This Week in D-III Women’s Hockey: Oct. 23, 2008

The NCAA Division III women’s hockey season is just about to commence and this year, two more teams will be playing their first NCAA affiliated varsity seasons. With the additions of Nichols College to the ECAC East and SUNY Potsdam to the ECAC West, there are now a total of 47 teams playing D-III hockey.

So does that mean the NCAA tournament expands to eight teams?

Unfortunately no. Under NCAA criteria, for every tournament spot there must be 6.5 teams participating in that particular sport. Thus, that leaves the current tournament field at seven. In order to increase the tourney field to a round number of eight, there must be five more programs added to the mix.

Last season may have ended the same way as the season before with the Plattsburgh Cardinals hoisting their second consecutive NCAA championship trophy, but a lot of new faces showed up in the national discussion. Teams like Trinity and Wis.-Superior had banner seasons for their respective programs and both look primed to be able to repeat their success this year.

Also, first year programs, Adrian and Norwich got off to impressive starts as they both finished with a .500 record or better. Adrian was 9-3 at one point and garnering national ranking attention before the flu bug caught up to them. It caused the Bulldogs to limp their way through the second half of the season and finish with an 11-11-2 record. Norwich finished 12-10-2 last season in their first year in the ECAC East. Coaches from around the conference took notice though and have picked the Cadets to finish second, only to reigning NCAA runner-up Manhattanville this season.

Speaking of Manhattanville, the Valiants, along with fellow NCAA Frozen Four participant Elmira College, will be under new coaching leadership this season. Brian Lang has taken over the reigns at Manhattanville. Lang comes to Purchase, NY after two years as a Division I assistant coach for the men’s hockey team at American International College in Mass.

Elmira’s new coach, Greg Fargo followed a path similar to Lang, as he was an assistant coach at Division I Canisius for their men’s hockey program the past two seasons. Fargo, an alumnus of Elmira, returns to his alma mater where he spent four years as a standout goaltender for the men’s ice hockey team.

This week I will be previewing the ECAC West and ECAC East conferences and then followed up by the MIAC and NCHA next week. The NESCAC preview will come in November once they start up their seasons. I talked to every coach so these thoughts are straight from the horse’s mouth!

ECAC West Preview

Plattsburgh Cardinals

Coach: Kevin Houle (121-19-7, 6th season)
Last year’s record: 25-3-1
ECAC West Record: 14-1-1 (1st)
Coaches’ Projection: First
My Projection: First

Key Losses: Sharis Smith and Julie Devereux
Key Returnees: Danielle Blanchard (28-20-48), Stephanie Moberg (13-22-35), Laurie Bowler (21-6-27), Claire O’Connor (10-13-23)
Newcomers to watch: Vanessa Worz and Danielle Roberts

Elmira Soaring Eagles

Coach: Greg Fargo (0-0-0, 1st season)
Last year’s record: 23-6-1
ECAC West Record: 12-3-1 (3rd)
Coaches’ Projection: Third
My Projection: Second

Key Losses: Farren Hart
Key Returnees: Kayla Coady (21-16-37), Allison Cubberley (1.50 GGA and .942 Save %), Tiffany Hart (4-16-20), Jenna McCall (12-19-31), Ana Steele-Norton (1-9-10)
Newcomers to watch for: Alex Bresler — D from Colorado Selects, Alex McPhail — F from Toronto Aeros, Katy Walker — D from Colorado Selects

RIT Tigers

Coach: Scott McDonald (41-11-2, 3rd season)
Last year’s record: 19-7-0
ECAC West Record: 13-3-0 (2nd)
Coaches’ Projection: Second
My Projection: Third

Key Losses: Isabelle Richard
Key Returnees: Amanda Klassen (17-9-26), Katie Stack (13-12-25), Sarah Dagg (12-15-27)
Newcomers to Watch: Erica Owczarczak, Ali Hills and Amy Torgerson

Utica Pioneers

Coach: Dave Clausen (107-65-11, 8th season)
Last year’s record: 18-9-0
ECAC West Record: 12-4-0 (4th)
Coaches’ Projection: Fourth
My Projections: Fourth

Key Losses: Kelly Bills, Ashley Kaufman, Laura Schnitker
Key Returnees: Sam Rowan (13-11-24), Andrea Maxon (10-15-25), Jessica Leclerc (2-12-14)
Newcomers to Watch: MacKenzie Roy and Meaghan Willet

Neumann Knights

Coach: Matthew Kennedy (41-44-7, 5th season)
Last year’s record: 9-14-3
ECAC West Record: 6-9-1 (5th)
Coaches’ Projection: Fifth
My Projection: Fifth

Key Losses: Carolyn Fauteux and Sam May
Key Returnees: ECAC West Rookie of the Year, (SO) Mel Brunet in goal. Leading scorer and ECAC All-Rookie Team (SO) Jessica Schroeder, ECAC First Team, Sr Def. Robyn Armstrong.
Newcomers to Watch: F. Diane Peters, Windsor Wildcats, F. Nicole Alexopoulos, Toronto Aeros and F. Jasper Thomson, Toronto Aeros

Buffalo State Bengals

Coach: Robert Burke (14-27-4, 3rd season)
Last year’s record: 7-12-3
ECAC West Record: 5-9-2 (6th)
Coaches’ Projection: Sixth
My Projection: Sixth

Key Losses: Shannon Anesetti, Julie Ruszala, Samantha Simpson
Key Returnees: Marissa McMullan (5-2-7), Mariah Farigrieve (3-5-8), Kristin Bozek (4-2-6), Melissa Jeckovich (5-2-7), Casey Bull (0-4-4)
Newcomers to watch: Brianna Murphy, Andrea Brunetta, Gillian Toneguzzo, transfer from Oswego (4-6-10)

Chatham Cougars

Coach: Phoebe Manchester (1-22-0, 2nd season)
Last year’s record: 1-22-0
ECAC West Record: 1-15-0 (9th)
Coaches’ Projection: Seventh
My Projection: Seventh

Key Losses: Jen Quimby
Key Returnees: Sam Hunt, Brenn Scot, April Govednik (2-2-4), Alexis Smith: (3-0-3)
Newcomers to watch: Chatham will be featuring 17 new players this year that coach Manchester is very high on. Here are a few of them- F. Lauren Campbell from Gilmour Academy, F. Dawson Bancroft-Short from Madison Capitols, F. Emily Newby — Transfer from U. of Indiana (played at Culver Academy), D. Ashley Reid — Gilmour Academy, D. Paige Thachuk — Hamilton Hawks

Oswego Lakers

Coach: Diane Dillon (15-28-4, 3rd season)
Last year’s record: 8-16-1
ECAC West Record: 3-13-0 (8th)
Coaches’ Projection: Ninth
My Projection: Eighth

Key Losses: Hillary Hitchman, Transferred to Potsdam
Key Returnees: Jessica Lister (7-8-15), Angie Friesen (2-3-5), Erin Robson (#1 Goaltender now)
Newcomers to watch: Kathryn Sbrocchi – very talented defenseman from Mississauga Chiefs, smart, sees the ice very well. Jillian Bergeron – big, strong forward from Nepean Wildcats, good hands and scoring touch. Kelly Collins – another big strong forward from Taft School who will provide muscle and scoring power to the Laker line-up

Cortland Red Dragons

Coach: Earl Utter (5-17-3, 2nd season)
Last year’s record: 5-17-3
ECAC West Record: 3-12-1 (7th)
Coaches’ Projection: Tenth
My Projection: Ninth

Key Losses: Janie Byrd D, Julia Pahler D, Erin Fleury F
Key Returnees: Brianna Bartlett G, Maggie Welker D (3-1-4), Kalee Stoever F (6-1-7)
Newcomers to watch: Julia Fleming F, Danielle Scharf D, Carolyn Wolcott, D

Potsdam Bears

Coach: Jay Green (0-0-0, 1st season)
Last year’s record: N/A
ECAC West Record: N/A
Coaches’ Projection: Eighth
My Projection: Tenth

Coach’s Synopsis: Hilary Hitchman is a solid goaltender that transferred from Oswego and will be counted upon heavily to play well. Defensively we have Breanna Roy from Orleans, Ontario (Napean Wildcats) Stephanie Malcolm – Hamilton, Ontario(Hamilton Hawks) and Audrey Coon – Laconia, NY (Syracuse Stars) as our core group on the blue-line. Offensively…Annmarie Lewis – Newmarket, Ontario (Aurora Panthers) Danielle Compagni – Homer, NY (Syracuse Stars) Stephanie Simons – Stratford, Ontario (Bluewater Hawks) Nicky Bougie – Ingelside, Ontario (Cornwall Typhoons) and Lindsay Usherwood – Oswego, NY (Syracuse Stars)

The ECAC West is Plattsburgh’s title to lose. The Cardinals return mostly everyone from back to back national championship squads as well as having top-notch coach Kevin Houle behind the bench. RIT and Elmira will be the Cards’ chief challengers and with the right bounce of the puck, both teams can beat Plattsburgh on a given night.

Utica, Neumann, and Buffalo State form the next trio of teams and they’re all standing on the edge of competing every night with the ECAC West power three.

The most intriguing team to watch this year will be Chatham with their 17 newcomers. The Cougars got their first ever D-III win last season and could be the dark-horse this year of the conference. Potsdam will also be interesting to watch as they will be playing their first varsity season and be thrown right into the lion’s den competing in such a tough conference top to bottom.

Coaches’ Poll

1.Plattsburgh- (7) 79
2.RIT- (1) 71
3.Elmira- 65
4.Utica- 53
5.Neumann- 49
6.Buffalo State- 38
7.Chatham- 24
8.Potsdam- 22
9.Oswego- 21
10.Cortland- 16

ECAC East Season Preview

Manhattanville Valiants

Coach: Eric Lang (1st season)
Last year’s record: 24-7-0
ECAC East Record: 17-2-0 (1st)
Coaches’ Projection: First
My Projection: First

Key Losses: Dani Poupart (D), Amanda Nonis (F), and Danielle Nagymarosi (F)
Key Returnees: Alex Blackwell F. (7-3-10), Karine Turmel G. (1.82 GGA and .929 save percentage), Erin Brawley D. (2-12-14), Natalie Zitek F. (12-16-28), and Shannon Coffey F. (12-25-37)
Newcomers to watch: Brianne Alfred (F), Hannah Muskego (D), and Jamie Bonner (F)

Norwich Cadets

Coach: Mark Bolding (12-10-2, 2nd season)
Last year’s record: 12-10-2
ECAC East Record: 9-8-2
Coaches’ Projection: Second
My Projection: Second

Key Losses: F. Hilary Davis, F. Amanda Gage
Key Returnees: F. Sophie Leclerc (14-14-28), F. Kelsey Cone (10-15-25), G. Cindy Fortin (2.46 GGA and .916 Save %), D. Shannon Silver
Newcomers to watch: Forward — Fr. Julie Fortier, Forward — Fr. Danielle Del Dotto,
Goalie — Fr. Chiara Traversa

Umass-Boston Beacons

Coach: Maura Crowell (40-30-2, 4th season)
Last year’s record: 14-12-0
ECAC East Record: 11-8-0
Coaches’ Projection: Fourth
My Projection: Third

Key Losses: None
Key Retuners: Rachel Sousa (ECAC East Rookie of the Year) and Maria Nasta (ECAC East First Team Selection
Newcomers to watch: D. Emily Brienzo (Wisconsin Wild), G. Leah Hallett (CT Polar Bears) and F. Kelly Gillis (CT Polar Bears).

New England College Pilgrims

Coach: Jackie MacMillan (20-13-1, 3rd season)
Last year’s record: 15-11-1
ECAC East Record: 10-8-1
Coaches’ Projection: Third
My Projection: Fourth

Key Losses: Liz Ross
Key Returnees: Sarah Tracey (19-25-44), Sarah Graham (24-18-42), Danielle Taylor (5-9-14)
Newcomers to watch: Teraysa White (Goaltender) Sam Phillips (Forward) Taryn Moffat (Forward)

Southern Maine Huskies

Coach: John Lauziere (15-35-2, 3rd season)
Last year’s record: 7-18-1
ECAC East record: 7-11-1
Coaches’ Projection: Sixth
My Projection: Fifth

Key Losses: Team MVP Emily Barrett, Goalie was unable to return this season for her senior year.
Key Returnees: “This year we are returning our 2 top scorers Jessica Knight F and Amanda Shorey F, and Captain Megan Irving F. Mary Vaughan D, and Erica Robertson D will lead our defensive core.”
Newcomers to watch: “We have a bunch of newcomers, roughly 12 freshman this year and some standouts are going to be Danielle Ward F, Kylie Blasen F, Christen Hart F, Katie Paradis F and Joanna Gaube, F/D. All will make immediate impacts for our team and in the league.”

Salve Regina Seahawks

Coach: Michael Cox (18-31-3, 3rd season)
Last year’s record: 11-14-2
ECAC East Record: 9-9-1
Coaches’ Projection: Fifth
My Projection: Sixth

Key Losses: Aimee Provencher F/D
Key Returnees: Caitlin Campbell – senior- school’s all time leading scorer. F, Molly Golden- Sophomore F (13-10-23), Gabrielle Gardner-Sophmore F (12-12-24), Sarah Small Sophomore D (1-4-5)
Newcomers to watch: Kathleen Roche- Boston Latin/Charles River-F, Shannon Ellis – Colorado Selects F, Rebecca Simmons – Toronto Rattlers — G, Kristin Aiello – D – Thayer/ NEWHL

Castleton Spartans

Coach: Bethany Torrice (0-0-0, 1st season)
Last year’s record: 5-16-4
ECAC East Record: 4-11-4
Coaches’ Projection: Seventh
My Projection: Seventh

No Report due to official practice just starting this week.

Plymouth State Panthers

Coach: Heather Hoffay (0-33-1, 3rd season)
Last year’s record: 0-20-1
ECAC East Record: 0-18-1
Coaches’ Projection: Eighth
My Projection: Eighth
Key Losses: None
Key Retuners: Lindsay DeLorie (G), Elizabeth Murray F. (8-2-10), Amanda Kreamer D. (3-0-3)
Newcomers to watch: Jaimie Camara (F), Brianna Davis (D/F), Molly Irving (D)

Nichols Bison

Coach: Bob Martin (0-0-0, 1st season)
Last year’s Record: N/A
ECAC East Record: N/A
Coaches’ Projection: Ninth
My Projection: Ninth

Key Losses: None
Key Returnees: “Melissa Mansfield a junior Assistant Captain she is our #1 goalie. Allison Peters – a senior from Westford, MA our top defenseman and one of two seniors on the team this year. Ashley Parker a junior and team captain she has been the captain since her freshman year and is bringing solid leadership to the team, she is from West Jordan Utah. Candice Ellis a junior from Gloucester, MA previously played with Austin Prep, should continue to be one of our leading scorers again this season.”
Newcomers to watch: “We have some solid freshman this year that should really impact our team in a positive way. Mandy Manopla from Florida with be one of the top freshman forwards. Courtney Carey from Belmont, MA should step in and contribute on defense. Rachel Brown from Framingham, MA should be a versatile player on defense and offense this year.”

MIT Engineers

Coach: Rich Chrusciel (0-0-0, 1st season)
Last year’s record: 1-18-2
ECAC East Record: 1-16-2
Coaches’ Projection: Tenth
My Projection: Tenth

Key Losses: Rachel Longley F Monique Squires – So. – D – out for the season with shoulder injury, Barbara McCarragher – Jr – D – out for season
Key Returnees: Stephanie Brenman – Sr. D and team captain, Katherine Harding – Sr. F, Sara John – Sr. F, Rachel Bowens – So. Goalie
Newcomers to watch: Kameron Klauber – F. Clarion Hess F.

With St. Anselm ineligible for D-III postseason play, Manhattanville should control the ECAC East once again this season. However, look for teams like Norwich, UMass-Boston, and New England College to bridge the gap a bit more this season with the losses Manhattanville had in the off-season. Nichols, Castleton, and MIT are all a bit of mystery with either new coaches or competing in their first season of D-III varsity hockey, they’ll be interesting to watch to see how they stack up.

Coaches’ Poll

1.Manhattanville (5) 50
2.Norwich 41
3.NEC- 39
4.UMB- 38
5.Salve Regina- 31
6.Southern Maine- 24
7.Castleton- 19
8.Plymouth- 13
9.Nichols- 12
10. MIT- 8