NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 23
- 5 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 23

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 23 by Nicole Haase

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.

(2) Wisconsin at (9) Minnesota Duluth

Friday at 7:00 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream available on FloHockey.

This is the series this weekend with the most at stake. Wisconsin has a three point lead over Minnesota for the WCHA regular season crown. The top spot in the conference gets a bye in the first round of the tournament, so winning is about more than a trophy and a banner. The Gophers have an easier route to points this weekend as they play Minnesota State – though the Mavericks gave both Wisconsin and UMD more than they expected in the past few weeks.

Wisconsin needs a minimum of three points from the weekend. They own the tiebreaker with Minnesota, so even if the teams end up tied atop the table and are co-champions, the Badgers would end up with the one seed and the bye. The past few weeks have been difficult for Wisconsin. After losing to Minnesota State, they lost to Ohio State on Saturday and tied on Sunday. In all three of those games, their opponent took an early lead and were able to focus on defense and the Badgers struggled with getting the puck to the net. The bright spot for Wisconsin is they took a very crucial extra point in that tie against OSU when Britta Curl scored on a snipe during 3-on-3 overtime. The point is very valuable, but that goal carried a lot of symbolic power, as well. The Badgers were noticeably lighter and more at ease after that game. Scoring there ended some frustration and gave them both confidence and momentum. Sometimes a week off can work against a team, but in this case, I think Wisconsin could really benefit from time to regroup and become the team they have been for the majority of the season.

For Minnesota Duluth, the weekend's games are about position and seeding. The Bulldogs are tied with Ohio State in third place. The difference between finishing third and fourth could be the difference in being able to make a run for the WCHA auto-bid and the season ending early. The fourth seed will play Bemidji State and, if they win that, will get the top seed in the semifinals. The third seed gets Minnesota State in the first round and faces the number two seed in the semifinals. The Bulldogs have a strong senior class, a world-class goalie, and have been hovering around the bottom of the national top ten all season. They don't have enough time to work their way back up in the Pairwise, but they're a team I think could make a decent run as the post-season goes on. Once you're in the tournament, anything can happen.

Syracuse at Mercyhurst

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream available via StretchInternet.

The CHA race is about as tight as it can possibly be. Mercyhurst has a one-point lead on both Robert Morris and Syracuse, who are tied at 22 points right behind them. These teams all have an additional weekend of regular season games left – so, four games left between this weekend and next.

Robert Morris has an easier go of it this weekend, meeting RIT, while Syracuse tries to hold ground with Mercyhurst. Next weekend, Mercyhurst plays Penn State, while Robert Morris and Syracuse face off. With all the head-to-head games yet to play, tiebreakers are up in the air.

This looks to be a conference race that goes down to the final period. Mercyhurst and Syracuse split their series a few weeks ago, and in the Orange's win, they exploded for eight goals.

The Lakers have had the opportunity to lengthen their lead in the standings a few times this year, but haven't been able to complete a weekend sweep or put away an opponent. The likelihood in this series is another split, but Syracuse has shown they can turn it on and they are going to have to keep pace with RMU while also holding off Mercyhurst. Desperate times always make for an interesting game, so I imagine we'll get some very entertaining hockey here.

(7) Clarkson at Harvard

Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream available via Stretch Internet.

Clarkson is in a very precarious position heading into their final weekend. They're currently sitting in seventh in the Pairwise, and would likely receive a bid for the NCAA tournament, but one upset in a conference tournament would leave them on the outside looking in. They've also got a very slim lead on Boston University, leaving them even more vulnerable.

The Golden Knights also have very little secured in the ECAC. They are currently in fourth and will make the postseason, but they could finish anywhere from second to fifth, meaning they could have home ice or they could be on the road. Harvard is currently in third and can also finish anywhere from second to fifth.

Also worth a look:

  • Connecticut at (8) Boston University – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • Minnesota State at (3) Minnesota – Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 4:00 PM Central
  • Yale at (6) Princeton– Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Ohio State's Emma Maltais She tallied her 100th career point, scoring for the Buckeyes in their tie with Wisconsin on Sunday.

Dropping in the polls – Princeton, Clarkson and Minnesota Duluth all lost a spot in the polls this week.

Franklin Pierce Milestones – On Friday, Nicole Amato scored her 100th career point and Bridgette Prentiss scored her 41st point, setting a new program record for points in a season.  The team won its 21st game this season on Saturday, setting a new program record. Junior Haley Parker had a goal and an assist to reach her 100th career point. Sophomore goalie Emme Ostrander also set a single-season program record with 16th win in net. Prentiss is a defender that led NEWHA in scoring, finishing the season with 44 points. She was named First-Team All-Conference and NEWHA Defender of the Year. Becca Kniss was named NEWHA Rookie of the Year.

RPI – The Engineers still remain winless on the season.

Patty Kazmaier Top Ten Finalists – Congratulations to Clarkson sophomore Elizabeth Giguere, Cornell senior Jamie Bourbonnais, Cornell junior Lindsay Browning, Northeastern junior Aerin Frankel, Northeastern sophomore Alina Mueller, Ohio State junior Emma Maltias, Princeton sophomore Sarah Fillier, Wisconsin senior Abby Roque, Wisconsin sophomore Sophie Shirley, and Wisconsin junior Daryl Watts.

Patty Kaz snub – Not to disparage anyone on the list, but it seems glaring that RMU's Jaycee Gebhard, who's fifth in the country in scoring and second in assists, was left off the list. She's fully rewritten the record books at Robert Morris and not watching the CHA shouldn't be a reason people don't vote for her.

(Photo: Franklin Pierce Women's Hockey Twitter)