The National Women's Hockey League continues its offseason with numerous player signings, its first international draft and several front office moves. In case you've missed anything over the last few weeks, let's take a look at what's happened in the league.
Come back each week for a breakdown of the most interesting upcoming games, how to watch or listen to them, and some thoughts on the movers and shakers of the previous week.
Here are the games to watch this weekend:
(1) Minnesota at (7) North Dakota
Friday, 7 pm CT
The thing about rivalries is that it rarely matters how the rest of either team's season has gone.
North Dakota had to pull out heroics to force overtime against St. Cloud State last week and is 3-1-2 on the season. They need to do better if they're going to be in the post-season picture.
Minnesota has been on cruise control, though they did go down two goals to Minnesota-Duluth before coming back and winning 5-2.
Home ice for North Dakota could help, and there's a "Pack the Ralph" promotion on Saturday that could get a decent crowd to cheer them on.
Minnesota will be missing the likely Rookie of the Year Sarah Potomak, whose 19 points lead the Gophers. North Dakota will be without Halli Krzyzaniak. Both girls are on Team Canada's 4 Nations Cup roster.
Expect Minnesota to continue their winning ways, but don't be surprised if North Dakota steals one. If they do, I imagine that goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie will have played a large role.
(4) Clarkson at (8) Harvard
Friday, 7 pm ET
Watch and listen: Video is available via the Ivy League Digital Network. It's $15.95 per month for the league pass, $10.95 per month for a school month pass, and $9.95 for a single event.
Harvard suffered a surprising loss to Dartmouth when they opened their season last weekend, and things don't get any easier for them with Clarkson coming to town. Add to that the likely absence of goalie Emerance Maschmeyer and things aren't looking great for the Crimson.
It's too early to tell, but Harvard could suffer from a similar fate as BU as they try to replace the senior class that took them to the national championship game. They need to find scoring (and quickly) if they want a chance in this game.
Clarkson had a tougher fight against New Hampshire last weekend than anyone would have predicted. They will need to be much better on defense against a team of Harvard's caliber, or they're going to be exposed. This is a game with a lot of question marks and how they all get answered will decide who gets the win.
Also worth a look:
Penn State at Lindenwood, Fri/Sat @ 7 pm CT - (Video for purchase here - getting this pass on Friday would get you RIT @ Mercyhurst, Syracuse and Robert Morris and Penn State @ Lindenwood)
Syracuse at Robert Morris, Fri @ 7 pm ET, Sat @ 3 pm ET
Maine at Vermont, Sun @ 2 pm ET
Stick Taps and Snark
↑Wisconsin - A win at Mankato on Friday would be the first time in program history that the Badgers have started a season 9-0. If they keep the Mavericks scoreless, they'll set an WCHA record for consecutive shutouts (which is currently held by Minnesota during their perfect season).
↓The women's hockey polling system - As much as we like to talk about parity and growth, the lack of depth in the league came shining through when Bemidji State lost twice this weekend (to a higher ranked opponent, sure) and didn't move in the rankings. Presumably the thought is that there wasn't a team that had shown to be worth moving up, but it's still a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, no?
↑Hannah Brandt - She enters the weekend with 99 career goals, one shy of becoming the fourth Gopher in program history to reach 100 career goals. Brandt is also the NCAA’s active career points leader with 239 points (99g-140a).
↓Boston University - The Terriers have not have the start to the season that they had hoped. At some point we'll stop talking about the graduation of Marie-Philip Poulin, I suppose, but the BU senior class has failed to step up despite showing that they could in the past. The lone bright spot is Rebecca Russo, with eight points. Otherwise, their seven other seniors have a combined total of 11 points.
↑St. Cloud State - Mustering just five shots in the opening game against North Dakota, they came back with five goals on Saturday, thanks in part to Molly Illikainen's hat trick. Give credit to North Dakota, who pulled their goalie with more than five minutes left and used the 6-on-5 advantage to tie it up and force OT. The Huskies pulled it off in penalty shots. Heck of a game -- wish I could have watched.
↓Mercyhurst - The historically successful program still doesn't have a win this season.
Editor's note: follow Nicole on Twitter at @NicoleHaase and wish her luck today while she covers the Team USA Four Nations Cup camp!
Filed under: college hockey; wisconsin; boston university; harvard; clarkson; St. cloud state; mercyhurst; Molly Illikainen; hannah brandt; minnesota; north dakota; emerance maschmeyer; shelby amsley-benzie; halli krzyzaniak; sarah potomak; ice hockey
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