Contenders flex muscle
The scoreboard operators at Conte Forum better be ready this season, because No. 3 Boston College will require that constant changes be made. The Eagles made sure there would be no repeat of last year’s mystifying loss to Syracuse. After the teams traded goals on power plays in the opening minutes, BC scored the next five goals and breezed to a 10-2 romp. Senior defenseman Emily Pfalzer had six points, blue line partner Lexi Bender recorded a hat trick, while Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa netted a pair.
No. 10 Minnesota-Duluth’s Kayla Black held off No. 2 Wisconsin for 35 minutes, but Badgers’ rookie Emily Clark finally beat her twice and Brittany Ammerman and Courtney Burke added empty-net goals in a 4-1 win on the road. Wisconsin completed the sweep with a routine 6-2 win on Saturday. Zoe Hickel gave UMD a 1-0 lead, but the Badgers scored twice late in the first frame as part of a five-goal run. Sarah Nurse and Blayre Turnbull had two-goal games. Ann-Renée Desbiens earned her first two wins of the season.
Fortunes vary for new coaches
Four teams have new coaches this season, and so far, they’ve experienced either feast or famine.
For Jim Scanlan at Bemidji State, it has been all good news. After opening with a road sweep at Robert Morris, the Beavers took care of home ice at the expense of Rensselaer, 4-0, and Vermont, 4-0. It has been a team effort for Scanlan’s charges. Freshman Erin Deters and sophomore Brittni Mowat backstopped shutouts to improve their personal records to 2-0 on the year. Eight different Beavers scored on the weekend. For the season, 11 have found the net, led by three from Stephanie Anderson, and 17 have contributed points, where Megan Lushanko is tops with five.
Meanwhile, Scott Spencer at Lindenwood, Hilary Witt at New Hampshire, and Eric Rud at St. Cloud State are still looking for a first victory in their new jobs. Lindenwood was idle this weekend, but the other two teams suffered sweeps.
UNH took different routes to a pair of one-goal losses at Ohio State. Claudia Kepler’s goal at 5:06 of the second period, assisted by Kendall Curtis and Bryanna Neuwald, stood up for a 1-0 Buckeyes win. Freshman Kassidy Sauve made 24 stops to notch her first shutout. On Saturday, Danielle Gagne, Kayla Sullivan, and Alexa Ranahan scored as OSU cruised to a 3-0 lead. The Wildcats turned the game around when Cassandra Vilgrain and Jonna Curtis answered in the second period and Amy Boucher tied it up 7:10 into the third period. However, Kepler struck with 32 seconds remaining to lift the Buckeyes to a 4-3 triumph, her second game-winning goal in as many days.
Rud’s Huskies opened with a pair of neutral-site games in Minneapolis, dropping decisions to No. 6 Boston University, 5-2, and Penn State, 3-2. Although badly outplayed for much of Friday’s game, St. Cloud State drew even at 2-2 when Providence transfer Molly Illikainen stuffed in a wraparound goal 6:32 into the third period. That revived the Huskies, who skated with the Terriers for several minutes and nearly edged ahead when a shot kissed metal, but BU gained the advantage with just over five minutes to go. Rebecca Russo flew around the defense to score, SCSU sagged, and Marie-Philip Poulin and Victoria Bach added insurance. Payge Pena gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead halfway through their game with Penn State, but they immediately committed a penalty, and Shannon Yoxheimer tied the game a minute into the power play. Yoxheimer added the difference maker in the third period for the Nittany Lions to make a winner of Hannah Ehresmann in her NCAA debut.
No. 1 Minnesota eliminated Boston University in each of the last two NCAA tournaments, and on Saturday, the Gophers got the best of the Terriers once more, 5-2. BU got a couple of rebound goals from newcomer Rebecca Leslie. After her first tally tied the game, 1-1, early in the second period, Minnesota killed off 68 seconds of five-on-three, took the lead on a Hannah Brandt redirection, and capitalized on its own five-on-three advantage with two goals to seize control of the game. The Gophers opened their season with an 8-0 shutout of Penn State. For the weekend, Meghan Lorence and Milica McMillen had three goals, and freshman Cara Piazza scored in both contests.
How the rest of the top 10 fared
No. 9 Mercyhurst didn’t surrender a goal in sweeping Providence, 3-0 and 2-0. Amanda Makela needed 37 saves to grab the early lead in shutouts. Juniors Emily Janiga and Jenna Dingeldein jumped to the team scoring lead with four and three points respectively.
No. 7 Clarkson split a home-and-home series with St. Lawrence. After the Golden Knights came from two down to tie the opener in Canton, Jessica Hon scored late in the third and Kailee Heidersbach hit an empty net to give the Saints a 5-3 win. Brooke Webster scored twice for SLU, and Shannon MacAulay did the same for Clarkson. The next night in Potsdam, Erin Ambrose decided the game with a later power-play goal after Amanda Titus and Webster had traded goals. Freshman Shea Tiley got her first college win in the Knights’ 2-1 victory.
No. 8 North Dakota handled Rensselaer comfortably, 7-1, thanks to a hat trick from junior Becca Kohler and the first two goals of sophomore Marissa Salo’s career. The going got tougher on Saturday when Vermont came to Grand Forks and claimed a 3-1 win that included two goals from Cassidy Campeau and 29 saves by Madison Litchfield.
No. 10 Quinnipiac stifled Connecticut, 3-0, outshooting the Huskies, 36-9. Chelsea Laden earned the win and Nicole Brown, Nicole Connery, and rookie Taylar Cianfarano supplied the offense.
Robert Morris dropped its third straight, falling at Maine, 3-2, on Victoria Hummel’s tally 1:11 into overtime. The Colonials finally got in the win column the next day courtesy of Courtney Vinet’s 18-save shutout and Rikki Meilleur’s third-period goal.
Ali Binnington bested Shenae Lundberg in RIT’s home sweep of Union by 2-1 and 2-0 scores. Four different Tigers scored the goals, and four had two-point weekends. The shutout was Binnington’s 15th for RIT.
Syracuse started the week’s action with a 2-1 win over Colgate. Goals by Eleanor Haines and Julie Knerr outweighed the first goal of Breanne Wilson-Bennett for the Raiders. UNH transfer Jenn Gilligan recorded her first win for the Orange.