NCAA Women’s Hockey: Week 5 Preview

Current Rankings (Week 5):

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

Match-up of the Week: #1 Minnesota @ #3 North Dakota, Sat. 10/27 @ 3:05 PM E.T. & Sun. 10/28 @ 3:05 PM E.T.

The Gophers enter Grand Forks as undoubtedly the best team in the country right now. They are a perfect 8-0-0 on the year, with every win coming in blowout-style. Their smallest margin of victory so far? Four goals, in a 4-0 win over St. Cloud State. They have the upper-hand over almost anyone at any position; if their offense slows down for a period, their defense is there to break up the opponent’s flow as well. If the defense has a momentary lapse, goaltender Noora Räty is there to make the save.

This is a huge weekend for North Dakota; not only is it a rivalry game but it’s an opportunity for them to really turn things completely around. Minnesota has proved that they will be very tough to beat, but these games should be pumped full of emotion because of the rivalry and what’s at stake. UND isn’t scoring yet at the pace that they probably would like to, but their focus this weekend needs to be on much more than just scoring goals. The offense is important, but they need to make puck management and limiting mistakes a priority. Their defense really needs to break up the Gophers’ attack as much as possible; they need to make the Gopher forwards earn every inch of ice.

Overall this is a very exciting rivalry match-up between two talented hockey teams; it might prove to be the best match-up of the year so far and it’s definitely worth tuning into. The games will be broadcast on Midco Sports Net, at least in the Grand Forks area, with Saturday’s game being tape-delayed and played Sunday afternoon, to lead up to Sunday’s live game.

Top-10 Teams in Action

Brown @ #2 Cornell, Fri. 10/26 @ 7:00 PM E.T.; Yale @ #2 Cornell, Sat. 10/27 @ 4:00 PM E.T.: Cornell will look to build off their first ECAC win, 5-1 against St. Lawrence, and earn a weekend sweep against the Bears and the Bulldogs. Forward Emily Fulton has been the Big Red’s best player through three games so far; Brianne Jenner and Jillian Saulnier have been good, but look for both of them to start producing at a higher clip.

Maine @ #4 Boston University; Fri. 10/26 @ 7:00 PM E.T.; Robert Morris @ #4 Boston University, Sat. 10/27 @ 2:00 PM E.T.: The Terriers suffered their first loss of the year last weekend against highly-rated Cornell, but they still salvaged the series with a split. They’ll definitely be going into both of these games expecting a win, but they don’t want to overlook these teams. Two players to watch who don’t play for BU: freshman defenseman Brooklyn Langlois for Maine, and sophomore forward Rebecca Vint for Robert Morris.

#6 Minnesota-Duluth @ #5 Boston College, Thurs. 10/25 @ 7:00 PM E.T. & Fri. 10/26 @ 7:00 PM E.T.: I don’t think either of these teams is satisfied with their starts to the season, which will make for a very interesting series. Both of these rosters contain more talent and potential than their records reflect. The Bulldogs will want to start playing much more consistently, especially on a week-to-week basis. The Eagles will look for the same thing, and they’ll also want to get Alex Carpenter producing at a little higher level.

New Hampshire @ #7 Wisconsin, Fri. 10/26 @ 8:05 PM E.T. & Sun. 10/28 @ 3:05 PM E.T.: This is a huge series for the Badgers; they’ll definitely be playing with chips on their shoulders as they welcome New Hampshire. They’ve had a lot of trouble so far scoring goals, and they need to get things back on track offensively. Wisconsin will be looking for contributions from anyone who will step up. It’s really important for them to have a strong series by creating a lot of chances and not letting the Wildcats spend much time in the Badgers’ zone.

#8 Harvard @ Quinnipiac, Fri. 10/26 @ 7:00 PM E.T.; #8 Harvard @ Princeton, Sat. 10/27 @ 4:00 PM E.T.: Harvard’s first regular season action comes in the form of two intriguing contests. The latter is an Ivy League rivalry game against the Tigers. But the first comes against the Bobcats, who, up until they stumbled and lost 4-0 against Syracuse last week, looked like a legitimate dark-horse contender. Quinnipiac’s first line of Kelly Babstock, Erica Uden Johansson, and Nicole Kosta will be a great test for the Crimson’s defense.

Union @ #9 Clarkson, Fri. 10/26 @ 3:00 PM E.T.; Rensselaer @ #9 Clarkson, Sat. 10/27 @ 3:00 PM E.T.: The Golden Knights have started the season off well, and after splitting with Mercyhurst last weekend, their confidence should be pretty high right now. Things are clicking for them, and they’ll enter the weekend looking for two wins. They don’t want to overlook either Union or RPI, but especially RPI. The Engineers have played very tough against good competition this year, and they’ll be just as hungry for a win against Clarkson.

Robert Morris @ #10 Northeastern, Fri. 10/26 @ 7:00 PM E.T.; Maine @ Northeastern, Sat. 10/27 @ 3:00 PM E.T.: The Huskies had an off-week last night but they’ll need to get right back on pace against the Colonials and Black Bears. One thing Northeastern should focus on executing properly: entering the offensive zone. Look for  them to limit the defensive lapses they’ve been a bit prone to early on this year, and to start pressuring offensively like they’re capable of.