Sometimes in college hockey, there are early season surprises that shock the country. Some die off quickly like the Pokemon Go fad. Others last the whole season, going full Leicester City. St. Lawrence has been one of those surprises this season, and they’re the next test for the Catamount women.
The Saints barely went .500 last year, going 17-15-6, and went out in the ECAC Tournament semifinal to Quinnipiac after upsetting Princeton in the quarters. And with two top-ten foes to start the year and the loss of their top-scoring defender, Amanda Boulier, they looked to have their hands full.
Instead, St. Lawrence upset the apple cart, sweeping then-#9 Northeastern at Matthews and earning a win and a draw against then-#4, now-#8 Clarkson in a home and home last weekend. They roll into this home and home riding supreme confidence.
In goal, it’s the same tandem as last year. Grace Harrison is the starter, having played all four games so far and posting a. 904 save percentage. Behind her, it’s a three-way battle for backup between Sonjia Shelly, Brooke Wolejko, and Allison Compeau. I’d expect Harrison to carry the load once again this week, but if not, I’d imagine Shelly is first off the bench.
The defense lost four members to graduation, but they’re still formidable, preventing shots from getting through (SLU has outshot their opponents every game). However, they haven’t been able to replace Boulier’s scoring, as their leading scorer right now ranks sixth on the team (Kirsten Paladis). If the Cats can find ways to stop the Saints’ defense in transition, it will be much easier to defeat them.
Because right now, only BU and Colgate have tickled twine more times per game than St. Lawrence, and it’s all thanks to a talented forward crop. Kennedy Marchment’s 10 points is second-highest in the country at the moment, and she has two games in hand on first place (Lara Stalder of Minnesota-Duluth). Last year’s leading scorer, Brooke Webster, is no slouch either, posting 8 points (including her 100th career point at SLU, so congratulations to her!), as has Hannah Miller. This is a team that is very talented offensively, and the Cats will want to avoid a high-scoring track meet against a team whose weapons are so potent.
Game one will be Friday at Appleton Arena in Canton, and costs $8 (c’mon, pay streams, really), while game two will be Saturday at Gutterson and viewable for free on CatamounTV.