What a week! Now that NC Women's Hockey conference championships are here, we've seen it all: a pair of double-overtime contests in the semifinals, an upset that sent fourth-ranked St. Lawrence packing, and a nail-biter between Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth for a chance to face Wisconsin for the crown.
Check out some of the best stories of the week in NC Women's Ice Hockey below!
[divider]OFFENSE OF THE WEEK[divider]
The Eagles opened the contest with a power-play goal scored by Kenzie Kent. Stellar defenseman Megan Keller earned an assist on the score, the first of three for her in the game.
BC out-shot Vermont 15-5 in the opening frame, but in the second, the Catamounts roared back into the game.
Two minutes into the second period, BC scored again, this time on a Caitrin Lonergan tally. Again Keller received an assist, as well as Grace Bizal.
Six minutes later on a power-play opportunity, Vermont finally got on the scoreboard with a goal by Taylor Willard. The one-goal deficit didn’t last long however as the Eagles scored less than four minutes later to take another two-goal lead. But then, on another power-play opportunity, Vermont came within one again with less than five minutes remaining in the period.
With the score at 3-2 to enter the third period, it was Vermont that capitalized on a scoring opportunity first despite being out-shot by a 12-9 margin. Catamount Alyssa Gorecki tallied the power-play conversion just over six minutes into the final frame to grab the tie for her team.
Tied at 3-3, the game moved into overtime. Despite taking 17 shots on goal, Boston College failed to get the puck past Vermont netminder Madison Litchfield. Vermont also failed to score so a second overtime period began.
This time, Andie Anastos used a little trickery to win the game for her team, throwing a no-look backhand shot on goal that found its way past Litchfield and into the net.
The Eagles out-shot their opponent 53-31 while Litchfield recorded 49 stops to BC netminder Katie Burt’s 28.
With the win, Boston College advances to its fourth consecutive Hockey East Tournament championship game where they will attempt to repeat as Hockey East title champions.
[divider]DEFENSE OF THE WEEK[divider]
Through 60 minutes, Clarkson outmatched Princeton in terms of both offense and defense, recording 40 shots on goal while allowing just 26 by Princeton.
All of that shooting finally resulted in points early in the second frame as defenseman Ella Shelton’s wrister found a way past ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year Steph Neatby.
Clarkson held on to its 1-0 lead through the entire second period and into the final frame, when Loren Gabel increased her team’s lead with a goal scored less than a minute into the third. The goal served as Gabel’s second point of the night, as she also assisted on Shelton’s eventual game-winning earlier in the contest.
With the 2-0 lead in hand, Clarkson continued to roll, earning two more scores thanks to Gabel and Cayley Mercer, both of whom scored one and assisted on the other.
Despite Neatby’s laurels as the best goaltender in the conference for the season, it was Clarkson’s Shea Tiley whose 26-save performance earned a shutout victory for her team. At the other end of the ice, Neatby made 36 saves in the loss.
Next up, the Golden Knights will face Cornell in the ECAC Championship game.
[divider]UPSET OF THE WEEK[divider]
Courtesy Cornell University Athletics
When it comes to playoff-time, upsets on the biggest stage get more exciting and seem to hurt even worse for the stunned loser. But fourth-ranked St. Lawrence shouldn’t be too upset about their 3-1 defeat at the hands of seventh-ranked Cornell. After all, they lost to a great team.
The Big Red came out of the gate strong, tallying the only first period goal with just three minutes left before intermission. Kristin O’Neill, whose 14 goals on the season leads the team, tallied the score on a power-play opportunity, assisted by Brianna Veerman.
Not content to go down quietly, St. Lawrence opened the second frame with a goal of their own, this one notched by Brooke Webster just three-and-a-half minutes into the period. The goal served as her 24th in the season.
But the game remained tied for just over a minute. On another power-play attempt, Cornell’s Amy Curlew got credit for a goal after the puck shot by Micah Hart deflected off of Curlew and past St. Lawrence netminder Grace Harrison into the net.
Late in the second, Curlew got an assist on a goal by Paige Lewis that put the Big Red up by two with just the final period remaining.
Down by two goals in an elimination game, St. Lawrence pestered Paula Voorheis, in net for Cornell, with shot after shot, out-shooting the Big Red 32-15, including a proficient eight-shot third period during which they held Cornell without a shot on goal. Unfortunately for the Saints, the puck just wasn’t on their side, and Voorheis held strong in goal.
Voorheis recorded 31 stops, while at the other end of the ice, Harrison made 12 saves.
With the win, Cornell will move on to Sunday’s ECAC Hockey title game against third-ranked Clarkson.
[divider]GAME OF THE WEEK[divider]
In the game of the week, it was second-ranked Minnesota Duluth and fifth-ranked Minnesota standing in opposite corners and hoping to move on to the WCHA Tournament title matchup to face Wisconsin. Strong play so far this season by both teams made this one a must-see.
Through the first frame, both teams saw plenty of chances, including 17 shots on goal for Minnesota. That didn’t translate to goals as the period remained scoreless for 20 minutes. Bulldogs goaltender Maddie Rooney proved her mettle as she went toe-to-toe with Minnesota’s fearsome offensive machine and kept the Gophers off of the scoreboard.
Midway through the second, Minnesota Duluth’s best scorers combined for a power-play tally that put the Bulldogs ahead. Katerina Mrázová received credit for the goal, assisted by her team’s two leading scorers, Lara Stalder and Ashleigh Brykaliuk.
The lead didn’t last long as Minnesota’s Sarah Potomak singlehandedly grabbed the tie for her team.
That was it for regulation scoring, as the teams took their 1-1 deadlock through the rest of the second frame and the entirety of the third. They were evenly matched in goal-scoring opportunities through the last 40 minutes of regulation, with Minnesota Duluth recording 21 shots on goal to Minnesota’s 21.
In the first overtime period however, Minnesota caught fire once again, peppering Rooney with 20 shots on goal, all of which she stopped. At the other end of the ice, Gophers goaltender Sidney Peters faced eight shots and stopped them all.
With the score still tied at 1-1, the game moved into a second overtime period, and this time, the fifth-ranked scoring leader in the nation ended it. Just over 11 minutes into the frame, Stalder tallied the game-winning goal, batting down a Mrázová shot into the net.
After 91 minutes, Minnesota Duluth finally grabbed the win over the defending national champions. The real MVP was Rooney, who made 62 saves with just a single goal allowed to backstop her team to a title game berth. Rooney broke her own program record with those numbers.
At the other end of the ice, Peters wasn’t too shabby either, making 39 saves with two goals allowed.
With the win, Minnesota Duluth will move on to face the best team in the nation for a chance at the WCHA title.