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.
(1) Wisconsin at (2) Ohio State
Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.
The top two teams in the country will face off in a rematch of last year's national championship game, which Wisconsin won 1-0. It will be the Badgers' first big test of the season. They're on a 16-game win streak dating back to the NCAA tournament. Ohio State lost their first game of the season to Colgate and have won nine straight since.
Wisconsin owns the overall record against Ohio State 76-21-10, but the Buckeyes have closed that gap significantly under Nadine Muzerall, going 13-17-4 in her time at the helm. The Buckeyes also tend to be much better against the Badgers on their own home ice, so it should be an incredibly interesting set of games.
I'll be keeping my eyes on special teams in this game. The Badgers are still without KK Harvey, who is injured, and their other top defender, Anna Wilgren, missed time last weekend as well. They'll be putting a lot on their relatively inexperienced goaltending tandem this week and looking for someone to run the PP if Wilgren is out. But Ohio State has struggled a bit (by their own standards) on the penalty kill and in a tough contest that's usually pretty physical and full of penalties, this could be where Wisconsin finds an edge.
Ohio State has one of their deepest rosters in recent memory and they are spreading their scoring out, making them difficult to match up with. As the home team they'll get last change and look to take advantage. Both teams are just above the midpoint on faceoff wins.
The final weekend of last season, the teams combined for 15 goals in two games. In the national championship, the Badgers edged out the Buckeyes 1-0. With how prolific both offenses have been thus far, it's likely this will be another high-scoring series and may just come down to who gets that last good look on net.
(9) Quinnipiac at (3) Colgate
Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.
Quinnipiac rebounded from back to back losses to St. Lawrence and Clarkson with wins over Dartmouth, Harvard, and Post and will look to gain back some ground in ECAC standings, where they currently sit sixth. Colgate is on a ten game winning streak after splitting their opening weekend series with Ohio State.
The Raiders have scored four or more goals in each of their last eight games and seem to be in late season form already. There has been little to trip them up and keep them from moving the puck, being creative and putting goals in the back of the net. They are a formidable team that has proven to be great up and down the ice while playing cohesively. Kalty Kaltounkova is the team leader in goals and points and Patty Kazmaier top-three finalist Danielle Serdachny has taken on a bit more of a supportive role, dishing pucks and setting up the play instead of scoring herself.
Quinnipiac got knocked a little off kilter by those back to back conference losses and I think need to respond with a set of strong games this weekend. There's more competition than ever in the ECAC and they need to get some confidence back and do some work to figure out how to take those losses in stride, learn from them and grow because of them. They have an experienced group of leaders, but a lot of the talent in this group are young and it feels like their season could hinge on how they bounce back here.
(4) Minnesota at (8) Minnesota Duluth
Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Central
Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.
This could secretly be one of the most interesting series of the season. Minnesota Duluth is tied for the national lead in fewest goals allowed with 11 and carry a goals-against average of 1.10. The Bulldogs have been near-perfect on defense and haven't experienced the statistical downswing you'd normally expect after graduating one of the best goaltenders in the country. They've been splitting time in net with sophomore Haliey MacLeod and freshman Ève Gascon and both have been stellar.
What makes that particularly intriguing here is that with the exception of Abbey Murphy, the Gophers have struggled at times to put the puck in the net. She's responsible for a full third of the team's goals and has twice as many as anyone else on the team. Thus far, no one else has come close to matching her ability to pick her spot, drive the net and put away loose pucks. She can't do it on her own and she's only going to continue to draw more attention from opposing defenses. The relatively young Gophers have been a little timid with the puck, particularly in close and on the rebound, which just isn't going to work against this stout Bulldog defense.
Minnesota won all five of the games between these two last season, including a 3-0 win in the NCAA Tournament. This could be a chance for UMD to stop that slide while extending the six-game win streak they're on. Their success hasn't just been due to playing shut-down defense – they're also scoring more goals than they have in recent years.
Also worth a look:
- (9) Quinnipiac at (6) Cornell – Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern
- (11) Yale at (5) Clarkson – Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
- (13) Princeton at (6) Cornell – Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Stick Taps and Snark
↑ Mercyhurst goalie Ena Nystrøm – With 32 on Friday, the graduate student from Norway reached the 2,000 career saves mark
↓ St. Lawrence – The Saints ended a six game win streak when they dropped a pair of games at Clarkson last week.
↑ Colgate forward Dara Greig – With an assist on Friday, the senior reached 100 points in her career.
(Photo: OSU Women's Hockey/Twitter)