NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Hockey East tournament semifinals
- 2 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Hockey East tournament semifinals

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Hockey East tournament semifinals by Nicole Haase

Hockey East plays both of their semifinals evening to determine the Hockey East final matchup.

Maine at Northeastern

Wednesday at 6:30 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream on CollegeSportsLive.

Northeastern has pretty much been cruising their way through their Hockey East schedule. They've had more bumps in the road late than expected, but generally, they're a top team in the country. They have a great individual player in Alina Müller, a relatively deep offense that has handled the scoring duties in her Olympic absence, and top tier goalie in Aerin Frankel.

They suffered back to back losses a month ago, falling to Vermont and then losing to Boston College in the opening round of the Beanpot. There was a tie against Connecticut in the final regular season weekend, but they rebounded with the kind of wins we'd expect in the Hockey East tournament quarterfinals. They've beaten Maine in all three of their meetings this season, including an 8-1 rout less than a month ago.

For Maine, they are in nothing-to-lose territory. They've never made the Hockey East Tournament championship game. Just one Black Bear (Ida Kuoppola) scored in double digits this season. They were sub .500 overall and in conference and went just 2-5 in February to close out the regular season. But the two wins were the final weekend and then they came from behind in the quarterfinals to defeat Boston College.

There's something to be said for the weight of expectation on Northeastern versus the freedom with which Maine can play. I expect this to be a win for the Huskies, but also think the Black Bears can make this a lot more interesting than game than anyone expects.

Connecticut at Vermont

Wednesday at 6:30 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream on CollegeSportsLive.

Vermont is having a dream season. They've never before hosted a Hockey East semifinal. They've set program records for wins in a season. They were nationally ranked for the first time ever. On Tuesday, coach Jim Plumer was named conference Coach of the Year while Theresa Schafzahl won the program's first ever Hockey East Player of the Year award. They're currently on the bubble, with a chance to earn the Catamounts' first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.

And there are plenty of reasons to believe their season won't end on Wednesday. Goalie Jessie McPherson has been lights out for much of the season, but seems to have gotten even sharper in February. Defender Maude Poulin-Labelle was named to a First-Team All-Star and is second on the team in scoring. Vermont is peaking at the right time and has nothing but momentum and confidence.

On the other side of the puck, Connecticut is tied with Vermont in the Pairwise and is also looking for a that dream of their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament. While the Catamounts garnered attention for all their team's firsts and their upset win over then #1 Northeastern, Connecticut was quietly putting together a 23-win season, more than any other Huskies' team. They had a tough final stretch to the regular season, going 3-3-2. But they've regrouped in the postseason and have their own elite scorer in Natalie Snodgrass.

Statistically, the teams are very evenly matched. Connecticut came out ahead in their season series, taking a regulation and overtime win. Their games were split, with the winning team putting on an offensive showcase. I think we'll see something closer to the 2-1 overtime win the Huskies took earlier in the season.

(Photo: Vermont Women's Hockey Twitter)