October 15, 2021

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 4



5 min readby Nicole Haase



NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 4

(8) Quinnipiac vs. (9) Providence (home and home)

Friday and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Friday: Free stream via College Sports Live
Saturday: Paid stream via ESPN+

Thus far the ranked matchups have been within the WCHA, so it will be nice to see how some of the other teams fair against each other. Providence is coming off a pair of wins over New Hampshire and Northeastern in their first weekend of play. Quinnipiac has six games under their belts. They're unbeaten and are averaging five goals per game. But this is by far their toughest test so far.

The Bobcats have an intriguing mix of steady upperclassmen and talented rookies that has had three weeks against unranked opponents to gel and find their rhythm. Maya Labad and Ann-Frédérik Naud have been as advertised and working well together. Naud has six assists already, while Labad has her first collegiate goal. Juniors Sadie Peart and Alex Hoskin lead the team with six goals each and Peart also has seven assists to lead the team with 13 points. Both are somewhat under-the-radar players who haven't garnered a ton of national notice, but they have both stepped up a lot to lead this team.

Quinnipiac has depth on offense we haven't seen from them before alongside the defense Cass Turner is known for. Their game against Saint Anselm on Friday was much closer than the Bobcats would have liked, but they responded well in game two.

Providence played a complete game to take down Northeastern last weekend, who were then ranked 2nd in the nation. The Huskies out-shot them, but the Friars had 20 blocks and capitalized on their opportunities when they got them. They stymied Northeastern, who had a lot of possession, but could not light the lamp.

Three of the Friars' top four scorers are sophomores. It bodes well for the team that the youngsters are stepping up. It also helps having Sandra Arbstreiter in net. She made 56 saves on 57 shots last weekend and her solid presence gives Providence the confidence to push a bit more on offense.

What's great is both of these teams are being led by players that weren't necessarily ones I'd been paying attention to when we started the season. It's great to see full team effort from both.

(1) Wisconsin at (7) Minnesota Duluth

Friday at 12:00 PM and Sunday at 1:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream via BTN+

It's a busy hockey week up in Duluth and this series features a weird split schedule with an early game on Friday followed by the second game on Sunday.

It's been a little hard to get a handle on UMD so far this season. On paper, they have one of the most skilled and experienced rosters in the country, but that hasn't translated to success on the ice thus far. The Bulldogs split a series with Minnesota last weekend thanks to an OT goal in the second game by Maggie Flaherty.

In their loss two weeks ago to Minnesota State, the Bulldogs had some penalty trouble and weren't able to control the puck as much as they'd like. The Badgers were better on the power play this past weekend, but it hasn't been their strong suit. However, Wisconsin plays a lot of the game with the puck on their stick and that's something UMD will need to interrupt, especially if the Badgers score early – something they've done in four of their six games thus far.

Wisconsin has put up gaudy numbers against their easy early-season schedule. This series is their first tough test of the season. The Badger top line of Makenna Webster, Casey O'Brien, and Daryl Watts has been lethal, accounting for about half of the teams' points so far. O'Brien has been particularly focused, scoring 10 goals and adding five assists on 24 shots. Webster and O'Brien have played together since before they came to Madison, but Watts joined their line this year and they've all seemed to fit together seamlessly. It will be interesting to see if they have the same ability to find each other in traffic and make tape to tape passes against a tougher defense.

The focus has been on the top line (for good reason), but rookie Sarah Wozniewicz has a four-game goal streak. She makes up the third line with Grace Shirley and Caitlin Schneider and I think that's going to give teams a lot to handle, especially later in games when legs are tired. I like Wozniewicz's puck handling and Schneider's speed. Keep an eye on them as the season progresses.

Wisconsin's defense was exploitable last season, but the small sample size so far shows them looking calmer and less reactive than they were. Chayla Edwards has looked great catching a few players on a break, winning the puck with easy-looking poke checks.

(5) Northeastern at Maine

Saturday at 4:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream available on College Sports Live

The Huskies are another team whose season thus far has looked different in practice than it appeared it would go on paper. That's why they play the games, but it's still surprising to see Northeastern sitting at 3-2 in early October when they hadn't lost back-t0-back games since February of 2018.

Northeastern has racked up 26 penalties already and are averaging more than 10 minutes in the box per game. They've only given up three power play goals, which is both a small miracle and unsurprising with Aerin Frankel in net, but that's still way too much of the game to be playing special teams.

They've had the puck on their sticks, but just haven't been converting. They're averaging 46 shots per game, but just 3.4 goals. There were times in the two losses where they held the puck and controlled play for long stretches, but couldn't get in close to the net or find a way to score.

Maine rebounded from losses to Quinnipiac and Saint Anselm with two big wins over LIU last weekend. Ida Kuoppala has been huge for the Black Bears on offense, but the defense hasn't been as strong as it could be in front of goalie Loryn Porter. She was one of the breakout stars of last year's abbreviated season, but she needs her team to give her a bit more support.

The Black Bears are a team that can't be overlooked – they always seem to come up with big wins, but they've been inconsistent overall. They seem to come together best when they're facing top-half teams, but don't always have the same showing against the rest of the conference.

Also worth a look:

  • St. Lawrence at Clarkson – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • Bemidji State at (2) Ohio State – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Wisconsin's Daryl Watts – The fifth-year senior became the 9th player in NCAA women's hockey history to tally 250 points. With her seven point weekend, she currently sits at 256 points, six behind Hilary Knight. Her four goals on the weekend put her at 114, one shy of tying Brianna Decker, Hannah Brandt, and Haley Skarupa for 10th all time.

Northeastern – The Huskies dropped to fifth in the polls after losses to Boston University and Providence last weekend. Northeastern lost two games all last season, one of which was the national championship game.

UMD's Elizabeth Giguere – The fifth-year player scored her 101st goal on Friday, moving her into the top-25 for all-time goal-scorers. She currently sits at 238 points and is tied with Meghan Duggan for 14th all-time.

Game times – There have been far too many weekday day games happening. I know it's not new or even a surprise, but I still wish women's hockey didn't get the final pick of time slots each week. Being able to watch games is hard enough for the average fan and all these wonky game times while almost no one plays games on Sundays is so frustrating.

Colgate's Malia Schneider – The fifth-year player became the 11th person in program history to top 100 points in their career.

(Photo: Providence Women's Hockey Twitter)



Filed under: NCAA; providence; Quinnipiac; wisconsin; Minnesota-Duluth; northeastern; maine; ohio state; bemidji state; st. lawrence; clarkson; elizabeth giguere; daryl watts; malia schneider

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