NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 16
- 5 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 16

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 16 by Nicole Haase

Schedules have been in flux due to COVID, with a number of series getting canceled, called off, and rescheduled. All information here is current as of the time of publish, but is subject to change.

(8) Yale at (10) Harvard

Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

It has been more than a month since Yale last took the ice on December 8. Harvard's games were postponed last weekend, but they played a New Years' weekend series, so they are less rusty.

Harvard's last conference loss came at the hands of Yale in mid-November. They've won three straight conference games since then. Yale lost the final of the Nutmeg Classic at Thanksgiving, but has just three losses overall.

There are two teams in the country who are top-five in both team offense and defense –  Yale and #1 Wisconsin. The Bulldogs are scoring more than four goals per game and allowing just 1.57. They're a tough team to break down on both ends of the ice, which can wear opponents down. One way to do it is to limit how much the Bulldogs have the puck. The Crimson lead the nation in team faceoff percentage, which helps them control the pace of the game and could help curb Yale on offense.

Special teams could play a big part in this one – the Crimson have been prolific with the player advantage, especially in the latter part of the first half. Yale needs to be smart and not give Harvard the opportunity on the power play.

Yale has been getting scoring up and down their lineup. Their top scorers have racked up the assists, but the goal scoring is pretty evenly distributed among a number of skaters. It makes them hard to defend. This team is well-balanced and has done a great job of elevating the play across all their lines.

(3) Northeastern at Boston College

Tuesday at 7:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream on College Sports Live

Northeastern has generally been on a roll in Hockey East after some early stumbles, while BC continues to be inconsistent and difficult to predict. On paper, at least, this seems like it should be a fairly routine win for the Huskies.

But rivalry games are rarely routine and Boston College has the pieces that, if they come together, can skate stride for stride with Northeastern. The Eagles will need a big game from goalie Abigail Levy and they'll have to be sharp on offense to beat Aerin Frankel. BC can tend to be a little wild with their shots at times. If they put the puck to the net, avoid Frankel's glove hand as much as possible and keep the pressure on, I think they have a good shot at a win here.

The Eagles can tend to cheat forward a bit on defense and that's something that could bite them against Northeastern. The Huskies are great in transition and will be looking for places to expose BC.

That's a lot of focus on what BC can do to try not to lose. But that's because Northeastern's offense is a known entity. Alina Müller and Chloe Aurard are a potent 1-2 punch. Both can score, so keeping pressure on Müller isn't really effective. They'll try to use speed and stretch passes to move through the zone and attack the net before BC can even turn and start skating in the other direction.

Northeastern has improved as the season has gone on, but they are fallible and BC should know the enemy well enough to know where to poke holes in their armor. Whether or not they can is another story.

Bemidji State at (9) Minnesota Duluth

Friday and Saturday at 3:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.

The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs are another team that seems to have found their stride and settled in as the season has moved into the second half. They're coming off a big series sweep against Harvard. As expected, Elizabeth Giguere has been a big acquisition for UMD, but as great players do, she seems to have brought out a higher level of play from her teammates. The Bulldogs have often had good top-tier players, but didn't necessarily have the depth down the line chart to keep pace with the top half of the rankings. This season, they are a scoring threat no matter who is on the ice and it can feel relentless as they are free with putting the puck on net.

UMD swept the Beavers convincingly when they met earlier this season, winning 9-0 and 4-1, but anyone who has watched the WCHA in the past few years knows that Bemidji is capable of stifling otherwise high-scoring teams by frustrating their shooters. Right now, they also have a more talented and confident offense that can hold on to the puck, transition and give their defense a break, as well as score goals. It has added more dimension to their game and made them an even more difficult opponent.

Minnesota Duluth should be in the postseason conversation no matter what, but they are on the lower side of the rankings. They had the toughest schedule to start the season, but it doesn't carry through to the second half. They'll lose some strength of schedule ground because of that. They will also play a decent chunk of the second half without goalie Emma Söderberg, who will be with Team Sweden in the Olympics. Their backup goalies have comparatively little game experience. That's a detailed way to say that UMD can't afford to drop games they should win. That might be what is most in jeopardy for them this weekend.

Also worth a look:

  • Connecticut vs. Boston College (home and home) – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern
  • LIU at Saint Anselm – Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • Division III (2) Plattsburgh at (1) Middlebury – Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Cornell Coach Doug Derraugh – Earned his 300th career win when the Big Red defeated Dartmouth on Saturday.

Quinnipiac – The Bobcats suffered their third loss of the season on Friday, dropping a 3-2 game to Clarkson that pushed them down a spot in the national rankings. Quinnipiac went from first to fifth in the Pairwise over the past two weeks.

Connecticut's Summer-Rae Dobson – The grad student earned her 100th career point on an assist in UConn's 5-1 win over Vermont last Friday.

Omicron variant – After seeming like DI women's college hockey might make it through the latest COVID-19 surge without too much disruption, a number of games have been canceled over the past two weeks.

Clarkson's Caitrin Lonergan – The graduate student notched her 200th career point with an assist in the Golden Knights' win over Quinnipiac.

(Photo: Northeastern Women's Hockey/Twitter)