It came down to the final weekend of regular-season play, but the Rochester Institute of Technology has captured the top seed for the ECAC West tournament.
The No. 2 Tigers lost their chance at an undefeated season on February 12 in a 2-1 loss to Oswego that saw goaltender Emi Williams stop 46 of 47 shots, but they had little time to lick their wounds. No. 4 Plattsburgh had been nipping at the Tigers’ heels all season long, and tied a pair of games with RIT in late January. Heading into the final weekend of regular season play, the Tigers needed to win their game against Elmira, or hope the Cardinals would lose one of their games against Utica.
Plattsburgh didn’t make things easy on RIT, defeating the Pioneers by scored of 3-2 and 7-0, but the Tigers took care of their own business, as Sarah Dagg’s two goals paced the RIT effort in a 4-1 win over the Soaring Eagles. The game was tied at the second intermission before the Tigers scored three goals in the final 20 minutes.
“As the game went on we got better and better and had a number of players step up,” RIT head coach Scott McDonald said, “led by Sarah Dagg, as usual. It just goes to show you how tough our league is in that we went down to the wire to clinch home ice, despite having just one loss.”
With the Tigers having edged out the Cardinals for the opportunity to host the conference tournament, both teams will get the weekend off while they await the winners of two conference quarterfinal games. Fresh off pushing the Tigers through 40 minutes this past weekend, Elmira will host Utica, and fourth-place Neumann will host Oswego, the team that ruined RIT’s undefeated season. The winners will advance to the conference championship weekend, set for RIT’s Frank Ritter Arena on March 5 and 6.
Need to Know
• On Friday, No. 9 Dartmouth did what only one other team has been able to do all season: beat No. 2 Cornell. With two goals from junior forward Kelly Foley and three assists from senior forward Amanda Trunzo, the Big Green defeated the Big Red, 4-2, at Thompson Arena in Hanover, N.H. It was the first loss for Cornell since a 4-3 overtime defeat against Mercyhurst on November 2, and the first ECAC Hockey loss for the reigning conference champions all season. The Big Red bounced back to beat Harvard on Saturday behind two goals and an assist from junior forward Catherine White, however, and will be the top seed in the conference tournament, hosting No. 8 seed Rensselaer this weekend for a quarterfinal series.
• After completing an undefeated regular season, No. 1 Wisconsin-River Falls turns its attention to the NCHA playoffs, and unlike RIT, the regular-season champs get no rest in the playoffs. The Falcons host St. Norbert this weekend in one of four quarterfinal series. In the other series, No. 10 Wisconsin-Superior hosts Lake Forest, Wisconsin-Eau Claire hosts Concordia (Wis.) and Adrian hosts Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
• The nominees for the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Award have been named, and No. 3 Mercyhurst stands the best chance (statistically, anyway) of bringing home the prize for the women’s college hockey player in the nation. National scoring leader Meghan Agosta is one of five Lakers to be nominated for the Kazmaier, along with classmates Vicki Bendus and Jesse Scanzano, junior forward Bailey Bram and junior goaltender Hillary Pattenden. Other schools with multiple nominees include No. 1 Wisconsin (three), No. 2 Cornell (four), No. 5 Boston University (three), No. 7 Boston College (two) and No. 8 North Dakota (two). The Patty Kazmaier Award will be presented at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, Pa., on Saturday, March 19, the day in between the semifinals and championship game at the Women’s Frozen Four.
• Maine senior forward Jennie Gallo was named the Pure Hockey Player of the Week by Hockey East. Gallo’s goal on a 5-on-3 power play in overtime gave the Black Bears a win over No. 4 Boston University and the final playoff spot in Hockey East, setting up a conference quarterfinal game against No. 10 Providence on Saturday at 2 p.m.
• Middlebury sophomore forward Lauren Greer was named the NESCAC Player of the Week after scoring three goals in the No. 5 Panthers’ wins over the weekend. The wins clinched the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC tournament, which starts this Saturday with quarterfinal games, including the Panthers hosting eighth seed Williams.
• With Cornell’s undefeated streak over at the hands of Dartmouth, No. 1 Wisconsin heads into postseason play as the hottest team in Division I. The Badgers got a hat trick from Brianna Decker on Friday and Madison Packer on Saturday in 4-0 and 9-1 wins over Minnesota State, giving them a 20-game unbeaten streak (18-0-2) heading into this weekend’s WCHA quarterfinal series against St. Cloud State at the Kohl Center in Madison.
• No. 3 Norwich saw two of its players earn weekly honors from the ECAC East. Senior goaltender Cindy Fortin was named Goalie of the Week for her 33 saves in wins over Middlebury and Manhattanville, while Julie Fortier was named Player of the Week after scoring a goal in each of those games, then adding two more against Nichols, the Cadets’ opponent in this weekend’s ECAC East Quarterfinal.
• Princeton senior Laura Martindale, Harvard sophomore Josephine Pucci and Cornell sophomore Lauriane Rougeau have been named the finalists for ECAC Hockey’s Best Defensive Defenseman award. Each of the three finalists leads a defensive unit that ha allowed less than two goals per game in conference play: Harvard allows 1.95 goals per game, Princeton surrenders 1.91, and Cornell allows 0.91 per game (and is the stingiest defense in the nation, allowing 0.97 goals per game overall).