NCAA Women’s Hockey Round-Up: October 15th, 2014

Rankings:

  1. Minnesota
  2. Boston College
  3. Boston University
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Harvard
  6. North Dakota
  7. Clarkson
  8. Cornell
  9. Minnesota Duluth
  10. Quinnipiac

The Round-Up

1. Minnesota

The Gophers got off to a great start in their first weekend of action, beating Penn State 8-0 and Boston University 5-2, and there’s plenty of potential for the latter to be a national championship match-up come March. The depth of their offense was on display in the win over the Nittany Lions, but in the win against the Terriers, they showed the ability to seize control of a game, a quality that has become typical of them over the past few years. This past weekend against Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota took the opening game 3-0, but fell in a shootout the following night after tying 3-3.The Gophers started off slow in the tie, which was something of a trend in their poorer performances last year, but they scored twice in the third period to even the score, outshooting the Bulldogs 14-5.

2. Boston College

Boston College’s offense rolled over Syracuse, 10-2, two weeks ago, and though they pressured St. Lawrence heavily this past weekend, they could only come away with one win in the series. The Eagles defeated the Saints 2-1 in the first game, and the teams played to a 2-2 tie the following afternoon. St. Lawrence was helped largely by the play of senior netminder Carmen MacDonald, who made 73 saves total in the two games. It won’t be the last time BC faces a good goaltender, or a team that checks tightly, so they’ll be looking to improve when it comes to their execution next time out. We’re already seeing that the Eagles have more than a few options up front, however, with Alex Carpenter, Haley Skarupa, Andie Anastos, Emily Pfalzer, and Lexi Bender all producing at a high clip so far.

3. Boston University

The Terriers showed some explosive offensive capabilities against St. Cloud in their first game of the season, scoring three goals in a 3:07 span to break a 2-2 tie late and pull away from the Huskies. A poor second period hurt them in a 5-2 loss to Minnesota the following night; the Gophers scored three times in just over two minutes to take a 4-1 lead over BU. The Terriers need to do a better job of staying composed and controlling momentum, and goaltending will need to improve. Overall, though, they were competitive against Minnesota for the majority of the game, and scoring and depth don’t seem to be an issue at this point. The play of rookies Rebecca Leslie and Victoria Bach has been especially promising in that regard.

4. Wisconsin

Wisconsin is off to a great start to the season, posting a 6-0-0 record after ssweeps over Lindenwood, Minnesota Duluth, and Ohio State. Their offense has been fiercely productive this year, with Karley Sylvester, Annie Pankowski, Brittany Ammerman, Blayre Turnbull, and Sydney McKibbon all ranking in the top-10 nationally in scoring, while Emily Clark is among the top-15. Ann-Renée Desbiens has been very solid in net, posting a 0.75 goals-against average and .965 save percentage through four games. The Badgers’ sweep of Minnesota Duluth was their most impressive performance so far, as they outshot the Bulldogs heavily on the weekend, 77-39. Wisconsin has clearly been the superior team throughout all six contests this season, and they’ll be looking for more of the same when they take on Minnesota this weekend.

6. North Dakota

North Dakota opened up the season with a 7-1 win over RPI, then was upset by Vermont at home, falling 3-1. They bounced back with a road sweep over Minnesota State, winning 5-0 and 2-1. Meghan Dufault and Becca Kohler have stepped up in a big way offensively and have so far quieted some doubts about the offense; Dufault has three goals and eight points so far, while Kohler has four goals and nine points, good enough for third in the country. The loss to the Catamounts hurts, but UND responded with two very dominant efforts against the Mavericks, outshooting them 49-9 in that second win. There were a couple of defensive breakdowns against Vermont that cost them, but those were cleaned up against Minnesota State, and North Dakota will look to keep that up when they welcome Minnesota Duluth this coming weekend.

7. Clarkson

After falling in their very first game of the year to St. Lawrence, 5-3, the Golden Knights have responded with three pretty convincing efforts to turn things around. They defeated the Saints, 2-1, to salvage a split, and then swept Providence this weekend with 5-0 and 3-0 wins. Clarkson has a ton of offense to replace last year, and Shannon MacAulay, Genevieve Bannon, and Cayley Mercer have all stepped up so far, but they’ll have to show they can produce consistently. The play of rookie goaltender Shea Tiley has also been very encouraging; she currently holds a shutout streak of 141:15 and has so far been very reliable between the pipes. The Golden Knights still have to show that both Tiley and their defensive core can hold up against the conference’s stronger offensive teams like Cornell, Harvard, and Quinnipiac.

9. Minnesota Duluth

The Bulldogs earned a big shootout win over the Gophers after tying them, 3-3, and it was a much needed performance after the start they’ve had to the year. UMD tied UConn in their very first game of the year, and then the following weekend was swept handily by the Badgers. The Bulldogs came into the second game against Minnesota with a 1-4-1 record, and though they gave up a 3-1 third-period lead, their defense and goaltending both held up to force a tie and earn the extra WCHA point in the shootout. Minnesota Duluth should have some momentum going now, and they’ll look to turn things around more fully when they travel to North Dakota this weekend.

10. Quinnipiac

The Bobcats earned a 3-0 win against Connecticut to open the season two weeks ago, and started off their series against Penn State with a 3-0 win this past weekend. They were unable to complete the sweep, however, tying the Nittany Lions, 1-1. Quinnipiac looked dominant throughout all three games; shot differentials were, in order, 36-9, 34-10, and 46-18. The Bobcats struggled last season with being able to finish off teams despite pressuring heavily, and that seemed to be the problem in the tie against Penn State. They outshot the Nittany Lions 34-8 through the first 40 minutes but were evenly matched in the third period, giving up the tying goal to Amy Petersen early on in the frame. Quinnipiac has a solid blue line and an offense that’s more than capable, so the potential is there; the Bobcats just need to find ways to execute and consistently stay in control of games.

In the News

Three Stars

1. Annie Pankowski, Forward, Wisconsin: The rookie is leading the country in assists with 10 in six games, and is second to Badgers teammate Karley Sylvester in points with 11. She’s been very active offensively and has been a big part of the team’s success so far.

2. Becca Kohler, Forward, North Dakota: Kohler has factored into more than half of UND’s offense so far, scoring or assisting on nine of the team’s 15 goals. She recorded a hat trick against RPI, had four assists in North Dakota’s first tilt against Minnesota State, and tied it up late in the second the following afternoon.

3. Hannah Ehresmann, Goaltender, Penn State: Ehresmann’s 45 saves helped the Nittany Lions hold a very affluent Quinnipiac offense to just one goal on Sunday afternoon, earning a 1-1 tie with the Bobcats.

Top Play

Alex Carpenter, at 1:40 of the video in the link here. That is all.