NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, September 29-October 1
- 5 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, September 29-October 1

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, September 29-October 1 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) Ohio State at (4) Colgate

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Past schedules that show what teams were ranked at the time don't really exist in women's college hockey, but a quick glance through the last ten years or so cross-referenced with that week's poll leads me to believe this is the highest ranked matchup in the opening weeks of the season in quite some time, if not ever.

Ohio State will hit the ice for the first time this season, while Colgate won an exhibition game against St. Lawrence last weekend 4-1. These teams figure to be major factors in the national conversation this season – they both won their respective conference's regular season titles. The Raiders lost to Wisconsin the the NCAA Regional Final while Ohio State were defeated by the Badgers in the National Championship game.

Colgate return a mostly intact roster from last season, including last year's national scoring leader and Patty Kazmaier top-three finalist Danielle Serdachny for her fifth season and goalie Kayle Osborne, who finished 9th in the country with a 1.75 goals against average.

The Buckeyes have experienced more turnover, graduating Patty Kaz winner Sophie Jaques, Patty Kaz top-ten finalist Gabby Rosenthal, and Olympic gold medalist Emma Maltais. But they went big on the transfer portal and brought in a veritable all-star team to renew the roster with – two-time Olympian Cayla Barnes, World Champion Hannah Bilka, former National Rookie of the Year and two-time CHA Player of the Year Kiara Zanon. They've also added Olivia Mobley, Stephanie Markowski, and Kelsey King. Plus a rookie class filled with U18 talent.

Between last week's exhibition game and bringing back most of last year's team, I expect Colgate to start Friday's game quickly and try to put OSU back on their heels. These games will either be low scoring defensive battles or feature a dozen goals between the two in each game. Colgate's "play free" style makes them difficult to prepare for, particularly this early in the season. We've seen the Raiders use what can look like a chaotic approach to scramble teams who aren't used to it, so it'll be interesting to see what they bring against Ohio State and how OSU responds.

Boston College at (9) Clarkson

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

These two teams represent the two sides of the transfer portal. Many of BC's most impactful players searched out new homes this offseason – including Alexie Guay, who'll line up opposite her former teammates with Clarkson this weekend. She's joined at the Golden Knights by several players who came to Clarkson from other programs, including Rhea Hicks, Darcie Lappan, and Dominique Petrie.

Boston College has struggled the past few seasons with turning the individual talent of their players into team success and consistent play. Now they'll have a fairly young team without its most experienced leaders. It's an opportunity for a bit of a reset and for these players to create something a new identity, but they're also jumping right into the deep end against a tough opponent on the road.

Though not nearly to the same extent, the Golden Knights have also been unable to push themselves to the the top of their conference. They've been good but not great, finishing no higher than third in the ECAC and losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons. They've been unlucky with some injuries, but also haven't quite been able to capture the lightning they had five to six years ago. While they're always a solid defensive team, they haven't been able to keep up with the four-goal-a-game output of programs like Yale and Colgate. Hicks and Swiderski will be interesting to watch with a year of experience behind them while there's a chance for Shelby Laidlaw to come in and have a breakout year.

Maine at (8) Quinnipiac

Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Quinnipiac eked out a 4-3 overtime win over UConn in an exhibition last week, which confirmed for me there are still a lot of things they need to figure out after losing a few of their biggest names to transfer and graduation. But it also showed that Madison Chantler is poised for a breakout season. The rookie had a decent season last year, but her play at the U18 level made me think she had more to bring. With an opportunity for a bigger role, she seems to have stepped up and answered the call. It's obviously early, but she's always had a knack for finding the back of the net and now she has some more experience and confidence to back it up.

Maine has been one of the programs that has used international recruiting to help build out a roster that can compete in Hockey East. I love how this affects their style of play, gives them some size and maturity and makes them so fun to watch. They have a good mix of returning players and rookies, including Sam Morrison, who had a goal and assist in the Black Bears' 3-0 exhibition game win over the University of New Brunswick last week.

Also worth a look:

  • Connecticut at (11) Penn State – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 Eastern
  • Robert Morris at Union – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

Lindenwood – The lone Midwestern hockey school not in the WCHA plays a lot of non-conference games against that conference thanks to the proximity. Before last weekend, they'd won just 11 games in 110 played against WCHA opponents and the only series sweep they had was against St. Thomas, in that program's first year of NCAA DI play. But the Lions put on a dominant showing against Bemidji State last weekend, winning 4-1 and 4-2. Here's hoping it's a sign of things to come and an upswing for this program.

Accessible games – With so many NCAA players making up international and now PHWL rosters, it would be nice if universities and broadcasters started to treat the women's college game with the import it deserves. Yet we're still seeing top programs playing on weekdays, during the work day, and with few televised games in sight. It's nothing new, but damn is it frustrating.

Penn State – Last season, the Nittany Lions shocked everyone by beating Wisconsin in the first game of the season. This year, they proved that big win was no fluke as they played two incredibly close games against Northeastern, taking home a 2-1 win on Saturday. PSU showed that their current roster is just as good, Tessa Janecke has only gotten better, and they are a threat on the national stage.

(Photo: Colgate Women's Hockey/Twitter)