It’s been an interesting and chaotic opening few weeks of the women’s college hockey season. At the end of week three, of the teams that have opened their seasons, just two teams have an unblemished record –- Quinnipiac and Colgate. Boston College, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Clarkson all stumbled against unranked teams. The top-10 poll, usually fairly unchanged in the early weeks of the season, already features three teams that were unranked to start the year.
The upcoming week features Wisconsin at Clarkson and Boston University at Northeastern, as well as Minnesota-Duluth at Minnesota, Ohio State at Bemidji State and our first look at a few of the Ivy League schools, as they start with exhibitions.
We’ll have a “What to Watch” later today, but in the meantime here are some highlights of the first few weeks:
Boston College traveled to Duluth two weeks ago and UMD came away with a win and tie. The Bulldogs finished 15-21-1 last season. Boston College was unbeaten until the national championship game they lost to Minnesota. A small drop-off was expected for the Eagles as they graduated a talented senior class, but Minnesota-Duluth made a statement with the results that weekend.
Bemidji State, who have shown marked improvement over the past few seasons, wasn’t expected to continue that upward trend after graduating the nine seniors who led the turnaround. They went into Minneapolis last weekend and split the series, losing 3-1 in the first game, but winning 2-0 on Saturday.
Ohio State fired coach Jenny Potter over the summer and it came to light that she had committed multiple NCAA violations. They hired Minnesota assistant Nadine Muzerall who added Jessica Koizumi to her staff. Both coaches barely had a chance to be on campus before the season started. With all that in mind, it was assumed OSU would have a slow start to the season, but they proved everyone wrong. They opened the season with a sweep of RPI and came back the next week to tie Wisconsin in Madison. Goalie Kassidy Sauve missed last season after having surgery on both her hips and has come back this season better than ever. Jincy Dunne, who missed last season due to concussion symptoms, made her long awaited college debut and promptly scored for the Buckeyes.
St. Lawrence was picked to finish seventh in the ECAC preseason poll, but don’t see content to play that role. They swept then No. 9 Northeastern two weeks ago, netting 11 goals in two games against the Huskies. The Saints proved that was no fluke when they came away with a win and tie against No. 4 Clarkson this past week.
The Union Dutchwomen won their first game in 56 tries last week, beating Penn State 4-2 and ending a winless drought that had crossed three seasons.
St. Cloud State, who finished in the bottom half of the WCHA last season, pushed Wisconsin to need multiple third-period goals to win the first weekend of the season and then came back last weekend to defeat North Dakota.
Vermont upset No. 9 Boston University on Sunday afternoon. The Catamounts finished sixth in Hockey East last season with a 9-25-3 record.
Hockey East looks more wide open that it’s been in years. While Wisconsin and Minnesota are still the titans in the WCHA, they’ve shown they aren’t infallible and the gap between teams in that conference seems to grow ever smaller. It's already shaping up to a fun and interesting season and we're just entering week 4.
(Photo Credit: WCHA/Twitter)