Brittany Zeches equal or break Stevens Point’s Amy Statz’ single-season shutout record of 13.
6. Elmira gives up less goals than games it plays in the regular season.
7. River Falls doesn’t lose another game the rest of the regular season.
8. Plattsburgh’s Teal Gove, Amherst’s Geneva Lloyd, Manhattanville’s Katie Little, and Bethel’s Jess Newstrom are finalists for the Laura Hurd Award
9. Plattsburgh’s Teal Gove wins the Laura Hurd Award.
10. Plattsburgh’s Kevin Houle wins the AHCA Coach of the Year Award.
11. Stevenson finishes with a better record than Franklin Pierce out of the two first-year programs.
12. Hamilton makes NESCAC final four.
13. Bethel makes the MIAC Championship game.
14. Elmira wins the ECAC West Tournament.
15. Castleton makes the ECAC East Championship game.
16. Bowdoin makes the NESCAC Championship game.
17. Adrian wins the NCHA Tournament.
18. Plattsburgh, Gustavus Adolphus, Middlebury and Elmira make the Frozen Four.
19. Gustavus Adolphus wins a game at the Frozen Four.
20. Plattsburgh wins the national championship.

Those are the predictions! We’ll check back in mid-March to see how I faired.

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!

 

 

Weekend Rewind: Dec. 10

A large portion of the Division III women’s hockey world wrapped up its first semester schedules this past weekend with numerous non-conference matchups taking place, headlined by Manhattanville hosting No. 1 Plattsburgh.

Manhattanville led 1-0 on a goal by Sonia Occhionero in the second period. That lead lasted into the second intermission, but Plattsburgh like the true No. 1 team that they are right now, battled back with three third-period goals to top the Valiants 3-1 and finish off the first semester unbeaten. While the Cardinals’ top guns of Teal Gove and Jenny Kistner were completely shut down, PSU’s depth came into play with Alyssa Parke, Morgan MacInnis and Chelsea VanGlahn each scoring a goal to lead the Cardinals to the come-from-behind win.

#3 Norwich also was in action and the Cadets had to muster everything in their power to salvage a 1-1 tie with Bowdoin. The Polar Bears led 1-0 in the second period after a goal by Stephanie Ludy that held up for nearly the rest of the game. However, junior forward Tori Charron continued her goal-scoring ways and notched her team-leading 10th goal of the season to knot the game at 1 with just 1:46 left in the game.

Middlebury took care of business against Castleton in an intrastate showdown in Rutland with the Panthers scoring a 3-0 win at Spartan Arena. The Panthers didn’t pull away until late though as they scored two goals in the final seven minutes of the game to put it away. Castleton continues to make strides under second-year coach Bill Bowes. Coming into Saturday’ game, Castleton was 4-1-1 in their last six games. The freshmen tandem of Anna Daniels and Nicoline Jensen have led the Spartans on the season with each tallying 13 points so far.

 Now that finals have started for most schools, there are very few hockey games left to played in 2012. There are however a couple of key games set to take place this week with No. 2-ranked and undefeated Gustavus Adolphus playing a home and home series with long-time rival River Falls on Wednesday and Friday. UWRF has faltered a little bit this season from its previous two seasons, but the Falcons are still one of the best in the NCHA if not the best and they’ll be the chief challenger to Gustavus Adolphus and a trip to the Frozen Four.

UWRF hosts the Wednesday game and Gustavus Adolphus will host Friday. Gustavus leads the all-time series 15-4-3 heading into this week’s home and home.

Stay tuned later this week to see my picks for Mid-Season All-American selections as well as the infamous 20 Bold Predictions which will come out sometime before Jan. 1, 2013.

 

Picks for Dec. 7-12

Sorry for the gap in these picks but we’re back this week with a couple of key games heading into the holiday break.

Plattsburgh @ Manhattanville

Plattsburgh looks to wrap up an undefeated first half of the season with its second matchup of the year against Manhattanville. Plattsburgh claimed a 2-1 OT win in each team’s first game of the season. The Cardinals have pretty much rolled through the first half and this is one more stiff test heading into the break. Manhattanville has quietly been putting together a great season despite the hardships of losing their home rink to damage from Hurrciane Sandy. I like Plattsburgh in this one by a close score again. I’ll take the Cardinals 3-2.

Norwich @ Bowdoin

Norwich wraps up its pre-Christmas schedule with a long trip to Brunswick, Maine to take on the Bowdoin Polar Bears at the Sid Watson Arena. The Cadets rebounded last Sunday with a 4-1 win over Holy Cross in their first game since losing to Saint Anselm. NU beat Bowdoin 4-1 last season on home ice. I think the Cadets get another victory here. I’ll go Norwich 4-1 again.

Amherst @ Oswego

Amherst makes the trek to Central New York this weekend to take on Oswego and Utica. On the first night, the Lord Jeffs face an upstart Oswego squad that has been having a solid season despite the fact of their low numbers. Amherst hasn’t quite had the defensive prowess it has had traditionally over the last few years. Oswego has been getting solid goaltending and I think the Lakers steal one from Amherst. 4-3 Oswego.

Amherst @ Utica

Amherst gets back on track the next day with a W over Utica. Geneva Lloyd, Ashley Salerno and Tori Salmon just too much good here and they help lead the Lord Jeffs to a 4-2 win.

Gustavus Adolphus @ River Falls

Next Wednesday we’ll have a showdown in the West with the unbeatean Gustavus Adolphus Gusties traveling to take on longtime rival Wis. River Falls. The Gusties haven’t skipped a beat despite losing their all-time wins leader in goal and their top two scorers from last year. River Falls has had some trip ups so far this year in NCHA play but I think UWRF gets a big win in this one. UWRF 3-2 OT

Picks for Nov. 16-18.

Last week turned out to be a rough week for this prognasticator. Even though I corrrectly picked splits in the St. Scholastica/St. Norbert and River Falls/Superior series, I mixed up the days on both picking the wrong team to win each day putting a big 0-for-4 on the scoreboard. Gustavus Adolphus also asserted an early stranglehold on the MIAC again with two close hard fought wins over Bethel. (I predicted a split). The only thing that went right for me was Stevenson sweeping Franklin Pierce.

2012-13 Record: 8-6-1
Last Week: 3-5-0

Onto this week.

Saint Anselm @ No. 1 Norwich

Saint Anselm traditionally is one of Norwich’s chief competitors for the ECAC East regular season title. The Division II Hawks generally are right in the thick of things along with Manhattanville and Holy Cross. Saint A’s is off to another solid start this year carrying a 3-1-1 record into Saturday afternoon’s game at Kreitzberg. The top-ranked Cadets have won four in a row after opening up the season with two ties at the East/West Hockey Classic. The offense is firing on all cylinders lately tallying 26 goals over the last four games. Norwich has been able to handle St. A’s lately after and I think at home they’ll take this one. 5-2 Cadets.

Manhattanville @ Holy Cross

Manhattanville is coming off a bye week as they haven’t played since a 2-2 tie against Saint Anselm on Nov. 4. Holy Cross is 3-1-1 and beat Saint Anselm last week 5-2. The Crusaders lone loss came to Salve Regina and they tied UMass-Boston as well. Manhattanville has played a very tough schedule already and I think the bye week has a team short on numbers well rested and anxious to stay afloat in the ECAC East regular season title race. I’ll take the Valiants in this one in overtime. 3-2 Manhattanville (OT)

St. Thomas vs. Gustavus Adolphus

After losing its first game, St. Thomas has won three games in a row. Gustavus Adolphus is still perfect so far in 2012-13 as the Gusties carry a perfect 3-0-0 mark into this weekend’s home and home series. St. Thomas generally is one of the teams in the hunt to try and knock Gustavus off the top of the MIAC mantle. The Tommies have won a few games against GAC over the years, but they’ve never been able to beat them in the postseason lately. I tried it last week and I’ll try it again. I’m going with a split here. St. Thomas wins 2-1 on Friday and then Gustavus Adolphus rebounds with a 3-0 win on Saturday.

Bethel @ Concordia (Minn.)

After being ranked 10th in last week’s USCHO.com Poll, Bethel fell out of the rankings after two close losses to Gustavus Adolphus last weekend. Concordia (Minn.) was last year’s cinderella story, making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid despite losing in the MIAC finals. So far, the Cobbers have had a little bit of a tougher go of it in 2012-13 with a 3-1-2 record so far and they haven’t been able to score more than three goals in a game yet. Bethel beat Concordia (Minn.) 4-1 earlier this season. I’ll go with a split in this one. Concordia Minn. wins Friday 3-2 and Bethel wins on Saturday 4-2.

Bowdoin @ Plattsburgh

Bowdoin opens up with a tall task on the road at No. 2 Plattsburgh. The Cardinals are 4-0-1 on the season and have outscored their last three opponents 23-1. Being on the ice for two more weeks and playing five games already give Plattsburgh a huge advantage in this so I’ll say 4-1 Cardinals.