We can easily make too much of results at this time of the year, when any outcome represents one quarter or even one half of a team’s games to date, but less than three percent of a team’s schedule by year’s end. Because several games this weekend were decided very late, evaluations can pivot on a single shift that may or may not have implications for the season as a whole.
Some conclusions can already be reached, such as, Wisconsin is still Wisconsin. After a fairly routine 5-2 win on Saturday at home over highly-regarded North Dakota, the Badgers completed the sweep with a 3-2 victory on Sunday, despite never leading until the game ended in sudden death. UW fell behind 2-0 in the second period when the Fighting Sioux power play converted for the second time, answered 57 seconds later on a Brianna Decker goal, and got the equalizer on a power play of its own with a minute remaining in regulation. Hilary Knight sent the visitors home in frustration with the game-winning goal at 3:03 of overtime. UND remains winless all-time versus Mark Johnson-coached teams, as both Sioux decisions over the Badgers came during the 2009-2010 season when he was coaching the United States Olympic Team.
A game that followed roughly the same pattern occurred an hour later in Duluth, where visiting Boston College was the team that came back from two down, denying Minnesota-Duluth a sweep. The Bulldogs took a short-lived two-goal lead on a five-on-three advantage early in the second, but the Eagles negated any momentum with a short-handed goal 15 seconds after the ensuing faceoff. UMD nursed the lead to inside of three minutes to go in the contest, but Emily Pfalzer tied it up, and Alex Carpenter won it for BC in the final second with another short-hander.
Elsewhere in action of note, Mercyhurst had more trouble in Mankato than expected, splitting a pair of one-goal games with Minnesota State, RPI stayed unbeaten with a tie and a win on the road versus a Vermont squad expected to show improvement, and Northeastern kicked off its season with convincing triumphs over Syracuse and Colgate. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend came in Hamden, Conn., where Maine not only earned a road sweep of higher-ranked Quinnipiac, but did so by storming back from three-goal deficits each day. Could something special be brewing in Orono, Maine? Meanwhile, an up-and-coming Bobcats squad already has three losses, a total they didn’t reach until the final game of October last season.
The Patty picture
A half dozen goalies recorded shutouts over the weekend, although none of them were required to make 20 stops to do so. At the other end of the ice, three other forwards notched hat tricks, and senior Natalie Spooner of Ohio State added a fourth goal to her Friday performance and threw in the only goal of the shootout as a bonus.