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) Colgate at (9) Minnesota Duluth
Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Central
Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.
The Raiders have just one loss this season – to #1 Ohio State. It feels like they've been a bit under the radar so far this season because they've just been consistently good, continuing on from the ECAC-winning season they had last year. They've been a top-three team since their first series and have quietly done what's expected. As a result, I feel they've been overlooked by the national media in favor of upsets and surprising teams.
They might not think so, but it is a compliment. The Raiders are an elite team who are second in the country in scoring, fifth in the country in team defense, first in the country on the power play and fourth in penalty kill. They are dominant in all aspects of the game. Their two top lines are doing most of the scoring work, but a full half of the roster has lit the lamp at least once.
What has been interesting to watch is a slight change in dynamics on their top line. Last season's scoring champion Danielle Serdachny is second on the team with 27 points, but 19 of those come from assists. Kalty Kaltounková is on pace to obliterate her previous career highs in goals and points. Her shot percentage is way up and, importantly, her penalty numbers are way down.
Kaltounková has always been a very good forward for the Raiders, but this season she seems to have found a way to better balance and harness her size and power. She is stout and solid on her skates and in the past couldn't always toe the line between allowable and dangerous contact. This season, she's been muscling for position in front of the net, using her strength of angle opponents away from the puck and making herself nearly impossible to push off the play. She's always been dynamic, but in a way that was a little reckless. With the control she's showing for far this season, it's nearly impossible to take your eyes off her when she's on the ice.
Minnesota Duluth is used to playing against strong and talented forwards and have been relying on their defense more and more as the driving force in a game. Their offense is opportunistic and really good at possessing the puck and turning those defensive stands into offensive chances. It's pretty clear looking at the state sheet who plays on the first and second line and for the Bulldogs to go further this season I think they have to get more contributions from their entire lineup. Thus far their offense has been more serviceable than dynamic. They miss the playmaking ability of Gabbie Hughes and how Ashton Bell could create from the blue line. They may be able to shut down Colgate's offense for much of the game, but to win, they'll need their offense to do more than it has so far this season.
(6) St. Lawrence at (1) Ohio State
Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.
Ohio State put on a show last weekend in their sweep of Wisconsin. The Buckeyes fully shut down the Badgers on every part of the ice. It was an absolutely amazing show of preparation, coaching and execution. They used pressure to push the Badgers away from their routine of quick exits and when UW was forced to make quick decisions and adapt, they fell apart.
I can't imagine we'll see much different from Ohio State this weekend. They have the discipline and fitness to keep up that pressure and their roster depth is getting them scoring up and down the line sheet. They're a force to be reckoned with.
The Saints have been one of the biggest surprises of the season and despite a sweep at the hands of Clarkson two weeks ago, they rebounded with wins over Yale and Brown last weekend. This is a really big test for them. I'm frankly not sure we can expect any team to compete when Ohio State plays like they did last weekend, but even if the weekend ends in two losses, I think the Saints can still find positives from the series if they can keep their composure, keep the games close and still play their game when the pressure is on.
The two teams last played each other during this same time frame in 2021, when the Buckeyes took a 5-2 win at the D1 in DC tournament. St. Lawrence owns the overall record 7-6-0, but Ohio State has won the last four meetings.
(11) Connecticut vs. (7) Quinnipiac
Nutmeg Classic (all-Connecticut tournament)
Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.
Quinnipiac is coming off a split weekend where they handed Cornell their first loss before falling to Colgate.
Connecticut currently sits at the top of Hockey East standings, having won eight straight games. That conference is wide open this season and the Huskies look like they'll be fighting for the regular season championship with Boston College, who they have a two point lead over. This game offers them they opportunity to show that they're the real deal and a team that the rest of the country should be keeping an eye on.
Hockey East teams have not fared well when it comes to the NCAA tournament (18-31 overall, 0-4 in the title game) and this will give the Huskies a chance to see how they measure up to a team ahead of them in the polls – and by extension, some of the ranked teams Quinnipiac has played.
The Huskies have gotten scoring across their lines so far this season. Jada Habisch is leading the team with eight goals. But most importantly, they Huskies lead the country in team defense, allowing 0.92 goals per game. Their goalie pair of Megan Warrener and Tia Chan have been superb. Warrener leads the country with a .41 goals against average and has not lost a game, while allowing just two goals in five starts and carrying a .980 save percentage. Chan is 5th in the country with a .955 save percentage.
Quinnipiac are led offensively by their mainstays of Sadie Peart and Nina Steigauf, with support from Maya Labad. Transfer Emerson Jarvis has shown some flashes of something special. I hope she continues to build on that confidence and finds her role within the new squad, because she seems like a good fit.
(4) Minnesota vs. (8) Cornell
D1 in DC
Saturday at 4:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Free stream on YouTube.
It was a rough weekend for Cornell as they suffered their first two losses of the season and now they have to travel to Washington, D.C. for the holiday and get the gift of playing Minnesota.
This should be a really interesting test for both teams. The Big Red are consistently one of the best defensive teams in the country, but they don't often face a team that brings the combination of skating, physicality and puck movement that the Gophers bring. Minnesota has been particularly good in transition, with the ability to turn a play from defense to offense before their opponent can react. I expect Cornell to be prepared for that, but think there will be some push and pull on their blueliners in figuring out how to be vigilant without giving up their ability to be involved in the offensive play.
The Gopher offense has been pretty solidly centered around Abbey Murphy – she has double the amount of goals (12) of anyone else on her team. It's pretty obvious to anyone watching that she's the lynchpin and yet no one has seemed to be able to slow her down. I do think this will be her toughest test and it will be interesting to see not just how she adapts, but how Ashley Messier and Rory Guilday try to defend against her.
I keep saying that Minnesota's other forwards need to pick it up because Murphy can't do it all, but so far that hasn't actually been true. If the Gophers come through this test in the same way they have the rest of their games this season, I'll perhaps need to concede the point.
This will also be a really good test for freshman goalie Annelies Bergmann. It should be fun to see how she uses her size and experience playing men's hockey against Minnesota.
Stick Taps and Snark
↑ Poll shakeup – Ohio State, Colgate, St. Lawrence, Connecticut, and Princeton all moved up this week.
↓ Wisconsin – The Badgers looked flat and lost against Ohio State last weekend. They are dealing with injuries to key players, but can't use that as an excuse. They scored just one goal in the two games.
↑ Hockey in markets without women's college hockey – Tournaments this weekend in Nashville and Washington, D.C. help spread the game and show young athletes in those regions what's possible.
(Photo: Colgate Women's Hockey/Twitter)