December 2, 2022

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, December 2-4



5 min readby Nicole Haase



NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, December 2-4

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.

(6) Colgate at (3) Yale

Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

The Bulldogs have had a stellar start to the season. They're 8-0 with wins over four ranked teams, including a 4-3 victory over #3 Minnesota last week. This is one of the toughest travel pairs on the schedule this year, as they'll face both Cornell and Colgate back to back. Both games will test Yale.

Colgate earned a tie against Ohio State before Thanksgiving, but the Buckeyes came back and gave them a 6-2 loss on Wednesday. The Raiders will be looking to get back on track. They were vulnerable on special teams and need to tighten that up while trying fighting for some very important conference points.

Yale graduated a number of players after last year's Frozen Four run, but they've gotten off to their strong start thanks to contributions from young players and leadership from returners. Elle Hartje is second on the team with eight points while also leading the squad with 13 blocks. She was an underrated player last season, but has picked right back up this year making a difference on both ends of the ice.

The underclassmen have made an immediate impact, from sophomore Pia Dukaric in net to rookie Jordan Ray, who's leading the team in scoring. Four of the top five scorers are freshman and sophomores.

Colgate's Danielle Serdachny leads the country with 30 points and was recently named to the Canada roster for December Rivalry Series games. It's her first chance with the senior national team and I'd imagine it won't be the last. She's the kind of player you notice the moment she steps on the ice.

(1) Ohio State at (8) Minnesota Duluth

Friday and Saturday at 3:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.

Ohio State took a pair of 3-2 wins (one in OT) when these two teams met in Columbus in late October. The Buckeyes hold a four-game winning streak over UMD, including last year's title game and WCHA tournament semifinal.

Both of these teams have been stellar on the power play, but are just middle of the pack on the penalty kill. Skating cleanly and not giving the opponent the advantage is going to be absolutely crucial to getting a win.

After a tough stretch of games against the three teams above them in the rankings, Minnesota Duluth have won four straight, averaging five goals scored per game. They'll have the advantage of playing at home and a few more days rest than the Buckeyes, who played four games in six days just before the holiday break.

One spot to look out for is in goal for Ohio State. Amanda Thiele has not found the same groove this year that helped her win the starting role at the end of last season. With a 2.08 goals against average and .886 save percentage, she's been vulnerable this year. The good news for the Buckeyes is that they have what may be the strongest defense in the country as well as a prolific enough offense to outscore their opponents.

But if any team is going to be able to stymie their offense, I think it's UMD. And on offense, the Bulldogs excel at second-change opportunities and finding a way to get loose pucks into the back of the net. Both teams also have very skilled offensive defenders. The blue line is where these games will be won or lost, I think.

(13) Vermont at (7) Northeastern

Friday at 6:30 PM and Saturday at 4:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Friday's game televised on NESN. Paid stream on ESPN+.

The top two teams in Hockey East face off this weekend. Northeastern has a 10-point lead in the standings, but Vermont has three games in hand.

This series in interesting because while the Huskies are the favorites and Vermont has only eight wins over Northeastern in their 57 all-time meetings, one of those losses came around this time last year, at Matthews Arena. And while last year's Catamounts set a number of program records, it's looking like this year's iteration may be even better.

The Huskies have the three top scoring players in Hockey East, but Natálie Mlýnková and Theresa Schafzahl are right behind them. In fact, Vermont is ranked eighth in the country in both team offense and team defense.

I think we'll see the high-powered and impressive offense we've come to expect from Northeastern – I just also think Vermont has shown they have the capability to go goal-for-goal with them. We may see more of a chess match than we have in years past as the players and coaches try to find the right mix of forechecking pressure and stout defense.

Alina Müller tends to shine in games like this, but even if Vermont can contain her, the Huskies have Chloe Aurard, Katy Knoll, and Peyton Anderson.

How exciting that Friday's game is televised on NESN. I hope this shapes up to be as good in reality as it looks on paper.

Also worth a look:

  • (2) Wisconsin at Bemidji State – Saturday at 1:00 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM Eastern
  • Sacred Heart at LIU – Friday at 7:45 PM Eastern
  • Syracuse at (12) Penn State – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Sacred Heart goalie Carly Greene – The sophomore made a career-high 54 saves against (15) Connecticut on Friday and nearly helped her team steal the win. UConn escaped in overtime.

Minnesota – The Gophers are 1-3-1 over their last five games after starting the season 9-0-1.

Yale – The Bulldogs are up to third in the polls and received three first-place votes. Folks weren't sure whether they were for real, but the win over Minnesota wasn't a fluke and showed that this is a team that can and will compete for a title in March.

Harvard – The Crimson started their season ranked, but are just 3-7-2 so far. They rebounded with a 1-0 win on Saturday, but were shutout 4-0 and 9-0 in a pair of games in Duluth before Thanksgiving. Or maybe the snark needs to go to the poll voters who got it so wrong?

Taking the World University Games seriously The FISU World University Games are scheduled for January 12-22 in Lake Placid. Despite being one of the best teams in the world at women's hockey, the US has never put much effort in fielding a team for these games. Hosting the games in the hallowed hockey city of Lake Placid convinced the hockey committee they wanted to put out a competitive team (read more in my linked piece at USCHO.com). Among many things, this is a chance for some very good hockey players to represent their country in a way they'd never otherwise be able, which is pretty awesome.

(Photo: Twitter/Minnesota Duluth Women's Hockey)



Filed under: NCAA; vermont; harvard; yale; colgate; minnesota duluth; ohio state; northeastern; ice hockey; 2023 FISU world university games

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