NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, October 20-October 22
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NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, October 20-October 22

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, October 20-October 22 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.

(5) Yale at (6) Quinnipiac

Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

This Yale's first official weekend of games, meaning we're finally fully in the women's hockey season. They don't ease into play at all, however, facing first Princeton and then Quinnipiac.

The Bobcats present a tougher matchup because they are deeper and bigger. It should be a more physical game that comes at the Bulldogs fast and really tests them in all areas of the ice. Yale is going to be still figuring out lines and connections and Quinnipiac is going to give them little to no room to do so all while looking to expose any of the cracks that will surely be there in the second game of the season. The Bulldogs swept the season series last year and you can bet the Bobcats have had a little extra focus on this game. A win here would really solidify Quinnipiac as a national championship contender – they've been unable to consistently beat the other top teams in the ECAC and need to get over that hurdle.

For Yale, they lost just four games last season and then sort of fizzled out. They fell in the ECAC tournament semifinals and suffered a 4-1 defeat to Northeastern in the NCAA Tournament regional finals. Everything that had gotten them to the postseason seemed to disappear and they struggled to be the tough defense and relentless offense that they'd been all year. Yale has a lot to prove, I think, to themselves mostly – but also to the country. This is a nationally prominent program now and they want to show that they are a perennial contender come March. That has to start here on their first weekend.

(13) St. Cloud State vs. (10) Northeastern

Friday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream on NEC Front Row.

St. Cloud State swept Bemidji State over the weekend and then lost a close game to Minnesota on Tuesday night. It'll be a busy week for them with that extra game and travel out East. But they're going to be a tough matchup for Northeastern, who are coming off a 1-0 loss to Merrimack. Unfortunately for St. Cloud, NU played just one game last weekend and does not have far to travel, which will play in their favor here.

This Huskies vs. Huskies matchup should be really interesting. SCSU has two of the best and most underrated goalies in the country. Jojo Chobak had the start on Tuesday, so my guess is it will be Finnish national team goalie Sanni Ahola in net for this one. St. Cloud are averaging half a goal per game more on offense than Northeastern while both teams are among the best in the country on defense (NU is 2nd, St. Cloud State is tied for 3rd).

SCSU really stood out on the power play last season and already have six extra-attacker goals this season while Northeastern has not allowed a goal on the power play thus far. St. Cloud uses their size and can be very physical, but that tends to work against WCHA teams when they play out east, so how this game is called by the officials and how the teams adjust to that could be a big factor in how this game shakes out. Northeastern likes to use their speed and go for quick breaks in transition. St. Cloud has to not get pulled into a foot race or get beat at the blue line if they want to keep NU in check. I expect SCSU to prepare for that, so Northeastern needs to be able to pivot and find other ways to get the puck to net.

(5) Yale at (14) Princeton

Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Princeton started the season with a pair of wins over Robert Morris last week. As expected, Sarah Fillier led the Tigers on offense, but of interest were two sophomores who also scored two goals each: Emerson O'Leary and Jane Kuehl. Fillier, quite frankly, cannot do it alone and last season it seemed like there weren't any teammates that could stay with and support her – or reliably draw the defense's attention away from her. It's promising to see this in the opening week, but the key will be whether they can keep it up against an opponent like Yale.

The Tigers have a pair of goalies that each started a game in the first series and I assume that's what it will look like going forward. Uma Corniea is a really talented, interesting rookie and I think many assume she'll be a four-year starter for Princeton, so it will be interesting to see how she performs and if Taylor Hyland can prove she deserves more starts as well. After six days off, either could get the nod against the Bulldogs.

I highlighted Yale's Saturday matchup above, but this will be Yale's first game of the season. They had an exhibition game two weeks ago, but will need to shake off any rust quickly in order to keep this game in hand early on.

Also worth a look:

  • Syracuse at Boston University – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • Maine at Providence  – Friday at and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern
  • (8) Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota State – Friday at 3:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Central

Stick Taps and Snark

↑ Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson – The Badger bench boss became the first DI women's coach to reach 600 wins (he was also the first to top 500, four years ago). His .817 winning percentage is best among all active DI coaches, men's or women's and 237 of those wins came via shutout.

↓ Northeastern – The Huskies lost their second game of the season, which might not sounds too bad until you realize they lost just three games total last season and the third was in the national semifinal to end their season. They're down to 10th in the polls.

↑  St. Cloud State coach Brian Idalski – He became the 25th coach in NCAA women's hockey history to record 300 wins with the Huskies win on Saturday.

↑  100 point club – Colgate's Kaitlin O'Donohoe and Quinnipiac's Sadie Peart each reached the century mark over the weekend.

(Photo: Yale Women's Hockey/Twitter)