This Week in D-III Women’s Hockey: February 26, 2010

Four of the five Division III women’s hockey conferences have wrapped up regular season play and will be starting their respective conference tournaments this weekend. The MIAC is the lone conference left to finish up its regular season

Gustavus Adolphus has the inside track to the conference regular season crown, leading St. Catherine by one point and St. Thomas by three points.

The Gusties have rebounded from a sluggish start to the 2009-2010 season, which they went 2-3-2 in their first 7 games. Since then, Gustavus Adolphus has gone 15-1 with its lone loss coming to St. Catherine 2-1 on Jan. 29.

Gustavus Adolphus closes out the regular season with a home and home with Augsburg this weekend, while St. Catherine plays St. Benedict twice.

The Gusties control their own destiny if they sweep, but if they do drop a point and St. Catherine sweeps, the Wildcats hold the tie-breaker with better results against third place St. Thomas.

MIAC Playoff Seeding Tie Breakers

(Based only on conference competition)
1. Results of head to head competition.
2. Results against all teams above those tied.
3. Results against all teams, beginning in rank order.
4. Head to head goal differential
5. Number of overtime losses.
6. Coin Toss.

Courtesy of the MIAC’s website.

The competition for the final two playoff spots in the MIAC has remained tight. Four teams are in the running for the final two spots. St. Olaf needs two points to clinch a spot as they currently sit fourth with 19 points. St. Mary’s is clinging to the fifth and final spot with 17 points. But, Bethel and Concordia-Moorhead are hot on the Cardinals heels with 16 points each.

St. Mary’s and St. Olaf face each other for a pair of games this weekend, which could be considered a de-facto playoff series. Bethel faces off against Hamline and Concordia-Moorhead has to travel to St. Thomas for two games.

Bethel has a good shot at the five spot if they can sweep Hamline and then they just have to hope St. Olaf takes most of the points from St. Mary’s, or for St. Mary’s to sweep St. Olaf.

Around the Country

The playoff season is finally here and this weekend plenty more teams’ seasons will end and join this list of seven teams who have played their final 2009-2010 season games:

Buffalo State
Plymouth State

In the ECAC West, Plattsburgh earned the number one seed and hosting rights to the conference final four for the fourth time in the last five seasons as well as bye through the first round along with the second seed Elmira.

R.I.T will host Potsdam on Saturday. The Bears locked up the sixth and final ECAC West playoff spot by coming back from down 4-0 against Neumann on Tuesday to win 6-5 and gain the two points needed to jump Oswego for sixth place.

Potsdam earned a playoff berth in just its second season as a program and in turn, knocked out their rivals, Oswego from the postseason. In the other quarterfinal, Utica will host Neumann.

Elmira is the defending tournament champions, beating Plattsburgh 3-0 in the finals and earning the automatic bid.

In the ECAC East, Manhattanville earned the number one seed and as long as the Valiants win their quarterfinal game against Nichols, they will host the final four next weekend.

Salve Regina meets New England College in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup. No. 3 UMass-Boston hosts No. 6 Southern Maine and second seeded Norwich hosts Castleton.

Norwich won the tournament last season for the first time, downing Salve Regina 4-0 in the finals.

Amherst garnered the top seed in the NESCAC and the Lady Jeffs will host Colby. No. 5 Bowdoin travels to No. 4 Williams. No. 2 Trinity hosts No. 7 Conn. College and third seed Middlebury hosts Hamilton.

All four games take place Saturday afternoon with the winners moving on to the NESCAC final four to be hosted at the highest remaining seed. Middlebury is the defending champions, beating Amherst 4-3 in overtime last season.

The NCHA Tournament is the only playoff system that utilizes the two-game quarterfinal format. I for one am a huge fan of this since it gives us more hockey and usually assures the better team ends up moving on.

The drawback to this format however, is it gives teams more possibilities to build up losses and in turn hurt their at-large bid chances.

Lake Forest earned the No. 1 seed and hosting rights, so long as the Foresters take care of business against Finlandia this weekend. Adrian will meet Concordia WI, while Superior hosts Stevens Point and River Falls hosts Eau Claire.

The first team to three points wins the series, if the teams split both games or tie both games, they will play a 20 minute mini-game to decide the winner. If the mini-game remains tied, sudden death overtime ensues.

River Falls is the defending tournament champions, beating Stevens Point 5-3 in the finals last season.