This Week in D-I Women’s Hockey: Mar. 6, 2008

Do you believe in miracles? … YES!!!!!

So, we know that anything can happen in a hockey tournament. We always knew that thanks to a little Olympic moment that occurred in Lake Placid, back in 1980. So as the conference tournament action heats up in earnest, it’s not a bad idea to assess each school’s chances.

One can make a plausible case for any of the 16 remaining schools to capture its league tournament. Probable? No. But possible …?

That’s what makes this little exercise fun. Read on.

CHA Tournament

Hosted by Niagara: Dwyer Arena, Lewiston N.Y., March 7-8

No. 1 Wayne State, no. 2 Mercyhurst, no. 3 Niagara, no. 4 Robert Morris

Why Wayne State could win: Does having the top scoring line in the nation (Melissa Boal, Sam Poyton, and Lindsay DiPietro) count for anything? Sure it does.

Why Mercyhurst could win: Even though the Lakers come in an unfamiliar (for them) seeding, the title is still theirs until someone takes it from them.

Why Niagara could win: Since five-time champion Mercyhurst didn’t win the CHA outright this year, it stands to reason that the day will come that they don’t make it into the conference title game. That could happen if Ashley Riggs can score enough to outpoint Meghan Agosta. From there, it’s a matter of finding their way past Wayne.

Why Robert Morris could win: That’s could, not should. Nonetheless, the Colonials did double their conference win total over last year. Yep, they won two, which is how many wins they’d have to take this weekend. They could do it again, if they don’t run into Mercyhurst.

ECAC Tournament

Hosted by Harvard: Bright Center, Cambridge Mass., March 8-9

No. 1 Harvard, no. 2 St. Lawrence, no. 3 Dartmouth, no. 4 Clarkson

Why Harvard could win: Well, you’d like the chances of the No. 1 ranked team in the land under any circumstances. And anyway, nobody in the conference (and only New Hampshire overall) managed to beat Harvard. The Crimson are 18-0-0 since then, and a perfect 24-0-0 this year against ECAC rivals. Until it happens, it ain’t happening.

Why St. Lawrence could win: The Saints beat first round foe Dartmouth twice, then did hold Harvard to a 2-0 score.

Why Dartmouth could win: Because super sophomore Sarah Parsons is capable of breaking any game open. Why not two in a row?

Why Clarkson could win: Beginner’s luck? Hey, the Golden Knights are already in the throes of their best season in the program’s five year history, and are in the ECAC Championship Tourney for the first time.

Hockey East Tournament

Hosted by Connecticut: Freitas Ice Forum, Storrs Conn., March 8-9

No. 1 New Hampshire, no. 2 Connecticut, no. 3 Providence, no. 4 Boston University

Why New Hampshire could win: The Wildcats have dominated Hockey East the way Harvard has the ECAC. The class of the league, which they showed by going undefeated (20-0-1) in league play. UNH has the top two scorers in the conference (Jenn Wakefield and Sam Faber) and six in the top 10. Or perhaps a better answer is, “because they always win it.”

Why UConn could win: The home ice advantage. The Dominique Thibault advantage. The sophomore lead all HEA goal getters with 24, and now owns the school’s single season points mark (with 48 of them). And the Huskies will have to rack up lots of scoring to get past UNH.

Why Providence College could win: While UNH is the HEA’s perennial regular season winner, it’s the Friars who have historically owned the conference tournament. They’ve won three of the first five HEA tourneys. Who’s to say they couldn’t do it again. Besides, they did spoil UNH’s unblemished conference mark with a tie, which is more than any other HEA school can say.

Why Boston University could win: Another fledgling program that is making strong headway. The Terriers would love to experience the NCAA’s a year before hosting the Women’s Frozen Four.

WCHA Tournament

Hosted by Minnesota Duluth: DECC, Duluth Minn., March 8-9

No. 1 Minnesota Duluth, no. 2 Minnesota, no. 3 Wisconsin, no. 4 St. Cloud.

Why Minnesota Duluth could win: You start with goaltending, which is where Kim Martin comes in. She leads all WCHA net minders in save percentage (.951) and is especially tough to beat at home. And besides, in this league, the regular season winner always (save for 2001) has always won this thing.

Why Minnesota could win: Handed Duluth three of its four losses this year. Would only have to do it once this weekend.

Why Wisconsin could win: Dikembe Mutumbo said it best. “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.” And the Badgers are the two-time NCAA champions. It’s up to someone to prove otherwise.

Why St. Cloud could win: They Huskies are the best of the Nation’s four lowest seeds. Well, maybe they won’t make it out of the tournament. But they’ll sure have some fun trying.