To say that parity has swept the D-III women’s hockey world by storm is an understatement. After the first semester, three teams are left undefeated and then there is a pack of 10 or so teams that have all had impressive victories to date and can be considered contenders to make the NCAA Tournament.
Just in the last weekend, Elmira and Plattsburgh split after Plattsburgh came in undefeated and Elmira was having an average year to date by the Soaring Eagles’ standards. Norwich lost to Trinity and then two days later avenged its loss from last year’s national championship by beating Amherst 5-2. Adrian split with .500 Concordia (Wisc.) and Cortland won its first game of the year against Utica after the Pioneers played two close games with Elmira last weekend.
Meanwhile, RIT and River Falls have asserted theirselves as the team’s to beat in their respective regions as they both carry undefeated records into the holiday break. RIT (13-0-0, 8-0-0 ECAC West) finished up its first semester schedule with a 7-1 win over Hamilton, while River Falls (10-0-0, 6-0-0 NCHA) affirmed its title as the team to beat in the West with a 4-2 win over Gustavus Adolpus.
Middlebury is also undefeated with a 6-0-0 record, but the Panthers have only played one team with a winning record so far in Bowdoin. They’ll get their first major tests right at the start of the second semester on Jan. 2 and 3 when they play Elmira and then either Amherst or Plattsburgh at the Cardinal-Panther Classic in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Player of the Week – Sophie Leclerc, Norwich
Leclerc scored the game-tying goal to help spark Norwich’s run of four third-period unanswered goals to rally past Amherst 5-2 in a rematch of last year’s National Championship game. Leclerc also scored the fourth goal, which gave the Cadets some breathing room. The senior captain also scored the Cadets’ lone goal in Friday’s 2-1 loss at Trinity. She is tied for the nation scoring lead with 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points along with RIT’s Katie Stack.
Goalie of the Week – Laura Sullivan, Elmira
Laura, a sophomore from Toronto, Ont. made 25 saves to help backstop Elmira to a 3-2 win over Plattsburgh on Saturday. She made 36 saves the next night to help the Soaring Eagles stay in contention in a 2-1 loss to Plattsburgh. Sullivan is 7-3-1 on the season with a 1.44 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.
Rookie of the Week – Henriette Ostergaard, St. Norbert
Henriette, a freshman from Herning, Denmark scored four goals and added an assist in a 10-1 win against Marian. She then followed up with a goal in the second game, a 8-0 win over the Sabres. Ostergaard has six goals and three assists on the season for nine points.
This week I’ll be handing out my mid-season awards in my column and then I’ll be taking a few weeks off for the holidays before returning in late December/early January for the Panther-Cardinal Classic Preview.