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Most teams get back into action over the coming week, but a quartet got an early start by closing out 2011 with Friday and Saturday games. The WCHA’s fifth and sixth place teams, Ohio State and Bemidji State respectively, wrapped up the nonconference portion of their schedules with differing results. Both were missing players due to national-team commitments, but the Beavers found a way to get wins that eluded the Buckeyes.

Minus Laura McIntosh, Annie Svedin, and Minttu Tuominen, Ohio State hosted Princeton for a two-game set. Three times over the weekend the Buckeyes took one-goal leads, but the Tigers answered on each occasion, resulting in 2-2 and 1-1 draws. Senior Rachel Weber stopped 82 of 85 shots on the weekend to gain the split for Princeton.

Meanwhile, BSU journeyed to Pittsburgh without Emily Erickson and Montana Vichorek to play Robert Morris, and the Beavers squeaked by with 3-2 decisions on successive days. Both games followed the same script:  BSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead, RMU battled back to tie, and the Beavers tallied the deciding goal in the final 10 minutes. Although the Colonials fell to 11-4-2 on the season, they can take solace in going down to the wire both days against No. 8 Bemidji State, the highest-ranked team they have seen to date.

League status checks
CHA action has barely begun, with only two league games in the books, but the other conferences offer the opportunity to compare what has transpired on the ice with preseason prognostication.

Hockey East coaches chose Boston University to take the league title over Boston College. Thus far, the third Boston team is off to the best start, as Northeastern holds a two-point edge over BC, although the Eagles have a game in hand. The Terriers sit fourth, behind Providence. The coaches don’t award individual honors before the season, but with 10 goals and six assists for 16 points, freshman Kendall Coyne of NU holds the scoring lead by three over junior teammate Casey Picket and senior Laura Veharanta of Providence.

The coaches in ECAC Hockey have been more accurate thus far, as their pick, two-time defending champion Cornell, owns the circuit’s best winning percentage. Quinnipiac and Clarkson, having played five and three additional games, have amassed more league points. Four of the league’s top five scorers in Jillian Saulnier, Catherine White, Brianne Jenner, and Rebecca Johnston represent the Big Red, with only Kelly Babstock of Quinnipiac crashing the party. Saulnier is the ECAC’s top-scoring rookie.

Voters in the WCHA tabbed Wisconsin and have proven prescient, as the Badgers lead Minnesota by two games. The coaches’ choice for Preseason Player of the Year, UW’s Hilary Knight, has 17 goals to lead the conference, while North Dakota’s Jocelyne Lamoureux has 34 points to head that category. Michelle Karvinen of UND, one of a trio of players to garner two Preseason Rookie of the Year votes, has 26 points to top the league’s newcomers.

More signings
Seven programs have announced their recruits from the early NLI signing period, in addition to the four releases reported in this blog on November 21. Boston College, Providence and Quinnipiac each inked five student athletes, Bemidji State and Wisconsin added four apiece, and Minnesota State landed three. Penn State announced 13 members in its inaugural recruiting class.