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Women’s D-III Picks Nov. 15-19

ECAC DIV III EAST

Holy Cross at Norwich
Senior forward Tori Charron, who led the nation with 30 goals last season, is off to a lightning start for the Cadets with six goals, including a pair against her former school, Elmira, in the East-West Showcase. The Cadets have benefited from solid, early play from freshman goalie Taylor Fairchild. The Crusaders have displayed outstanding defense thus far. In addition, the special teams have thrived, as evidenced by a 91.7 percent penalty kill and 36.4 percent power play. Difficult call; Cadets like their home barn though. Norwich 3-2

Nichols at St. Anselm
First-year bench boss Wil Brown’s club will be in for all that it can handle against the Hawks, whose lone hiccup thus far was watching a three-goal lead disappear in a 5-4 loss to Neumann last week. The Nichols contingent is aware that the home club will be taking on Manhattanville the following afternoon. Focus wins it for the Hawks. St. Anselm 5-2

Manhattanville at Massachusetts-Boston
The Beacons have been successful on just one of 13 power-play opportunities. Their lack of scoring thus far is palatable. The Valiats, coming off a hard-nosed East-West Showcase, are poised to match their results to their lofty ranking in the USCHO poll. Manhattanville 6-1

ECAC DIV III WEST

Elmira at Potsdam
Elmira’s Ashley Ryan, Tanis Lamoureux and Erin Weston have produced in a big way for the Soaring Eagles up front. Potsdam barely squeezed out a season opening 4-3 win in a nonconference battle with St. Michaels, but the defense has shown hints of improvement since. Elmira 5-1

WIAC

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 15-16

Wisconsin-River Falls at Wisconsin-Stevens Point
There’s a lot to consider when previewing what could be the most interesting matchup of the week. Katie Batters and Brook Story have combined for five goals on 11 shots for a Wis.-River Falls squad that features offensive depth. The Pointers, by contrast, are unlikely to keep up with the Falcons in the offensive zone, but will rely on junior goalie Janna Beilke-Skoug to anchor defensively. Beilke-Skoug had a season-high 38-save performance against the Falcons in a 5-4 loss last December. Wisconsin-River Falls 3-2, 4-3

MIAC

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 15-16

Gustavus Adolphus at Concordia (Minn.)
This two-game set is an opportune time for first year coach Sarah Erickson to move the Cobbers in the right direction in the MIAC, particularly against the Gusties, who are seeking their 10th straight league title under Mike Carroll. Gustavus Adolphus has outshot its opponents by an average of 10 shots per contest. Concordia’s offense has yet to unwind, as the Cobbers have a lone goal in their first three starts. Gustavus Adolphus 4-0, 5-3

NCHA

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 15-16

St. Scholastica at St. Norbert
The teams split their regular season set last year, but the Green Knights copped a 2-1 victory in the NCHA tournament. The talented Waidacher sisters have accounted for nearly 70 percent of the Saints goals through the early going. St. Norbert’s front line has been productive, led by freshman Rachel Koppang and junior Ali Parker. St. Norbert 5-4, 6-3

Women’s D-III Wrap: Nov. 11

Waidacher’s wicked weekend
High scoring sisters Isabel and Nina Waidacher rendered the St. Scholastica record book in need of serious revision after an abundant display of offense in the Saints’ initial look at NCHA action. Isabel finished with 15 (six goals, nine assists) points in the two-game home set with Finlandia at Mars Lakeview Arena, while Nina, who led the conference with 40 points a year ago, finished with 13 on eighth goals and five helpers in 10-0, and 10-2 victories past the Lions. The Arosa Switzerland, pair, two-thirds of the Waidecher trio that includes senior Monika, had a hand in 16 of 20 goals for the weekend. St. Scholastica improved to 3-0-1 overall

Isabel, a freshman and a member of the Swiss National U-18 squad and a much-heralded addition to coach Jackie MacMillan’s rapidly rising program, gave an early indication of what was to transpire in regard to the record-setting weekend by scoring the first three goals of Friday’s action. Her three even-strength scores transpired within a window of 8:50. Isabel put a pair of power-play goals on the score sheet in the latter two periods for the Saints, who were able to get 20 of their 54 bids on the Lions goaltending duo of Breanna Hynes and Casey Schwartz while skating with an advantage. Nina followed up her eight-point afternoon on Friday with her own take on a five-score performance. Her final three goals of the day were of the power play variety, and were assisted by Isabel and St. Paul, Minn., native Michelle Fischer. Fischer also added a five point effort to her statistical profile.

The Saints have outscored the Lions (0-3-0, 0-3-0) 44-2 over their last five matchups.

Cougars youth infuse sweep
Chatham, 1-15-0 a year ago in ECAC West, delivered a major hit on Buffalo State with a pair of solid road wins. The Cougars prevailed 3-0 in the opener and 5-4 in overtime in securing the sweep. Brianna Rice, a freshman from Newmarket, Ont., collected both game-winning goals for Chatham. Rice has five goals thus far, eclipsing the four compiled by 2012-13 team leader, senior Casey Morfield. Freshman Tara Treloar turned aside 23 shots in the win on Friday.

Rice put forth a fou- point afternoon in the overtime win, the decisive goal arriving 4:22 into extra time with the aid of freshman blue liner McKenzie Haskins. Chatham compiled a 2-1-1 overall record on the four-game swing that kicked off the season. Six straight home games are in store for the Cougars, starting with two against nonconference foe Canton on Nov. 15 and 16.

Elmira regaining form?
After a trying East-West Showcase to commence the season, Elmira was back in the win column after taking two of a home-and-home set with Utica. The Soaring Eagles conceded the first goal before leveling the result with a power-play goal late in the first off the stick of Brooke Wilgosh. After a scoreless second period, Tanis Lamoureux provided the game-winner 2:23 into the third. Lamoureux later notched a pair of helpers later in the third in sealing Elmira’s win. On Sunday at Utica’s Memorial Stadium, coach Dean Jackson’s crew forged a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Erin Weston and Cassidy Delainey before turning it over to goalie Lisa Marshall, who stopped 25 shots. Marshall has a .930 save percentage in hand after this week’s action, and has started all four games.

St. Norbert, Lake Forest settle in closing moments
St. Norbert was outshot, 8-1, in the overtime period and 48-34 in the game, but held on, settling for a 3-3 result with Lake Forest at the Cornerstone Community Center. The Green Knights forced extra play with 60 seconds in regulation on a six-on-five goal by Rachel Koppang. Lake Forest’s power-play unit was 3-for-7 on the afternoon, while the hosts managed just a lone goal in six chances. In what was a near mirror image, particularly from a statistical view, St. Norbert prevailed, snapping a three-all tie with five ticks remaining in the third on a Taylor Giaci score. Green Knights goalie Kaley Gibson collected 40 saves in the triumph after a 45-save effort the previous afternoon.

Yellow Jackets take steps to ascend in USCHO poll
No. 9 Wisconsin-Superior took a win and a tie in a pair of tight nonconference road games with No. 3 Gustavus Adolphus. The Golden Gusties join Manhattanville, Elmira, Wisconsin-River Falls, and Norwich in the group of top 10 teams who have undergone some puzzling losses in the opening two weeks of the season.

Womens D-III picks: Nov 8-12

With conference action taking hold, a number of intriguing matchups are featured this week Here’s our best guess on how things will transpire.

ECAC DIV III EAST
Friday Nov. 8
Plymouth State at Southern Maine
The Panthers take on their third consecutive road test in Gorham against the Huskies who used an early third period score to eke out a 1-0 win over University of New England. PSU has a modicum of experience in their defensive posture, led by senior Tasha Wyatt who got involved in the offensive picture as well with a power play goal. Southern Maine gets the nod on this one however based on the historically consistent play of junior goaltender Liz Bergstrom who garnered a 20-save whitewash in the opener.
Southern Maine 2-1

Saturday Nov 9
Salve Regina at Holy Cross
One of the potentially better match ups this weekend as both entities have the personnel to generate better than average offensive opportunities. The Cross returned 19 from a year ago. Salve’s power play operation needs to get better than the 1 for 11 numbers they put up in a 2-1 win over Neumann last week if they hope to topple HC on the road.
Holy Cross 4-3

Friday Nov 8, Saturday Nov 9
Norwich home and home with St. Michael’s
The Cadets are coming off a close- to- the- vest win over Elmira at the East-West Classic. St. Michael’s is taking baby steps in improving in its own end. Last season’s two game series was an offensive outburst for Norwich. Expect more of the same.
Norwich 7-0, 6-1

ECAC DIV III WEST
Friday Nov 8, Saturday Nov 9
Chatham at Buffalo State
Former assistant coach at Ohio State Candice Moxley gets her first look at her Bengals within the home ice environment. Sophomore Nikki Kirchberger led her club with eight goals a year ago expects to be at the forefront of the offensive efforts once again. Chatham took a lone conference win last season. Its first in the 2013-14 season will be a tough go.
Buffalo State 6-0, 3-1

Saturday Nov 9, Sunday Nov 10
Utica at Elmira
Utica home and home with Elmira
Elmira enters this weekend with an interesting East-West Classic under its belt. The Pioneers have a nice quartet of scoring up front led by Megan Myers but will need a collective full-tilt effort to slip by the Soaring Eagles.
Elmira 4-0, 6-2

Saturday Nov 9, Sunday Nov 10
Oswego at Potsdam
Oswego faces a pair of afternoon dates with a Potsdam team that was lit up by Plattsburgh 8-0 last Tuesday. The Bears, lacking a few key components to their defensive posture from last year’s roster will have to clamp down on a Lakers club that fired 98 shots through its first two outings. Playing in the newly renovated Maxy Ice Arena for the first time provides the home club with a shot of incentive in the opener-albeit not quite enough.
Oswego 4-3, 3-1

NCHA
Friday Nov 8, Saturday Nov 9
Marian at Adrian
NCHA player of the year Brittany Zeches has left a void for the Bulldogs in net however freshman Jade Walsh’s (.929 save percentage in two NC games) has promise. Adrian’s up front composure, still relatively young, prevails in the both showdowns.
Adrian 3-2, 2-0
Friday Nov 8, Saturday Nov 9
Lake Forest at St. Norbert
Goaltender Kaley Gibson posted a shutout last weekend while Rachel Koppang and Henriette Ostergaard combined for eight points in a two-victory weekend as the Green Knights waste no time in hoping to improve on their 18-10-2 overall campaign. Lake Forest’s split with Adrian at home signals that the Foresters might have a tough go away from home.
St. Norbet 3-2, 5-3

Friday Nov 8, Saturday Nov 9
Finlandia at St. Scholastica
The Lions managed only three goals in a deuce with Concordia to open. The Saints by contrast, can put points on the score sheet. The Waidacher sisters, Nina, Monika and freshman Isabel have quickly made they presence felt.
St. Scholastica 5-1, 4-0

Plattsburgh seizes East-West Classic, Productive new faces for St. Anselm

Cardinals, Balisy prevail in Vermont send off
Whether the 2013-14 edition of the East-West Classic affords a template for future achievement in the spring most likely depends on perspective. Plattsburgh came away from Kreitzberg Arena with arguably the clearest vision of its adeptness in the wake of a 6-0 drubbing of host Norwich on Saturday and a subsequent 1-0 win in which it was bolstered by Bridget Balisy’s first period power-play goal against Manhattanville the following day. With three goals and an assist, Balisy acquired Most Valuable Player honors.

Elmira, fortunate in rising up to erase a two-goal deficit in the third in a 2-2 deadlock against Manhattanville, was less so in a 3-2 loss to Norwich on Sunday. All of the Cadets scores arrived in in the first period.  Norwich junior goalie Taylor Fairchild was awarded her first career start in the victory. Elmira’s power play was rendered inefficient (0-9, vs. Norwich, 1-16 overall) in the two outings.

St. Anselm gets push from freshman
A sparse weekend schedule notwithstanding, St. Anselm got out of the proverbial gate precisely the way it concluded its ECAC-East jaunt in 2012-13. Finishing with seven consecutive victories last February, the Hawks opened with a pair of one-goal, home ice wins over Massachusetts-Boston (2-1) and Sacred Heart (4-3/OT).

Although the graduation of both Kathryn Picarello and Rosemary Giarrusso, who combined for 38 goals and 76 points a year ago, created a glaring omission, St. Anselm ultimately returned six of its eight top scorers to the offensive mix, including senior Courtney Winters, who posted 22-21-43 numbers, good for second in the conference, and junior Tiffany Herron (38 points).

This weekend however, the focus was underscored by a pair of freshman whose presence figured in both outings. Alexandra Starzyk and classmate Chelsea Stanclift were responsible for both markers in the Mass.-Boston go-round, with Starzyk garnering the game-winner by means of the power play in the second period. Mass.-Boston averted a whitewash with four seconds to go in regulation with a six-on-three power play. Starzyk secured her second game-winning goal of the weekend just 29 ticks into the extra period against nonconference foe Sacred Heart. Sophomore Sarah Geisinger centered Starzyk and Herron in the win over the Pioneers. The line totaled four points on the night.

Head coach Kerstin Matthews, in her sixth campaign, is now within eight wins of 100 in her tenure with the Hawks. St. Anselm redirects its collective efforts to the road, where it fashioned a 9-0-2 record in 2012-13 with a pair of nonconference matchups against Neumann.

Oswego on point
Oswego State kicked its new season into play with a 5-0 win over (NC) New England College at the Oswego State Classic. Freshman Ashley Lyman put three points (1-2-3) in her ledger, while senior captain Olivia Boersen scored twice. The Lakers outshot NEC, 48-11, in the game. Sunday, Oswego senior Megan Hagg provided (NC) Castleton State with its initial loss of the year by scoring 2:31 into overtime in securing a 3-2 result. Castleton had edged Cortland, 1-0, in its opener, while Cortland reset with a 4-1 triumph over NEC.

Kivisto tacks on four in split
Wisconsin-River Falls split a pair with Bethel, winning the opener, 5-3, and falling Saturday afternoon by an identical score. Bethel sophomore Caroline Kivisto concluded the weekend with four goals including two of the power-play variety. Wisconsin-Superior pounded on Hamline 12-1 on Friday before finishing the two-game set with 4-2 win. Dani Schultz got both game-winning goals for Wis.-Superior.

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.

BNY Mellon Wealth Management