Ready for the postseason
With the completion of the final games of the regular season, we at last know how the conference tournaments will be slotted. Of the 30 teams that remain in the hunt for a national title, 28 will begin postseason play in conference quarterfinals hosted by the higher seeds, while the top two squads in the CHA receive first-round byes.
When it comes to maximizing entertainment value, no league did it better than the ECAC. The search for the champion went down to the final day, and even then, the circuit couldn’t settle on one and wound up with Clarkson and Harvard as co-champions, with the Golden Knights earning the top seed.
Harvard had a chance for sole possession of that honor, had it been able to come up with two points on home ice on the weekend, but the Crimson had to settle for just one point via a 1-1 tie with St. Lawrence. Hannah Miller struck first for the Saints in that contest, but Sydney Daniels replied for Harvard. Carmen MacDonald made 44 saves for SLU to prevent further damage, and Emerance Maschmeyer came up with 31 stops of her own.
Meanwhile, Clarkson got a better result in overtime with a 2-1 win at Dartmouth. The Big Green took a lead with 13:11 elapsed on a power-play goal from Kennedy Ottenbreit. Two periods later, Christine Lambert forced OT when she converted on a power play, and at 3:51 of the extra session, Geneviève Bannon netted the winner.
That set up a showdown for the top spot between the Crimson and the Golden Knights. With 8:20 gone, freshman Brielle Bellerive scored unassisted, and that was all the offense Shea Tiley needed to come away with a 28-save shutout for Clarkson, 1-0.
Quinnipiac claimed the third seed with a 1-0 win over Brown on Saturday. Taylar Cianfarano’s 15th goal of the year at 14:27 of the third period on a power play was the only scoring in Chelsea Laden’s 14th shutout of the year.
Cornell and St. Lawrence finished in a tie for fourth, with the Big Red gaining the final home-ice spot. Cornell won a pair of road games at Rensselaer, 4-1, and Union, 4-0. The Big Red shook off a slow start in Troy, and rallied with the game’s final four goals. Jillian Saulnier and Brianne Jenner had three-point games, with Saulnier netting two goals to Jenner’s one. Saulnier scored twice more versus the Dutchwomen in Paula Voorheis’ 25-save shutout.
The Saints finished their slate with a 6-4 triumph at Dartmouth as Jenna Marks found the net twice.
Princeton is alone in sixth after a weekend split. Morgan Sly sniped a pair in the Tigers’ 4-1 defeat of Brown. Yale upended Princeton, 2-1, on Saturday, denying the Tigers the Ivy League title, which instead went to Harvard. Taylor Marchin’s goal in the second period gave the Bulldogs the win. Krista Yip-Chuck assisted on the winner and scored the game’s first goal; Jaimie Leonoff made 28 saves.
The Bulldogs finished seventh after also posting a 3-0 shutout of Quinnipiac on Friday thanks to 37 saves from Leonoff. Yip-Chuck scored twice; Hanna Åström supplied the other tally and had a three-point game.
Dartmouth is the ECAC’s final playoff team in eighth.
RPI defeated Colgate 5-3 in the final game of the season for both teams, as the Engineers clicked on four of five power-play opportunities.
The best-of-three playoff series are:
Dartmouth at Clarkson
Yale at Harvard
Princeton at Quinnipiac
St. Lawrence at Cornell
Top-seeded Boston College finished an undefeated league season, but the Eagles were denied a perfect trip through Hockey East in their last game when Boston University tied them, 2-2. Samantha Sutherland and Maddie Elia gave the Terriers leads on two occasions, but Haley Skarupa and Dana Trivigno drew BC even, the latter with just 75 seconds left in regulation. BC defeated BU 5-0 on Thursday, with Alex Carpenter scoring twice in Katie Burt’s 28-save shutout.
BU, the second seed, started its week with a 7-1 thrashing of Providence. Both Sarah Lefort, who potted a hat trick, and Marie-Philip Poulin had four-point games.
Northeastern gained third place with 5-1 and 3-1 victories over New Hampshire. Denisa Krížová scored twice in the opener, Kendall Coyne had three assists, and Chloé Desjardins made 33 saves. Coyne scored twice with a helper and Desjardins denied another 34 attempts on Sunday.
Maine had to settle for fourth place after Connecticut swept a series from the Black Bears in Orono. Sarah MacDonnell set up Kayla Campero’s tying goal with 81 seconds left and an extra attacker on the ice in the opener. Campero returned the favor, helping MacDonnell deposit the winning goal with one second remaining in the extra session. Elaine Chuli saved 40 shots for the Huskies. UConn had an easier time in winning 6-2 on Sunday. A pair of defensemen, Caitlin Hewes and Leah Lum, had three-point games, as the Huskies moved up to fifth place ahead of New Hampshire.
Vermont swept a pair of 3-2 games from Providence to leapfrog the Friars and escape the basement. Bridget Baker scored with 63 seconds to go in the opener to thwart a late rally by PC; Madison Litchfield made 35 stops. Baker netted her second game-winner in as many days on Sunday, while Litchfield recorded 41 saves.
The quarterfinal matchups are:
Providence at Boston College
Vermont at Boston University
New Hampshire at Northeastern
Connecticut at Maine
Three sweeps resolved the questions of placement in the middle of the conference.
North Dakota is the third seed after blanking Minnesota State twice, 7-0 and 2-0. Shelby Amsley-Benzie needed only 24 saves on the weekend to earn the two shutouts. Josefine Jakobsen and Andrea Dalen had a goal and two assists apiece in the first game. Marissa Salo scored the deciding goal 3:50 into the second period to overcome 36 saves by Erin Krichiver in game two.
Minnesota-Duluth dropped Ohio State, 3-1 and 5-2. Kayla Black made 35 saves on Friday, and Michela Cava assisted on the winning goal before adding an insurance tally. Brigette Lacquette had three helpers as the Bulldogs rallied from two goals down with five goals over the final 20:17 on Sunday, including two empty-net goals.
Minnesota swept Bemidji State, 3-2 and 4-2, to deny the Beavers home ice. Dani Cameranesi had a goal and an assist in both games for the Gophers.
Although it didn’t change the standings, St. Cloud State served notice to Wisconsin that it doesn’t intend to go quietly in their upcoming series when the Huskies upset the Badgers, 2-1, on Friday. Julie Friend made 52 saves and kept UW off the scoreboard until only 16 seconds remained. Alyssa Erickson and Payge Pena scored for SCSU. Wisconsin responded on Sunday with Ann-Renée Desbiens’ 13th shutout of the season, 5-0.
The playoff series will be:
Minnesota State at Minnesota
St. Cloud State at Wisconsin
Ohio State at North Dakota
Bemidji State at Minnesota-Duluth
College Hockey America
Syracuse split a home-and-home series with RIT, but that was enough to give the Orange a first-round bye in the CHA. Jenn Gilligan made 31 saves in Friday’s 4-1 win for Syracuse. Alysha Burris scored twice, and Melissa Piacentini had a goal and two assists. Ali Binnington bounced back in her final start on home ice with 26 saves in a 1-0 shutout, and Celeste Brown scored a power-play goal to win it midway through the third stanza.
Penn State slumped to the fourth seed after suffering back-to-back 4-1 defeats on home ice to Robert Morris. Jessica Dodds made 33 saves on Friday, and Rebecca Vint scored twice. Vint’s short-handed goal started a rally on Saturday; Katelyn Scott assisted twice.
Nicole Hensley’s 33 saves keyed a 3-1 upset for fifth-place Lindenwood over league champ Mercyhurst on Friday. Jordyn Constance scored and had an assist; Katie Erickson helped twice. Hensley got the day off when the Lakers bounced back with a 7-1 win. Shelby Bram had a goal and two assists; Molly Byrne scored once and assisted three times.
The resulting brackets are:
Mercyhurst gets a bye
Syracuse gets a bye
RIT at Robert Morris
Lindenwood at Penn State