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The time is now for the Utica Pioneers Women’s Hockey Team

The Utica Pioneers and Chatham Cougars square off in a UCHC Tournament Quarterfinals game on Wednesday afternoon at the Utica University Nexus Center. The puck drop is scheduled for 4:00 pm.

The fourteenth-ranked Utica Pioneers Women’s Hockey Team has put together another outstanding regular season. With an overall record of 20-3-2, they have posted their third consecutive season of at least 20 wins. Their conference mark of 16-2-2 (51 points) earned them a second-place finish in the UCHC standings.

With records like that, one would think a spot in the NCAA Tournament would be well in hand. The reality for the Pioneers is that it is not.

Per https://uscho.com. the 2024 NCAA Women’s Division III Tournament will have 11 teams. Seven of those teams will be the automatic bids from the NESCAC, UCHC, SUNYAC, NEHC, MIAC, CCC, and NCHA tournament winners. One team will be an independent or a team from a conference without an automatic bid. The remaining three spots will be at large bids for teams that did not win their tournaments in conferences that have automatic bids.

Action from the Chatham Cougars at Utica Pioneers game on February 3, 2024, at the Utica University Nexus Center. Utica won 7-1. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

The conference tournament matchups for CNY Division III teams

If Utica does not win the UCHC Tournament, the competition for the three at-large bids will be fierce. The pairwise rankings are a very good indicator of who will receive the bids. The NESCAC, for example, has five teams ahead of the Pioneers in the latest pairwise rankings, and the SUNYAC has two. Each conference only has one automatic bid, leaving at least five teams from those two conferences alone (not counting the others) to battle for the three at-large bids.

Of course, the at-large bid conversation becomes moot if the Pioneers win the UCHC Tournament. The good news is coach Dave Clausen’s team is built to do just that. With a veteran-heavy roster, and star power at all positions, the Utica Pioneers are in win-now mode.

The Pioneers boast a high-powered offense that ranks third in the country in goals per game. They are led by Hailey Modlin and Carolyn Whitney, who are tied for the team lead in points. Erica Sloan, Maggie Rylott, and Carly Stefanini provide strong support and can light the lamp anytime Utica needs a goal.

Carolyn Whitney (#16) scores against the Chatham Cougars on February 3 at the Utica University Nexus Center. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

Sophomore Tess Barrett leads the Utica defense corps in points with 19. Madison Novotny trails closely behind with 18 points, while Emma Corbett has 14. Autumn Mish has four goals from the blue line in only 13 games played.

The Pioneers also have an advantage that most teams do not have in goaltender Angela Hawthorne. The senior has compiled an outstanding career at Utica and this season is no exception. She has a record of 18-1-2 with a 0.98 GAA, 0.950 save percentage, and three shutouts. Her only loss this season was a 1-0 decision against the eighth-ranked Hamilton College Continentals on December 9.

Hawthorne is number one in the UCHC in GAA, and number two in save percentage.

Chatham (10-10-3 overall, 8-10-2 UCHC) enters Wednesday’s game as the seventh seed in the UCHC Tournament. They played the Pioneers twice this season, dropping both games earlier in the month 5-1 and 7-1. Although they did not fare well against Utica in the regular season, they do have a couple of standouts the Pioneers will need to be aware of.

Senior forward Ally Nolan leads the Cougars in scoring and the conference in assists. Fellow senior forward Allie Corser-James leads the team in goals and will shoot the puck from anywhere at any time. Her 146 shots lead the UCHC in that category by a large margin.

The goaltending duties for the Cougars are split between Lilly Rogers, Samantha Brophy, and Lindsey Batz. Rogers and Brophy have an identical 3-3-1 record, while Batz is 4-2-1 with two shutouts to her credit.

Team Statistics

Utica Pioneers

  • Goals Per Game: 4.6
  • Goals Against Per Game: 1.0
  • Shots Per Game: 45.8
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 19.5
  • Power Play: 27.6%
  • Penalty Kill: 87.8%

Individual Leaders

  • Goals: Hailey Modlin (17)
  • Assists: Carolyn Whitney (19)
  • Points: Hailey Modlin + Carolyn Whitney (32 each)
  • Shots: Erica Sloan (113)
  • PPG: Carly Stefanini (6)
  • SHG: Erica Sloan + Carolyn Whitney (4 each)
  • GWG: Carolyn Whitney (5)
  • +/-: Ava Suda (+28)
  • PIM: Carolyn Whitney, Autumn Mish, and Molly Pedone (16 each)

Goaltenders

Angela Hawthorne: 18-1-2, 0.98 GAA, 0.950 save percentage, three shutouts.

Maddie Esposito: 1-2-0, 1.27 GAA, 0.936 save percentage, one shutout.

Lauryn Brown: 1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, 0.900 save percentage, no shutouts.

Chatham Cougars

  • Goals Per Game: 2.4
  • Goals Against Per Game: 2.3
  • Shots Per Game: 31.3
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 31.3
  • Power Play: 23.9%
  • Penalty Kill: 81.6%

Individual Leaders

  • Goals: Allie Corser-James (11)
  • Assists: Ally Nolan (20)
  • Points: Ally Nolan (29)
  • Shots: Allie Corser-James (146)
  • PPG: Allie Corser-James, Brooke Almond, and Samantha Barrett (3 each)
  • SHG: None
  • GWG: Allie Corser-James (3)
  • +/-: Allie Corser-James (+13)
  • PIM: Lauren Carmody (46)
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