NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, October 21-23
- 5 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, October 21-23

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, October 21-23 by Nicole Haase

Come back each week for a preview of interesting NCAA games coming up and some thoughts on what happened in the previous week's action.

(4) Minnesota Duluth at (1) Ohio State

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.

It took a few weeks to get a big, ranked matchup, but our first showdown is a good one. This is a rematch of last season's national championship game, which Ohio State won. Both teams enter the weekend undefeated and this series represents their first big test. They were also both pushed to the brink by Minnesota State before eking out wins, but otherwise have had an easy time in the opening weeks of the season.

Last year, then-sophomore Amanda Thiele played so well during Andrea Brändli's absence for the Olympics that Nadine Muzerall stuck with the younger goalie through the championship run. Brändli has since transferred to Boston College and Thiele has been less solid to start the season than one might have expected. She's allowed nine goals in four games for a 2.25 goals against average and .852 save percentage. RMU transfer Raygan Kirk has started two of OSU's six games and has a 1.00 goals against and .930 save percentage.

Those numbers came in games against teams who are a collective 5-16-1 to start the season and together are averaging 1.9 goals scored per game. Certainly it's not all on Thiele – and the Buckeyes have the goal-scoring prowess to overcome deficits – but it's something I'll be keeping an eye on. Their team defense simply has to be better by the end of the season for them to have a chance at repeating their title. Ohio State has a very active and involved defense when they are in the zone, so I'll be watching to see what their transition game looks like.

UMD already has two overtime wins this season. The good news is that they're skating on the right side of that razor thin margin. The bad news is that the competition is about to get a lot tougher. The offensive dynamic has been interesting so far in Duluth. Patty Kaz top-three finalist Gabbie Hughes has just one goal so far, though she has eight assists. Naomi Rogge has no goals and three assists. Defender Ashton Bell is leading the team with five goals. She's a huge boost back to the team, and I'm happy to see contributions down the lineup, but I think for UMD to reach another Frozen Four, they need Hughes and Rogge dictating things on the ice and scoring the way the were last season.

(14) Vermont at (6) Colgate

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

The Raiders have cruised through their friendly early-season schedule, averaging more than four goals scored per game while Team Defense is allowing fewer than half a goal per game. Kalty Kaltounkova is tied for the most points in the country with 15 and Danielle Sedachny is not far behind and is tied for third overall with 13 points.

The Raiders have been able to maintain a core of people the past few seasons, easing their transition into this year. They seem to be able to score at will. They move the puck well and are well-situated to make the best out of each game they play.

Vermont is something of an upstart pick. The scrappy Catamounts have been very good on the power play and seem to excel in the middle frame, outshooting their opponents 10-3 in the 2nd period.

Colgate will look to control possession and tire Vermont out by cycling the puck and using their movement to create lanes. Vermont can look to create an edge on special teams and surprising Colgate when they have the long change.

Mercyhurst at (10) Cornell

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

The Ivies are finally opening their seasons and this should be a good early test for a young Cornell team. The Ivy League schools always have some catching up to do against teams that have a month or so lead on them in the schedule. The Big Red are in a somewhat precarious situation in that the ECAC is full of ranked teams and the only conference team ranked lower than Cornell is Clarkson. They have their work cut out for them  to fight their way for position and respect. There won't be a lot of room for error. That makes an opening series against the talented, well-coached Lakers potentially intimidating.

Mercyhurst rebounded with a pair of wins over RPI after a tough couple of weeks where the Lakers were 1-3 (with an OT win) against ranked opponents Colgate and Clarkson. Now they face the third-ranked ECAC program from upstate New York. Last season was a breakout one for sophomore Vanessa Upson and now Mercyhurst is following that up with another great year from a freshman phenom. This time it's Thea Johansson from Sweden who is leading the team with three goals and four assists.

The Big Red have played and won exhibitions against two Canadian universities and now begin their regular calendar. Cornell have a number of interesting freshman that will be looking to have a breakout of their own. They're joined by US National Team standout Rory Guilday. There are big questions in net following the departure of Lindsay Browning. All three of the Cornell goalies spent time in the net during the exhibition games.

Also worth a look:

  • Boston University at Boston College – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • Providence vs. New Hampshire home and home – Friday at 2:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • LIU at St. Anselm – Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Minnesota's Josefin Bouveng – The freshman scored her first career goal on Saturday and then followed it up with two more, giving her a hat trick in just her fourth game at Minnesota.

Boston College – A loss and a tie with Penn State was enough to drop the Eagles from the rankings altogether.

Vermont – After dropping an uncharacteristic loss to Holy Cross and splitting the weekend series two weeks ago, the Catamounts rebounded with a win and a tie with shootout win over #14 UConn last week. Their 6-1 win was the program's biggest margin of victory over a ranked opponent ever.

Games on TV – The value and quality of streams has improved, but it must be said that it's still ridiculous how little these games are on actual television. This week Wisconsin residents were subjected to the replay of a 5-1 loss by their 0-4 men's hockey team on a Tuesday evening. It's baffling that these games are not just shown live, but on replay, while the women are relegated to streams. While streams from national services do make it easier for hardcore women's hockey fans around the country to watch, it should be possible to both stream the game nationally and put it on TV locally to build local interest in college teams.

(Photo: Ohio State Women's Hockey)