NCAA Women’s Hockey: Week 8 Preview

Current Rankings (Week 8):

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

Match-up of the Week: #7 Harvard @ #4 Boston University, Sun. 11/18 @ 3:00 PM E.T.

The cross-town rivalry will only add to the intensity in this game; the match-up pits Boston University’s potent offense against Harvard’s suffocating defense. The Terriers have hit a bit of a rough stretch as of late, but the potential of their top-six forwards is still pretty scary. Sarah Lefort will be one BU player to watch this weekend. Are her eight goals so far this year just beginner’s luck or can she truly be counted on produce at such a high level in almost every game?

It’s early yet for Harvard, having played just four games, but in those four games they’ve given up an average of .25 goals. This game against the Terriers will be the toughest they have played so far, and it should be a good test for the Crimson to see how their defense really stacks up against a high-quality offense. It’ll also be interesting to see how far Jillian Dempsey and Lyndsey Fry can carry Harvard’s offense; most likely, a few other players will have to produce consistently in order for the squad to be a worthy opponent for the nation’s best teams.

Top-10 Teams in Action

Minnesota State-Mankato @ #1 Minnesota, Fri. 11/16 @ 7:05 PM E.T. & Sat. 11/17 @ 5:05 PM E.T.: The Gophers remain undefeated as they welcome the Mavericks to Ridder Arena this weekend. Are they finally due for a loss or will they just keep on rolling? Minnesota State has proven to be a tough out so far this year, having taken points from Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth, and North Dakota, so the Gophers definitely don’t want to overlook them.

Colgate @ #2 Cornell, Fri. 11/16 @ 3:00 PM E.T.; #2 Cornell @ Colgate, Sat. 11/17 @ 3:00 PM E.T.: Cornell enters this series on a five-game win streak. They’ve gotten themselves into a nice grooveand it’s going to take a huge effort on Colgate’s part to  come away with just one win this weekend. One thing for Big Red to work on: their power play. So far they’ve only converted 17.24% of their opportunities with the man-advantage, and they need to improve that number to help establish themselves as truly formidable team.

#3 Boston College @ #10 Northeastern, Fri. 11/16 @ 7:00 PM E.T.; #10 Northeastern @ #3 Boston College, Sun. 11/18 @ 2:00 PM E.T.: This home-and-home series between two of Hockey East’s top teams should be a good one. Both of these teams have been trying to get a feel for what their true potential is this year. Neither has been dominant every single game, and they’ve definitely each had their highs and lows. The Eagles, however, have really started to come into their own lately. They’re probably not satisfied with their last result, a 3-3 tie with Dartmouth on Tuesday night. It’ll be up to the Huskies to get things pieced together on their end in order to make sure BC isn’t satisfied this weekend, either.

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Providence @ #4 Boston University, Fri. 11/16 @ 5:00 PM E.T.

#5 North Dakota @ Bemidji State, Sat. 11/17 @ 3:05 PM E.T. & Sun. 11/18 @ 3:05 PM E.T.: The Beavers currently sit last in the WCHA standings, with a 1-4-1 in-conference record. They’ve also allowed the most total goals so far this year of any WCHA team, so this could be the weekend that North Dakota finally finds their offense. UND has only scored 2.20 goals per game this season, which is way below expectations. Their play has definitely tracked upwards as a whole since the very beginning of the year, but it’s important that they find a way to start putting the puck in the net more efficiently.

#6 Clarkson @ Quinnipiac, Fri. 11/16 @ 7:00 PM E.T.; #6 Clarkson @ Princeton, Sat. 11/17 @ 4:00 PM E.T.: Clarkson’s tilt against Quinnipiac could be one of the most underrated games all weekend. For starters, it’s an in-conference match-up, so it’ll have big implications for how the ECAC will eventually shake out. But it features a Golden Knights team that has so far exceeded almost everyone’s expectations, and a flashy, up-and-coming Bobcats squad that has seemingly flown under the radar this year. The two players to watch in this match-up: Clarkson defender Erin Ambrose and Quinnipiac forward Kelly Babstock. Ambrose, a rookie, leads all NCAA defensemen in assists with 14. Babstock, a junior, is second in the country in goals with 13. Each of these players has been a crucial part of their team’s success, and they’ll most likely be seeing a lot of minutes against each other this weekend.

#8 Wisconsin @ Ohio State, Fri. 11/16 @ 3:05 PM E.T. & Sat. 11/17 @ 3:05 PM E.T.: In the past few weeks, the Badgers have quietly regained some of their old confidence and form. Their defense especially has come around; goaltender Alex Rigsby has a .941 save percentage and the team’s goals against average is third in the country, having let up 1.25 goals per game so far this year. Playing the Buckeyes on the road will be a huge test for Wisconsin, and the series should help them get a feel for how far they’ve come since those rough first weeks. But the one thing the Badgers need to start doing, no matter what? Scoring goals.

#9 Minnesota-Duluth @ St. Cloud State, Fri. 11/16 @ 8:05 PM E.T. & Sat. 11/17 @ 3:05 PM E.T.: The Bulldogs are looking for consistency this year, and this should be a good series to help them find it. The Huskies, on paper, are generally inferior, but they’ll still put up a good fight, and once the pucks is dropped, all bets are off. That makes this the perfect series for us all to find out if Minnesota-Duluth means business this year. There’s pressure on them to put together a couple of wins; they probably should win both games. But the Bulldogs really need to show that they’ve been improving, especially when it comes to controlling the game in all three zones.