NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, March 1-3
- 4 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, March 1-3

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, March 1-3 by Nicole Haase

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.

(9) Quinnipiac at (6) Cornell
(ECAC Tournament quarterfinal)

Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid streams on ESPN+.

Quinnipiac won the teams' first meeting back in November 3-1, but Cornell took the more recent match in mid-January 4-3.

The Big Red have built throughout the season and their second half losses are to Colgate and St. Lawrence. They have gotten strong goaltending from rookie Annelies Bergmann and are led on offense by Izzy Daniel, who is tied for third nationally in scoring with 53 points on 20 goals and 33 assists.

Quinnipiac has stumbled at times this season, but have received scoring from a wide swatch of their lineup. Kate Reilly leads the team with 39 points, but they'll be looking to Sadie Peart and Nina Steingauf to put the puck in the back of the net if they're going to win the series. Logan Angers has been a steady presence in net for the Bobcats for a few seasons now and this one is no exception. She gives them a chance every night and can be an absolute game-changer.

The two teams are very evenly matched, with Cornell sitting one spot ahead of Quinnipiac in Team Defense while the Bobcats have the slight edge in Team Offense. Bergmann sits just ahead of Angers in goals-against average while Angers sits two spots ahead of Bergmann in save percentage. The biggest gap between the two squads exists on special teams and being able to stay out of the box will be crucial for both sides to come out ahead in this series. Cornell is strongest on the penalty kill while Quinnipiac is strongest on the power play. Someway, somehow something in here has to give. This series will be decided by the thinnest of margins, which should make it fascinating to watch.

(10) St. Cloud State at (8) Minnesota Duluth
(WCHA Tournament quarterfinal)

Friday at 4:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) at 3:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.

This has been a back and forth series this season. UMD took a 2-1 OT win in December before the Huskies fought back with a 5-1 win. Two weeks ago, UMD took a 1-0 win and the teams played to a 0-0 tie with SCSU taking the shootout win.

This series has massive implications for both teams as they currently sit as the first two out of the national tournament according to the Pairwise rankings. The teams feature four of the best goalies in the country. Sanni Ahola was named to the All-WCHA First Team, while Hailey MacLeod was named to the Second Team. MacLeod is first in the country in save percentage and third in the country in goals-against average. Both are tied with five shutouts. Their goalie partners have similarly impressive resumes.

Both teams can struggle at times to light the lamp and playing against stout goaltending certainly doesn't help, but ties aren't going to get this series won. Someone has to find that extra gear, not only to advance to the Final Faceoff, but also to make an impression on the Selection Committee and bolster their resume for the NCAA Tournament.

Minnesota Duluth's penalty kill was perfect for long stretches of the season, though Minnesota took no heed of that last weekend, scoring three times with the extra attacker. If the Bulldogs can rein in the discipline and stay out of the box as well as buckle down and play the stingy penalty kill they developed all season long, it will give them a massive advantage. St. Cloud makes teams pay for those kinds of mistakes and often relies on those opportunities to carry them to a win.

Mercyhurst at (15) Penn State
(CHA Championship)

Saturday at 2:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.

Penn State owns the season series, having beaten Mercyhurst 4-0 and 3-2 in OT in February and splitting the series in Erie 0-4 and 3-1 in November.

This feels like the Nittany Lions' game to lose, but in a one-game championship, absolutely anything can happen. PSU has been incredibly inconsistent at times this season and Mercyhurst coach Mike Sisti is too experienced and his team too well-disciplined to not exploit that. Penn State has to stay focused and not put all the pressure on Tessa Janecke to lead the team. They can use their postseason experience from recent seasons to help guide them here.

Mercyhurst goalie Ena Nystrøm has six shutouts and leads the country in minutes played. In a season of split nets, she's been a workhorse from start to finish. She's going to be crucial for the Lakers to try and frustrate the Nittany Lions and keep the score manageable. Neither of these teams has been very strong on defense and they're are only barely managing to score more goals than they are allowing. I expect this could be a high scoring affair and the team that can manage the highs and lows the best is going to come out on top.

On offense, the Lakers are lead by Sara Boucher and Vanessa Upson, but rookie Sofia Nuutinen has been a breakout player this season. She led the CHA in points and assists by a freshman and had the second-most points by a rookie in the country.

Also worth a look:

  • (12) Princeton at (3) Clarkson (ECAC quarterfinal) – Friday at 6:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • Franklin Pierce at LIU (NEWHA semifinal) – Saturday at 7:00 PM Eastern
  • Stonehill at Saint Anselm (NEWHA semifinal) – Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern
  • (13) Yale at (7) St. Lawrence (ECAC quarterfinal) – Friday at 6:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) at 3:00 PM Eastern

Stick Taps and Snark

↑ Penn State's Tessa Janecke – The sophomore reached 100 career points in 74 games played, making her the fastest player in program history to hit this milestone.

↓ Minnesota Duluth – As things stand, the Bulldogs look to be the first team ranked out of the NCAA Tournament.

↑ Conference Awards – Congratulations to all the players winning individual awards and being named all-conference teams.

(Photo: Cornell Women's Hockey/Twitter)