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NCAA week 23 preview: Conference tournaments launch

HE and WCHA kick off first round in respective playoffs

Mikyla Grant-Mentis looks to lead Merrimack in team’s first ever post-season berth
Merrimack Athletics

With all conferences except the CHA starting their tournaments this weekend, every team is looking to extend their season. Merrimack will participate in the post-season for the first time in program history, facing juggernaut Boston College. Freshman netminder Léa-Kristine Demers will backstop the Warriors while Mikyla Grant-Mentis will lead them upfront. The Eagles will look to Katie Burt in net and Makenna Newkirk at forward to win it for them.

John Mazza previews Week 23:

Merrimack @ No. 6 Boston College, Thursday Feb. 23, Friday Feb. 24, and Sunday Feb. 26 (If Necessary)

  • With a split series again against Vermont and a little luck, Merrimack will enter its first ever Hockey East tournament.
  • Down 4-2 late in the third, the Warriors went on the power play. Katelyn Rae (Courtice, ON) took a bouncing puck and found the back of the net cutting into Vermont’s lead. However, the score would stay 4-3.
  • With a career-high 48 save game, Léa-Kristine Demers (Repentigny, QC) backed the Warriors to a 3-2 win, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
  • Playing Providence, the Eagles split the series and enter the Hockey East playoffs as the number one seed.
  • Delaney Belinskas (Port Orange, FL) scored the lone goal for BC early in the second, as her team was defeated 4-1 on Saturday.
  • With two goals, freshman Caitrin Lonergan (Roslindale, MA) led the Eagles to a 3-1 victory on Senior Day.

No. 10 Colgate @ No. 7 Cornell, Friday Feb. 24, Saturday Feb. 25, and Sunday Feb. 26 (If Necessary)

  • Colgate dropped both games last weekend, finishing sixth in the ECAC.
  • Megan Sullivan (Toronto, ON) and Bailey Larson (Sycamore, IL) scored for the Raiders in the 5-2 loss to Clarkson.
  • In their last regular season game, Colgate could not find the back of the net, losing to St. Lawrence 3-0. Netminder Julia Vandyk (Cambridge, ON) made 14 saves in the loss.
  • Claiming the third seed in the ECAC tournament, Cornell is hoping to bounce back from it’s tie and loss to claim the ECAC trophy.
  • Entering the third period down two goals to St. Lawrence, Cornell needed something to come away with a point. Freshmen Jamie Bourbonnais (Mississauga, ON) and Amy Curlew (Goose Bay, NL) each scored, forcing a tie between the two teams.
  • Again needing a late goal, the Big Red relied on their freshmen. Grace Graham (Island View, NB) scored the game-tying goal with under five minutes left in regulation. This time, Cornell fell 5-4 to Clarkson in overtime.

Ohio State @ North Dakota, Friday Feb. 24, Saturday Feb. 25, and Sunday Feb. 26 (If Necessary)

  • After splitting the series with North Dakota last week, the Buckeyes will face them again in the best-of-three series this weekend.
  • With two goals, Maddy Field (Oakville, ON) led Ohio State to a 4-2 win over the Fighting Hawks.
  • With a 26 save performance in the 3-2 loss, Kassidy Sauve (Whitby, ON) has cracked the Top 20 in single-season saves. She looks to break the record over the course of the tournament.
  • Looking for revenge after the split series, the Fighting Hawks want to take it all this weekend.
  • Down 3-1 at the end of the second, Ryleigh Houston (Winnipeg, MB) scored cutting the deficit to one, before the Buckeyes took a 4-2 victory.
  • Charly Dahlquist (Eden Prairie, MN) had the game-winning goal for the Fighting Hawks on Saturday, with her team defeating OSU 3-2.

No. 8 Quinnipiac @ No. 9 Princeton, Friday Feb. 24, Saturday Feb. 25, and Sunday Feb. 26 (If Necessary)

  • Quinnipiac finished their season strong with two blank slates against RPI and Union.
  • Five different players scored for the Bobcats, including leading scorer Melissa Samoskevich (Sandy Hook, CT) and Taylar Cianfarano (Oswego, NY) in the 5-0 win.
  • Senior Day saw senior netminder Sydney Rossman (Excelsior, MN) break the program shutout record. With nine saves, Rossman recorded her 26th career shutout and is now in sole possession of the record.
  • Princeton’s two wins last week secured them home ice for the first round of the ECAC tournament.
  • Molly Contini’s (Arthur, ON) two-goal performance led the Tigers to a 4-1 victory over Union.
  • Senior Day was also poetic for the Tigers. Seniors Kelsey Koelzer (Horsham, PA), Molly Strabley (Yarmouth, ME), and Cassidy Tucker (Plymouth, MI) all scored in route to the 4-2 victory over RPI.

Robert Morris @ Lindenwood, Friday Feb. 24 and Saturday Feb. 25

  • With the CHA not starting their tournament until next week, Robert Morris still has two games to play to secure their number one spot in the conference.
  • Senior captain Rikki Meilleur (St. Adolphe, MB) gave the Colonials an early lead, but they could not hold off Penn State, falling 3-2.
  • Looking to bounce back against the Nittany Lions, Robert Morris recorded its first shutout of the season behind Jessica Dodds (London, ON) and her 22 saves.
  • Lindenwood sits last in the CHA standings but hopes to move up to fifth with victories this weekend.
  • Down 2-1 in the final period, Courtney Ganske (Killarney, MB) found the back of the net with 7:11 left in the third. However, Mercyhurst managed to score again, defeating Lindenwood 3-2.
  • Only Cierra Paisley (Shawnigan Lake, BC) of Lindenwood scored as they lost the second game of the series 5-1.

Note: All rankings listed are from Week 22’s SB Nation’s Women’s College Hockey Division 1 Poll.