Women's ice hockey prepares for ECAC Open Tournament

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's ice hockey team will complete its season this weekend at the two-day, four-team Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Open Tournament at the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport, Conn. The fourth-seeded Purple Knights oppose No. 1 Saint Anselm College on Saturday in a 1 p.m. semifinal before the consolation and championship are Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m., respectively.

Saint Michael's will compete in the tournament for the 10th time in 11 seasons, as third-seeded Sacred Heart University hosts the competition this year. The Pioneers take on No. 2 College of the Holy Cross in the other semifinal as the host of the tournament for the first time.

Saint Michael's finished the regular season 4-19-1 overall and 3-15 in the ECAC East, winning its last three outings while playing a school-record 11 games decided by one goal or less. Each of its most recent six contests was decided by one goal - the longest stretch in school history - and seven setbacks were by a lone tally. During their regular-season finale on Saturday, the Purple Knights picked up a 2-1 win over Manhattanville College, which was receiving national votes at the time before moving into the U.S. College Hockey Online (USCHO) poll this week.

Senior Melissa Hallisey (Dedham, Mass./Dedham) paces the squad with eight assists and 11 points this year after totaling four points during her initial three seasons. Classmate and defender Allison Graf (Long Lake, Minn./Minnesota Thoroughbreds) has four goals and four assists after missing last season due to injury, while junior Macey Thomas (Amherst, Mass./Northfield Mount Hermon) and sophomore Kristen Spulecki (Orchard Park, N.Y./Buffalo Bison) each have seven points. Four of Spulecki's team-high five goals came on power plays.

Between the pipes, senior Erin Stevens (Watertown, Conn./Connecticut Polar Bears) has recorded a .924 save percentage, just .001 short of third place in the ECAC East, and has a 3.18 GAA while averaging 37.6 saves. Stevens has made 865 total stops, trailing the Division II/III leader by three, and is just 19 saves shy of matching her own single-season program record, set last year. She is also seventh nationally in minutes played (1,339:03) this winter. In the history of NCAA women's ice hockey, Stevens is 13th in career saves (2,454) among goalies that played in a Division III conference; only 12 have recorded 2,500.

The Purple Knights hung with each of the other three ECAC Open Tournament teams during setbacks earlier this year. Saint Anselm scored three times in 10:12 of the second period to break open a 1-0 game on Nov. 16 in a 4-0 win, Holy Cross needed a power-play tally with 1:48 remaining to claim a 3-2 win on Dec. 1, and Sacred Heart scored all three of its goals during a 5:26 stretch in the first on Jan. 4 before being blanked for the final 47:44.