Last Tuesday, we lost our lone remaining unbeatean team in Division III women’s hockey, as the Gustavus Adolphus Gusties fell, 5-1, to Wisconsin-Superior. That started a string of surprising results out west this week, as Superior went and tied Marian 3-3 in its very next game. Gustavus also struggled in its next two games, but GAC did survive with one-goal victories to stay unbeaten in MIAC play on the year.
St. Catherine also split with Concordia (Minn.), which could be considered a minor upset on the surface. Out East, all the traditional powers held serve, as RIT went 3-0 on the week. The Tigers weren’t flashy though, as they beat a scrappy Hamilton team, 3-1, then downed Oswego by scores of 4-0 and 2-1 to keep their hopes for an ECAC West regular season title alive. Amherst, Elmira, Plattsburgh and Middlebury took care of business with no problems as well.
The biggest surprise to me in the East this week was Norwich’s struggles with Southern Maine on Friday. The Cadets beat USM 10-0 earlier this year, but on Friday, Norwich trailed the Huskies 2-0 after 20 minutes, and if not for a Kaycie Anderson goal with 45 seconds left in the second period would have trailed 3-2 at the end of 40 minutes. NU scored four goals in the third to pull away for the 7-3 win, but USM nearly doubled the amount of goals Norwich has given up in league play this year. Coming into Friday’s game, Norwich had outscored its league opponents by an astounding 100-4. The Huskies scored three goals on seven shots to put a scare in the Maroon and Gold. Norwich senior defenseman Amanda Wilks became the fourth player in program history and the first defenseman to score 100 points during Saturday’s 14-0 win over Plymouth State. She scored a short-handed goal in the second period as part of a two-goal and two-assist game for the Cadets.
1. Gustavus Adolphus finishes regular season unbeaten. (Superior beat GAC 5-1 on Jan. 31)
2. St. Scholastica freshman Nina Waidacher leads nation in points at end of regular season. (Not looking good after missing five games and Fortier’s pace right now.)
3. RIT announces it is going to Division I next year before the end of the season. (No official announcement from the college yet, but the president has sent a letter out saying all intentions are to move up and word has it RIT has only scheduled D-I teams for next year so far…we’ll see.)
4. Amherst sweeps Wis.-River Falls and St. Thomas on western road trip. (Got one finally here!)
5. Norwich finishes unbeaten in ECAC East play for second straight year. (Looking good right now…two games left at home against Holy Cross and Salve Regina. The Cadets have a score to settle with Salve after the Seahawks tied NU for the second straight year earlier this season.)
6. Julie Fortier, Kourtney Kunichika, Allie Schwab, Kim Herring and Geneva Lloyd are the five Hurd Award finalists. (I think Fortier, Kunichika, Schawb and Lloyd are looking good…Herring will be a close call.)
7. Norwich’s Julie Fortier wins Laura Hurd Award. (I don’t see how she doesn’t at this point…leading nation in goals and points…will most likely break program record for points in a career.)
8. Gustavus Adolphus’ senior goalie Danielle Justice leads nation in shutouts. (Not likely at all…what a turnaround by Sydney Aveson at Plattsburgh. Impressive improvement since earlier in the season has Plattsburgh right in the mix again.)
9. RIT’s Kolbee McCrea leads nation in goals. (Fortier setting too quick a pace right now…not likely.)
10. Two more schools announce they are adding D-III women’s hockey before end of the season (Franklin Pierce and Stevenson have already announced). (shot in the dark that isn’t looking good at all.)
11. RIT loses two games this season (playoffs and NCAAs included), one to Elmira and one to Plattsburgh. (halfway right so far…home-and-home series coming up with Elmira.)
12. Manhattanville makes ECAC East finals. (Clearly the No. 2 in the ECAC East on paper, but in a one-and-one situation anything can happen. Salve, New England College, Castleton, and Massachusetts-Boston could all pull the upset with the right bounce of the puck.)
13. One of Wis.-River Falls, Middlebury, or RIT doesn’t make their conference championship. (I really like the possibility of one of these happening.)
14. St. Scholastica makes NCHA finals. (Backing down a little bit on the Scholastica bandwagon….Wis.-Superior has clearly established itself as the No. 2 threat to Wis.-River Falls right now.)
15. Castleton makes ECAC East final four. (Looked great earlier this year…now starting to wonder. Coach Bowes might be one more season out. But he’s still got this team going in the right direction in my opinion.)
16. Elmira wins ECAC West Tournament. (Who knows…as good of a shot as Plattsburgh and RIT…could go a long way toward making its road easier by splitting with RIT and earning the No. 1 seed for tournament and hosting rights to playoffs.)
17. Amherst wins NESCAC Tournament. (I think they are the best team in the NESCAC, but plenty of teams have shown they can play with the Jeffs and Middlebury this year…)
18. RIT, Norwich, Amherst, and Wis.-River Falls make the Frozen Four. (Honestly the only team I’m confident will make it is Amherst. The other three could easily be out and just as easily be in too. It’s so wide open this year between the top 8 or 9 teams.)
19. RIT hosts the Frozen Four (Still ranked No. 1 right now and would probably be No. 1 in the first NCAA rankings as we stand currently. Big series with Elmira coming up. Tigers need a sweep to host the ECACW Tournament again.)
20. RIT wins national championship (See 18.)