NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, December 30-January 3
- 3 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, December 30-January 3

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, December 30-January 3 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.

(2) Wisconsin at (4) Quinnipiac

Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+

I'm not sure the results here will affect either team too much in terms of the Pairwise, but in terms of public perception, this might be the biggest series of the season. Quinnipiac has struggled to gain vote respect in the polls despite having a truly stellar first half. Wisconsin has had some shaky games and haven't quite put together all the pieces to show that they're a good enough team to win another title this season.

When these two teams played in Madison last New Year's, the Badgers won the first game 5-2 and then tied 1-1 on New Year's Day. That tie was important for the Bobcats' psyche and helped the team to believe their own hype in understanding that they weren't just better than they'd been or good in the ECAC, but that they could play with the defending National Champions.

Quinnipiac gained momentum (and confidence) throughout that weekend and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened in a third game. They put much more pressure on Wisconsin in the second game, playing more aggressively on offense and possessing the puck more, leading to the Badgers putting just three shots on goal in the third period. This time around, they won't have the timidity or learning curve and they'll be playing at home. It shouldn't take them a game to show their best.

These teams are very evenly matched and fans should enjoy watching how they try to wear each other down and exploit weaknesses. Both teams are puck possession squads who limit their opposition's offense by restricting how much they actually have the puck. Faceoffs will be key and the teams have similar percentages in the circles, so that will also be something to watch. They're also both known to be very quick in transition, forcing turnovers and taking advantage of open space to get down the ice. Line matchups, who gets the last change, and the chess match between the two coaches on this should be a really interesting thing to watch.

It will be Wisconsin's first trip back to Hamden since winning the National Championship there in 2019.

Mercyhurst at (3) Yale

Monday and Tuesday at 3:00 PM Central

Watch: streaming link TBD, will update if one becomes available

The Bulldogs lost their first game of the year in early December, but responded with two wins to close out their first half. Yale has been solid so far this season, picking up where they left off when they lost the national semifinal in March.

Mercyhurst have a young and talented roster that hasn't quite figured out who they are yet. Sweden's Thea Jonsson is a freshman and she leads the Lakers with ten goals and 11 assists. She, Sara Boucher, and Vanessa Upson make this a dangerous offense that skates with a lot of poise and control.

The first game after a break is never easy. Mercyhurst has struggled to consistently string together good games and won't be able to ease into this one. Yale has been consistent, but not overwhelming. They can hold a lead, but they don't necessarily slam the door shut for their opponents. I think there's room for a team to fluster them and put them on their heels. I'm interested to see Mercyhurst's top line agaisnt the Bulldogs, but their blue line and goaltending have to have a great game to give them a chance.

The last time these two played was a 4-0 win by Yale in 2012.

Also worth a look:

  • LIU at Penn State – Friday at 2:00 PM and Saturday at 1:00 Eastern
  • Saint Anselm at New Hampshire – Monday at 6:00 Eastern (ESPN+ stream)

Stick Taps and Snark

Second half starts now – Eight weeks of the regular season remain and there are a ton of marquee matchups in those two months. The national championship game is 79 days away and we've got nothing but great hockey to look forward to until then.

Princeton – The Tigers went from #9 in the polls to unranked in eight weeks. It's been a rough go of it from a team that I expected to compete for the ECAC title and had as a lock for the NCAA tournament.

(Photo: Nicole Haase)