October 1, 2021

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 2



4 min readby Nicole Haase



NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 2

(3) Ohio State vs (4) Minnesota

Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream available on BTN+

It generally takes a few periods into the new season for teams to really start looking like themselves, but Minnesota isn't going to get that luxury. The Gophers are jumping right into the year with a series against Ohio State. The Buckeyes owned the season series last season 4-2 and have the luxury of a series against St. Thomas at home last weekend to have gotten their skates under them.

Minnesota missed their first NCAA tournament since 2007 last year and are probably ranked higher than they should be based on that finish and the players they're missing this year to Olympic centralization. I'm not saying the Gophers won't be good this season, I'm just saying we don't know yet if they are or not. They have a lot to prove and a tough schedule to try to prove it in.

It's Minnesota, so the recruiting class is of course highly talented, but this year is less touted than in years' past. They're going to need to make an impact and they're getting baptized by fire this weekend. The addition of Natalie Darwitz and Jake Bobrowski as assistant coaches should help bring back some life to a Gopher program that's been a little stagnant the last few seasons.

On the other side, Ohio State is coming off another trip to the Frozen Four with a strong roster of returners and transfers. They'll be missing Emma Maltais to centralization, but nine different skaters lit the lamp last weekend. It'll be tougher in Minneapolis, but they fact that the Buckeyes were moving the puck around so much means only good things for them.

With four of the top five teams in the WCHA, none of these schools are going to come out of the season with clean records. Every point is going to be crucial and teams have to be gunning for a sweep and settling for a split each weekend.

Boston University vs. New Hampshire (home and home)

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

Watch: Free streams available on College Sports Live.

The Terriers are returning eight of their nine top scorers and their entire defense from last season. They'll be relying on Kate Stuart in net, who had good stats in the small sample of five games she played last season. Their strong defense should help Stuart each in a bit and not feel as much pressure in the opening games.

With all their talent, they need a true top line to emerge and really step up.

BU skated to a 2-0 win in an exhibition game against Holy Cross last weekend. They are 11-2-2 against UNH in their last 15 meetings.

The Wildcats have some very talented forwards in juniors Jada Christian and Tamara Thiérus and sophomore Nicole Kelly. They bring depth and dynamic play to the UNH offense, something they've been lacking in recent years. All three can move the puck well and have a great nose for the net.

Goalie Ava Boutilier was one of the best last season. Her solid play has allowed the Wildcats to be a bit more aggressive on offense and she really seems to find another level in big games and late in the season.

Mercyhurst at (4) Colgate

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

Watch: Free stream available on ESPN+.

Colgate potted 21 goals in two games last weekend against RIT. Suffice to say, the Raiders are a scoring threat across all their lines and they are locked in early. It helps that they return almost their entire team intact from last season. They lost in overtime in the NCAA quarterfinal last season and there's no reason to believe they can't make a similar – or better – run this year. This is an experienced, disciplined team that knows what it takes to make it that far and has returned all the talent that made it possible.

In her opening weekend with Colgate, transfer Dara Grieg scored four times. Kalty Kaltounkova also had for goals and added three assists. Danielle Serdachny dished out seven assists on the weekend.

Mercyhurst won two close games against RPI last weekend. If the Lakers are going to win this weekend, they have to be more prolific on offense. They have the firepower to put a lot of pucks on net and they have to make sure those are shots with purpose and that they finish.

Colgate is going to press their defense and goaltenders very hard. I think we'll find out a lot about Mercyhurst this weekend and get some insight into where they might place by the end of the season.

Also worth a look:

  • Bemidji State at St. Thomas – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Central
  • Syracuse at St. Lawrence – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Transfers – It was a wild offseason where many players had to seek new homes as roster spots were at a premium. But in the first week, many of these new players made a mark with their new squads.

Poll voters making any sense – Neither Minnesota nor Minnesota Duluth played a game last week. They were tied in the polls before the weekend yet somehow after, Minnesota moved ahead? This year more than ever it sure feels like folks are voting based on name recognition more than anything else.

Wisconsin's Casey O'Brien – The sophomore led the country with six goals last weekend against Lindenwood.

Penn State – The Nittany Lions were on the outside looking in at the end of last season and felt they should have received an NCAA tournament bid. It's been a long offseason for them waiting for a chance to prove their worth. It hasn't gone quite as well as they'd hoped. They suffered a loss and a tie last week to St. Lawrence and then lost in overtime to Boston College on Thursday night. Penn State dominated much of the game, outshooting and out-possessing the Eagles, but struggled to put the puck in the net. The overtime goal came after the Nittany Lions couldn't take advantage of a wide open net and a puck sitting in the blue paint. They meet BC tonight again at 7:00 PM.

(Photo: Ohio State Women's Hockey)



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