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.
(11) Penn State at (3) Colgate
Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.
Penn State is coming off two wildly different weekends to start the season and now face another tough test with the Raiders. Two weeks ago, the Nittany Lions narrowly lost to Northeastern in their season opener before earning a 2-1 win to split the weekend. Last weekend, they earned just one point from a weekend series with UConn. They tied the second game late in the third when they poured in the shots on goal, but it seemed to take them more than two periods to remember they were a better team.
Colgate split a weekend series with Ohio State, losing the second game in overtime. That was obviously a little deflating, but after bowing out of last year's NCAA Tournament in the regional final, finding out that they are on par with Ohio State is the kind of confidence booster they need to dig in and keep getting better as the year goes on.
The Raiders have a talented and deep offense. They moved the puck well, didn't get frustrated and the underclass players really showed out. It's always a good sign for a team when they're getting goals from someone other than last year's scoring champion. Danielle Serdachny was plenty involved and had three assists on the weekend, but an expanded threat from other parts of the offense really help Colgate be even more dynamic.
(9) Clarkson at (13) Vermont
Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 7:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.
I'm really looking forward to this non-conference matchups of two of the top teams in their respective conference. Plus. I feel like their styles will make for a really intriguing game.
These will be UVM's first games of the season – they played a single exhibition game last week. Clarkson is already four games into the year and are undefeated and averaging 3.75 goals per game. Their 15 goals have come from 10 different scorers. The Golden Knights have depth and momentum on offense. They also have a really stout, strong defense, which will mean the Catamounts have to hit the ice ready to play 200 feet of hockey at all times. Control of the neutral zone and an ability to transition will be really crucial to this game.
Clarkson is really looking to continue to not only up their profile, but challenge themselves early to put them in the best position to earn points and take down the other top teams in the ECAC. The conference will be a tough place to stand out and the Golden Knights are looking to be battled tested so they can go toe-to-toe with Colgate, Yale, Quinnipiac and Cornell and come out with more wins than losses.
Boston College at (1) Wisconsin
Thursday and Friday at 7:00 PM Central
Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.
The defending national champions have their home opener and will raise the banner for their title on Friday. They'll do so while hosting a rare opponent for them. This will be just the 8th and 9th time the teams have every played and BC hasn't been in Madison since 2000. The Badgers are 7-0-0 all time against the Eagles.
Wisconsin set or tied a bunch of program and NCAA records last weekend against Lindenwood. Beyond the lopsided score, Friday's game meant the rookies got a lot more time on ice in both even strength and special teams scenarios. BC will present a tougher test and it should prove a bonus that those younger players got some of the nerves and firsts out of the way. Rookie Cassie Hall, who I thought could be a breakout star this season even before these games, led the way with four goals. She's an intense, focused skater that uses her smaller size to her advantage, but doesn't get pushed around.
Boston College lost a pair of games to Clarkson last weekend. They were held scoreless in the first meeting, but scored in the opening minute of the second game. Unfortunately they couldn't build off that. They'll be looking to find their footing. This is basically an inexperienced team – they had a bunch of big names running the defense and offense that are now gone. Those players ate up a lot of minutes. Without them, the Eagles will take some time to find their new normal. I'm not sure playing in a sold-out LaBahn against these Badgers is going to help them do that.
Thursday night's first game of this matchup saw the Badgers win 5-3 over the Eagles, while outshooting them a jaw-dropping 56 to 18. How BC responds Friday night could be an early defining moment in their season.
Also worth a look:
- Boston University vs. (7) Northeastern – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 1:30 Eastern
- (12) St. Cloud State at Mercyhurst – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern
- (15) Providence at St. Lawrence – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern
Stick Taps and Snark
↑ Televised games – NESN announced they will show 11 women's hockey game and several local affiliates in Wisconsin and Minnesota have released a slate of games they'll be showing.
↓ Penn State – After an absolutely stellar split with Northeastern, the Nittany Lions tied and lost to Connecticut. They have to figure out how to play at the intensity they showed in that first series all season long. They can't be inconsistent and still look to make the NCAA Tournament.
↑ Our readers – I had fully accepted that going to cover the 2024 IIHF U18 Women's World Championships this season (an important even on its own and because of how many future NCAA players are there) was not going to happen because of the cost. Zoë told me to trust in our readers and ya'll responded and had it funded in less than 24 hours. I am so humbled and honored that you believe in me, in Victory Press and in the importance of independent media covering these events.
(Photo: Vermont Women's Hockey/Twitter)