The first half of the 2011-12 Division III women’s hockey season officially comes to a close tomorrow night when Wis.-Superior travels to Gustavus Adolphus and wraps up an interesting last seven days that featured plenty of top 10 teams in action in tough games.
RIT wrapped up a perfect first half with two one-goal road wins against Trinity and Amherst. The Tigers are 12-0-0 in D-III play but they also won four other exhibition contests in Canada over the Thanksgiving holiday break. RIT got outshot for the first time this season in the game against Amherst on Sunday. However, the Tigers escaped with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Ali Hills and a 32-save performance from sophomore goalie Laura Chamberlain.
Norwich faced a stern test on Wednesday by hosting No. 8 Plattsburgh State. The Cadets trailed 2-1 late in the third period but freshman Tyne Gove scored the game-tying goal with around seven minutes to go. Classmate Kaycie Anderson scored the game-winning goal 2:27 into overtime to lift the Cadets to a big 3-2 comeback win over the Cardinals and prevent what would have brought a whole new meaning to the common tie-game phrase of ”kissing your sister”. Wednesday’s game had a little extra meaning for Tyne Gove, who was playing against her older sister Teal, who is a junior assistant captain for Plattsburgh. All three local TV stations were at Wednesday’s game to cover the story, here is WCAX’s take on the sister vs. sister matchup: http://www.wcax.com/story/16223337/sister-sister
Middlebury stayed unbeaten on the season, but the Panthers did suffer another blemish as they skated to a 2-2 tie with Manhattanville on Friday. While teams like RIT, Norwich, Gustavus Adolphus and Elmira have dominated the headlines so far this season, Middlebury is quietly sitting at 5-0-2 so far and is one of just three teams, along with RIT and Gustavus Adolphus who have yet to lose this year.
Gustavus Adolphus skated to 1 -1 tie with Wis.-River Falls last Tuesday in a battle of the western powers. River Falls took the lead on a goal from Kait Mason in the second period, but GAC rallied to tie it in the third period with a goal from Melissa Doyle.
Elmira wrapped up the first half of the season with a 5-1 win and the Soaring Eagles extended their unbeaten streak to 10 straight games. EC has continued to look strong this season and it appears the Soaring Eagles are back after a sub-par season for their standards last season. Elmira won the Panther-Cardinal Classic and its lone loss is to Norwich in the first game of the season. The biggest difference I see so far this season is Elmira has a lot more balanced scoring. The Soaring Eagles have five players with 11 points or more points right now and their leading scorer has 13. Alex Bresler, Lindsay Mitchell, Tanis Lamoureux and Ashley Ryan have stepped up to help shoulder the scoring load this season and take some attention away from Tori Charron.
Two more teams that are currently flying under the radar that I feel people should keep an eye on in the second half are Concordia-Moorhead and St. Scholastica. Concordia is 7-1-1 currently and might be the No. 1 contender to try and finally knock Gustavus Adolphus from the top of the MIAC perch that they have held for nearly a decade now. The Cobbers open 2012 with 10 straight home games and right in the middle of that stretch are two home dates with the Gusties that could determine the MIAC regular season champion and who gets hosting rights for the tournament.
St. Scholastica is a team I touched on earlier this season with a feature story I did on the Waidacher sisters who have continued to tear it up for Jackie MacMillan’s squad. Nina Waidacher is currently in a three-way tie for the national scoring lead with RIT’s Kourtney Kunichika and Norwich’s Julie Fortier. Nina and Fortier each have 13 goals and nine assists for 22 points, while Kunichika has nine goals and 13 assists. Monika, who is Nina’s older sister by a year has exploded this season playing alongside her sister to the tune of seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points after scoring just three goals all last season.
Earlier today the Saints tied Adrian to secure a three-point weekend against the defending NCHA Tournament champions.
CSS is 7-2-1 right now and their lone losses came at the hands of Wis.-River Falls. The second half will prove to a bit more trying for St. Scholastica though as the Saints play just four of their remaining 15 games at home in the friendly confines of Mars-Lakeview Arena. After opening the 2012 portion of its schedule with a home game against St. Olaf, CSS will trek East to take on Saint Anselm and Salve Regina in a rare East/West region crossover matchup. If not for having to stat the Norwich men’s Northfield Savings Bank Tournament on Friday, Jan. 6, I’d head down to Manchester, N.H. to take in the St. Scholastica/Saint Anselm game.
Here is the story I did on the Waidacher sisters earlier this year if you missed it the first time: http://www.uscho.com/2011/11/10/swiss-sisters-lead-st-scholastica/
Coming later this week will be a first half wrap-up, mid-season All-American selections and an early handicap of the 2012 Laura Hurd Award race.