NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, February 3-5
- 4 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, February 3-5

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, February 3-5 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.

(1) Ohio State at (3) Minnesota

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.

The Gophers have a two point lead over Ohio State atop the WCHA and are the team that has played the best against the Buckeyes so far this season, though that was all the way back before Halloween. When they met in Columbus, Minnesota won the first game 4-2 and the teams tied in the second game 4-4, with OSU taking the extra shootout point. Both teams have been nearly flawless so far this season - Minnesota is 19-1-2, while Ohio State is 19-2-1. There are simply not a lot of cracks in either that can be exposed or exploited.

I expect these games to end up fast-paced, but they may start out a little slower as the teams feel each other out and try not to leave themselves vulnerable to points in transition. The Gophers have the advantage in net with Skylar Vetter, who has emerged as the starter and one of the better goalies in the country – she was named to the Goaltender of the Year semifinalist list this week. Ohio State has the better defense, which certainly helps bolster their goaltending. The will pressure on the forecheck, look to cede no space in the neutral zone and try to keep Minnesota's top-tier forwards from getting a chance to get settled in on offense or line up shots.

The teams approach offense in different ways and it will be fun to see two of the best coaches in the game maneuver with each other for matchups. Minnesota's top line is unparalleled, with amazing chemistry, elite shots, and the ability to pick their spot from pretty much anywhere. But Ohio State's scoring is more spread out across their line sheet. They'll be looking to limit the possession of Taylor Heise and Grace Zumwinkle as much as possible and use their second and third lines' time on ice to capitalize, as well as hoping to get some scoring from their defense.  

This series will feature some of the best hockey of the season – don't miss it.

(4) Colgate at (9) Clarkson

Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Colgate took the first game of this series this season 2-1 back in November, but Clarkson has seemed to settle into themselves as the season has progressed. The Raiders sit three points behind Quinnipiac and five points behind Yale at the top of the conference standings and will be jockeying for position, but are pretty well assured an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Clarkson isn't so much concerned with their ECAC finish as they are the Pairwise, where they currently sit ninth. That's too close for comfort when it comes to at-large bids and a win or non-regulation result against the Raiders would give them a boost.

It's sort of been status quo for Colgate, who've just been a solid team that makes few mistakes. They've been a little overshadowed by the seasons Yale and Quinnipiac are having, but they're fourth in the Pairwise and will give any team they play in the postseason all they can handle. Elyssa Biedermann has been a standout in her first season and Danielle Serdachny leads the country with 51 points on 18 goals and 33 assists. Her 1.82 points per game are also best in the nation. I don't know if it's the lack of focus on her team among the other standout ECAC squads or what, but Serdachny doesn't seem to get the same recognition or attention as the other top scorers in the country. She's been doing this for Colgate pretty much since she joined the team. Maybe now that the rest of the conference is proving themselves to be so good her accomplishments will stand out even more.

LIU at Stonehill

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream on NEC Front Row.

The Sharks have a seven point lead atop NEWHA, while Stonehill sits third, one point behind Saint Anselm. When these teams met in November, LIU won 5-1 and 3-2.

LIU has been celebrating the 100th game of the first players to skate for the program and all that experience has been showing on the ice. Meanwhile, Stonehill is in their very first season and if any program knows what you can accomplish as a NEWHA newbie, it's LIU. The Skyhawks have been impressive in this first year and have shown massive improvement as the season has gone on. I expect much a much closer result and for Stonehill to push LIU as much as possible.

Sophomore Jennie Wallner leads LIU in scoring. She has an innate sense for which shots to take and doesn't waste her opportunities with the puck. On the flip side, Alexis Petford has more than double the number of goals of any other Stonehill skater. She has transitioned to the college game incredibly well and is a big reason her team is competitive in any game they play.

Also worth a look:

  • (14) St. Cloud State at (8) Wisconsin – Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 Central (Friday is UW's Fill the Bowl, where they try to break their own attendance record.)
  • (13) Cornell at (9) Clarkson – Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern
  • (10) Penn State at Syracuse – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Princeton – I still don't quite understand what happened on Sunday, but Princeton hung 11 (!) goals on Quinnipiac and three players scored hat tricks. Before Sunday, Jane Kuehl had never scored a collegiate goal and had just two assists all season. Then she scored scored three times, added two assists and basically had a game she'll never forget. Sarah Fillier and Maggie Connors also had hatties.

Quinnipiac – I usually try not to double up or pour it on, but the Bobcat's loss to Princeton dropped them to sixth in the national rankings and they're seventh in Pairwise. It was just a really specatacular loss at a really bad time of the season. It will be super interesting to see how they respond.

Goalie of the Year Semifinalists – Congratulations to Sandra Abstreiter, Tia Chan, Pia Dukaric, Tindra Holm, Cami Kronish, Abigail Levy, Michelle Pasiechnyk, Gwyn Philips, Amanda Rampado, Emma Söderberg, and Skylar Vetter.

LIU – A number of Sharks recently played in their 100th career game as members of the program's inaugural roster.

(Photo: LIU Women's Hockey/Twitter)