Middlebury Tournament Preview

No. 3 Elmira at No. 1 Middlebury, Sat. 7 p.m. Semifinal

This Saturday, the only two programs ever to win an NCAA Championship in Division III women’s hockey, will go head-to-head once more. The Elmira Soaring Eagles took the first two titles, while the Middlebury Panthers have captured the last two, including a thrilling 4-3 decision over Elmira in the 2005 title game that came nearly one month after the Soaring Eagles had tripped the Panthers 3-2 in overtime. Middlebury is the consensus choice to three-peat while Elmira seeks to replace its legendary inaugural recruiting class, but early returns indicate that the new-look Soaring Eagles have more than enough to support another classic this weekend.


No Laura Hurd. No LeAnne Denman. No Edith Racine. None of the other 13 seniors who went 91-17-5 during their careers. It will indeed be a different Elmira team that visits Vermont this weekend, but Coach Paul Nemetz-Carlson still has a mix of old reliables and young guns at his disposal. The No. 1 goaltender position is unsettled, though sophomore Cara McGurry may have taken a big step toward securing top billing with a shutout of No. 7 Manhattanville last Friday. Both McGurry and Cubberley should benefit from a seasoned group of defensemen that includes four seniors. Speedy senior Jaclyn O’Neil steps out of Hurd’s shadow to pace the offense while Nemetz-Carlson expects freshmen Catherine Shears, Lindsay Laxton, and Kayla Coady to remain consistent contributors after the trio combined for 10 goals in the team’s first four games.

On the other side, Coach Bill Mandigo begins his 18th season with established personnel at all positions. Senior co-captain Kate Kogut is back for her swansong with a sparkling 41-4-4 career mark. The defense in front of her now has no less than 10 players who have at least one season in the program, headlined by two-time All-American Shannon Tarrant. And while the offense needs a sniper to replace two-time All-American Lorna Gifis (150 points, fifth best in school history), Mandigo has a stellar primary scoring option in Emily Quizon, whose 58 points in 2004-05 tied for the third-best single-season total in school history. In addition, 11 of the 25 players on the roster have the coveted experience of both winning a national championship and successfully defending a national championship.

Tale of the Tape

No. 3 Elmira (3-1-0 overall, 2-0-0 ECAC West)

Top Scorers: Jaclyn O’Neil, Sr., F (2-5-7), Kayla Coady, Fr., F (4-2-6), Catherine Shears, Fr., (4-1-5)
Top Goaltenders: Cara McGurry, So. (2-0-0, 0.00, 1.000), Allison Cubberley, Fr. (1-1-0, 2.00, .895)
Scoring Offense: 5.00 (8th)
Scoring Defense: 1.00 (T-3rd)
Penalty Minutes: 12.5 (16th)
Power Play: 5 of 24, 20.8% (11th)
Penalty Kill: 21 of 22, 95.5% (4th)

No. 1 Middlebury (0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 NESCAC)

Top Scorers (2004-05): Emily Quizon, Sr., F (20-38-58), Alison Graddock, Jr., F (12-16-28), Karin Levin, So., D (6-22-28)
Top Goaltender: Kate Kogut, Sr. (19-3-1, 1.58, 0.927)
Scoring Offense: 4.77 (4th)
Scoring Defense: 1.47 (8th)
Penalty Minutes: 9.3 (30th)
Power Play: 42 of 156, 26.9% (1st)
Penalty Kill: 120 of 131, 91.6% (8th)

Series History

All-time: 3-2-0 Elmira

Last 5 meetings:
*3/19/05: Middlebury 4, Elmira 3
2/20/05: Elmira 3, Middlebury (OT)
**3/12/04: Middlebury 2, Elmira 1
1/9/04: Elmira 2, Middlebury 1
12/7/03: Elmira 4, Middlebury 2

*2005 NCAA Championship
**2004 NCAA Quarterfinals

Williams vs. No. 2 Plattsburgh, Sat. 4 p.m. Semifinal

Williams figured on having to replace its senior class but in early September, the Ephs learned that they would have to replace Head Coach Neil Sinclair as well when Sinclair left to become the men’s hockey coach at Skidmore College. Assistant Michelyne Pinard ascends to the top position. Along with fellow Dartmouth standout Alana BreMiller, she sets about finding the formula to push Williams above its third-place NESCAC finish of the last three years. The Ephs figures to remain one of the nation’s better defensive teams (less than two goals per game in 2004-05) with four seniors on the blueline and sophomore goaltender Denise McCulloch having a year of experience under her belt. The search for consistent offense post-Molly Wasserman continues and Pinard will be looking for a breakout season from at least one of the six freshmen and sophomores who numbered among last season’s top eight scorers.


Plattsburgh finds itself in a similar predicament as ECAC West rival Elmira. Coach Kevin Houle must rebuild after the graduation of All-Americans in goal (Carolyne Roy), on defense (new assistant coach Erin O’Brien), and up front (Elizabeth Gibson). However, like the Soaring Eagles, the Cardinals still have some veteran cornerstones and some promising newcomers. Niagara transfer Breanne Doyle is the new No. 1 goaltender, All-Rookie sophomore defenseman Julie Devereux anchors the blueline group, while the offense can lean on two-year captain Jenn Clarke (133 career points but questionable for the weekend) and junior leading scorer Jessica Moreau. In between, youth is the operative word as Plattsburgh’s roster includes 14 freshmen, though four of the first-year forwards are averaging better than a point per contest, led by Danielle Blanchard (6-5-11). The question that won’t be answered for several months is whether the new formula is enough to produce a new ending after a series of near-misses, including four straight ECAC West title game losses to Elmira and back-to-back defeats in the Division III national semifinals.

Williams (14-10-2, 10-4-2 NESCAC)

Top Scorers (2004-05): Ashley Wood, Jr., F (10-15-25), Gigi Stender, Sr., (10-9-19), Caralyn Quan, Fr., F (9-9-18)
Top Goaltender: Denise McCulloch, So. (6-6-1, 2.12, .917)
Scoring Offense: 3.27 (16th)
Scoring Defense: 1.96 (10th)
Penalty Minutes: 8.8 (33rd)
Power Play: 16 of 97, 16.5% (13th)
Penalty Kill: 98 of 110, 89.1% (15th)

No. 2 Plattsburgh (6-0-0, 6-0-0 ECAC West)

Top Scorers: Jessica Moreau, Jr., F (6-7-13), Danielle Blanchard, Fr., F (6-5-11), Jenn Clarke, Sr., F (4-7-11)
Top Goaltenders: Breanne Doyle, Sr. (4-0-0, 0.25, .981), Sandra Grant, Fr. (2-0-0, 0.00, 1.000)
Scoring Offense: 6.50 (2nd)
Scoring Defense: 0.17 (1st)
Penalty Minutes: 9.0 (26th)
Power Play: 12 of 41, 29.3% (5th)
Penalty Kill: 24 of 25, 96.0% (2nd)

Series History

All-time: 3-0-0 Plattsburgh

2/1/05: Plattsburgh 6, Williams 1
1/19/04: Plattsburgh 3, Williams 1
12/7/03: Plattsburgh 2, Williams 1