Women’s D-III Frozen Four Preview

The uncertainties and speculation of the Frozen Four will unfold this weekend at Plattsburgh’s Robert Stafford Ice Arena.  Defending champion Elmira and runner-up Middlebury will be on the outside looking in this time around, leaving familiar final four participants Plattsburgh and Norwich to return to the podium. Wisconsin-River Falls’ last appearance in the final four (2009) was scuttled by Middlebury in an overtime loss, while St. Thomas will be taking the ice for its first final four appearance.

No. 6 St. Thomas at No. 1 Plattsburgh (Friday, 3:30 pm ET)
Path to Plattsburgh: The Tommies edged past No. 8 Gustavus Adolphus in the MIAC championship final and followed up with a 5-0 whitewash over No. 5 Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Plattsburgh scored twice in the third period in overcoming a 3-2 lead by No. 3 Elmira at the ECAC West conference championship. The Cardinals earned the right to host following a 4-1 triumph over unheralded Williams in the opening round of the tournament.

Impact players
St. Thomas: Goaltender Alise Riedel has built a career-best season with an 18-1-3 record with eight shutouts. Riedel’s 1.25 GAA ranks fifth in the nation. Junior Paige Baldwin leads the Tommies in scoring with 11 goals and 21 points, while sophomore Courtney Umland (8-10-18) has netted a team leading five game-winning goals. Sophomore Megan Juricko leads the Tommies blue line corps with six goals and a plus-12 rating.

Plattsburgh: Shannon Stewart (16-17-33), Bridget Balisy (14-18-32), Chelsea VanGlahn (12-20-32), and Ali Vakos (12-18-30) have all eclipsed the 30-point barrier for the extremely deep Cardinals. Vakos, who scored four goals in the opening round, has 11 points in her last eight outings. Senior defenseman Allison Era is arguably the top two-way blueliner in the nation. Goalie Sydney Aveson (22-1-1, 0.54, 13 SO) has provided the host team with a heretofore stellar season.

Statistical Comparison
Offensive rank: St. Thomas — 17th (2.75), Plattsburgh — First (4.96)
Defensive rank: St. Thomas — Eighth (1.68), Plattsburgh — First (0.61)
Power play: St. Thomas — 27th (16.4), Plattsburgh — Seventh (22.0)
Penalty kill: St. Thomas — 10th (88.8), Plattsburgh — First (95.5)
One goal games: St. Thomas — 6-2, Plattsburgh — 5-0
Overtime: St. Thomas — 2-0-3, Plattsburgh — 1-0-1
All-time series: None

No. 4 Wisconsin-River Falls vs. No 2 Norwich (Friday, 7:00 pm ET)
Path to Plattsburgh: The Falcons, who have outscored opponents 23-3 in their last four games, copped the WIAC title with a 5-1 triumph over No. 5 Wisconsin-Stevens Point. A subsequent 4-1 win over No. 9 Lake Forest propelled Wis.-River Falls into the final four. The Cadets, winners of their last 17 games, shutdown ECAC East foe Castleton 4-0 in the conference title matchup. Norwich eked out a 2-1 overtime thriller with No. 3 Elmira to advance.

Impact players
Wisconsin-River Falls: Katie Batters (16-13-29) leads a dynamic offense that has 11 players with double-digit point totals. Chloe Kinsel (15-14-29) and freshman Dani Sibley (14-7-21), along with Batters, have combined for 12 game-winning goals. Ashley Kuechle has fashioned a lifetime best of 18 wins to go along with a 1.16 GAA and .943 save percentage.

Norwich: The nation’s second leading scorer, Tori Charron (28-17-45) is in the midst of a nine-game point streak for the Cadets. Charron heads into the final four with 10 game-winning scores and an equal amount of power-play tallies. Freshman goalie Taylor Fairchild (14-2-0) and sophomore Lauren Carrier (9-1-0) have combined for 10 shutouts. The senior duo of Brittany Sharman and Kayla Parsons lead the Cadets blue line crew.

Statistical Comparison
Offensive rank: Wisconsin-River Falls — Fourth (4.03), Norwich Eighth (3.55)
Defensive rank: Wisconsin-River Falls — Fifth (1.48), Norwich — Second (1.14)
Power play: Wisconsin-River Falls — 11th (20.6), Norwich — Second (28.4)
Penalty kill: Wisconsin-River Falls — 12th (88.6), Norwich — Fifth (91.5)
One-goal games: Wisconsin-River Falls — 2-3, Norwich — 8-0
Overtime: Wisconsin: River Falls — 0-1-3, Norwich — 2-0-0
All-time series: None