For a first round that had all of the top seeds advancing, that sure was weird. Harvard and Princeton cruised to victories in game one, only to be taken to three games and overtime in their next two games. Cornell, likewise, blew SLU out before getting a close win to close out the series, and Clarkson basically tried to win two games 1-0 and succeeded in two very different ways.
Yes I double-checked that Clarkson penalty kill – they did not allow a single power play goal to this group during the regular season despite having the second-most PK opportunities. That goaltending figure is also correct.
#1 Cornell vs. #4 Harvard
That is about as poorly as you can play a team in the regular season for Harvard. The only thing about this series that was close was the fact that it took Cornell a while to net their first goal; 18+ minutes into the first game, and early in the second period when down 1-0 in the second game.
Cornell controlling the game from both their top and second lines. The Gillis Frechette – Paige Lewis – Grace Graham line, Cornell’s second line, tallied four of the goals and five assists in the first game and the first line of Amy Curlew – Kristin O’Neill – Maddie Mills added two goals and four assists in the second.
Cornell’s D also contributed, as they often do, but it was their forwards that controlled this series. That does not bode well for Harvard because if you don’t have an advantage on Cornell’s forwards, you probably don’t have an advantage on anyone.
Cornell – Kendra Nealey.
Harvard – Anne Bloomer.
Sticking with the same two. Nealey had three assists in the St. Lawrence series, bringing her point total to 11 on 10 assists. Bloomer continues to shoot at a ridiculous pace, adding two more goals for 15 in 65 shots for a 23.1% shooting percentage. Harvard will need a sniper if they’re to have any chance here.
Prediction: Cornell, 4-1
#2 Princeton vs. #3 Clarkson
In one of these games Clarkson was down star center Michaela Pejzlová and only iced 14 skaters. That was the game they won. Ella Shelton missed the first game so I wouldn’t put a ton into that shot total. These are two very even teams and the game could swing either way.
Princeton likes to go towards the net and get shots on goal more than Clarkson, who tends to want to pass the puck more and look for the right opportunities. The sheer number of injuries and players missing time for the Knights have put a wrench in that and they’ve struggled to exit their own end, and by extension, find goals at times.
But the Knights have generally played well in their own end otherwise and when they haven’t blocked a ton of shots, Marie-Pier Coulombe has scooped up just about everything. The one goal allowed in the quarterfinals came from a pass that deflected off defender Ella Shelton’s stick.
Princeton’s tendency towards high-risk, high-reward play has burned them more than expected in the playoffs, going to overtime against Quinnipiac twice and losing one of those games. If Clarkson can improve their zone exits, they could make it a long game for the Tigers.
Princeton – Solveig Neunzert again. Everyone knows Elizabeth Giguère is excellent, but Clarkson’s second line has been very good with the return of Pejzlová and her pairing with Taylor Turnquist and Kristy Pidgeon. Neunzert and company will have to be up to the task.
Clarkson – Kristy Pidgeon. Pretty much everyone that had points in the Colgate series had two of them, and one of those was Kristy Pidgeon who assisted on the OT winner in game one and potted the empty-netter in the clinching game. Giguère led all forwards in the quarterfinals with 11 shots, but Pidgeon was right behind her with 9 in the series.
Prediction: Someone wins 2-1 in overtime. Uhhh…Clarkson.