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.
There are two very good games happening at 3:00 PM Eastern on Friday – but since most people aren't around to watch those, I decided to feature the Saturday games that more of you might actually be able to tune into.
(5) Quinnipiac at (10) St. Lawrence
Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.
Quinnipiac comes into the weekend 8-0 and heads on their first conference road trip of the season. They'll face a tough test on Friday and need to make sure that they don't have any let down when they take the ice Saturday. After the physicality they'll see from Clarkson, they'll also need to be careful to reign that in for what should be a different style game against the Saints.
Sadie Peart leads Quinnipiac with eight points and there are four players tied with seven points just behind her.
St. Lawrence has just one loss so far this season, which came last weekend at Vermont. They rebounded with a 3-0 win in the second game of the series. Sophomore Emma-Sofie Nordström has stepped into net this season and handled herself well so far. The Saints were so used to the heroics of Lucy Morgan, but Nordström has settled in and uses her size to really shrink the available net to shoot at. Julia Gosling leads the team with six goals and six assists for 12 points, but importantly, 14 different Saints have lit the lamp through their first seven games.
This is a big test f0r the Saints, who get their tougher opponent on the second game of the weekend. Quinnipiac is going to push the pace and test St. Lawrence's ability to keep up in transition. They know their top line can go head-to-head, but particularly in the second game, it may hinge on how well the players further down the depth chart can handle themselves and have successful shifts that allow the top line time to rest.
(4) Minnesota at (2) Ohio State
Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Free stream on BTN+.
The Gophers had the better of this matchup last season, including a 3-1 win over the Buckeyes in the WCHA Tournament Championship game. They're coming off a ten day break and should be well rested for their trip to Columbus. In their last game, they escaped with a 2-1 win over St. Cloud.
Abbey Murphy has really stepped into the role as the top forward on the squad. Her seven goals and 11 points lead the team. This is a young team overall and this weekend will be a good test to see who else on the Gophers can stand out in a high pressure situation. They have been moving the puck well, but when challenged by St. Cloud, it wasn't clear how successful they'll be at turning that into dangerous opportunities on net.
Minnesota will need work on finding a balance this weekend, I think, so they don't get stuck on the defensive. Ohio State will try to control possession and really hem them into their d-zone. Combine that with a less balanced offense than we've seen from them in the past and it could be a tough weekend for them. Their defense and goaltending have been good and they need to build on that strength.
After a lot of talk in the offseason about all the roster moves from Ohio State, they've been pretty balanced on the score sheet, with Hannah Bilka and Kiara Zanon leading the squad with four goals each. I think if Ohio State is going to come out of the weekend with points, they'll need some of their biggest names to really take another step up and show out this weekend. These are big games on home ice and now is the time for them to shine. I hope we see the fast-paced, dynamic play this roster has promised since it was assembled.
No one is expecting OSU to have replaced a player like Sophie Jaques, but I do think they have to find a way to widen and add dimension to their game in the offensive zone like having a threat like her at the blue line did. It expands the game and pulls the defense out, giving their forwards more room to work.
(14) Princeton at (6) Clarkson
Saturday at 6:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.
Robert Morris proved last week that a stout defense can stymie Clarkson, who eked out a 2-1 win in the second game thanks to two power play goals. The Tigers need to take their cues from that game and not be afraid to get in front of shots, block passing lanes and generally make themselves a nuisance to the Golden Knights so that they can't get settled in the offensive zone.
Sarah Fillier is the standout on offense for the Tigers, but Emerson O'Leary has already shown how much she's grown at the start of her sophomore season – she's at half of her previous year's stat totals four games into the season. Her classmate Sarah Paul also seems poised to take big strides forward – she's putting the puck on net and creating chances. It's clear her confidence is high and I think it's only a matter of time before her stats begin to match up.
Anne Cherkowski has twice as many goals as any other Clarkson skater and Dominique Petrie leads the squad with eight assists. One of Clarkson's best qualities is their depth and experience. While other teams are looking for new players to step into bigger roles, the Golden Knights have a tried and tested team. For their season to be a success, they need all those pieces to come together to create the kind of magic that makes a team greater than the sum of the parts.
In this game, I think Clarkson has to use their physicality, particularly along the boards and in the neutral zone, to slow down Princeton's pace of play. The Tigers would like this to be a smooth, quick game and I think the Golden Knights need to make this a grinder game where Princeton has to fight for every inch of ice. They need to get in lanes, lift sticks and just make themselves a nuisance on defense.
Also worth a look:
- (5) Quinnipiac at (6) Clarkson – Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
- (14) Princeton at (10) St. Lawrence – Friday at and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern
- New Hampshire at (12) Vermont – Friday at 3:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Central
Stick Taps and Snark
↑ St. Cloud goalie Sanni Ahola – The senior netminder has not allowed a goal in four starts so far this season. She is the only goalie in the country with a perfectly clean sheet.
↓ Northeastern – After a 2-0 loss to St. Cloud State in the opening round of the Ice Breaker tournament, the Huskies have dropped to 13th in the polls.
↑ Televised games – Women's college hockey was featured on Big Ten Network, NESN and SNY last week.
(Photo: Quinnipiac Women's Hockey/Twitter)