This weekend, the No. 7 women’s hockey team (18–6–5 overall, 15–4–3 ECAC) will begin its ECAC playoff journey with a best-of-three series against fifth-seed St. Lawrence (14–13–7, 9–7–6) at Hobey Baker Rink. The format for this tournament is to take the top eight of 12 teams from the conference ranked on points earned in conference games, with two points awarded for a win, one for an overtime loss, and none for a loss in regulation.
The quarterfinals are all best-of-three series at the higher seed, and then the semifinals and finals are single elimination hosted by the highest remaining seed. The teams in the tournament (in seed order) are Cornell, Colgate, Clarkson, Princeton, St. Lawrence, Harvard, Quinnipiac, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). The winner of the tournament will get one of four automatic bids to the NCAA tournament, while the other four teams will be filled by four at-large bids.
In Princeton’s matchup, the series has seen two incredibly tight games this season. In the first game, the Tigers won at home on an overtime goal from first-year forward Maggie Connors in the last four seconds. In the second game this season, played last Saturday, Princeton lost on the road 2–0 in a game that was 0–0 entering the third period and was 1–0 until an empty-net goal by the Saints sealed the game in the last 30 seconds.
One trend for this series so far has been the Tigers’ lighter-than-usual offensive pressure against St. Lawrence. In the first matchup, they were outshot by a wide margin, and in the second game, they only had 18 shots on goal, compared to their season average of nearly 40. The expectation was that Princeton would up this offensive pressure coming in to the second game, but it was not able to. Head coach Cara Morey, a nominee for ECAC Coach of the Year, will have likely made this a focus over the past week of practice. The Tigers also ended their season on a three-game losing streak, while the Saints are on a three-game unbeaten streak.
Other major storylines in the quarterfinals include the stellar play of late by RPI goalie Lovisa Selander, who will be facing one of the nation’s hottest teams in No. 4 Cornell, the overall first seed. Selander has the third highest save percentage (.940) in the nation and is the NCAA’s all-time leader in career saves with 4000. However, in the two matchups this season, Cornell has dominated, both winning the first contest 5–0, and the second last weekend 8–2. Selander allowed five goals in both of these games, so perhaps Cornell is one of the few teams that has figured out how to get the puck past her.
Elsewhere, No. 5 Clarkson, the third seed, will try to capture its third consecutive conference postseason title when it hosts Quinnipiac. In the regular season, Clarkson won the first meeting 3–2 before they tied 1–1 in the second matchup this past Saturday. The Golden Knights have played a lot of minutes over the last few weekends, playing overtime in four of their last five games. Quinnipiac has ended the season on a six-game unbeaten streak. One interesting relationship here is that former Bobcat T.T. Cianfarano is now a graduate transfer playing for Clarkson and has 33 points with 18 goals and 15 assists this season. She was a big part of Quinnipiac’s run to the ECAC title that included a win over the Golden Knights 1–0 for the conference title.
Lastly, when No. 9 Colgate hosts Harvard, this will be the third time in four years that the two teams have played in the ECAC Quarterfinals. In the season series, Colgate won both games — 1–0 and 4–2 — a performance they will look to as they move on to the semifinals. Colgate also comes into this game scorching hot, winning its last five games, including an overtime win at Clarkson.
Princeton’s games will be played at 6 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday, and, if necessary at 3 p.m. on Sunday. For those unable to make the trip, the games will be streamed online on ESPN+ for those in the United States. For those abroad, there is a link on the GoPrincetonTigers.com website to access a stream. There will also be live updates available on the Princeton women’s hockey Twitter (@PWIH).