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.
(6) Minnesota Duluth at (1) Wisconsin
Saturday at 4:00 PM and Sunday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.
Not only is this a matchup of two of the top teams in the country, but it comes with all kinds of interesting storylines. The Bulldogs could not be higher, riding a stellar weekend where Colgate needed a goal in the final minute of regulation of the second game to earn a tie. It was a set of statement games for UMD. There's also the fact that last season Minnesota Duluth went into Wisconsin and walked away with a pair of wins, earning their program's first-ever sweep at LaBahn.
The visitors come in with nothing but confidence. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has had two weeks to stew over their showing in Columbus two weeks ago where they were swept by OSU, yes, but also really pushed off their game and unable to do anything about it. They'll either be really ramped up and ready to show that series doesn't define them while looking for revenge from last season against the Bulldogs, or they'll still be trying to figure out who they are – or can be.
The losses last season came in the midst of a five-game losing streak that ultimately served as a gut-check and catalyst for Wisconsin's push to the post season and eventual national championship. So there's a lot of attention on how the Badgers respond this weekend. In good news, Kirsten Simms should be returning to the lineup and there is a chance that Caroline Harvey will also be back on the ice after missing significant time to a knee injury. The Badgers have enough talent that injuries can't be blamed for their play in Columbus, but they did miss these two players who are not just goal-scorers, but who lead the special teams and really dictate play on the ice.
(15) Boston College at (11) Connecticut
Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Televised on NESN, paid stream on ESPN+ .
Not only are we getting a showdown between the top two teams in Hockey East, but it's going to be televised. Connecticut has a two point lead and a game in hand over Boston College, so the outcome of the game doesn't necessarily dictate who leads the standings, but it will absolutely be a statement from whomever wins about where things stand and who is in control in Hockey East right now.
The Huskies lost to Quinnipiac last weekend, but rebounded with a win over Sacred Heart in the annual tournament to determine the best team in the state of Connecticut. They continue to be absolutely unreal on defense, allowing just 1.13 goals per game. They've gotten great goaltending from Megan Warrener and Tia Chan. I'd like to see someone other than Jada Habisch putting up a few more goals, but maybe that's less of a problem than I think.
Boston College lost to Northeastern before the holiday and split a weekend series with Vermont two weeks ago. The Eagles have been up and down at times this season and it's never quite clear what they'll show when they are on the ice. They were so, so impressive in their first game against Wisconsin, but haven't shown quite that level of defense and ability to respond in another game since then.
Robert Morris at Penn State
Friday at 2:00 PM and Saturday at 1:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.
Penn State looks to be in control of the CHA this season, but Robert Morris is sitting in second place and that's one hell of an accomplishment considering the program was defunct last season. Players transferred away or just didn't play hockey last season and now they've come back with a really solid and strong showing.
But they'll be playing in Penn State against a team that seems to have found its balance after a tough early schedule and the loss of a few players to the transfer portal. The Nittany Lions are ninth in the country in team offense, averaging more than three goals per game, though their defense is the in the bottom half nationally. But it's that prolific offense that Robert Morris will need to try and keep in check or at least find a counter to if they're going to take any points from the weekend.
Redshirt freshman Alaina Giampietro left Ohio State to play for the Colonials and has taken advantage of the playing time to become the team's leading scorer with seven goals and seven assists. Graduate student Shailynn Snow has six goals, as does Morgan Giannone, both transfers from St. Lawrence.
Tessa Janecke continues to be one of the most exciting forwards in the country, though she has had to more of the heavy lifting this season and isn't getting as many clear looks or perfectly set up passes as she did last season. Still, there's no denying she's a force and is a major reason PSU is still atop the CHA.
Also worth a look:
- (1o) St. Cloud State at (1) Ohio State – Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern
- (14) Yale vs Brown (home and home) – Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Stick Taps and Snark
↑ Minnesota forward Abbey Murphy – With three goals this weekend, she surpassed 50 career goals and moved into a tie for the national lead, with 15 goals so far this season. She's also second in the country in both game-winning goals and power play goals.
↓ St. Lawrence – The Saints dropped to 8th in the national polls after a pair of big losses at Ohio State.
↓ Colgate – The Raiders dropped to third in the polls after a loss and tie against Minnesota Duluth.
↑ Cornell's Izzy Daniel – The senior is tied for first in the country with 20 assists, is fourth in the country with 13 goals and leads the nation with 33 total points and is second in points per game at 2.20.
(Photo: UConn Women's Hockey/Twitter)