NCAA Women's Hockey: The Wisconsin Badgers on 2023 National Champions
It's difficult to call a program like Wisconsin an underdog, but after suffering the longest
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.
It's the first week of the conference tournaments. Every match-up is a best-of-three series, so Sunday's games are all "if necessary." Home ice and seeding should come into play for a lot of these games.
Penn State has shown flashes of excellence this season and they have come into their own. They shouldn't have any difficulties with RIT.
Expect Lindenwood to give Robert Morris all they can handle, and if Nicole Hensley -- recently named to USA's Women's World Championships roster -- has one of her extra-stellar games, the Lions could steal this series.
Cornell has shown signs of improvement lately, including a win over Harvard to close out the season, but it's unlikely that they'll be able to topple Clarkson.
Harvard has seen difficulties, but have beaten Colgate twice this season while the Raiders were ranked 10th in the country.
Princeton lost to St. Lawrence early in the season and needed overtime to beat them at home two weeks ago. If there's an upset to be had in the tournaments, this might be the best bet.
Home teams should prevail in all of these series. With the top three seeds, the wins should come easily. Connecticut had a better season, but lost twice and needed overtime to beat New Hampshire in their third meeting. I'd expect them to be highly motivated to salvage some pride and continue their season.
Northeastern's games will be televised by NESN.
Minnesota-Duluth's tough regular season schedule was preparing them for this post-season, but Bemidji's seniors have created something special and have brought the program to prominence. They probably have to win the tournament to make the NCAA finals, and I don't imagine the Bulldogs can derail those plans.
St. Cloud and North Dakota may be the most interesting series of the weekend -- the Huskies have shown moments of brilliance this season and made some big strides for the program. North Dakota has shown to be vulnerable, especially over a weekend series. You can expect goaltending to be a huge part of these games.
Minnesota showed a lot of depth in sweeping Wisconsin last week. Ohio State doesn't have the fitness or defense to withstand the attack.
Wisconsin has to prove they can shake off the two losses in Minneapolis last weekend. They shouldn't have an issue, but did bobble a few years ago against the Mavericks when they required a third game.
↑The Patty Kazmaier Award Top 10 -- Minnesota's Hannah Brandt and Dani Cameranesi; Wisconsin's Annie Pankowski and Ann-Renée Desbiens; Boston College's Alex Carpenter, Haley Skarupa, and Megan Keller; Northwestern's Kendall Coyne; North Dakota's Shelby Amsley-Benzie; and Princeton's Kelsey Koelzer. Congratulations to all.
↓Wisconsin -- The Badgers dropped a spot in the national rankings and behind Minnesota in the Pairwise rankings after giving up eight goals in two games in Minneapolis last weekend.
↑Colgate -- The Raiders finish the regular season ranked. They earned home ice in the ECAC playoffs for the first time in program history. They also set a new program record for wins in a season
↓Union -- Alas, it was a winless year for the Dutchwomen.
↑College players on the USA IIHF Women's World Championship Roster-- Minnesota's Lee Stecklein, Wisconsin's Annie Pankowski, Lindenwood's Nicole Hensley, Boston College's Alex Carpenter, Megan Keller and Haley Skarupa, Harvard's Michelle Picard, Northeastern's Kendall Coyne, and Bemidji State's Stephanie Anderson will all represent Team USA in Kamloops in March.
(Photo credit: paulkman/Wikimedia Commons)