This Week In Women’s Hockey

It’s Good To Be Green

Another weekend goes by, and again Dartmouth sits atop the poll. That’s because the Big Green (7-0-0) beat its two toughest Ivy League competitors — No. 4 Harvard (3-3-0) and No. 2 Brown (3-1-0) — last weekend in Hanover, 5-4 and 3-2, respectively.

As usual, the key for Dartmouth was consistency. In each game, the Big Green outshot its opponent, 35-23. More importantly, Dartmouth never trailed in the third period.

To use a cliche, Dartmouth certainly plays like a team. The Big Green only has one top 10 scorer in the ECAC in senior Carrie Sekela (6, 4a), but four other players among the conference’s 25 highest scorers — sophomore Carly Haggard (5g, 4a) and juniors Kim McCullough (4g, 5a), Correne Bredin (3g, 6a) and Kristin King (4g, 3a). Apparently everyone on the squad knows to get the puck to these five, because they accounted for seven of the team’s eight goals in the two games.

While enjoying your Thanksgiving turkey this weekend, be sure to consider Dartmouth’s undefeated record with a grain of salt. Four of the Big Green’s seven wins were one-goal games. Further, while Dartmouth continues to outshoot its opponents, it is unable to put teams away, placing tremendous burdens on the shoulders of goaltenders Meaghan Cahill and Amy Ferguson in crunch time.

So far, however, both netminders have responded with wins. And a 3-2 victory over the No. 2 team in the nation means a lot more than a 8-1 victory over last-place Boston College (1-6-0), which the Big Green achieved in its first game of the season. Dartmouth hosts Cornell (2-4-0) and No. 6 St. Lawrence (5-2-1) this weekend with a chance to move to 9-0-0 before a showdown with No. 3 Minnesota (8-2-0) in December.

The Spirit of the Huskies

Since the WCHA is the junior circuit in women’s hockey, it seems only fitting that three WCHA teams have freshmen as leading scorers. While Megan Hunter (21g, 15a) leads the conference in scoring and La Toya Clarke (5g, 15a) is the highest scorer for defending national champ Minnesota, St. Cloud rookie Rickie-Lee Doyle (8g, 9a) seems to score when the Huskies need her the most.

That’s what happened Saturday against No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth (8-3-1). After the Bulldogs smoked the Huskies on Friday, 7-3, St. Cloud (5-6-1) came back to tie UMD on Saturday, 3-3, and Doyle had a hand in all three Husky goals.

After assisting on Abby Cooper’s goal to open the scoring, Doyle tied the game at 2-2 midway through the second period with an unassisted goal. Then with UMD leading 3-2 and less than three minutes left in regulation, Doyle scored to force overtime and an eventual tie.

All three Husky goals came on the power play, showing that St. Cloud knows how to capitalize on its opportunities. Now it’s simply a matter of creating those opportunities when both teams are at even strength if the Huskies are to improve their 2-5 conference record.

Showdown in Madison

First place in the WCHA will be on the line this weekend when No. 3 Minnesota (8-2-0) travels to No. 7 Wisconsin (9-2-1). The Gophers lead the Badgers by just one point in the conference standings, and Minnesota must win in front of one of women’s hockey’s loudest crowds to stay in first place for another week.

On paper, the Gophers have the edge. Minnesota’s scoring is so balanced that the Gophers are 8-2 even though senior Nadine Muzerall (4g, 3a), the nation’s leading goal-scorer a year ago, is tied for 28th in the conference scoring race. With rookie La Toya Clarke added to a core of veterans in seniors Muzerall, Ambria Thomas (10g, 8a) Courtney Kennedy (2g, 6a), junior Laura Slominski (6g, 8a) and sophomore Ronda Curtin (7g, 5a), the Gophers have one of the deepest offenses in the country, not to mention the excellent goaltending of senior Erica Killewald, who leads the conference in goals against average (1.85) and save percentage (.924).

But Wisconsin has talented players at each position, as well. Rookie Meghan Hunter (21g, 15a) and sophomore Kendra Antony (7g, 15a) are two of the conference’s top three scorers heading into Thanksgiving. Sophomore defensemen Kerry Weiland (5g, 12a) and Sis Paulsen (5g, 6a) are among the league’s four highest-scoring defenseman. And netminder Jackie MacMillan is third in the conference in GAA (2.42) and second in save percentage (.910). With a little help from the Madison crowd, the Badgers could easily steal a game from the Gophers over Thanksgiving weekend.