Plattsburgh again the favorite in highly competitive ECAC West

Kristin Chivers of Elmira (Elmira Athletics)
Kristin Chivers will be a key member for Elmira. (Elmira Athletics)

With multiple NCAA tournament teams, including the national champion from last year, the ECAC West might be the toughest conference in the country. It will be changing after this year however, as Elmira, Utica, Neumann, and William Smith have all announced they’ll be joining the new United Collegiate Hockey Conference for the 2017-18 season.

Last year’s champion
Plattsburgh defeated Utica 8-0 in the conference tournament. The Cardinals were the regular season champions. They went on to win their third straight national championship

Favorites
Plattsburgh remains the conference and national champion favorite. They graduated just four seniors and have set up something of a dynasty. If there’s a team that can unseat them, it’s Elmira.

Dark horse
Utica was the only team to defeat Plattsburgh last season, so they’ve got the inside track on causing chaos in the conference.

Players to watch
Camille Leonard is Plattsburgh’s goalie and the reigning USCHO Player of the Year. She led the nation in every major statistic, including save percentage (.962), goals-against average (0.69), wins (27), and shutouts (15). Melissa Sheeran joined Leonard on USCHO’s first team. She led the team and the country in points with 55 and goals with 28 and was the only player in Division III to average more two points per game. Kayla Meneghin was also on the All-USCHO first team. She was second in the nation with 53 points and 23 goals and third in the nation with 30 assists

With just three rookies on the roster, Elmira brings a ton of experience to the ice. Kristin Chivers was an All-ECAC West first team selection. She scored 25 points on seven goals and 18 assists, second most assists on the team, from the blue line. Louisa Lippiatt Durnell returns as the team’s leading scorer with seven goals and 21 assists.

Gabrille Schnepp finished last season ranked sixth in the country in points with 14 goals and 29 assists. She is Utica’s highest returning scorer and was named First Team All-Conference and Third Team All-USCHO. Lauren Patterson was named to the All-USCHO Rookie team and was third on the team last season with 35 points.

Buffalo State goalie Justine Silva was the co-Defensive Player of the Year in the ECAC West. Erin Gehen led the Bengals with 17 goals and 27 points in 24 games played. She also led the nation in short-handed goals with five.

Freshman Jaqueline White scored three goals in her first two games at Oswego State and looks to be an offensive threat for the Lakers. Alli Ullrich is a scoring threat from the blue line — she was third on the team with six goals and eight assists. Olivia Ellis returns as the team’s highest scorer.

Potsdam excelled on defense last season, but has three freshman goalies on the roster this season, so that’ll be the focus of continued efforts to improve for the Bears. Jordan Ott is a former USCHO Rookie of the Year and led the Bears last season with 15 goals and 11 assists.

It’s a big transition year in Cortland. Sydney Carlucci was tied for the team lead in goals last season and they lost a lot of firepower.

Chatham will be relying on goalie Sydney Isbell and forward Erika Martin to help them try to return to the playoffs this season.

Rebecca Begley is a captain for the William Smith Herons and is one of two players to play in all 50 games of William Smith’s first two varsity seasons. Goalie Maggie Salmon will provide them stability in the net. Krista Federow led the team with 11 goals and eight assists.

Neumann will continue to rely on Bek Lucas. She led the team with 17 goals and six assists and has already tallied two goals and four assists in the Knights’ first two games this season.

Notes
Elmira was ranked third in the national preseason poll and Utica was ranked ninth. Elmira is starting the season with a new head coach. Dean Jackson left the program after four years and one national title. Assistant Kelsea Martalock was promoted and is taking over the reins in her second year with the Soaring Eagles.

Utica made it to the conference final for just the second time ever last season and set new program records for wins and conference wins in a season.

Buffalo State coach Candice Moxley was named ECAC West coach of the year last season after the Bengals shattered the school record for wins in a season with an overall mark. When she took over the program, the Bengals had won just 13 games in two seasons. Last year they won 18. They’ve made three consecutive playoff appearances and hosted a playoff game for the first time in school history.

Cortland graduated nine seniors and hired a new coach, Rick Filighera. Seven of their nine top scorers were seniors.

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