March 7, 2021

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, WCHA and ECAC Finals



4 min readby Nicole Haase

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, WCHA and ECAC Finals

The WCHA and ECAC tournament finals are today and the NCAA Selection Show takes place on NCAA.com at 9:00 PM Eastern.

ECAC Tournament

St. Lawrence vs. (6) Colgate - Sunday at 2:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream available through ESPN+.

St. Lawrence has made an impressive run to close their short season. The Saints didn't start playing until January, so they are only six weeks into their season and as well as they've been playing, it's a shame we haven't been able to see more of them this year. They used four straight wins against Clarkson to propel them to this championship game and effectively end the Golden Knights' hopes for an NCAA bid.

Both of these teams have been getting significant contributions from underclassmen. The rest of the conference should be worried about how much better both of these squads can get. Each team is led by sophomore scorers and  bolstered by standout rookies who are contributing at a level beyond their years. They are young, but playing much older.

When these two teams met in January, Colgate eked out two overtime wins. In late February, they split a weekend series, with Colgate responding to a 3-2 loss with an emphatic 5-0 win in the second game.

Colgate's advantage may be the level of creativity their top line, particularly, is capable of. The Raiders seem to regularly create threatening scoring situations out of plays that seem routine.

The Saints have been very good on the power play and very bad on the penalty kill. They can't afford to give Colgate any extra opportunities – the Raiders will exploit them. St. Lawrence has to be stronger on defense than they have been. They give up nearly three goals per game, but have often been able to just outscore their opponent. That's probably not going to happen against Colgate's defense.

All the bubble teams will be rooting for the Raiders here. If St. Lawrence gets the auto-bid, it's probably safe to say Colgate takes one of the at-large spots, leaving just two more bids for a group of five or six teams.

WCHA Tournament

(3) Ohio State vs. (2) Wisconsin - Sunday at 2:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream available from FloHockey.

The Buckeyes put on a dominant show, particularly in the second period, in their semifinal win over Minnesota Duluth. Where some of their best players had at times struggled to put the puck in the net, yesterday they were literally firing on all cylinders and UMD coach Maura Crowell said it felt like they just kept coming at her team in waves.

Ohio State seems to be peaking at the right time and they have nothing but confidence heading into this game. There's nothing they'd like more than to beat Wisconsin for a second straight year in the WCHA title game.

Wisconsin was able to stay a step or two ahead of Minnesota in their semifinal. It was maybe not the definitive game that Ohio State had, but they never relinquished their lead and seemed to bend but not break. Most telling for the Badgers were the contributions they received from their second and third lines –  three goals and four assists. They stepped up in the moment as the Gophers were able to neutralize some of their bigger threats.

These two teams feel about as close as they can get. They split their regular season series two games apiece. Wisconsin had a big 5-0 win in the second game of the opening series back in November, but the last series featured two one-goal games.

The Badgers will have to keep patient and be deliberate about their shots. Playing Wisconsin always brings out the best in Andrea Braendli and they can't get frustrated. They have done a great job this year of picking their spots and they'll need to keep being that deliberate and focused.

Both teams are quick and use their speed well. Expect this game to move up and down the ice quickly. This game will almost assuredly be won in the neutral zone. They're both capable of quickly turning mistakes into goals. It'll be important to try and control transition.

Ohio State scored a number of goals on second and third chances yesterday. Wisconsin needs Kennedy Blair to control the puck and to do a good job of clearing anything she doesn't. The defense will need to remain vigilant in front of the net. They've gotten better as the season has progressed, but if they can be calm and deliberate about how and where they are clearing the zone, it will make a big impact. The Buckeyes will put pressure on them and push the forecheck. The Badgers have become very good at being patient with the puck in their own zone and not pushing forward until they can do so safely. Keeping that patience with the puck today will be huge.

Stick Taps and Snark

Minnesota Duluth's Katie Davis – The freshman scored her first career goal in yesterday's WCHA semi-final.

Having any idea what the NCAA field will look like – In a year where data is at a premium and the committee has a lot more free rein than in other years, there are more question marks than answers. Penn State, Minnesota Duluth, Boston College, Providence and Minnesota are looking to fill three at-large spots. If Colgate loses today, add them to that list.

Wisconsin's Makenna Webster – The freshman scored twice to lead her team to a 5-3 win on Saturday.

Rookies – First year players have had a huge impact on this post-season across the board. The youngsters have adapted well to this weird season and are making their mark.

Syracuse and Northeastern – Congratulations to the CHA and Hockey East champions.

(Photo: Jim Pierce/Hockey East)



Filed under: NCAA; wcha; ecac; colgate; st. lawrence; wisconsin; ohio state; ice hockey

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