HADLEY, Mass. – Middlebury clinched the top seed and home ice advantage throughout the 2014 NESCAC Women's Ice Hockey Championship a week ago after posting a win and a tie over Williams. The Panthers, who earned the No. 1 seed for the fourth straight year, will be in pursuit of their eighth conference title when quarterfinal action starts on Saturday, March 1.
Williams, Amherst and Bowdoin have also earned the right to host quarterfinal round contests. The highest remaining seed following the quarterfinal round will host both semifinals and the final from March 8-9. This year's champion will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Third-seeded Williams (12-9-3, 9-4-3 NESCAC) had a rough start to the season going 3-5-0 in 2013, but went 7-1-1 in January to make a jump in the league standings and earn a home playoff game.
Under third year head coach Meghan Gillis the Ephs have shown marked improvement. When Gillis took over the Ephs were coming off a 4-17-1 campaign and she now has them posting their highest league finish since 2006 and hosting their first NESCAC Tournament game since 2010.
In addition, with 12 wins thus far this season the Ephs have recorded their most wins in a season since 2010 .
The Ephs earned their highest seed since 2006 when they were also the No. 3 seed and advanced to their most recent and fifth overall semifinal appearance. Williams is still searching for its first league title after losing to Bowdoin in the 2002 final.
Williams will face sixth-seeded Trinity (10-7-7, 5-6-5 NESCAC) in the quarterfinal round. The Bantams lost both regular-season games versus Williams on Jan. 10 (2-0) and Jan. 11 (5-3) in Hartford. Junior goalie Chloe Billadeau was in net for both of the previous games with Trinity.
After being swept by the Ephs the Bantams rattled off six straight wins and closed out the schedule by going 0-2-4 against conference opponents. Trinity has made it to the semifinal round four times with its most recent appearance coming in 2012, while advancing to the 2010 final where they fell to Amherst in overtime.
Bowdoin, Trinity and Wesleyan finished the regular season with the same winning percentage after the Polar Bears defeated Amherst, 1-0, and the Cardinals and Bantams skated to a 4-4 draw. Bowdoin owned a 2-0-2 record against both squads, which clinched the fourth seed and final quarterfinal home game for the Polar Bears, while Trinity and Wesleyan were 0-1-3. Since Trinity and Wesleyan went 0-0-2 against each other in the final regular-season weekend and had a matching number of wins, records against the top four teams were compared. The Cardinals registered a 1-4-5 record versus Middlebury, Amherst, Williams and Bowdoin, while the Bantams went 0-6-4.
Eph netminder Chloe Billadeau has played in 14 games this season and first year Margaret Draper has appeared in eight. Billadeau has turned aside 337 of 378 shots for a save percentage of .892 and she owns a goals against average of 2.89. Draper has a save percentage of .897 on 157 stops of 175 shots. Draper's goals against average is 2.23.
Two Ephs have recorded double figures in both goals and assists on the season. Senior forward and captain Cristina Bravi has 18 goals and 16 assists for 34 points and freshman defenseman Hanna Beattie has 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points.
In conference play Bravi has netted 12 goals and assisted on seven, while 11 of Beattie's goals have come in conference play as have 12 of her assists.
Ticket prices for the NESCAC Tournament first round game will be $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for students.
Saturday's ticket will also be good for the 4:00 PM NESCAC Quarterfinal Men's Game to be played at 4:30 PM in Lansing Chapman Rink when the Eph men will host an opponent to be determined later today when men's conference play concludes.
Saturday, March 1 at Higher Seeds
#8 Connecticut College at #1 Middlebury – TBD
#7 Colby at #2 Amherst – 1 p.m.
#6 Trinity at #3 Williams – 1 p.m.
#5 Wesleyan at #4 Bowdoin – TBD
Saturday, March 8 at Highest Remaining Seed
Semifinal Games – 1 p.m. | 4 p.m.
Highest Remaining Seed vs. Lowest Remaining Seed
Remaining Quarterfinal Winners
Sunday, March 9
Final – 2 p.m.