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2021-22 NCAA Preview: ECAC, part 1

Previewing the season outlook for Harvard, Yale, Union, Dartmouth, Brown, and Rensselaer

Women’s Beanpot Championship Game: Boston University Vs Harvard University At Bright-Landry Hockey Center Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Here’s how the ECAC season looks to shape up for these six teams: Harvard, Yale, Union, Dartmouth, Brown, and RPI.

Harvard

Note: Harvard did not play the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Losses

  • Ali Peper, D — Harvard’s top defender in 2019-20 who posted 15 points from the blue line as a senior.
  • Kat Hughes, F — One of the Crimson’s offensive leaders; scored 21 points as a senior.

Key Returners

  • Lindsay Reed, Jr., G — Posted a .914 save percentage and 2.83 goals against average but was outstanding as a first year.
  • Kristin Della Rovere, Jr., F — Harvard’s leading scorer as a sophomore in 2019-20 with 22 goals and 37 points.
  • Dominique Petrie, Sr., F — Led the Crimson with 23 assists and finished second with 35 points as a junior.
  • Becca Gilmore, Sr., F — Finished third in 2019-20 with 24 points.
  • Anne Bloomer, Jr., F — Finished second on the team with 15 goals as a sophomore.
  • Keely Moy, Sr., F — The Crimson’s fifth leading scorer in 2019-20 with 22 points.
  • Maryna MacDonald, Jr., D — Had a strong sophomore season, scoring 12 points from the blue line.
  • Emma Buckles, Sr., D — A leader on the blue line for Harvard who chipped in five points as a junior.
  • Kyra Willoughby, Jr., D — Led the team with 47 blocked shots as a sophomore.

Season Outlook

With the talent they have returning, Harvard should be more than able to maintain their top-four spot in the ECAC this season. Six of their top eight point scorers return from 2019-20, and they add some talented pieces in Gabi Davidson Adams, Taze Thompson, and Ellie Bayard up front. They should have one of the strongest top-nines in the conference with excellent center depth to boot; Della Rovere and Petrie are both dominant in that regard. Lindsay Reed posted a .940 save percentage as a rookie; if she can get back to that form, this Harvard team certainly has the potential to challenge the conference leaders.

While the Crimson have solid players on the back-end, they’ll need MacDonald, Buckles, Willoughby and Kate Glover to raise the bar a bit if they want to improve; Harvard gave up more shots on goal per game than any other team in the ECAC’s top eight in 2019-20. First years Rose O’Connor and Jenna MacDonald both have good size and have attended camps with USA Hockey, and they could be contributors right away.

Yale

Note: Yale did not play the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Losses

  • Saroya Tinker, D — One of Yale’s leaders on the blue line who chipped in 12 points and led the squad with 55 blocked shots.
  • Tera Hofmann, G — Started 12 games a senior and recorded a 7-5-0 record and three shutouts.

Key Returners

  • Claire Dalton, Jr., F — Led Yale in scoring as a sophomore during the 2019-20 season with 36 points in 32 games.
  • Charlotte Welch, Jr., F — Led the Bulldogs with 15 goals in 2019-20 and finished second with 33 points.
  • Elle Hartje, So., F — Finished fourth on the club as a rookie with 25 points.
  • Grace Lee, So., F — Also turned in a strong rookie season with 21 points two years ago.
  • Rebecca Vanstone, Jr., F — Missed a good chunk of time her sophomore year but still finished second on team with 12 goals and totaled 18 points in 22 games.
  • Emma Seitz, Jr., D — Had a great season as a sophomore, netting 26 points to lead the blue line.
  • Greta Skarzynski, Sr., D — Second on the blue line in scoring in 2019-20 with 14 points.
  • Gianna Meloni, Sr., G — Started the bulk of Yale’s games as a junior and turned in a .914 save percentage and 2.40 goals against average, to go along with a 10-10-0 record.

Season Outlook

Yale is in great position to build off their fifth-place finish in 2019-20. They return basically all of their primary scorers as well as some key pieces defensively. Like many of the teams who didn’t play last season, they’ve also got a huge first-year class of 13 players. Dalton, Welch, Hartje, and Lee make up a strong top-six that should produce regularly for the Bulldogs. They’re a bit thinner on the back end but Seitz and Skarzynski are two good pieces to build around, and first year Olivia Muhn is likely to make an immediate impact. Tijana Miskovic has also been in Canada’s Under-18 player pool.

Yale’s goaltending situation is solid, but if Meloni (or another goalie) can post above-average numbers Yale has a chance to break into the top-four of the league.

Union

Note: Union did not play the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Losses

  • Bella McKee, G — Started 27 games and won five as a rookie for the Dutchwomen
  • Leah Herrfort, F — Second on the team with 13 points two years ago
  • Rachel de Perio, F — Tied for third in scoring in 2019-20
  • Ava Reynolds, D — Tied for third in scoring in 2019-20; finished with 64 blocked shots
  • Katelynn Russ, F — Tied for third in scoring in 2019-20

Key Returners

  • Grace Heiting, Sr., F — Led Union in scoring as a sophomore two years ago, with 14 points
  • Carmen Merlo, Jr., F — Finished ninth on the team in scoring as a rookie, with seven points
  • Olivia Groulx, Jr., D, — Solid as a freshman defender with 42 blocked shots

Season Outlook

There are quite a few pieces for Union to replace, looking back to the 2019-20 season. The Dutchwomen have lost six of their top seven scorers from that season, which is a lot of production to replace for a team that finished 10th in the ECAC in goals per game. None of the goaltenders on their roster have previous experience with the team, either. Like other teams in the conference, with so much turnover, it’s hard to get a feel for where they stand at the start of the season, but they’re not likely to break into the top eight.

Dartmouth

Note: Dartmouth did not play the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Losses

  • Kayla Wormsbecher, G — Played in 12 games as a junior in 2019-20 and led the team with a .917 save percentage
  • Bailee Brekke, D — Led the Bears with 56 blocked shots in 2019-20
  • Christina Rombaut, F — Had a team-high 321 faceoff wins as a senior two years ago

Key Returners

  • Hannah Humphreys, Jr., G — Started 19 games for the Big Green back in 2019-20 as a rookie
  • Catherine Trevors, Jr., F — Led the team in scoring as a first year in 2019-20 with 10 goals and 18 points
  • CC Bowlby, Jr., F — Finished second on the squad as a rookie with 16 points and tied for first with 10 goals
  • Gabby Billing, Sr., F — Tied for the team lead with nine assists two seasons ago
  • Lotti Odogna, Sr., D — Led all defenders in scoring with 11 points as a sophomore and had 51 shot blocks

Season Outlook

Dartmouth was never quite able to gain much traction during Laura Schuler’s tenure as head coach, finishing in the bottom four of the conference every year since 2015-16. They’ve got a new head coach now in Liz Keady-Norton, who previously served as associate head coach at BU. While I don’t expect the Big Green to crack the top eight of the ECAC field just yet, there are some good pieces in place here. They return a significant portion of their freshmen and sophomore classes from 2019-20, all players who were top performers for the team. Sophie Robinson and Annie King could both be key pieces right away on the back end.

On paper, they look to be in a better position than other teams in the conference’s bottom four. There’s a good chance they could move up a spot or two from 2019-20’s 10th place finish.

Brown

Note: Brown did not play the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Losses

  • Maybelline Beiring, D — Top D for the team back in 2019-20, scoring 10 points and recording 56 blocks
  • Lucinda Quigley, D — Led the D with 69 blocked shots as a senior two years ago
  • Calla Isaac, G — Started 20 games in 2019-20

Key Returners

  • Shay Maloney, Sr., F — Brown’s leading scorer in 2019-20 with six goals and 12 points
  • Tina Paolillo, Sr., F — Tied for the goal-scoring lead two seasons ago with six
  • Megan Forrest, Gr., F — Tied for third on the team in scoring in 2019-20
  • Lizzy Gross, Sr., F — Tied for third on the team in scoring in 2019-20
  • Mel Anderson, Sr., D — One of the Bears’ most experienced returning defenders

Season Outlook

The Bears finished second to last in the conference in 2019-20, with their lone two wins coming against RPI. Since their canceled season, they’ve made a change behind the bench, with former Princeton assistant Mel Ruzzi coming on as coach. She has tons of experience as a collegiate assistant, which could help bolster Brown’s recruiting efforts, but it’ll take time to see how that plays out. For now, the Bears will try and improve on their 11th place finish and crack the top 10 of the ECAC. They’ve got a bunch of new faces, with 17 freshmen and sophomores—one who could make an impact right away is Grace Kedzoria, as Brown is searching for a new starter in net.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Note: RPI did not play the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Losses

  • Sabrina Repaci, F — Led the Engineers in points (8) and assists (6) in 2019-20
  • Blake Orosz, F — Led the Engineers with four goals and finished third in scoring two years ago
  • Kendra Farole, F— One of RPI’s top defenders in 2019-20
  • Ena Nystrøm, G — RPI’s games played leader in 2019-20 who posted a .915 save percentage

Key Returners

  • Lauren Severson, Gr., F — RPI’s returning scorer from two seasons ago
  • Teeghan Dalby, Jr., D — Defender who showed promise for the Engineers as a rookie in 2019-20
  • Maddy Peterson, Jr., F — Second on the team in goals as a rookie in 2019-20
  • Amanda Rampado, Jr., G — Started 11 games as a rookie two years ago and finished with a .912 save percentage

Season Outlook

Rensselaer finished last in the conference back in 2019-20, failing to record an ECAC win or conference point in 22 games. Their 2020-21 season was canceled, like much of the rest of the conference, and there’s not a ton to inspire hope that they’ll be able to move very far up the standings now that they’re back in action. The Engineers really struggled offensively and gave up the highest shots on goal average in the ECAC in 2019-20. They’ve brought in some players like Magdalena Erbenova, Taylor Larsen, and Audrey McCutcheon who can help out, but likely not enough to truly turn things around.