Current Rankings (Week 12):
- Boston College
- North Dakota
- Boston University
Match-up of the Week: Sat. 12/8: Wisconsin 3, North Dakota 2; Sun. 12/9: Wisconsin 3, North Dakota 1
The Badgers ended the calendar year on a high note with a huge sweep of North Dakota. They established themselves well defensively and definitely played to their strengths in order to come away with the victories. The series is a confidence booster in a couple of ways for Wisconsin. First off, they bounced back in a big way after being swept last weekend by the Gophers. But they also showed resiliency this weekend when they came back from being down by two goals in the second period of Saturday’s game. Madison Packer displayed some offensive punch, earning two goals and two assists and helping the Badgers break down UND’s defense.
For North Dakota, the fact that they let that multi-goal lead, and the series, slip away is not a good sign for them. They need to get rid of the defensive lapses that they’ve been too prone to all season. After their recent win streak and greatly-improved play, not many expected them to close out 2012 in such a negative way. It’s safe to say that a team like the Badgers is a difficult match-up for them; it was hard for UND to get consistent offensive pressure going in this series. But they need to figure out how to assert themselves offensively no matter who they’re playing, as that is their one definite strength over most teams.
The Gophers continued their dominant play and earned a couple of 5-1 and 5-0 wins over Bemidji State. The Beavers did a decent job of keeping it a close series, especially in that first game, but Minnesota’s ability to put the puck in the net eventually overpowered them. The Gophers are now 20-0-0 on the season and whatever signs of weakness they have shown up to this point have been very faint and short-lived. One of the biggest story lines heading into the second half will be whether or not they can go undefeated.
Clarkson had a decent showing this weekend in their home-and-home series against Syracuse, winning 3-2 on Friday and 5-4 on Saturday. They didn’t dominate the Orange, but I don’t think the Golden Knights are going to truly blow out or dominate most teams. They are simply going to play well, no matter who the opponent is, and find a way to win most match-ups. At least, that’s what Clarkson has proven so far this season, as evidenced by their 15-3-0 record.
Harvard improved to a 9-1-1 record after earning an 8-1 win over Providence and a 2-2 tie with New Hampshire. Their offense went off on Friday night, tallying those eight goals and putting up 44 shots, but it looked a little like they wore themselves out as they didn’t muster up much on Saturday. The Wildcats deserve some credit for their play, however, as this isn’t the first time this season that they’ve proven they can be a real nuisance. On a positive note, the Crimson will enter the break without having given up more than two goals in a single game, and they’ve only done that twice: this weekend against New Hampshire and November 18th against Boston University.
Boston University and Minnesota-Duluth skated to two ties this weekend, 2-2 on Saturday and 0-0 on Sunday. The Terriers gathered themselves after lagging in play for much of the first game, and were able to tie it up with a little more than two minutes remaining in the third period, but otherwise the Bulldogs looked to have the upper-hand for much of the series. They definitely sent a message in the second game; BU goaltender Kerrin Sperry made 38 saves to keep the game scoreless and tied. Overall, Minnesota-Duluth has shown that they can skate with basically every team in the country, but they need to start capitalizing on their chances to prove it on the scoreboard and in the standings.
Mercyhurst ended up being swept by Robert Morris this weekend in two pretty big upsets; the final scores were 3-1 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday. It could just be that the Colonials have the Lakers’ number but after this series, it certainly looks like there’s not an overwhelming amount separating Mercyhurst from other decent teams around the country.
Three Stars of the Week
1. Amanda Kessel, Junior, Forward, Minnesota: Had three goals and three assists to lead the Gophers to a sweep over Bemidji State, showing the same fantastic play-making and finishing abilities that she’s displayed all season.
2. Jillian Dempsey, Senior, Forward, Harvard: Netted four goals in the game against Providence to power the Crimson’s offense, and added another in the third period against New Hampshire to tie it for the Crimson.
3. Carly Mercer, Junior, Forward, Clarkson: Scored two goals and three assists this weekend against Syracuse, and had the game-winning goal in both contests.
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).