Women’s D-I wrap: Feb. 11

Can’t handle this
I’ve been around long enough to see some bad ideas in sport. A prime example is the use of FoxTrax to illuminate the puck on NHL telecasts to help viewers follow its movement in the 1990s. If you can’t figure out where a black puck is on white ice on your own, you likely aren’t going to get much out of a hockey game anyway. History is also replete with flawed uniform decisions, foremost being the Chicago White Sox wearing shorts in 1976.

I’m not going to claim that the St. Lawrence decision to replace surnames on their jerseys with Twitter handles is equally ridiculous, but seriously, what is the objective? Am I supposed to tweet, “Hey, @Brooke_Back_Mtn, while you were reading this, your check got loose on the back post for an easy tap in!” Hopefully, we haven’t reached the point where players are monitoring their social media accounts while on the ice, so I’d have time to look up my target’s Twitter name from some alternate source before she’d get around to reading my jewel of wisdom. To be fair, I could easily look up a player’s last name from a roster using her number and frequently do, but I’m lazy and would rather have the name be right there on her back. It’s safe to say that at this point in time, more fans are looking to merely identify players than tweet them, so let’s just stick to human names, okay?

Soap box aside, the Saints and Engineers played a very entertaining game at Rensselaer. I don’t know if RPI’s Alexa Gruschow is on Twitter, because the only handle she displayed is the one she put on the puck when she got loose on the penalty kill and banked the puck off of the right post, then off of @chicken_carm30, and into the net. The Engineers led, 1-0, 70 seconds in the final period. @Sabbytime16 evened the game a couple minutes later, getting her stick on a loose puck an instant before Kelly O’Brien could cover and swatting it under the goalie. RPI’s apparent deciding goal was waved off when a referee ruled that an Engineer was in the crease, and a video review did not overturn that decision.

At the conclusion of a scoreless overtime, the Saints’ Michelle Ng was crunched by RPI’s Jordan Smelker. Given the contest had ended in a 1-1 tie, the five-minute checking penalty on Smelker had far less impact on the Engineers’ wing than the collision did on Ng, who remained down for a couple of minutes before being helped off of the ice.

Snowed under
A massive blizzard hit the East Coast over the weekend, wreaking havoc with teams’ schedules. Games were moved up, delayed, and postponed, with Hockey East territory being particularly hard hit. Around the country, games that were played proved hazardous to ranked teams; four ranked squads fell to opponents from outside the rankings, and others struggled mightily in victory.

Tightening up in the ECAC
No. 4 Cornell looked to be in great shape in the ECAC until the Big Red fell, 4-1, at Quinnipiac on Friday afternoon. Kelly Babstock hit empty nets twice from long range after Erica Uden Johansson and Brittany Lyons had given the Bobcats a two-goal lead after two periods, and Victoria Vigilanti made 32 saves. Combined with a 4-1 win over Colgate on Senior Day, the four points move Quinnipiac into a tie with SLU for fourth place and the final home-ice berth in the ECAC playoffs with four games remaining.

The Big Red rebounded by scoring the final three goals in the third period in a 4-1 win at Princeton to tie Clarkson atop the league, but they no longer control their destiny versus Harvard. Both Crimson games were weathered out, so Harvard has two games in hand on both of the leaders, despite being a point down in the standings.

Lower down the ladder, Colgate claimed a huge two points at Princeton’s expense. The Raiders got goals from six different players in winning, 6-1, and moved a point ahead of the Tigers to occupy the eighth and final postseason slot in the league.

CHA chaos
Robert Morris stretched its unbeaten streak versus No. 7 Mercyhurst to five games on Friday, winning 4-2 on goals by Katie Fergus, Brandi Pollock, Thea Imbrogno, and Kristen Richards. Kristen DiCiocco made 28 stops in net. On Saturday, the Lakers finally had enough and routed RMU, 9-1, behind a hat trick by Lauren Jones. The Colonials’ win moves them into a tie with RIT for third in the CHA.

Meanwhile, Syracuse took both ends of a home-and-home series with RIT to climb within a point of Mercyhurst for the league lead heading into a showdown next weekend. The Orange used a well-established recipe for success in matching 2-1 victories — scratch out a couple of goals and rely on Kallie Billadeau to hold the fort. The junior turned aside 27 shots on the road and another 18 back home; Akane Hosoyamada scored in each game.

Doing the time
In the only Hockey East action to take place due to the storm, Maine and host Vermont combined to commit 17 minors in each game of their series. Ironically, the naughtier team came out on top each day, as each winner was whistled 11 times. The Black Bears grabbed a 4-1 lead before Saturday’s game was 10 minutes old, and Vermont’s comeback came up a tally short as Maine won, 4-3. Brianne Kilgour and Audra Richards each supplied three points. Sunday, the Catamounts were outscored 1-0 over the game’s first 44 minutes while committing 11 of the first 14 penalties. Over the final 16 minutes, UVM stayed out of the box and coasted to a 4-1 win. Kelci Lanthier saved 27 of 28 shots and Brittany Zuback had a goal and two helpers.

How the rest of the top 10 fared
No. 6 Clarkson had a fairly comfortable 3-1 win at Rensselaer on Friday, but struggled mightily at Union before emerging with a 3-2 win. Vanessa Gagnon, Danielle Skirrow, and Erin Ambrose scored versus the Engineers, and Erica thwarted 24 of 25 shots. The Dutchwomen took a lead into the third period before Skirrow connected at 11:15, one of her three points for the game. Gagnon produced the game-winner with just 13 seconds remaining.

No. 9 North Dakota also flirted with disaster, blowing a two-goal lead versus Bemidji State before Allison Parizek scored at 3:58 of overtime to yield a crucial 4-3 triumph for UND. Saturday’s game was devoid of similar suspense, as the hosts grabbed the lead 1:47 into the contest and cruised to a 7-0 shutout for Shelby Amsley-Benzie. Jocelyne Lamoureux recorded six assists in the second game.

The No. 10 Bulldogs weren’t quite as fortunate on home ice. Minnesota-Duluth fell into a two-goal hole versus Minnesota State on Saturday and was only able to make up half of the deficit in losing, 2-1.  Sophomore Erin Krichiver made her first collegiate start and stopped 39 shots. UMD rebounded with a 4-2 win on Saturday, thanks to two goals from Brienna Gillanders.

No. 1 Minnesota survived its shakiest weekend of the season at Ohio State, but earned 5-2 and 5-3 wins. In the opener, the Gophers surrendered a two-goal lead for the first time, and Saturday’s game marked the first contest where they trailed on two separate occasions, but ultimately, they pulled away in the third period. In the process, Megan Bozek scored twice, including her 42nd goal at Minnesota, a new high for a defenseman in program history.

At St. Cloud State, the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers posted routine 6-0 and 5-1 wins. The shutout was Alex Rigsby’s fifth of the year. Brianna Decker had three points in each outing.

Due to the weather, No. 2 Boston College, No. 3 Boston University, and No. 5 Harvard played only on Tuesday at the Beanpot. BC defeated Harvard, 2-1, while BU fell to Northeastern, 4-1.