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.
(3) Colgate at (4) Clarkson
Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.
With the top four teams in the ECAC playing each other, there's an opportunity for some shakeup. Clarkson is 3.5 points behind Colgate at the top of the table and 4.5 points clear of St. Lawrence in third. The Golden Knights took a 1-0 win over Colgate earlier this season. I wouldn't expect this game to be so low scoring.
Colgate have won seven straight games since that loss – their only one in conference so far – and have averaged six goals a game through that stretch. There Raiders bring an offensive depth not just in number or quality of lines, but in differing individual talents. What they've accomplished this year is a meshing off all those skills that allows them to shine without dimming those around them. A lot of players have gotten attention this season, but most important to me might be the ways Danielle Serdachny – a Patty Kazmaier top three finalist last season – has adapted her game to complement the players around her. It speaks to her skill and hockey IQ that she can be what the team needs in totally different roles from year to year.
Clarkson didn't suffer their first loss until January and only got their second in last weekend's split with St. Lawrence. They have been as steady and consistent as any team. Their loss and Wisconsin's win combined to move the Golden Knights to fourth in the Pairwise behind the Badgers by a small margin. We're still a month out from conference tournaments so maybe it's too early to even be talking about those kinds of details, but it's the kind of thing that makes these games even more interesting. A win or loss may or may not move conference standings, but we've seen how it can move the NPI.
(6) Cornell at (8) St. Lawrence
Friday at 6:00 PM and Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.
St. Lawrence has a two point advantage over Cornell in the conference standings. They're coming off a strong weekend series where they gave Clarkson only their second loss of the season. The Saints have been strong on defense and have some of the best goaltending in the country. The 1-0 win on Friday should be a massive confidence boost. They locked everything down and withstood the push from a strong offensive team that that scored six goals the next day. It was also nice to see them match the Golden Knights and find another level of offense.
Cornell scored 21 goals in their two games last weekend, putting on a fully dominant display. The Big Red have shown improvement as the season has gone on and beat St. Lawrence when the teams played just after the winter break. With the Ivies starting later and Cornell relying on some younger players, it took that extra bit for them to find their stride, but it feels like this is a team that can match up against anyone else in the top 10.
Annelies Bergmann has thrived in the starting role now that she's settled in and up to speed. She's only going to be more of a problem for opponents as time goes on. Izzy Daniel has already set a new career high for points this season and as a team, Cornell is averaging a goal more per game than they did last season and nearly twice what they scored two seasons ago all while allowing a goal fewer per game. That's a massive swing and has the Big Red with more wins already than they had all last season.
Both teams could use the boost of a win over the other, in the standings, in the Pairwise and in public perception.
(10) St. Cloud State at (2) Wisconsin
Friday at 3:00 PM and Saturday at 4:00 PM Central
Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.
Wisconsin pulled out a sweep at Minnesota Duluth in the final two minutes of the game last weekend and is looking to build on that momentum as they start a stretch of facing three of the other top four teams in the WCHA over the final four weeks of the regular season.
St. Cloud State suffered two close losses to Ohio State last weekend and find themselves in a similar position to the Badgers, with this series followed by games against Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth. The games are even more crucial for the Huskies, for while Wisconsin is fighting for postseason positioning, St. Cloud is fighting for their NCAA lives as they currently sit 10th in the Pairwise. It's going to be a wildly interesting selection year with five teams from each the ECAC and WCHA in the top ten and a minimum of three teams ranked below that who will win auto bids in their conference tournament.
Last season, SCSU's 1-0 win over the Badgers in their semi-annual Fill the Bowl game proved to be the turning point in UW's season that ended with a title. While the Huskies couldn't have known that part, I'm guessing they'd be more than willing to take their chances with another win. They'll rely on their very strong goaltending duo and the experience of playing OSU last week to try and dampen Wisconsin's offense. St. Cloud made a good push at the end of their game on Saturday, but it was too late. They'll be looking to bring that kind of energy early on. Emma Gentry was lights out, adding a bit more dimension to the Huskies' offense and taking some of the defensive attention off Klára Hymlarová.
Also worth a look:
- (6) Cornell at (4) Clarkson – Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
- Stonehill at LIU – Friday at 3:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern
- New Hampshire vs (13) Northeastern – Saturday at 4:30 PM Eastern
Stick Taps and Snark
↑ Syracuse goalie Allie Kelley – The grad student set a new single-season saves record last weekend. She currently has 954 with six regular season games left to play.
↓ Boston College – The Eagles are down to a tie for 15th in the polls after a tie with shootout win and loss at Providence.
(Photo: Colgate Women's Hockey/Twitter)