November 28, 2013

Women's Journal: Giving thanks to the goalies

By Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

BU's Kerrin Sperry is eighth in the nation with a 1.60 goals-against average. (BU Athletics)

Several New England women’s college hockey players and coaches will be giving thanks for their outstanding goaltending while celebrating around the American Thanksgiving table on Thursday.

2013-14 is shaping up to be a special season for stellar goalies throughout Hockey East, ECAC and Division III. As of this week, four of the national leaders in goals against average are from New England: Quinnipiac’s Chelsea Laden (third with 1.07), Harvard’s Emerance Maschmeyer (fourth with 1.24), Holy Cross’s Alexandra Stevenson (seventh with 1.50) and Boston University and North Reading, Mass.’s Kerrin Sperry (eighth with 1.60.)

Maschmeyer (second with a .956), Laden (fourth with a .947) and Sperry (fifth with a .945) all are in the top ten nationally in save percentage as well. In winning percentage, Manchester, New Hampshire native Lauren Slebodnick out of Cornell, Stevenson and Boston College’s Corinne Boyles joins the trio to make a very New England-y national top ten.

Maschmeyer, Laden and Sperry’s performances are not surprising, but also weren’t a given going into the season. Despite quickly adapting to Division I play in her freshman season and ousting her now assistant coach Laura Bellamy for the starting jobMaschmeyer sometimes found big games, like last season’s NCAA quarterfinal against Boston College, daunting due to inexperience.

Laden came into her junior season without much starting experience, having served as back-up to the Bobcats’ steady goaltender Victoria Vigilanti for the past two years. Prior to this year, the Lakeville, Minnesota native had seen action in 18 games, with 11 of those coming during her freshman campaign, where she went 5-5.

Sperry entered her senior year with huge holes in her defensive corps due to injuries and graduations, but has had a career season despite it. The inexperience of the blue liners in front of her can be quantified in the number of saves she is having to make (343, one of the highest totals in the nation – though no where near Bemidji State’s Brittni Mowat has had to make 412 saves on 443 shots seen.) In addition to the challenges on the ice, she’s taking graduate classes while starting up with her campus’s ROTC – not exactly an easy senior year.

Not to be outdone, Division III goalies in the region are also doing well early in their seasons. Norwich transfer goalie Taylor Fairchild is second in the nation in goals against average with 0.75 through five games. Middlebury junior Annabelle Jones is two spots behind her in fourth, with a 0.99. Former Boston Shamrocks product Tori Gianformaggio is second in national save percentage, having made an incredible 130 saves in three games so far this season (save totals of 49, 41 and 40) for a .963.

Player of the Week

Amanda Pelkeyjr. forward, Vermont, Montpelier, Verm.

Pelkey seems to be using this summer’s USA Hockey Olympic Tryout Camp experience as extra motivation to be a standout on this year’s Catamount’s squad. She set the program’s career record in points Friday night as they hosted Northeastern. The Huskies came away with the 2-1 win that night, but Pelkey’s power play tally in the third was her 53rd point, which bests 2013 graduate Emily Walsh’s mark of 52. She added another goal in Vermont’s 3-2 win over Northeastern on Saturday. Pelkey is second in Hockey East in scoring with 11 goals and nine assists thus far.

Team of the Week

Providence College

After a disappointing start to the season, the Friars have found their footing. They stopped a seven game losing streak this past week with two solid wins against Maine. Their penalty kill came to play, going 9-for-10 on through the two games. Senior Corinne Buie stepped up as well, scoring two goals and five assists to take the team’s scoring lead. Providence will take on Brown Saturday afternoon for the women’s hockey Mayor’s Cup.

Game of the Week

Boston College at Cornell UniversityFriday night and Saturday afternoon

The Eagles hope to keep their two game win streak going in the classic confines of Lynah Rink in Ithaca, New York this weekend. Cornell sits on top of the ECAC with a 6-0-2 conference record, and has yet to lose a game this season. BC will rely on Boyles and their defensive corps to stay even with a Big Red team who has scored less than three goals only once this season (in a 1-1 tie against Quinnipiac.) The Eagles are seeing a scoring boost from freshman Kristyn Capizzano and Andie Anastos, who both had multi-point weekends last week against UConn.

Power Rankings

1) Harvard (7-1-1 overall, 6-1-1 ECAC) – The Crimson have cemented themselves as one of the nation’s best as they begin their non-conference slate. They continue to have a well distributed offense – ten members of the roster have goals on the season.

2) Boston University (11-3-1 overall, 7-0-0 Hockey East) – The Terriers fell to Harvard Friday night, but bounced back in a tight game against New Hampshire. Penalties are causing them fits – they are averaging 12.2 a game. They face a hard-nosed Northeastern team Tuesday night.

3) Boston College (11-3-1 overall, 7-1-0 Hockey East) – Their weekend trip to Ithaca will tell us a lot about how this Eagles team can fare moving forward. The Eagles need to work on their penalty kill (54/66), which is a problem spot for them.

4) Quinnipiac (10-2-5 overall, 3-2-4 ECAC) – Tying St. Lawrence, losing to Clarkson and tying Princeton in their last three games does not bode well for the Bobcats.

5) Vermont (7-7-2 overall, 4-3-1 Hockey East) – It’s a toss up between Northeastern and Vermont for the fifth spot, but the Catamounts are showing tenacity at just the right time. They have won four of their last six games, including a 4-3 OT win against Brown on Tuesday night.

Twitter: @sportsgirlkat