NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 1
- 3 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 1

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 1 by Nicole Haase

It was a busy, busy offseason with the bonus COVID year that players can utilize making for a very active transfer market. Some teams let a number of players come back, while others chose not to allow them. A number of teams in the NCAA did not take the ice last season, meaning the last time many schools played was March 2020. That makes it hard to predict how any particular matchup might go, but definitely lends an air chaos and anything can happen to every single game.

Quinnipiac vs. Maine

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

Watch: Paid stream available on ESPN+

Quinnipiac is one of the teams I'm most excited to watch this season. They have a super interesting incoming class. Our resident Canadian Kirsten tells me that Ann-Frédérik Naud and Maya Labad are exciting additions to this team. The Bobcats have not been an offensive powerhouse in recent years – they're a team known for their staunch defense. But coach Cass Turner said the team is focused on winning and possessing the puck. They also brought in former Boston University goaltender Corinne Schroeder and forward Jessica Schryver from Northeastern.

Maine features a Goalie of the Year finalist in Loryn Porter and junior forward Ida Kuoppola, who had a breakout rookie year two seasons ago. They had three players play in the recent World Championships in Calgary – Rahel Enzler for Switzerland, Amalie Andersen for Denmark, and incoming freshman Mira Seregély for Hungary.

St. Thomas at (3) Ohio State

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

Watch: Paid stream available via BTN+.

These are St. Thomas' first-ever games as a Division I school and they aren't starting off easy. The Buckeyes are coming off an appearance in the national semi-final – their second Frozen Four in three years.

Ohio State is a strong team that took advantage of the offseason by adding transfer players to bolster their roster. One of their most dynamic forwards, Emma Maltais, is centralized with Canada for the Olympics and Tatum Skaggs graduated, so there is plenty of room for the new players in Columbus to step up and make a big impact. Clair DeGeorge was a standout at Bemidji State, but often didn't have players surrounding her that could make the most of her talent. She should flourish at OSU with the roster they have. They also added defenders Hadley Hartmetz from Boston College, Emily Curlett from Robert Morris, and Teagan Grant from Wisconsin to help shore up the blue line.

They've counted on senior goalie Andrea Brändli in net for a few years and she had a bit of an international coming out party at the recent World Championships with Switzerland. But they also brought in Raygan Kirk from Robert Morris. I'd imagine Kirk will at the very least be covering the crease while Brändli is at the Olympics, but we may see more ice time for her, splitting some time with Brändli.

On the other side of the ice, the goalie who split time in net for Switzerland with Brändli, Saskia Maurer, is likely to be in net for St. Thomas. She'll be challenged for ice time by Colgate transfer Alexa Dobchuk.

The Tommies are coached by Team USA head coach Joel Johnson. The Americans didn't look their best at Worlds, but Johnson is tabbed to lead the team in China and will be pulling double duty in the Twin Cities, leading St. Thomas and Team USA at the same time as the Americans are centralized there as well.

Minnesota State at Merrimack

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 4:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream available on College Sports Live.

These are two teams that are looking to rebound this season and prove themselves within their conference. There are often arguments about the relative strengths of each conference, so I think this matchup could be interesting in terms of two lower-half-of-the-standings teams facing off against each other in a non-conference context.

Minnesota State has been slowly but steadily improving over the past few seasons and will be looking to add more offense. Merrimack has had a rough couple of seasons, but has an experienced roster that help them climb back into playoff contention. They shut their season down partway through last year due to the COVID-19 situation.

Also worth a look:

  • (4) Minnesota at Bemidji State – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Central
  • St. Lawrence at (8) Penn State – Friday at 7:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

College players at the World Championships – There was a lot of talk about the youngsters at this tournament as players like Brändli, Maurer, Maltais, Sarah Fillier, Caroline Harvey, Kalty Kaltounkova and more made big impacts for their countries.

Penn State – The Nittany Lions are on a mission to prove they belong on the national conversation, but they faltered in their opening game against St. Lawrence, losing 1-0 on Thursday night. They were passive and a little timid it worked against them.

WCHA – Four of the top five teams in the first poll of the year play in the WCHA.

(Photo: Quinnipiac Women's Hockey Twitter)