Nicole Haase

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 18

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 from the previous week.

(1) Wisconsin at (2) Minnesota

Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 4:00 PM Central

Watch: A paid stream is available on FloHockey or on BTNPlus. You can listen for free on IHeartRadio.

Another iteration of the Border Battle takes place this weekend as the Badgers head to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota. The teams split their series in Madison earlier in the season. The Gophers currently hold a four point lead atop the WCHA, but the Badgers have two games in hand. This is the only meeting between top ten teams this weekend.

Wisconsin suffered their second loss of the season last weekend in Columbus, but retained their stop atop the weekly rankings. Minnesota cruised to a pair of wins over Minnesota State last time they were on the ice.

Abby Roque leads the Badgers in points thanks to her 21 assists in 22 games – she's fourth in the nation in helpers. Annie Pankowski is right behind her and her 15 goals are good for sixth best in the country.

Grace Zumwinkle and Nicole Schammel each have 29 points for the Gophers. Zumwinkle's 18 goals are third in the NCAA. Schammel has 23 assists in 24 games, also third in the country.

(5) Ohio State at Minnesota Duluth

Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 4:00 PM Central

Watch: Stream is available on FloHockey.

The Bulldogs lost a pair of games 3-1 when they visited Columbus in November. Last season, these two teams split their season series, with each team sweeping at home. UMD is hosting and they have been much better at home than on the road this season.

It's been an up and down season for Minnesota Duluth, who was probably over-hyped early on in the season and they fed into that with two big wins over Boston College. Expectations have brought them a bit back to earth. They've played the toughest schedule in the country and it doesn't get any easier this week. Thus far, the Bulldogs haven't fared well against ranked opponents other than a tie and shootout win against Minnesota.

Ohio State is coming off a series split with Wisconsin and they'll host Minnesota next week. In order to stay in the national conversation and be in the running for a top spot in the WCHA, they have to be getting points from these series. They succeeded against Wisconsin and they'll hope to keep that going in Duluth.

UMD is led by freshman Gabbie Hughes, whose 11 goals and 20 points are both team highs. Ohio State's leading scorer is Emma Maltais, with 30 points. Her 20 assists lead the team, but Tatum Skaggs is leading the team with 12 goals.

It'll also be an amazing matchup of goalies, with gold-medalist Maddie Rooney in net for Minnesota Duluth and Swiss national Andrea Braendli backstopping Ohio State. Braendli has a .939 save percentage and has been a huge boost for the Buckeyes, who lost Kassidy Sauve in the offseason.

Connecticut vs (3) Northeastern (home and home series)

Friday at 2:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: A paid stream is available on Stretch Internet on Friday and CBS Sports on Saturday.

These two teams haven't met since Northeastern beat Connecticut 2-1 in the Hockey East Tournament championship game last year.

Northeastern has been on a roll this season with their fabulous first-year combo of Alina Mueller and Chloe Aurard leading the team. They've climbed up to third in the national rankings and are looking virtually unbeatable. Aerin Frankel has been stellar in net for them, when she plays, and UConn will have their work cut out for them.

For Connecticut, Natalie Snodgrass continues to lead the way, though there's a solid set of other players providing points for UConn. They're on a six-game winning streak and bring a lot of momentum into the matchup.

Northeastern all but has a lock on the Hockey East regular season crown. Connecticut currently sits in fifth place, just three points out of third place. They'll be fighting to move into fourth place and the ability to host an opening round series in the conference tournament. They're also trying to hold off Merrimack, with whom they are currently tied in the conference.

Also worth a look:

  • Mercyhurst at RIT – Friday at 6:00 PM; Saturday at 1:00 PM Eastern
  • New Hampshire at (9) Providence – Friday at 6:00 PM; Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • Yale at (6) Clarkson – Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Princeton freshman Maggie Connors – Connors scored four goals and added two assists on the weekend. In the Tigers' 5-0 win over no. 4 Cornell, she had a hand in four of the team's five goals. She was the NCAA First Star of the Week and ECAC Player of the Week.

Cornell – The Big Red dropped three spots in the weekly rankings after their loss to Princeton on Friday.

Merrimack sophomore Mikyla Grant-Mentis – Was named NCAA Second Star of the Week and Hockey East Player of the Week after leading all skaters with six points in two games, including two shorthanded goals.

Princeton –  The Tigers are on an 18-game unbeaten streak. They haven't lost a game since the opening weekend against Wisconsin. It's the longest active streak in the country and the longest streak in program history. They remain unbeaten in conference play.

Photo credit: Minnesota Twitter

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