NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 6
- 4 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 6

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 6 by Nicole Haase

The season still probably shouldn't be happening but many college hockey games are going on as scheduled this weekend.

Maine at (3) Northeastern

Saturday at 4:30 PM and Sunday at 4:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Free streams available through Saturday's game televised on NESN.

The Huskies were only able to play two games before the winter break, splitting a series with Boston College. Maine is 4-2 through their first six games. They split a series with Holy Cross to open their season before Thanksgiving, but found their footing and closed out 2020 with a split with Providence.

The Black Bears come in with more time on the ice and momentum and Northeastern has been sitting with the disappointment of their loss to BC for a few weeks now. The Huskies know better than to overlook Maine, but I also think this could be a bit of a tougher series than they might have envisioned before the season started.

Maine has been led by Ida Kuoppala, who was stellar as a rookie and seems to only have grown more confidence in her game. The Black Bears bring size and quick puck movement. Expect this to be a fast-paced game with a lot of back and forth. There can be lapses in their game where opponents can pull them out of their plan, but if they can play to their full potential for 120 minutes, they'll have a good shot at knocking Northeastern off kilter.

Northeastern returned pretty much every piece of their very good team from last season and on paper, appear to be the team to beat this season. But with so much affecting this season that has little to do with hockey, things aren't that straightforward. While most teams strengthen and build as the season goes on, Northeastern is one of the best at it. They play their best hockey when it matters most. The change to the routine and their inability to rely on regular games to build on may have an impact on how they finish the season. How well they adapt to all the messiness of this year seems as though it will play a major factor on if they can finish this year like they did last season.

(1) Wisconsin at Minnesota State

Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream available through FloHockey.

Like Northeastern, Wisconsin has only been able to play two games so far this season. The big difference? The Badgers last took the ice five weeks ago. They had a bye the first week of the WCHA schedule and had to cancel the rest of their games in 2020 due to COVID and player availability. The Badgers retained their number one ranking across the polls throughout their absence from the ice.

Mankato has been able to play eight games so far and went into the winter break with a win and a tie plus shootout win over Bemidji State. They are averaging more goals and shots per game than they did a year ago and have the advantage of a lot more time together and game experience.

In Wisconsin's only games so far, they split a series with Ohio State. This series will be a total reset for the Badgers and they have even less room for error than others. Unusual times mean the second-half WCHA schedule has teams playing somewhere from 16-22 games. The Badgers are the team with just 16 games scheduled. That's assuming there are no more cancellations.

Mankato has been more aggressive on offense than we've seen from them in the past and they're able to play more of a two-way game. Wisconsin's biggest question marks come on defense and in the goal and they'll need make sure the Mavericks don't catch them out. MSU will be clogging up the zone in the back and trying to keep Wisconsin around the perimeter, where the Badgers will need to be patient, something I'm guessing they'll find difficult in the excitement of getting back to it.

Bemidji State at (4) Ohio State

Friday at 6:00 PM and Sunday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream available through BigTen+.

Ohio State started their year with the toughest gauntlet of any team and came out with a .500 record against Minnesota and Wisconsin. Coach Nadine Muzerall would tell you they should have done better, but that's a great result for any team. It's a shame some of the momentum they'd have gained from that experience was halted by necessary cancellations. The Buckeyes have a strong team, particularly on offense, and Andrea Braendli truly seems to find a different level when she's facing the team's toughest opponents.

Bemidji State is a team that can fluster opponents with a stellar defense, causing frustration and sloppy play in the zone. They started their season late due to cancellations and it was not the best they've looked, going 1-2-1 in series with St. Cloud State and Mankato.

The Buckeyes have the offensive advantage, but their top scorers will need to be patient and not get frustrated. If they can wait out plays and pick their spots, they should come away with a sweep.

Also worth a look:

  • (DIII) Adrian at (10) Mercyhurst – Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • Holy Cross at Vermont – Saturday at 6:00 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Minnesota State freshman Jamie Nelson – The rookie has seven points through her first eight games with the Mavericks to lead the team in points.

The idea that things would be better after the break – Before the puck could even drop in 2021, games were cancelled. UMD was unable to dress enough players to meet protocol and Boston University said they could not play games due to the testing schedule and cadence in their return to campus. We're still in the middle of a pandemic, in case you didn't know.

UConn freshman Jada Habisch – Habisch tallied the first hat trick for a rookie in 15 years for the Huskies as she scored her first career goal and then some in their December 18 game against Merrimack.

(Photo: Maine Women's Hockey Twitter)