March 2, 2013

Women’s Ice Hockey to Face #8 Manhattanville College in ECAC East Semifinal on Saturday at Norwich

Audio: http://www.littleeast.tv/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=embstay&id=381891C8BE

Video: http://www.nsnsports.net/norwich

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

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – For the second time in three years head coach Colleen Harris' Beacons will be facing the Valiants of Manhattanville College in the ECAC East semifinal round scheduled for Saturday, March 2 at 3:00 p.m. from the Kreitzberg Arena on the campus of Norwich University.

The winner of Saturday's contest will face the winner of No. 1 seed Norwich University and No. 6 seed the University of Southern Maine.  The champion of this year's tournament will receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which is scheduled to begin next week.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets are available on the Internet at www.cadetstickets.com and any remaining tickets will be available at the door on game day. For more information contact Kevin Reed, Kreitzberg Arena Ticket Manager at tickets@norwich.edu or by phone at 802-485-2880 

Tournament passes for both the men and women are $15 each. Men's and women's tournament passes are separate and include admission to either the three men's game or the three women's games.

Single session ticket prices for Friday include both men's games and are $10 for adults and $3 for students.  

On Saturday there are two separate admissions. Tickets for two women's semifinal games are $10 for adults and $3 for students and include admission to both games.

The arena will then be cleared between the second women's semifinal and the men's championship game. The men's championship game will be a separate admission and will be the same prices as Friday.

GAME PREVIEW

After pulling off the upset of the playoffs, women's ice hockey is looking to make history against the Valiants and earn a trip to their first ever conference championship game.  To do that however, the Beacons will have pull off another upset this time taking down the top-10 Valiants.

During the regular season, each team skated away with a victory.  Both games were played at the Clark Athletic Center due to damage caused to the Valiants home rink because of Hurricane Sandy.  In their first meeting, which was also the season-opener, Manhattanville defeated UMB by the final of 4-1.  Two months later it was the Beacons turn to notch a victory, as they upset the then eighth ranked Valiants by the final of 5-3.

Freshmen Samantha Fallon (Pembroke, Mass.) and Casey Schaejbe (Arlington, Mass.) played a huge part in the victory, as Fallon recorded a pair of goals, while Schaejbe made 30 saves to give the Beacons their first conference regular season win over Manhattanville since November 29, 2011 when they earned a 3-1 victory. 

The last time the two teams faced each other in the semifinals was on March 5, 2011.  The Valiants defeated the Beacons by the final 2-1.  Saturday's match-up will mark the third straight year under Harris that women's ice hockey and Manhattanville have gone head-to-head.  Last season the two squads battled it out in the quarterfinal round of the tournament with Manhattanville earning the decision, 2-0.

For the Valiants they are looking to earn their second conference title in the last three years.  Last season, they were defeated by Norwich University by the final of 6-3.  In 2011, they defeated the Cadets to earn their school record 11th trip to the NCAA Division III tournament.  They will also be looking for their ninth ECAC East tournament title as well this weekend.

Manhattanville will skate into Saturday's contest currently ranked eighth on both the USCHO.com and D3Hockey.com Top-10 National Polls, which was the same ranking the Valiants had when they last met the Beacons during the regular season.

SCOUTING THE BEACONS

For the Beacons, the 2012-13 season has been a growing year for coach Harris and her program.  Having to overcome injury after injury since the puck first dropped in the season opener, Harris has had to play mad-scientist with her line-ups hoping to find a solid fit which would move them into the top tier of the conference standings.

Going into this weekend's festivities, senior Emily LaRosa (Weymouth, Mass.) leads UMB with 17 points having fired home eight goals, while also tallying a team-best nine assists.  Classmate Alli Greenberg (Stoughton, Mass.) sits second on the team with 14 points (6g, 8a).  Sophomore Emily Howard (Terryville, Conn.) has produced a team-best 10 goals this season and sits third on the team in points with 12.  Her three power-play goals are also a team-best as well. 

Defensively the Beacons are going to look to Schaejbe to anchor the back line for UMB.  After taking over the starting role in the beginning of the season, the freshman netminder had to go through some growing pains in the first couple of weeks.  However in the second half of the season, she has shown that she has the makings of one of the top goaltenders in the country.  The lone Beacon to earn an ECAC East postseason honor (All-Rookie Team), Schaejbe has played over 976 minutes this season and sits at 461 saves for a .902 save percentage.

SCOUTING THE VALIANTS

The Valiants currently feature two of the conference's top-10 scorers in Mary Rose Morrison and Katie Little.  The duo currently sits with a combined 39 points respectively, having recording 14 goals and 25 assists in 18 games played.  Little was named an ECAC East Second Team All-Conference honor earlier this week.  Morrison's 0.83 assists per game is third best in the ECAC East, while Alla Traun sits tied for sixth with her 0.72 assists per game.

On the power-play the Valiants have looked to Sonia Occhionero to do a majority of their scoring.  Currently tied for fourth in the ECAC East, Occhionero sits with four power-play goals this season. 

Defensively, the Valiants will look to the 2013 ECAC East Goaltender of the Year and First Team All-Conference honoree Mary Evans.  In her first year as the Valiant's number one goaltender, Evans has posted an 11-6-1 record, with a 1.94 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.  In the quarterfinal win over New England College, Evans made just 11 stops in the one-sided 5-0 victory over the Pilgrims.

Also securing Manhattanville's backline will be ECAC East Honorable Mention selection Erin Sidjak.  A major part of the Valiants defense, Sidjak and her teammates are currently ranked fourth in the ECAC East in conference goals allowed with 31, 47 overall on the year.

KEY TO THE GAME: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES

If the Beacons are to pull out another huge win they will have to take advantage of every opportunity the Valiants defense gives them.  UMB needs to get on the board early and needs to stay out of the penalty box.  Despite being outshot in every period in last week's quarterfinal win at Castleton State, the Beacons were able to connect for five goals, with one of those coming on a shorthanded play.  For Manhattanville they will need their top line to continue its strong play which has kept them in the top of the conference standings all season long.  In total the Valiants have nine players with 10 or more points going into this weekend's contest.  Little and Morrison are the top two playmakers and will have to continue that trend if they are to get past a very hungry Beacons team.

LOOKING AT THE OTHER SEMIFINAL

In the first semifinal of the day, the top-seeded Cadets of Norwich University will be taking on the sixth-seeded Huskies of the University of Southern Maine.  During the regular season, the Cadets defeated the Huskies by the finals of 7-2 and 4-0.  Norwich, who has been ranked in the top-5 in the country all season long are led by Tori Charron and her 42 points, which leads by the ECAC East and Division III women's ice hockey.  The Huskies will look to Kailey Bubier this weekend, after she led USM to their huge 5-2 upset win over Salve Regina University last Saturday.