Another week down, and based on the results, the point continues to be hammered down that the difference between the top eight or nine teams this year in D-III women’s hockey is only the slimmest of margins.
On Tuesday, No. 7 Amherst handed top-ranked Norwich its first loss since Oct. 29 with a 2-0 shutout over the defending national champions. The Lord Jeffs have played more ranked teams than anybody else in Division III this season, and their only three losses have come to Elmira, Middlebury and RIT. They also own wins over Norwich, Wisconsin-River Falls, Middlebury and Plattsburgh.
No one else at this point can claim a tougher schedule than Amherst, and with their recent results I expect them to shoot up the USCHO.com poll today. Personally, I voted them second behind RIT.
The other two matchups of national interest this weekend provided more results to prove the parity that is running rampant amongst the fraternal order of D-III women’s hockey.
Elmira and Plattsburgh split their series over the weekend. Plattsburgh scored a 4-1 win with an empty-netter on Saturday afternoon, but Elmira rallied to down the Cardinals 2-1 on Sunday behind two goals from freshman Ashley Ryan and kept their chances alive for the ECAC West regular season title.
If RIT, Plattsburgh and Elmira all hold serve and win every game against teams outside of the powerhouse trio, the ECAC West regular season title will come down to the big RIT/Elmira home-and-home series in two weeks.
If Elmira takes three or more points from RIT and wins its remaining games, it’ll win the regular season. A split between the two will hand the title to Plattsburgh, and an RIT sweep will clinch the Tigers the regular season crown for the second straight season.
Out West, Gustavus Adolphus emerged triumphant from its showdown with Concordia (Minn.) The Gusties won 4-1 on Friday and then skated to a 3-3 tie on Saturday to put a virtual death grip on another MIAC regular season title.
Gustavus Adolphus is the lone Division III team without a loss this season, and the Gusties have their toughest remaining hurdle tomorrow night that stands in their way of an unbeaten regular season. Gustavus travels to No. 10 Wisconsin-Superior for their final nonconference tilt. Face off is set for 7 p.m. at Superior’s Wessman Arena.