This Week in D-III Women’s Hockey: Jan. 24, 2008

Victory at Last

The Chatham Cougars have been playing Division III women’s hockey for six seasons now. Their record before Sunday’s game against Oswego State was 0-96-1. Then, even if only for a brief moment, Chatham was at the center of the women’s hockey world. Head coach Phoebe Manchester and her team were sitting in their locker room at the Oswego Campus Center Ice Arena, leading the Lakers 4-1, after two periods of play.

“I told the girls to take it shift by shift for 20 minutes,” Manchester said. “I told them to focus on what we needed to do and play smart.”

Chatham headed back out for the third period and withstood a ferocious Oswego comeback attempt where the Lakers pulled to within one goal after Gillian Toneguzzo scored with just over three minutes to play in the game. However, that’s as close as Oswego would get and Chatham survived and secured their first Division III victory despite being out shot 19-4 in the final period.

“It was obviously nice to get the win,” Manchester said. “It’s something we’ve been close to a couple of times lately and I’m happy for the kids to finally be able to walk around campus with their heads high instead of dealing with the everyday questions from people wondering when we’d get our first win.”

Sophomore defensemen April Govednik (Aurora, Colo) paced the Cougar offense with a goal and two assists including the primary assist on the game-winning goal. Govednik achieved another Chatham first this week as she was named the ECAC West Player of the Week for her efforts on the weekend.

Fellow sophomore Brenn Scott was solid in goal for the Cougars making 35 saves picking up the win to improve to 1-9 on the season.

“She was awesome,” Manchester said. “She’s a workhorse and has been working hard over the past two years to get better. There is no one more deserving and I can’t think of a better person to get our first win.”

After the game, Manchester said she just stepped back and let the girls enjoy the win and call their parents and friends.

“It was their moment,” Manchester said. “They worked hard for it and deserved it. It’s a been a long time for the seniors and this is definitely something they’ll be able to look back on now once they graduate.”

Something to look back on is almost an understatement as Chatham has been the butt end of D-III women’s hockey jokes for the past six years and have seen frequent discussions on the message boards wondering why the Cougars even field a team.

Not anymore.

“I’m not sure about the issues that have happened here in the past,” Manchester said. “I think we have the right coaching staff and the right kids here now and we’re moving away from the past and looking towards the future. Unfortunately for us, we have to make huge improvement strides in our game in order to make small strides in the conference with how strong the teams we play are.”

We have a lot to offer here at Chatham with numerous programs in conjuction with Carnegie Mellon and a great location near Pittsburgh. Who doesn’t want to be in the same city as Sidney Crosby?”

With their first win under their belt, Chatham is now looking towards the future and a possible playoff berth.

I know what you’re thinking, cue former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora and his infamous “Playoffs? You’re talking about playoffs?” speech. However, Chatham is right there in the race for the sixth and final ECAC West playoff spot.

Buffalo State is currently in sixth with four points and ten games played. Cortland sits in seventh with three points but just six games played so far. Chatham is in eighth with two points. Chatham has six conference games left and four of them are against Buffalo State and Cortland so there is still plenty of hockey left to be played.

“We go to rink,” said Manchester when asked about where her team goes from here. “We play one shift at a time and try and take the momentum we have and move forward. We’re right there in the playoff hunt.”

MIAC Bragging Rights on the Line

This week’s game of the week was an easy choice as the MIAC moves to the forefront with a home and home showdown between their two powerhouses this season in the Gustavus Adolphus Gusties and the St. Thomas Tommies.

Gustavus Adolphus comes in with a 13-1-0 record on the year and a perfect 8-0 mark in MIAC play. The Gusties have also quietly won 13 straight games after dropping their season opener to Stevens Point. The Pointers have never looked back since that game and have garnered most of the western spotlight with their unbeaten 13-0-1 record on the year.

However, Gustavus will certainly be looking to gain a little bit of attention back this weekend in their showdown with St. Thomas.

St. Thomas has had an outstanding year this year now that many of their young faces now have another year of college hockey under their belt. The Tommies struggled last year with a very young team to a 15-12 record.

They come into this weekend’s home and home with Gustavus Adolphus with a 13-2-0 record and a 7-1 mark in MIAC play. St. Thomas’ two losses have come to Bethel early in the season and then Bowdoin over winter break.

Gustavus Adolphus has been a model of consistency ever since their season opening loss to Stevens Point. The Gusties haven’t given up more than two goals in a game since and they have been scoring an average of five goals a game in the process.

Senior defensemen Stefanie Ubl has led the way for the Gusties this season, stepping up for the departed Andrea Peterson. Ubl has seven goals and 12 assists on the year for 19 points. However, the scoring doesn’t stop there as the Gusties have seven other players in double digits. Mari Gunderson (10-3-13), Molly Doyle (6-7-13), Allie Harwood (5-6-11), Kirstin Peterson (2-9-11), Melissa Mackley (1-10-11), Jenny Pusch (5-5-10), and Lynn Hillen (4-6-10) round out the Gusties balanced attacked.

In goal, Breanna Scavo has been the go-to goalie for head coach Mike Carroll. Scavo is 12-1-0 on the year with a 1.05 goals against average and a .894 save percentage while posting three shutouts.

The Gusties lead the nation in scoring offense with 4.79 goals a game and are third in the nation in scoring defense giving up just 1.07 goals a game.