Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bear Down

Potsdam's Annmarie Lewis frequently has the puck in the vicinity of her stick.

Twenty days removed from their last game action, the 2-1-0 Lady Icers are back at it this weekend. Awaiting Josh Brandwene's charges is quite an interesting test, as the NCAA Division III SUNY-Potsdam Bears await Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. in Potsdam's Maxcy Ice Arena. Live stats may be available through Potsdam's website.

I say "interesting" because to be honest, I'm curious to see how the still-largely-unknown PSU team stacks up. We know what happens when PSU meets a DI team. We also know what happens against a mediocre ACHA D1 squad. But what about somewhere in between? Given that these are the first two of eight DIII games the Lady Icers will play this season, their score on this test might correlate pretty strongly with how the season as a whole turns out.

As little as we know about PSU, we may know even less about the Bears, which finished 10-13-2 last season, 6-11-1 and 7th place in the ECAC West behind fifth year coach Jay Green.

The reason for that is simple: the only game Potsdam has played this year was of the exhibition variety, defeating the Ontario Hockey Academy 1-0 on Tuesday behind Annmarie Lewis' power play goal and a combined 24-save shutout from Jen Conophy and Dawna Salvarinas. Lewis, a senior co-captain, was the Bears leading scorer last season with 11 goals and 15 assists. She's joined frequently joined in offensive exploits by Caitlin Manahan, also a senior co-captain, and sophomore Jessica Silveira. The team's strength, though, might be on the blueline, as senior Breanna Roy and sophomore Brittany Lucky lead a unit that allowed just 2.66 goals per game last season, despite a losing record.

Penn State, of course, turned in a dominating effort in recording a pair of wins against Buffalo at the Ice Pavilion three weeks ago. While Katie Vaughn was her usual stellar self (saving 30 of 32 for the weekend), it was two newcomers who stole the show. Freshman Tess Weaver, a Pittsburgh Penguins Elite product, had the look of a breakout star with three goals and three assists, and Elizabeth Denis (a former Bear herself, although of the Brown variety) added three points of her own.

Following the pair with the Bears, the Lady Icers will make a brief stop back in ACHAland with an October 28th tilt against California (PA) at the Ice Pavilion. After that, they'll once again hit the road to face a DIII team, this time one of Potsdam's conference rivals, Chatham, in Pittsburgh on November 4th and 5th.

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