NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, 2024 Conference Finals
- 5 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, 2024 Conference Finals

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch, 2024 Conference Finals by Nicole Haase

CHA finished their tournament last week, but we'll crown four other winners and hand out four NCAA Tournament autobids today. Games are listed below in order or puck drop, so settle in for some of the best hockey this season.

(13) Northeastern at (10) Connecticut
(Hockey East Championship)

Saturday at 12:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Broadcast live on ESPNU; Paid stream on ESPN+.

Connecticut needed overtime to take down Boston College in the semifinal on Wednesday while Northeastern piled on goals late to take down UNH 4-1. UConn has two wins and a tie against Northeastern so far this season and would seem to have the advantage, but it feels like NU is more in their rhythm and skating at their best. Both teams have some of the best goaltending in the country, so it feels like goals will be at a premium.

Northeastern will be looking to speed the game up and use the fluidity of their top line to control the pace of the game and dominate puck possession. UConn needs to not let them move freely in transition and be strong on the forecheck. Once NU gets set up, their veteran players are great at moving the puck and finding lines.

For Connecticut, they will be looking for prolonged zone time as well as getting pucks to the net and looking for second- and third-chance opportunities. They need need to avoid sitting back or playing passive and be most aggressive when it comes to shooting the puck instead of looking for a perfect opportunity.

This is a one-and-done game. The winner earns a bid to the NCAA Tournament, the loser's season is over.

Franklin Pierce at Stonehill
(NEWHA Championship)

Saturday at 3:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Free stream via NECFrontRow.

This is the game for fans of postseason chaos. This is the fifth place team facing the third place team for the tournament championship and a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

These teams won two outlandish and over-the-top semifinals last weekend to get to this point and it's difficult to imagine this game will be any different. Stonehill won on a power play goal in overtime on a penalty that came when a player left the box early from her previous penalty. Franklin Pierce engineered a massive late comeback, scoring twice in the final 2:07 of regulation to force overtime and then winning with a puck that bounced over the goalie and in.

Stonehill took the season series against the Ravens, winning three of four games. Franklin Pierce's Jill Hertl leads the leads in goals against average and save percentage and they'll need her to have another stellar game if they're going to have a chance to pull off another massive upset.

The Skyhawks are led by First-Team All-NEWHA forward Alexis Petford, who was third in the conference in points. She's the driver of the offense and will give FPU fits in trying to slow her down. For the Ravens, Mikayla Kelley leads the team in points and goals, but it was Grace Schuck who powered the team in the semifinal and Claire Casey that scored the game-winner. There's more depth to their roster than point totals might make you believe.

As in Hockey East, this game is for everything or nothing. The winner gets a bid to the NCAA Tournament, the loser is done for the season. Neither team has ever played in the NCAA Tournament. Franklin Pierce last won the conference title in 2022, but the conference did not earn its autobid until the following season. Stonehill is in just its second year of existence. A win would be their first conference tournament title.

(2) Wisconsin vs. (1) Ohio State
(WCHA Championship)

Saturday at 2:00 PM Central

Watch: Paid stream on BTN+.

The Badgers advanced to the championship game in improbable fashion as Casey O'Brien tied the game with 8.8 seconds left in regulation when her backhand from behind the net deflected off a stick and the goalie and into the back of the net. Lacey Eden's spinning behind-the-back goal in overtime gave them the win over Minnesota.

Ohio State handled Minnesota Duluth in the other semifinal, advancing easily with a 5-0 win, setting up a championship game between the top two teams in the country. They played each other two weeks ago to close out the regular season, splitting the games. Both squads came out of that series saying they were important learning moments that would help them in the future, so it will be interesting to see what adjustments and changes the teams will make for this championship.

These are two highly competitive squads, but this is also a game that doesn't mean much in the overall scheme of things, so it will also be interesting to see if there are any decisions made that seem to be looking toward the bigger goal of winning the national championship.

The games between these two a few weeks ago featured massive momentum swings and a ton of in-game adjustments. Wisconsin started strong on Friday, but Ohio State pushed back and eventually won the game. The opposite was true on Saturday. The winner today is going to be the team that can play at their highest level the most consistently for as much of the game as possible. It's going to be a very fast-paced game as they both love to move the puck quickly in transition and they'll be looking to force mistakes from their opponents with a high and intense forecheck.

(3) Clarkson at (4) Colgate
(ECAC Championship)

Saturday at 5:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream on ESPN+.

Colgate won the ECAC regular season title by half a point over Clarkson this season. The Golden Knights won both games against the Raiders, most recently beating them 3-1 to start February.

Clarkson took a 3-1 win over St. Lawrence in the semifinal with Sena Caterall scoring twice. Colgate defeated Cornell 5-1 and the game was broken open by a pair of goals from Dara Greig. It bodes well for both teams that their scoring came from consistent players that aren't the team leaders. These two match up really well and it's unlikely that their top lines are going to overwhelm each other – the breakthroughs in this game are going to come on the second and third line.

The Raiders will be looking to move the puck and find seams into the net front. They are great at puck movement within the zone, using their skating and puckhandling to maneuver around the defense with patience. Clarkson is quick and will look to catch Colgate flat on defense. They tend to stretch the offensive zone a bit more, with threats like Haley Winn at the blueline, and that gives them more space to work in. They aren't afraid to shoot from the perimeter and use some of their size in front of the net for deflections and to get after loose pucks and rebounds.

It will be interesting to see who Colgate goes with in net for the title game. Kayle Osborne played on Friday, but this is a team with two top-ten goalies in Osborne and Hannah Murphy. For Clarkson, it has been Goalie of the Year top-three finalist Michelle Pasiechnyk the whole way. With such talented goalies, I expect scoring to be at a premium.

(Photo: Clarkson Women's Hockey/Twitter)