It’s said that the most important factor in real estate is location. The three most important factors in real estate are quickly rising in prominence in women’s hockey. Schools’ proximity to one another, and a desire by the NCAA to limit travel costs, can produce a tournament bracket come March where the top-seeded team is matched with the defending champion rather than the last team into the field.
That same fixation on gallons of fuel consumed can yield pairings nobody wants to see come September. How else can one explain reigning champ Wisconsin kicking off their latest campaign against Lindenwood of St. Charles, Mo.? The Lady Lions have become synonymous with excellent club hockey teams, and are now making the jump to NCAA competition. In taking on the Badgers in Madison on Friday and Sunday, they discovered that they skipped a number of rungs on the women’s hockey ladder.
The problem isn’t the scores of 11-0 and 13-0; Wisconsin is prolific enough on offense that they will light up a number of legitimate D-I teams over the course of the season. On Sunday, Lindenwood managed three shots on goal, while yielding 72. While I recognize that the Badgers’ defense can be stifling, they accomplished this feat without any of the six members of their blue line from their championship in March. This caliber of “competition” is a mainstay of women’s international tournaments; do we really need it in the college game as well? Personally, I’d rather teams just stay home and scrimmage if money is so tight that they can’t schedule better games than this.
As the calendar turns from September to October, meaningful games start to appear on the docket. North Dakota, fresh off of 11-0 and 10-0 pastings of the University of Manitoba, travels to Boston University in a series that could be a preview of an NCAA matchup. The Terriers reached their first title game in March, while the Fighting Sioux were the team on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. UND lost only one senior and added a lot of depth, led by Finnish Olympian Michelle Karvinen. BU lost key seniors, including Olympic Gold Medalist Catherine Ward, but is reinforced by a strong recruiting class and Syracuse transfer Isabel Menard. Luckily, somebody decided to spring for the funds to pay for this trip.
The other marquee series of the coming weekend has the Quinnipiac Bobcats of the ECAC journeying to Erie, Pa., to face the Mercyhurst Lakers. The “Q” has a pair of franchise players in junior goaltender Victoria Vigilanti and sophomore forward Kelly Babstock. Mercyhurst lost a number of impact players to graduation and transfer, most notably four-time Kazmaier finalist Meghan Agosta and Kaz winner Vicki Bendus, yet they still have a lot of players that can produce.
The Patty picture
So what impact does last weekend’s action have on the naming of a Patty Kazmaier recipient come March? In my mind none, unless some contender suffered a serious injury. True, the national statistics show Badgers Brooke Ammerman and Brianna Decker at the top with seven points apiece. While both are talented enough to be legitimate contenders in the Kazmaier election, their seven points against Lindenwood were matched by teammate Kelly Jaminski; Jaminski produced zero goals and ten assists in her entire rookie season. I will take a snapshot of the current statistics leader board, so that in the future, I’ll know how many points and games to subtract when considering the resumes of Kaz candidates. Sorry, Dawn Sullivan, Myriam Croussette, and the rest of the Black Bears of Maine, but I feel the same way about points earned versus Sacred Heart. Next week, we should have some performances with more bearing on the Patty to consider.