Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Women's Hockey - Around the ECAC (Part III)

On Sunday, we trudged through the middle of the ECAC schedule and the bottom tier of the ECAC – Yale, Brown, and Union. Today we finish out the conference with Dartmouth, Harvard, Cornell, and Colgate.

*****

Dartmouth
  • Last Season's Record: 12-14-2, 9-12-1 ECAC (9th)
  • Key Players: Amanda Trunzo (F, Sr), Camille Dumais (F, So), Sasha Nanji (D, So)
  • Key Losses: Sarah Parsons (F, 20-20-40), Jenna Cunningham (F, 18-13-31), Mariel Lacina (G, .898%, 2.67 GAA)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 2-1 RPI (1/22/10 in Hanover), 5-2 RPI (2/13/10 in Troy)
  • 2010-2011 games: 1/7/11 in Troy, 1/22/11 in Hanover.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 8th
RPI made huge strides against the Big Green last season, sweeping the season series to mark the first times the Engineers had defeated the Big Green since first playing them in 2006. Admittedly it was a down season for Dartmouth, who missed the playoffs for the first time with a 9th place finish in the ECAC. RPI could pick up another win or two next season, as Dartmouth suffers a big loss to graduation, including forwards Sarah Parsons and Jenna Cunningham, who combined for 71 points last year on a weak Dartmouth squad. All told, nearly 40% of Dartmouth’s scoring has graduated, leaving a lot to the returning forwards as only one forward arrives for the Big Green in the class of 2014.

Also graduating was Dartmouth’s starting goalie, Mariel Lacina, whose lackluster .898%, 2.67GAA was the best the Big Green had to offer. It’s hard to tell who will take the reins this season between incoming freshman Lindsay Holdcroft - who performed well on a HS boys’ team in the Pittsburgh area, and sophomore Whitney Woodcox, who posted a .871%, 2.73GAA in seven games last season. Neither looks to be a superstar at this point, and coupled with a weak offense, it could be a long season for the Big Green. Picked to take the last playoff spot by the coaches, Dartmouth is going to have to watch its back this season lest one of the other teams fighting for a playoff spot ousts them for the second year in a row.

*****

Harvard
  • Last Season's Record: 20-8-5, 13-6-3 ECAC (T-3rd)
  • Key Players: Kate Buesser (F, Sr), Jillian Dempsey (F, So), Liza Ryabkina (F, Jr), Leanna Coskren (D, Jr), Josephine Pucci (D, So)
  • Key Losses: Christina Kessler (G, .944%, 1.39GAA), Randi Griffin (F, 11-10-21)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 4-2 RPI (1/23/10 in Boston), 3-2 RPI (2/12/10 in Troy)
  • 2010-2011 games: 1/8/11 in Troy, 1/21/11 in Boston
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 3rd
Harvard hasn’t finished in the bottom half of the ECAC since the 1997-98 season, and it looks like this season will be another strong one for the Crimson, who return a talented class including Kate Buesser, last season’s New England Hockey Journal Player of the Year. Harvard will be without former top goaltender Christina Kessler, who missed the latter half of last season due to injury and has since graduated. Despite Kessler’s injury, the Crimson went on a tear late in the season, going 10-2-1 in their last 13 ECAC games before sweeping Princeton by a combined 9-2 score in the ECAC quaretfinals. They went on to lose to Clarkson in the ECAC semifinals, and after making the NCAA tournament as an at-large team, fell to Cornell in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Expect to see Laura Bellamy be the starting goalie for the Crimson early in the season, as her .921%, 1.68GAA held strong in the wake of losing Kessler last season. Harvard touts a strong recruiting class of seven freshmen this year, which should help reinforce an already-tough team.

Against the Crimson last season, RPI had the same unexpected success they had against Dartmouth. After earning their first win over the Crimson in the 2009 playoffs, RPI swept the season series against the Crimson in 2009-10, marking the first regular season wins over Harvard, as well as an impressive season sweep of the Harvard/Dartmouth travel pair. For a Harvard team that lost just six league games last season, this was a bit of a shock, and will be a tough feat for the Engineers to repeat this year.

*****

Cornell
  • Last Season's Record: 21-9-6, 14-2-6 ECAC (1st)
  • 2010 ECAC Tournament Champion
  • 2010 NCAA Championship Runner-Up
  • Key Players: Rebecca Johnston (F, Jr), Catherine White (F, Jr), Laura Fortino (D, So), Lauriane Rogeau (D, So), Amanda Mazzotta (G, Jr)
  • Key Losses: Melanie Jue (F, 9-11-20), Liz Zorn (F, 5-11-16)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 3-1 Cornell (11/7/09 in Troy), 2-1 Cornell (2/19/10 in Ithaca).
  • 2010-2011 games: 1/14/11 in Troy, 1/29/11 in Ithaca.
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 1st (unanimous)
After challenging for the national championship last year (falling 3-2 in 3OT to Minnesota-Duluth in the championship game), Cornell loses very little during the offseason, and will come back as strong as (or stronger than) last season’s team. Top talent returns to the team in Catherine White, Laura Fortino, Lauriane Rogeau, and most of all junior goalie Amanda Mazzotta (.927%, 1.53GAA).

As a testament to the talent on the Cornell squad, eight Cornell players (out of nine invited to camp) made the 22-strong roster of the Canadian Under-22 National Team this summer. Among the players selected was forward Rebecca Johnston, a junior who took the 2009-2010 season off to play for Team Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She finished +9 with one goal and five assists in five Olympic games. In her first two seasons at Cornell she was the recipient of numerous accolades, including being named a RBK All-American, All-Ivy League, first team All-ECAC, and Patty Kazmaier Top 10 Finalist. Her return should give an even bigger punch to an already-strong Cornell offense.

Cornell brings in one of the top recruits of this offseason, last year’s captain and MVP of the Canadian Under-18 team, Jessica Campbell. Between the returning talent and the incoming recruiting class, Cornell is going to be the team to beat in the ECAC, and it would be pretty surprising if they didn’t make a run for the Frozen Four in 2011.

*****

Colgate
  • Last Season's Record: 12-20-4, 8-10-4 ECAC (8th)
  • Key Players: Brittany Phillips (F, So), Hannah Milan (F, Sr), Jordan Brickner (D, So)
  • Key Losses: Katie Stewart (F, 24-15-39), Ali Edell (D, 3-11-14), Evan Minnick (F, 10-15-25), Marissa Dombovy (F, 6-11-17)
  • Last Season vs. RPI: 10-4 RPI (11/6/09 in Troy), 3-2 Colgate (2/20/10 in Hamilton)
  • 2010-2011 games: 1/15/11 in Troy, 1/28/11 in Hamilton
  • 2010-2011 Preseason Coaches’ Poll: 9th
Colgate has been a middle-of-the-road team since they’ve been in the ECAC, and there is little to suggest next season will be a breakout one for the Raiders. Selected to be the first team out of the playoffs by the coaches, Colgate has to worry about graduating three of its top four scorers, weak goaltending, and having a third of its roster comprised of freshmen in 2010-11.

Senior goaltender Lisa Plenderleith finished last season with a .890%, 3.17GAA overall, and an ECAC-worst .900% in ECAC play. With no freshmen goaltenders, the job will be hers to lose, and she’ll need to step it up in order to help a weak Colgate squad stay competitive on the ice. Freshman defenseman Shannon Doyle could help restore some scoring with a knack for setting up goals – she had a 18-79-97 line last season with the Toronto Junior Aeros last season, and earned several awards as a member of the Canadian Under-18 Team.

While it’s possible Colgate will sneak into one of the last playoff spots this season, it’s going to be an uphill battle. It’s more likely that the Raiders will be on the outside looking in come the end of February.

*****

With that, we’ve now had a look at each of the teams in the ECAC. Come back tomorrow when we put together the pieces, review the preseason coaches’ poll, and offer our thoughts on how the season might shake out.

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