- North Dakota
- Boston College
- Boston University
- Robert Morris
1. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota swept Princeton in a non-conference series with a 6-0 win on Saturday and a 9-1 win on Sunday. The Gophers’ offense is in full swing; their 16 goals on the weekend is a season-high. They’re starting to separate themselves from everyone else once again this year with their offensive depth. Minnesota has a lot of speed up front, which leads to a relentless attack that rarely lets up. Though teams have had good stretches against them, the Gophers have yet to be outplayed for an entire game, which speaks to their ability to respond even when they don’t have the momentum.
4. Wisconsin Badgers
The Badgers were able to come back to tie Minnesota-Duluth 2-2 on Friday, though they could not get the extra point in the shootout; they then beat the Bulldogs 1-0 on Saturday. It was a very tightly-contested series, and Wisconsin showed a lot of composure in being able to remain unbeaten for 12 straight games now. Even with a pretty solid top-six, the Badgers are still having some issues scoring goals against tougher competition. Their defense, however, has been more than up to task. They limited UMD to just two goals in the two games even though the Bulldogs have plenty of talent. Some cause for concern: goaltender Alex Rigsby apparently suffered an undisclosed injury in that second game. It could really hurt the Badgers if she misses significant time.
5. Cornell Big Red
Cornell suffered their first loss of the season to Boston College in a 4-1 defeat on Saturday, but not before beating the Eagles themselves 2-0 on Friday. The Big Red were, for the most part, able to contain BC’s offense in that first game, though they gave up more and more chances as they game went on. The series featured two back-and-forth hockey games, which is just the kind Cornell has been playing all year. They got the split against a good team, but the loss highlighted where the Big Red can get themselves in trouble. They have a tendency to leave things wide-open defensively; they’ve been able to make up for it against other teams, but the Eagles have a lot of talent up front and were able to cash in and expose Cornell a bit.
6. Boston College Eagles
The Eagles did a much better job cleaning up offensively after falling to Cornell in the first game. They finished their chances en route to their 4-1 win, and in all situations; Meagan Mangene netted a power play goal and Emily Field scored on the penalty kill. Boston College still wasn’t great defensively, though, as they gave up 40 shots in that 4-1 victory. Their inconsistencies continued while shorthanded, too; Cornell scored two power play goals on six chances on Friday. The Big Red have a potent offense, however, and BC was expected to have some trouble dealing with that. The split is well-earned, but the Eagles are still looking for a dominating defensive performance against a strong team this year.
7. Quinnipiac Bobcats
Quinnipiac rolled to an 8-0 win over Rochester Institute of Technology before beating Yale 3-2 for the Nutmeg Classic title. Lindsey West ended up breaking the 2-2 tie in the third period, and it was exactly the kind of game-winner the Bobcats needed: an important goal from a lower line player. Kelly Babstock and Shiann Darkangelo did a great job of carrying the offense with a combined 12 points on the weekend, but Quinnipiac desperately needs to find some offensive depth. Morgan Fritz-Ward and Emma Woods were involved again in the tournament, which is a good sign, but it’s even better that players like West, Olivia Brackett, and Nicole Brown could find ways to factor in on the scoresheet.
8. Harvard Crimson
The Crimson skated to a decisive 5-0 victory over Dartmouth on Sunday despite being outshot 25-19. It’s been difficult to get a good read on Harvard so far. They don’t have much offensive prowess and yet a bunch of players are contributing with goals and points. They haven’t been particularly strong defensively and yet the only time they’ve given up more than two goals was when they gave up three to Cornell. I think eventually a lack of depth and true scoring ability is going to catch up to them. The Crimson have shown a tendency to tail off after 40 minutes, and they’re being outshot 92-67 and outscored 7-6 in the third period so far this year.
9. Boston University Terriers
The Terriers knocked off Northeastern 5-2 on Tuesday night to remain in first place in Hockey East with an 8-0-0 conference record. They seem to have found their scoring touch once again, with Louise Warren scoring two goals and Sarah Lefort recording a hat trick. They withstood a good number of chances from the Huskies in order to come away with the win. Right now, Boston University has an edge over other Hockey East teams because although they’re giving up such chances, goaltender Kerrin Sperry hasn’t let many get by her. There aren’t any outstanding defensive teams in the conference, so the fact that the Terriers are getting good goaltending has certainly helped them along.
10. Robert Morris Colonials
Robert Morris earned a 4-2 victory over Maine to remain very much in the national picture. They’ve proven over and over to be a competitive club in both College Hockey America and non-conference play. Brittany Howard has really helped to add another dimension to their offense this year. With her in the line-up, opposing defenses are forced to focus their efforts on the top-six as a whole instead of just one or two star players, and this has helped all four of the Colonials’ lines outplay their opponents. The win against the Black Bears was a perfect example of that; Robert Morris outshot them 48-12 and their top forwards all proved to be too much for Maine to handle.
In the News
This week’s headlines from around the women’s hockey world
- A story from Princeton’s Town Topics on the Tigers’ senior forward and captain Denna Laing, who’s helped the team get off to a good start this season.
- A few Minnesota players talked about some of the team’s superstitions, and how seriously they take their pre-game rituals.
- An interesting analysis of advanced stats shows just how productive Boston College forward Haley Skarupa has been this year.
- An interview with U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Katey Stone, from the New England Hockey Journal.
- Former Providence player and U.S. Women’s National Team member Cindy Curley was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night, and the Providence Journal had a nice feature on her.
- The Tribune-Review featured Robert Morris freshman forward Brittany Howard, who’s off to a torrid start to her career as she leads the national rookie scoring race.
- Members of Syracuse’s women’s hockey team talked about their nicknames in a video from Women’s Hockey Life.
- U.S. Women’s National Team forward Julie Chu was profiled as part of TeamUSA.org’s “Go For The Gold” series.
- The latest from Wisconsin forward Madison Packer, on the team’s Thanksgiving road trip to Duluth to play the Bulldogs in a weekend series.
- Former Providence forward and current Boston Blades rookie Ashley Cottrell talks about what it’s like to play in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
- Boston College Magazine has a really nice feature on Boston College and U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Carpenter, and the path she’s taken that could lead to a spot on the 2014 Olympic team.
Three Stars of the Week
1. Brittany Howard, Freshman, Forward, Robert Morris: The rookie scored all four of the Colonials’ goals against Maine to help lead them to another victory this year.
2. Kelly Babstock, Senior, Forward, Quinnipiac: With a goal and seven points in two games at the Nutmeg Classic, she continued to make a huge impact for the Bobcats this weekend as they captured the tournament title.
3. Sarah Lefort, Sophomore, Forward, Boston University: She tallied a hat trick and added an assist in the Terriers’ win over crosstown rival Northeastern.
Play of the Week
Sarah Lefort would have had four goals for BU if not for this save by Northeastern’s Chloe Desjardins on a penalty shot attempt.
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).