A new season starts with a wealth of optimism, but more questions than answers. Although we are still awaiting the onset of conference play, action ramped up around the country, with a number of games matching squads of similar prospects.
Two of the series of note featured participants that spent most of last season in or near the top 10. In each of those, the higher-ranked team took the first game in convincing fashion on home ice, as No. 2 Boston University beat No. 7 North Dakota 4-1 on Friday, while No. 8 Mercyhurst shut down No. 9 Quinnipiac 4-0. On Saturday, the visitors countered, the Fighting Sioux with a 5-1 thumping of their own, while the Bobcats snuck out a 1-0 nailbiter. History has shown that it is tough to sweep a good team, and that theme will be repeated often in the weeks to come.
One team that did manage a sweep was New Hampshire. The Wildcats visited Niagara and came away with 6-4 and 3-2 decisions over the Purple Eagles. The UNH faithful hope that the nine goals scored on the weekend are a positive sign for an offense that found the net on average less than twice a game last season.
Another interesting series took place in Bemidji. No. 10 Providence faced the Beavers, putting two of the sport’s premier senior goaltenders at opposite ends of the ice. In the opener, Zuzana Tomcikova was perfect on all 23 shots that she saw for Bemidji State, and Genevieve Lacasse turned away 39 shots to gain the Friars a scoreless tie. The box score offered little beyond penalties, including a five-minute checking from behind infraction and a game misconduct assessed to each team. BSU discovered enough visible net on Saturday to emerge with a 3-1 triumph, and three of four points on the weekend.
The Patty picture
Many of the Kazmaier contenders have yet to even start their seasons, so it is too soon to turn to the statistics. However, some noteworthy performances have already been recorded. In addition to Tomcikova and Lacasse, goalies Hillary Pattenden of Mercyhurst and Quinnipiac’s Victoria Vigilanti fashioned shutouts over well-regarded opponents. In the UND at BU series, Jenn Wakefield turned in a three-point effort in the first game, and Monique Lamoureux-Kolls answered the next day with a hat trick while her sister Jocelyne had three assists.