This past weekend saw the #1 and #2 teams square off in three of the four conferences giving us a rare opportunity for definitive answers on how each might shake out.
College Hockey America:
Robert Morris (5-0-1) at Penn State (4-1-1)
Glossed over was this weekend’s match-up between #1 Robert Morris and #2 Penn State. Most fans would have, and probably still do expect either Syracuse or Mercyhurst to be occupying one of those top spots but it was the Colonials and the Nittany Lions by the numbers.
Penn State is no longer #2 thanks to 4-2 and 6-5 losses along with Syracuse taking three of four points from RIT. The story here was Robert Morris being just slightly better than Penn State over the course of the weekend. The Nittany Lions were able to score first in the series and pulled within one late in both games but ultimately were unable to even get to overtime.
Player of the Weekend: Laura Bowman, Penn State: 3g, 1a.
Best Name: Kelsey Crow, because Crows are awesome.
Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference:
Clarkson (8-0-0) vs. St. Lawrence (8-0-0)
The weekend’s premier matchup saw the two undefeated rivals go head-to-head in a home-and-home series. (Fun fact: the schools are approximately ten minutes apart.) Clarkson had the slight edge in the standings several tiebreakers down (record vs. top-four teams) but for all intents and purposes they were dead even.
SLU had the advantage of having beaten Clarkson in their non-conference home-and-home earlier in the season with a 2-1 win in Canton and a 3-3 tie in Potsdam. The teams mirrored the tie in their opening game at Clarkson’s building before Clarkson netted a 4-1 road win. It’s worth noting that Clarkson scored extra-attacker goals in the final minute of both ties so the difference between SLU having taken three of four on the season is razor-thin.
I said earlier in the week that it would be SLU’s stars versus Clarkson’s depth but the Kinghts’ top line and top pair absolutely decimated the Saints. Forwards Cayley Mercer (2g, 3a), Genevieve Bannon (1g, 4a), and Michaela Pejzlova (1g, 3a) and defenders Savannah Harmon (2g, 1a) and Ella Shelton (1g, 1a) combined for literally all the points. Pejzlova and Shelton are freshmen so they’ll be able to torture St. Lawrence for several more years.
Player of the Weekend: Genevieve Bannon, Clarkson. The Saints had no answer to Bannon in the second game.
Best Name: Genevieve Bannon, which is fun to yell.
Western Collegiate Hockey Association:
Minnesota (11-1-2-2) at Wisconsin (10-1-1-1)
This is the series everyone counts down to every year, when the (usual) consensus top-two teams in the country play one another. Minnesota actually had the lead in the standings owing to two extra games played but most figured Wisconsin for the better team. The results were…interesting.
Minnesota led off the series with a 2-0 shutout, getting goaltending they haven’t gotten all year. (Sidney Peters is 21st in save percentage.) Then they got shellacked 8-2 by Wisconsin. What does this tell us? I think that Wisconsin is the better team but that Minnesota is good enough to win if it comes down to a single game which will undoubtedly see Minnesota successfully defend their title when they’d probably lose a seven-game series 4-1. (Hmph.)
Both teams split the scoring far and wide down their lineups with 7 Gophers and 12 Badgers tallying points on the weekend. Minnesota comes out of things looking okay thanks to the win but they only scored one goal at even strength with two power-play goals and an empty-netter in the series. In addition to not goaltending very well their shooting percentage of 8.8% is just 17th in the country.
Player of the Weekend: Sarah Nurse, Wisconsin: 3g, 1a
Best Name: Oh man, so many options…Presley Norby, Wis; Abby Roque, Wis; Kippin Keller, Min; Tianna Gunderson (great hockey surname), Min…
Go with Kippin Keller. Kippin means ‘pride of Minnetonka.’ I made that up.