Current Rankings (Week 2):
- North Dakota
- Boston College
- Boston University
Match-up of the Week: #8 Boston University @ #4 Boston College, Fri. 10/5 @ 7:00 PM E.T.
The Hockey East season will get off to a fast start when these crosstown rivals clash in the Heights on Friday night. The Eagles will be looking to avenge last season’s semifinal loss to the Terriers in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals, and the Terriers will want to assert themselves right away as a top-two team in the conference. The game will feature two high-powered offenses going at each other. The two biggest stars to watch up front? BC’s Alex Carpenter and BU’s Marie-Philip Poulin. On the defensive side, Boston College has the edge in talent and depth, and it remains to be seen what kind of goaltending will be given from either team. I have the Eagles ranked fourth for a reason, so I expect them to come out on top, but the Terriers certainly have the potential, especially offensively, to win. It should be an exciting tilt with lots of back-and-forth action.
Top 10 Teams in Action
St. Cloud State @ #1 Minnesota, Fri. 10/5 @ 8:05 PM E.T. & Sat. 10/6 @ 5:05 PM E.T.: The Gophers had a great opening weekend against Colgate, coming away with two shutouts and scoring 18 goals total. These games against the Huskies will have a little more meaning, however, as this is an in-conference match-up. St. Cloud State is a heavy underdog going into the weekend; Minnesota should come away with two more convincing victories. Freshman Hannah Brandt now has everyone’s attention after a nine-point outburst in the Colgate series; she is one of many players to keep an eye out for on Minnesota’s roster.
Minnesota State-Mankato @ #3 North Dakota, Fri. 10/5 @ 8:05 PM E.T. & Sat. 10/6 @ 3:05 PM E.T.: The Mavericks proved to be a tough opponent last week when they tied pretty highly-rated Wisconsin in the first game of the year, and then only lost by one goal the following afternoon. North Dakota should have a much easier time handling Minnesota State, however, as they have an incredible wealth of talent and goal-scorers up front. It will be interesting to see how North Dakota’s goaltending situation unfolds, and just how dangerous their offense can be. It would be asking a lot for UND to piece it all together the first week of the season, but those are some things to watch develop in both the short- and long- term.
#5 Wisconsin @ Lindenwood, Fri. 10/5 @ 8:00 PM E.T. & Sat. 10/6 @ 3:00 PM E.T.: This weekend is huge for the Badgers to re-establish themselves as a team to beat. They did not have a good offensive showing against Minnesota State last week; they were dominant for the most part but they just didn’t look cohesive, which is understandable as it’s still very early in the year. Still, Wisconsin will need to find at least two dependable goal-scorers other than Brianna Decker if they want to be considered among the elite teams in the country. This series against Lindenwood will be the perfect opportunity for the Badgers to gain confidence in all areas, but especially offensively.
Ohio State @ #6 Minnesota-Duluth, Fri. 10/5 @ 8:05 PM E.T. & Sat. 10/6 @ 5:05 PM E.T.: This is probably the most underrated series slated for this weekend. The Bulldogs enter the year with something to prove after missing the NCAA Tournament last season, and the Buckeyes look to be a real dark-horse team in the WCHA. Ohio State lost two stars in Natalie Spooner and Laura McIntosh, so one big question mark for them going in is whether or not they have enough offense to suffice. They do have a very solid defensive core, however; but so does Minnesota-Duluth. The Bulldogs have the players up front and on the blue line to be very competitive this year, but their goaltending situation could end up being a little messy. At any rate, this series will be a good measuring stick for both teams to see where they stand right off the bat.
#9 Northeastern @ Colgate, Fri. 10/5 @7:00 PM E.T. & #9 Northeastern @ Syracuse, Sat. 10/6 @ 4:00 PM E.T.: After a good showing last weekend in an exhibition game against the CWHL’s Boston Blades, the Huskies come into both of these games as the favorites. They were pretty competitive against a much older, more experienced semi-professional league club. Freshman Paige Savage looks like she’ll be a contributor for Northeastern. Kendall Coyne didn’t score last week but she was still making things happen, and she’ll definitely be a productive player for the Huskies. Much like Minnesota-Duluth, there are some concerns in goal as the starting role is pretty much undefined at this point. If they play to their strengths and put in two strong all-around performances this weekend, Northeastern could find themselves in my top eight in the rankings.
#10 Clarkson vs. St. Lawrence; @ Clarkson, Fri. 10/5 @ 7:00 PM E.T. & @ St. Lawrence, Sat. 10/6 @ 3:00 PM E.T.: The Saints enter the year as the defending ECAC Tournament champions, but they still have a lot to prove in 2012-2013. This probably won’t be a match-up with a lot of offense even though both teams have decent forwards. That’s because two very good goaltenders, Carmen MacDonald (St. Lawrence) and Erica Howe (Clarkson), will be pitted against each other. This should be an entertaining home-and-home series between two competitive ECAC teams.
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).