- North Dakota
- Boston College
- Boston University
- Robert Morris
Game of the Week
#3 North Dakota at #2 Clarkson, Fri. 12/6 @ 3 p.m. EST & Sat. 12/7 @ 3 p.m. EST
Clarkson will host North Dakota this weekend in one of the biggest non-conference match-ups of the season. The Golden Knights are winners of four straight and have scored a total of 19 goals over those four games while yielding just one. Goaltender Erica Howe owns a shutout streak of 196 minutes and 36 seconds. Needless to say, Clarkson is playing well on all fronts right now, but facing a team with so much depth up front will be a good test for them. They’ve done a good job this year of controlling play, though they haven’t been very aggressive while doing so. They’re going to need to win a lot of battles and force turnovers in the offensive zone in order to prevent UND from going on the attack. If the Golden Knights can keep this a low-scoring series, it will play to their favor.
Getting some practice in at Cheel Arena in Potsdam, N.Y. pic.twitter.com/xTWPtMIlnK
— North Dakota WHockey (@UNDwhockey) December 5, 2013
Clarkson has excelled at winning the neutral zone, so North Dakota will have to be prepared for that. Their defensemen will need to be extra-sharp on the break-out, and the team as a whole will need to be proficient when it comes to passing in transition. The Golden Knights don’t have an especially deep blue line so if UND has success establishing themselves in the offensive zone they’ll likely be able to wear them down. They’ll need to be wary of possession whiz and star defenseman Erin Ambrose, however, and of Clarkson’s penalty kill, which is at 91.9%. That being said, few power play goals for North Dakota could completely change the game and tilt the series their way.
Top-10 Teams in Action
#1 Minnesota at Ohio State, Sat. 12/7 @ 2:07 p.m. EST & Sun. 12/8 @2:07 p.m. EST
Bemidji State at #4 Wisconsin, Fri. 12/6 @ 8:07 p.m. EST & Sun. 12/8 @ 3:07 p.m. EST
#6 Boston College at #8 Harvard, Sat. 12/7 @ 4 p.m. EST
Union at #7 Quinnipiac, Fri. 12/6 @ 7 p.m. EST; Rensselaer at #7 Quinnipiac, Sat. 12/7 @ 4 p.m. EST
New Hampshire at #8 Harvard, Fri. 12/6 @ 7 p.m. EST
Minnesota-Duluth at #9 Boston University, Fri. 12/6 @ 5 p.m. EST & Sat. 12/7 @ 3 p.m. EST
RIT at #10 Robert Morris, Fri. 12/6 @ 7 p.m. EST & Sat. 12/7 @ 3 p.m. EST
What to Watch For
Via USCHO, New Hampshire head coach Brian McCloskey was fired as of Thursday after “an investigation into an incident of inappropriate physical contact with a player on the bench at the team’s home game on Nov. 30.” The Wildcats will be guided by their two assistant coaches for this weekend’s games against Harvard and Dartmouth. After starting the season 5-2-1, New Hampshire has lost seven of their last nine, including five in a row. Things aren’t going to get any easier against a nationally-ranked opponent and a tough ECAC squad, especially with things as hectic as they are right now for the Wildcats.
Minnesota will travel to Ohio State for their final series of the calendar year. The Gophers’ loss to North Dakota only seems to have ignited them; they’ve since played four games and won in blowout fashion in all of them. Ohio State, on the other hand, has been struggling recently. They swept New Hampshire last weekend but were on a five-game losing streak prior to that and were winless since Oct. 19. The Buckeyes had success at the beginning of the year because of their power play, but they’ve only scored four man-advantage goals in their last 11 games. They really need their power play to come through this weekend if they have any hopes of beating Minnesota.
Boston College will face off against Harvard in a huge non-conference game for both teams. We’ve seen the Eagles struggle against quality teams, but they did just earn a split against Cornell, who was previously undefeated this season. Emerance Maschmeyer will make it a challenge for BC to score, but their focus should really be on shutting down the Crimson and winning battles in the middle of the ice, at both ends of the rink. Harvard’s defense will have to be careful with the Eagles’ skilled line-up of forwards; they can’t really afford to suffer too many breakdowns against this group.
Minnesota-Duluth and Boston University will clash in another significant non-conference series. The Terriers are 1-3 against teams currently ranked and have definitely struggled more against non-Hockey East teams. The Bulldogs have been very up-and-down this year and have also had their share of issues. Both teams are similar in that they’re very top-heavy up front, but Minnesota-Duluth is definitely deeper and more talented on the back-end while BU could have the edge in goal. I don’t know if the Terriers have a player with as much impact potential as the Bulldogs’ Jenna McParland, however; she can power that offense and be a huge different-maker for her club this weekend.
Gabriella is now in her third season of covering NCAA and international women’s hockey for The Hockey Writers. She is the founding editor of At Even Strength, a website dedicated to providing full-time coverage and analysis of women’s hockey. She is currently working towards a degree in Communication at the University of North Dakota, and is also interning with UND Athletic Media Relations. She can be reached on Twitter (@gabfun) or via e-mail (gfundaro10 [at] gmail [dot] com).