NCAA Women’s Hockey: NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals

#1 Minnesota (38-0-0) vs. North Dakota (26-11-1)

Saturday, March 16th, at 5:00 PM E.T.

The game can be viewed live here.

Season series: 5-0-0 Minnesota

Minnesota Keys to the Game: The Gophers won’t want to give North Dakota any hope or confidence, so it’s important that they really disrupt UND’s forwards and prevent them from getting set up in the offensive zone. No team in the country can keep up with Minnesota’s offense when it’s really clicking, so if they can put up the first few goals of the game they’ll have a great chance of beating North Dakota.

North Dakota Keys to the Game: They’ve been unable to beat the Gophers in five tries, but they’ve played them better than any other team. UND has shown that they can sustain offensive pressure against Minnesota; they really need to cash in on it in this game. Special teams will be huge for North Dakota. Even if they can’t best the Gophers when it comes to puck possession at even strength for the entire game, they need to win the special teams battle. It is absolutely crucial for their highly-ranked power play to produce here.

Key Players for Minnesota

  • Amanda Kessel, F: She was a bit quiet at the WCHA Final Face-Off but while she’s on the ice, she is the focus of the opposing defense no matter what. Even though she has an effect on the game while not actually producing, if she can find ways to break through and create opportunities for herself or her teammates, the North Dakota defense may not stand a chance.
  • Baylee Gillanders, D: She’s not the flashiest defenseman but she’s very solid and very consistent, and complements Patty Kaz finalist Megan Bozek well.

Key Players for North Dakota

  • Shelby Amsley-Benzie, G: She was great for UND against both Wisconsin and Minnesota, and she needs to be that good again for North Dakota to have a shot at winning.
  • Jocelyne Lamoureux, F, and Monique Lamoureux, D: They are the leaders of this team in every aspect, especially when it comes to scoring goals, and it is imperative that they get on the scoresheet against the Gophers.
  • Andrea Dalen, F: She’s a talented player who gets good scoring opportunities, but if she can be a bit stronger on the puck and cash in she’ll add another level to North Dakota’s offense.

#2 Cornell (27-5-1) vs. Mercyhurst (28-6-1)

Saturday, March 16th at 1:00 PM E.T.

The game can be viewed live here.

Season series: 1-0-0 Cornell (4-0 win on January 29th)

Cornell Keys to the Game: Shut down Mercyhurst’s top players. The Lakers have a number of players who were able to produce against CHA competition, but their true offensive depth against a team like Cornell is much less than that. The Big Red need to force Mercyhurst to rely on their lower lines to score, because they’ve got the edge in those match-ups. It will also greatly help Cornell to score early and make their presence known in the crease, in hopes of shaking the confidence of Lakers goalie Stephanie Ciampa.

Mercyhurst Keys to the Game: Get on the attack as much as possible. Cornell’s defensemen are not afraid to jump into the play and even go behind the attacking goal line to try and create chances. The Lakers need to take advantage of this and win battles in the defensive zone so they can get the puck out quickly and catch the Big Red off guard in transition.

Key Players for Cornell

  • Jess Campbell, F: The speedy forward does a lot of things right in many aspects for the Big Red and because of how fast she is, she’s a lot for opposing defensemen to handle, especially in transition. She will need to be in top form to give Cornell an extra boost offensively.
  • Lauriane Rougeau, D, and Laura Fortino, D: As the leaders of this defensive corps, they need to really help establish good rhythm in transition and set a good example as far as making smart decisions and limiting turnovers.

Key Players for Mercyhurst

  • Molly Byrne, D: The slick offensive defenseman will be absolutely essential to the Lakers’ success in moving the puck out of the zone quickly.
  • Stephanie Ciampa, G: Cornell’s a very good offensive team who can dominate possession for long stretches so she’ll need to give her team confidence and keep things calm in net. If she’s not up to task, the Big Red offense will have its way when it comes to scoring goals.
  • Christie Cicero, F: She’s one of the Lakers’ best forwards but may not be Cornell’s first priority when it comes to shutting down players. She’s got the talent to make them pay, and it’s important for her to do so.

#3 Boston University (26-5-3) vs. Clarkson (28-9-0)

Saturday, March 16th at 3:00 PM E.T.

The game can be viewed live here.

Season series: N/A, did not face each other

Boston University Keys to the Game: The Terriers are facing a very good goaltender and a rock-solid defense. They need to get on the attack swiftly and fluidly, and not try to win one-on-one battles in order to enter the zone. They will have more success if they get the Clarkson defense to open up a little, which will happen if they have a good, crisp passing game. BU also doesn’t want to let Clarkson goalie Erica Howe make any easy saves. And they’ll need to win the match-ups against Clarkson’s top forwards, since that’s who the Golden Knights rely on for most of their scoring.

Clarkson Keys to the Game: The Golden Knights don’t have the kind of scoring depth that the Terriers do, so they don’t want to let the BU offense get rolling. They’ve got a good penalty kill (86.8% on the season) and they’ll need it to help prevent the Terriers from scoring. Clarkson will want to get the puck deep, and cycle and forecheck well to make the Boston University defenders chase the puck in their own end.

Key Players for Boston University

  • Shannon Doyle, D: The First Team Hockey East All-Star is the anchor of the Terriers’ fairly young defensive corps. Doyle is the best puck-mover they have and will be relied upon to get their offense going.
  • Sarah Lefort, F: The rookie has had a lot of success when it comes to scoring goals, tallying 21 of them so far this year. Linemate Marie-Philip Poulin is sure to find her when she’s open, so her finishing ability will be counted on in this game.
  • Louise Warren, F: Perhaps the most underrated player in BU’s top-six, Warren can really help their efforts if she’s able to produce, as she won’t be the primary focus of Clarkson’s defense.

Key Players for Clarkson

  •  Jamie Lee Rattray, F: We have seen teams content with double teaming her to try and stymie the whole Golden Knights’ offense, so she needs to find room for herself and be on the lookout for open teammates.
  • Danielle Skirrow, F: She’s one of Clarkson’s secondary scorers; she’s not as consistent as Rattray or Carly Mercer, but she can definitely produce and she needs to find a way to do just that against the Terriers.
  • The Golden Knights’ blue liners, minus Erin Ambrose: The BU forecheckers will be focused on suffocating Ambrose and forcing her to turn the puck over, meaning that the rest of Clarkson’s defensive corps needs to up their game and take control of things.

#4 Boston College (26-6-3) vs. Harvard (24-6-3)

Saturday, March 16th at 1:00 PM E.T.

The game can be viewed live here.

Season series: 1-0-0 Boston College

Boston College Keys to the Game: It will greatly help the Eagles to simplify things and just concentrate on their own play and what they need to do. Their primary focus should be on generating offense, winning rebounds in front of both nets, and pinning Harvard in their own end. They need to be wary of the Crimson’s speed in transition both ways.

Harvard Keys to the Game: The success of their penalty kill will be essential in this game, as it was in the ECAC Tournament, but they need to have the momentum gained from their PK carry over to scoring chances and offensive pressure at even strength. The Crimson need to get all of their lines cycling well to really wear down Boston College. Also, they’ve had success crashing the crease this year, so they need to get to the net against the Eagles as well.

Key Players for Boston College

  • Alex Carpenter, F: She’s the catalyst of the Eagles’ offense and she’ll be counted on to get things going against Harvard’s strong team defense.
  • Melissa Bizzari, F: She has scored timely goals for Boston College this year and if she can do that here against the Crimson, it will really help the Eagles’ efforts to secure the win.
  • Dru Burns, D: She adds a different dimension to BC’s defense from Blake Bolden and Emily Pfalzer’s puck-moving abilities and offensive mindsets. But Burns is just as important to the Eagles’ blue line and her style of play adds a lot..

Key Players for Harvard

  • Emerance Maschmeyer, G: The freshman goalie has been fantastic all year for the Crimson and they will rely on her again to keep the Boston College scorers off the board as much as possible.
  • Lyndsey Fry, F: She’s got a great shot and a nose for the net, and she really needs to get involved in the scoring to help Harvard’s chances.
  • Michelle Picard, D: She is the cornerstone of the Crimson’s blue line and it’s important that she is able to control the puck and play effective defense.

Gabriella Fundaro

Gabriella Fundaro

An avid sports and hockey fan, Gabriella began covering NCAA and IIHF women's hockey for The Hockey Writers in 2012. She is currently working towards a degree and career in journalism. She can be reached on Twitter (@gabfun) or via e-mail (gfundaro10@gmail.com).
Gabriella Fundaro
RT @UNDWHockey: Studious media relations interns vs. the video department interns. #UNDroadtrips http://t.co/n4wRd4c7Hf - 13 hours ago

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