February 28, 2014

ECAC East Semifinal Preview: #5 Women’s Hockey at #1 Norwich

BOSTON, Mass. - The UMass Boston women's hockey team will look to make history in more ways than one this weekend as they travel to Northfield, Vermont to take on the top-seeded and third ranked Cadets of Norwich University in the semifinal round of the ECAC East Tournament tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Kreitzberg Arena.

GAME INFORMATION

Saturday, March 1 at 3 p.m. at Kreitzberg Arena

Live Stats: http://livestats.prestosports.com/norwich/

Video Webcast: http://nsnsports.net/colleges/norwich/

SEASON SERIES

The last time the Beacons skated away with a victory over the Cadets was on January 15, 2010 when they defeated Norwich by the final of 2-1 in the Clark Athletic Center Ice Arena.  In total the Beacons have defeated the Cadets a combined three times with the first-ever meeting going in favor of UMass Boston by the final of 9-0. 

In 2013-14 the Cadets extended their winning streak over the Beacons to six straight games following a 5-1 win on January 24.  In that loss the Cadets scored their five goals through the first two periods, before UMass Boston was able to get on the scoreboard in the closing minutes of third on a power-play goal from Alexandra Karlis (Denver, Colo.).  Junior goaltender Moe Bradley (Swampscott, Mass.) combined for 24 stops in the tough conference loss.

LAST TIME OUT

Last week the Beacons were the lone team in the ECAC East tournament to defeat their higher seeded opponent.  In the 4 vs. 5 match-up UMass Boston traveled to Stamford, Connecticut to take on Manhattanville College.  In perhaps one of the most complete games they have played all season the Beacons dominated the Valiants to earn a 3-0 victory.  The playoff shutout marked the first-ever in program history and was the result of a 17 save performance by Bradley.  Her defense was also sensational as the Beacons combined for 13 blocked shots as a group. 

Kelsey MacIsaac (Durham, N.H.) put the Beacons up 1-0 with less than five minutes to play in the first period.  The Beacons would maintain that lead for over 20 minutes until Katie Loiselle (Glocester, R.I.) made it a 2-0 game at the 7:32 mark of the third period.  Freshman Kat Armstrong (Boulder, Colo.) put the final nail in the coffin with 52 seconds left in regulation on her first collegiate goal, an empty-netter.

With the exception of the first six minutes of play, Norwich University made quick work of their first round opponent in the eighth seeded Pilgrims of New England College.  After surrendering an early first period goal, the Cadets fired off eight straight to earn the 8-1 one-sided victory.  Seven different players scored in the victory, with Madyson Moore recording a pair of tallies.  Netminder Taylor Fairchild had to make just seven saves through the first two periods to earn her 11th win of the season.  Loren Carrier closed out the third and made just three stops.

SCOUTING THE BEACONS

To pull off the upset of the year, UMass Boston will have to follow the exact game plan they used in last week's quarterfinal victory over Manhattanville.  UMass needs to come out firing on all cylinders and not let the home crowd affect them at any point.  An early goal is a must, while on the other side of the red line the Beacons defense cannot afford any costly mistakes and must continue their impressive shot blocking.

A total team effort will be key to the Beacons victory and first-ever trip to the ECAC East Tournament championship game.  Whether it's Bradley or Casey Schaejbe (Arlington, Mass.) getting the start between the pipes the two netminders must be ready to elevate their games to the next level to neutralize one of the most consistent offenses in Division III women's hockey.  Going into tomorrow's contest the Beacons goaltenders carry a goals against average of 1.96 which not only ranks in 18th in the country but is the lowest ever in program history.

With last weekend's victory, Bradley now sits 13th in the country in goals against average with 1.56.  She is also 10th in the nation in save percentage with an impressive .939 mark having made 324 stops this season.  Last week's shutout also moved her into a tie for 17th in the country in shutouts with three. 

Leading goal scorer Samantha Fallon (Pembroke, Mass.) will have to continue her late season magic and will need to capitalize on any opportunity that the Cadets give her.  Her 15 goals and 18 points continue to lead the Beacons offense, while Alyssa Sullivan (Medford, Mass.) sits second on the team in points with 17 but is the top playmaker with 11 assists.  Loiselle now sits third on the team with a solid 16 points (7g, 9a), while Tori Pizzuto (Waterbury, Conn.) and Kayla Kiernan (North Smithfield, R.I.) sit fourth and fifth on the team with 12 and 11 points respectively.

SCOUTING THE CADETS

As one of the most consistent teams in the ECAC East and in the country, Norwich University is looking to earn their sixth straight trip the title game and will look to extend their current win streak to 15 straight contests. 

No one has been more dominant on the Cadets roster this season than Tori Charron.  As the leader in almost every offensive category, the two-time ECAC East Player of the Year has 23 goals and 17 assists for 40 points.  She also sits with 10 power-play and seven game-winning tallies.  She is currently tied for fifth on the all-time Division III career goal-scoring list with 99 goals.  First Team All-Conference honorees Brittany Sharman and Marie-Philip Guay have combined for seven goals and 27 assists respectively.

Between the pipes Fairchild and Carrier have split time this season with Fairchild posting a 1.43 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.  Carrier currently has a record of 9-1-0 and has a 1.12 goals against average and a .297 save percentage.  The duo has combined for 10 shutouts in 2013-14. 

WHAT'S NEXT

The winner of Saturday's contest will advance to the championship game of the ECAC East Tournament.  The title game will be played next Saturday at the highest remaining seed.  In the other semifinal it will be the third-seeded Spartans of Castleton State College taking on the second-seeded Seahawks of Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. 

This winner of this year's championship will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.