NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, January 27-29
- 4 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, January 27-29

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, January 27-29 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.

(3) Minnesota at (6) Minnesota Duluth

Friday and Saturday at 3:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.

Women's college hockey fans are being treated to a massive in-state rivalry matchup for Hockey Day in Minnesota this weekend. When they played back in November, the Gophers took a 3-2 overtime win and a 5-3 victory.

UMD is on a nine-game unbeaten streak, while Minnesota is unbeaten in their last 10 games. The Gophers have won more than twice as many games in this rivalry as the Bulldogs have – and are winners of seven of the last 10 meetings. Taylor Heise leads the country with 47 points and Grace Zumwinkle is third in the nation with 45. Zumwinkle's 21 goals are the best in the country as well. The Gophers score more often than UMD (though they're both top six in the nation), but the Bulldogs have a stingier defense. Emma Söderberg continues to be one of the best goalies in the country and Minnesota Duluth is skilled at slowing down high-powered offenses, frustrating skaters, and keeping play to the outside in their defensive zone – especially on home ice.

The Bulldogs made a big statement with their two wins over Wisconsin and a minimum of a split here would really boost their resume and reputation. UMD was already good, but has improved quite a bit as the season rolls on. The last series was close and I expect the same here. Minnesota needs to stay out of the penalty box and not give Duluth any additional advantages.

In addition to these amazing games, Minnesota Duluth is hosting its annual alumni weekend and will also honor the 2003 NCAA title team as it approaches the 20th anniversary of the NCAA's only three-peat champions in college women's Division I hockey, as well as its 2008 NCAA title. Both NCAA titles were won in Duluth at the DECC Arena. Hopefully that means some fun intermission interviews and booth visits.

(9) Clarkson at (2) Yale

Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Yale made a huge statement last weekend with a decisive win over Quinnipiac that really cemented that this is one of the best teams in the country. With just one loss and one tie, the Bulldogs started to pull first-place votes away from Ohio State this week. They were a solid team when the season started, and they've only grown better as the season has progressed. Their new players have settled in; they acclimated to a new goaltender; and they are playing their game pretty much from whistle to buzzer. That aforementioned goalie, Pia Dukarič, is third in the nation in save percentage and goals against, and has provided a solid and seamless transition in net that allows Yale to be aggressive on the breakout.

Clarkson will have to find an answer for Claire Dalton, who found a new level in 2023. She has 15 points in nine games. Three of her six goals this month were game-winners.

The Golden Knights lost to Yale 3-1 to open their second half, but have not lost since. They have been a bit up and down this season and will need to be as on point with their game as they have been all year if they want a chance to upset the Bulldogs. The Clarkson top line has been proficient and has basically kept pace with the most prolific offenses this season, but there's a massive dropoff in production when they aren't on the ice. It makes the offense a little one-dimensional and easy to defend, and allows opposing defenses to play matchups and rest their best players a bit, making them even more difficult to compete against.

(11) Vermont at Boston College

Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Vermont has a two-point lead and one game in hand on Providence for second place in Hockey East. That matters because the Catamounts are in the hunt for their first- ever NCAA tournament bid. The better HEA seed they have, the better chance they have of going farther in the conference tournament, which they'll need to move up in the Pairwise. UVM's biggest issue is Hockey East itself. The Catamounts' quality win bonus is 0.00. They don't have any chance to change that before the end of the regular season, but they also can't afford any losses to opponents below them in the rankings. It's a precarious position and at the moment, they're on the outside looking in. With the NEWHA winner getting a conference autobid this season and Penn State, the likely CHA autobid winner, sitting in a similar bubble position, Vermont needs to get themselves into 9th place for any shot at an NCAA at-large bid.

It has been a struggle for the Eagles so far this year. Two players – Hannah Bilka and Abby Newhook – are responsible for more than a third of Boston College's scoring. They've lost four of their last five and are looking to turn that around.

Also worth a look:

  • Franklin Pierce at St. Anselm – Friday at 4:00 PM and Saturday at 7:30 Eastern
  • (14) Connecticut at Maine – Friday at 2:00 PM Eastern
  • Princeton at (4) Quinnipiac – Saturday at 1:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Syracuse Goalie Arielle DeSmet – Became the 14th CHA netminder to reach 2,000 career saves.

Wisconsin – After losses at Ohio State two weeks ago, the Badgers fell to 8th in the polls.

Colgate's Kalty Kaltounkova and Danielle Serdachny – Kaltounkova collected her 50th career goal and 100 career point and Serdachny earned her 150th career point and 100th career assist.

Vermont – The Catamounts set a new Hockey East attendance record with 2,210 fans in attendance.

Hockey East fans – Okay, what Vermont did was great, but how is the record just 2,200 fans?! There are so many great teams out there and plenty of population. Get out there and support your teams, please! The rink where the Vermont women's team plays has a capacity of 4,035.

UMD's Gabbie Hughes – The grad student recently reach 200 career points.  

Hockey Humanitarian Nominees – Congratulations to Syracuse's Sarah Thompson, St. Cloud State Addi Scribner, Ohio State's Emma Maltais, RPI's Hannah Price, St. Mary's Jordan Keeley, and UMD's Gabbie Hughes.

(Photo: UMD Athletics/Twitter)