NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Hockey East and NEWHA tournament semifinals
- 4 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Hockey East and NEWHA tournament semifinals

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, Hockey East and NEWHA tournament semifinals by Nicole Haase

The winners of tonight's games play on Saturday for their conference tournament championship. The winner of the conference tournament gets an autobid into the NCAA Tournament.

Boston College at Northeastern (Hockey East semifinal)

Wednesday at 5:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Northeastern is looking to win its sixth-straight Hockey East Tournament Championship. The Huskies have been basically unstoppable in the conference postseason and have outscored their opponents 68-16 over the course of their run to five-straight.

These tried and true foes have already faced off four times this season, with the Huskies taking all three regular season games, plus a win in the Beanpot title game.

If Boston College is going to earn an upset here, they'll need a big game from their defense and goalie Abigail Levy. While NU's Gwyn Phillips leads the country in save percentage, Levy is in second and Levy has faced a couple hundred more shots. She's battle-tested and that may prove valuable for her here. But she can't do it alone. The Eagles will need their defense to stay home, block shots, and clog lanes. Northeastern is good in transition and their top three forwards – Alina Müller, Chloé Aurard, and Maureen Murphy – all have a great eye for the net. BC has to keep them from getting too set up or in positions where they can just pick where to place the puck.

For the Huskies, they need to pull the BC defense out of position. They'll use a strong forecheck and try to force turnovers. On the Eagles' side, they can't dive in, cheat up or otherwise give Northeastern time and space to make moves with the puck.

Providence at Vermont (Hockey East semifinal)

Wednesday at 6:30 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+. (Free international stream via StretchInternet.)

Based on past performance, this game is Vermont goalie Jessie McPherson's to lose. Two of Providence's three shutouts this season came at the hands of McPherson and she let in a single goal in the third game they placed. She stopped 63 of Providence's 64 shots over three games. In her career, she is 6-0-0 against the Friars and has never given up more than one goal in a game.

If Providence is going to figure out a way to get past Vermont, it's going to have to be about solving McPherson and doing so early. The Catamounts are 14-0-2 this season when leading after the first period and 16-0-0 when leading after two periods. They also seem to play their best in the final frame, so the Friars have to score early and often or Vermont is likely to find a way to claw back into it.

Vermont's Lara Beecher was named Hockey East Rookie of the Year on Wednesday and she has wreaked particular havoc on Providence, scoring four goals in three games, two of which were game winners.

If Providence is going to earn the win in Vermont, they'll need their veteran players to step up and they need to hold frustration at bay. I'd like to see them get more pucks to the net – I don't think they'll solve their scoring issues against McPherson with  perfectly placed shots. They need to look for second- and third-chance opportunities, loose pucks, and any bobbles she might make. Their opportunities are going to be limited, so they have to make them count.

Franklin Pierce at LIU (NEWHA semifinal)

Wednesday at 2:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Long Island locked up the regular season title and then pulled back a bit at the end of the season, losing the final three and suffering only their second shutout of the season (the first happened in the opening weekend series against Minnesota Duluth). Franklin Pierce took two of those final three wins and will no doubt feel like they have the momentum to win this semifinal, while LIU will be putting a well-rested team on the ice that isn't worried about the results of the final weeks of the regular season.

In its fourth year of existence, LIU's roster is as stocked and experienced as any in the country. Most of these women come to the program as rookies looking to build something from scratch and now have the opportunity to win the first ever NCAA autobid awarded in the NEWHA conference.

The goalies of these two teams are the best in the conference. LIU's Tindra Holm won Goalie of the Year and she leads in save percentage with .938. But FPU's Jill Hertl is just behind her and she edges out Holm in goals against average with 1.80 per game.

The teams are pretty evenly matched on offense, so special teams and in the net is where this game will be decided.

Stonehill at Saint Anselm (NEWHA semifinal)

Wednesday at 7:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream via Saint Anselm.

Stonehill freshman Alexis Petford lead the conference with 46 points and was named conference Rookie of the Year, but Saint Anselm skaters hold the next four highest point totals in NEWHA, including Kelly Golini who is just behind with 43 points and was named Player of the Year.

Expect a fast-paced, intensive hockey game with high shot totals and quick transition as each team tries to find any advantage they can.

Stonehill is in the top half of all teams on the power play and has the number two penalty kill in the country. They don't make a lot of mistakes and they don't let other teams exploit those mistakes. In their first year, the Skyhawks have shown how a brand new team can make an immediate impact. The team has believed in themselves and what Coach of the Year Tara Watchorn is telling them.

On the other hand, Saint Anselm has qualified for each of the four NEWHA Championship games in league history and are the only program in the league to do so. They are experienced and comfortable in these one-and-done games and they are going to use every inch of their veteran status to their advantage. If Stonehill skaters experience any kind of jitters or need a chance to settle into the game, Saint Anselm needs to strike quick, keep them off balance and try to put the game out of reach before Stonehill gets a chance to remember it started.

(Photo: Saint Anselm Women's Hockey Twitter)