February 27, 2022

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 22, Game 3 edition



4 min readby Nicole Haase



NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Week 22, Game 3 edition

Princeton at (6) Harvard (ECAC Quarterfinal, Game 3)

Sunday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Harvard definitely got the short end of the stick for a conference winner in pulling probably the best conference tournament 8 seed there has ever been in Princeton. The Tigers won 4-2 on Friday and Harvard took a 2-1 overtime victory on Saturday.

In Friday's game, Harvard never led. They responded to the first two Tigers goals and headed into the final frame tied, but then Princeton pulled away. Rachel McQuigge made 40 saves for the Tigers while Lindsay Reed made 28 for the Crimson.

Importantly for both teams, their scoring came from a number of different players. It makes them difficult to defend and prepare for in this crucial game three. Princeton kept two of Harvard's three top scorers in Becca Gilmore and Anne Bloomer from lighting the lamp and will look to continue that shut down defense. It was the Crimson's number two scorer, Kristi Della Rovere, who won the game in overtime.

There were also no power play goals scored by either team in the first two games. Harvard is fourth in the country on the player advantage and third on the penalty kill. It's huge that Princeton was able to keep them from scoring and if the Tigers can steal one off the power play, that could be the difference maker.

The Crimson currently sit ninth in the Pairwise. They're by far the most thankful for this year's expanded tournament right now. While there's enough of a gap for them that they're unlikely to fall out of the NCAA tournament based on the numbers, they'd still be in a much more vulnerable position then they'd like and would much more prefer to control their more of their own destiny and play for the ECAC auto bid.

St. Lawrence at (7) Yale (ECAC Quarterfinal, Game 3)

Sunday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream on ESPN+.

St. Lawrence has been one of the surprises of this first weekend of the postseason. They took down Yale 4-2 on Friday before the Bulldogs took their own 4-2 win on Saturday. The teams tied early in the season, but Yale had taken their final regular season meeting just two weeks ago by a score of 3-1.

It might be a bit too on the nose to say that defense is the key in this crucial game three, but with so many goals scored in their previous meetings, these defensive corps need to find a way to close ranks a bit more. Crucially for Yale in their win, they put 11 more shots on goal in that game and cut St. Lawrence's shots on goal in half.

Yale will have a decision to make in net. Gianna Meloni was the goalie of record in the win and Pia Dukaric back-stopped the loss. But Meloni played last night and it's a short turnaround, so it will be interesting to see what coach Mark Bolding decides.

Abby Hustler was named to the ECAC All-Rookie team this morning and she was responsible for a goal and two assists for far in this series. Emma Seitz scored twice and had an assist for Yale. Both women will be the focus of the opposing defense. Hustler has played well beyond her experience, but with the season on the line and the focus of the team's defense on her, will she still lead her teams' offense?

Minnesota State vs. (5) Minnesota Duluth (WCHA Quarterfinals, Game 3)

Sunday at 2:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.

Minnesota State showed they were going to be a problem for teams this season way back on the first weekend in October when they split the series with Minnesota Duluth and they've continued to give the Bulldog fits here in the first weekend of the conference playoffs.

UMD took a 5-4 win on Friday in a game that featured five first-period goals. On Saturday, Mankato took a 3-1 win thanks in part to two power play goals. Importantly, they completely shut down the Bulldogs in the third. Chantal Burke made 41 saves in the win and 16 of them came in the final frame. The Mavericks also had 16 blocks in the game.

For the Bulldogs to win, they'll need to be patient and stay out of the penalty box. They have the superior offense, but the Mavericks are great at keeping locked down on defense and preventing pucks from getting to the net. But when they do, Burke has been beyond strong. UMD could take some notes from Mankato. There aren't a lot of extra movements from the Mavericks on offense. They make quick decisions, move the puck well and go right to net. The Bulldogs have some very talented puck handlers and they are great passers, but I don't think that will work for them in this game. They need to use their speed in transition, the stick skills of players like Elizabeth Giguère and get in on the net quickly.

Gone are the days where Minnesota State might be able to steal a goal or two and that's it. This team is much more talented and capable of possessing and moving the puck. That means the Bulldogs have to be as focused on the defensive end as they are on the offense. If Minnesota Duluth can limit turnovers and protect the puck in the neutral zone, they'll have the advantage.

(Photo: Yale Women's Hockey Twitter)



Filed under: NCAA; NCAA postseason; yale; st. lawrence; harvard; Princeton; minnesota duluth; Minnesota State; ice hockey

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