NCAA women’s hockey conference season heating up
With a little more than six weeks to go until selection Sunday, the National Collegiate Women’s Hockey conference season is heating up. While Wisconsin and Boston College appear to have control in the WCHA and Hockey East, respectively, the ECAC Hockey and College Hockey America races are a lot tighter for the top spots. However, with approximately 10 games left in the conference regular season there is still time for anything to happen. Let’s take a conference-by-conference look at what to watch for in the world of NCAA Women’s Hockey this weekend.
Women’s Hockey East
After a sweep of Northeastern at home last weekend, the Maine Black Bears (8-14-1/4-10-1 HEA) hit the road for a two-game set at the Whittemore Center against the UNH Wildcats (9-13-1/7-7-1 HEA). The last time the two squared off was a 2-2 tie on November 26.
Maine got massive weekends out of reigning Warrior Hockey Player of the Week sophomore defenseman Alyson Matteau and junior forward Brooke Stacey Matteau scored both of the decisive weekend goals and added three assists in Saturday’s 6-3 win, while Stacey netted a goal in each game and got credit for the assist on both of Matteau’s game winners.
It’s a Huskies vs. Huskies home-and-home as Northeastern (13-9-3/9-7-2 HEA) takes on UConn (11-10-3/6-7-1 HEA) for two games to wrap up the regular season series. Back on January 2, Northeastern doubled up UConn to grab a 4-2 win on the road. The last time NU took on UConn, it was sophomore goaltender Brittany Bugalski in net stopping 13 shots the lowest shot total she has faced in a HEA game this season.
UConn is also looking to recover from a sweep last weekend, as the Providence Friars took both games in a home-and-home. Junior forward Justine Fredette registered points in both games of the series, with a helper in game one and the lone UConn goal of game two. Sophomore defenseman Jamie Fox also added her second goal of the season on Saturday.
Merrimack (8-16-2/4-13-0 HEA) plays host to No. 8 Quinnipiac in North Andover on Friday for its third consecutive game against a top-10 opponent. The Warriors and the Bobcats have already tangled once this season, with Merrimack advancing to the Nutmeg Classic final with a shootout victory over Quinnipiac.
Boston College’s Katie Burt became the league’s all time shutout leader with a 1-0 blanking of Merrimack last Friday. Her teammate, Megan Keller is one point shy of tying Emily Pfalzer's WHEA career scoring mark for a defenseman ... she's at 58 and Pfalzer had 59. Keller is also one assist shy of claiming as her own the WHEA career assist mark for a defenseman. She is tied with Pfalzer at 48.
Clarkson is on an 18-game unbeaten streak, the longest active streak in the nation and is two games away from the longest streak in Clarkson history (2013-14). The Golden Knights have outscored opponents 80-26 in that span in going 15-0-3.
Lexie Laing leads the Harvard offense with nine points, while Sydney Daniels has a team-high seven goals, including a hat trick earlier this season at Dartmouth. Daniels ranks 18th in program history with 55 career scores.
Harvard has faced nine ranked opponents in 16 games this season, four of them going to overtime. The Crimson recently tied No. 7/7 Colgate, 3-3, and No. 8/8 Quinnipiac, 2-2. Harvard's netminders have eclipsed 40 saves on three occasions this season. Senior Molly Tissenbaum stopped a career-high 50 against Princeton and 42 at New Hampshire, while freshman Beth Larcom stoned 41 attempts in her debut at Colgate.
After topping Colgate then falling to Cornell this past weekend, Quinnipiac women's ice hockey (20 points) is tied for the No. 3 spot in the ECAC Hockey standings. Both of Quinnipiac's wins vs. a ranked opponent this season have come vs. Colgate (11-18-16 & 1-13-17). The Bobcats have 41 goals on the road this season, which ranked tied for No. 4 nationally and tied for best in the ECAC.
Princeton goes into final exams riding a 10-game unbeaten streak. The Tigers are 8-0-2 in their last 10 and will return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 31 when it takes on travel partner Quinnipiac. Princeton freshmen Carly Bullock and Steph Neatby were named the ECAC Rookie and Goalie of the Week this week. This is Bullocks fourth honor and the fifth consecutive for Neatby who is 6-1-1.
Union is coming off it's first ever win over Harvard University as the Dutchwomen won 3-2 in overtime on Saturday afternoon in Cambridge, MA. First year goalie Kate Spooner recorded her fourth win as she now holds the program record for wins by a rookie goalie. Junior Caitlyn McLaren tied the single season program record for power-play goals by a defensemen on Saturday with a first period goal against Harvard. The Dutchwomen are looking for their first win since Oct. 20, 2012 against arch rival RPI this weekend. The two teams play a home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday.
Clarkson co-captain Cayley Mercer and assistant captain Genevieve Bannon are climbing the all-time Clarkson scoring lists. Mercer is now third all-time at Clarkson with 149 points and is just one point behind her older sister, Carly Mercer for second all-time. Bannon is currently sixth all-time with 125 career points.
Clarkson is currently at 298 wins all-time as a program. The Golden Knights will win their 300th win in just their 14th season, with Clarkson finishing with a record above .500 in 12 of those 14 years.
Colgate’s Julia Vandyk is one win away from tying the program record for most wins in a season which stands at 14 victories.
Cornell goaltender Paula Voorheis is 21 saves away from 2,000 career saves.
College Hockey America
Terra Lanteigne backed RIT to their second CHA win of the year, stopping 37 shots in a 4-0 shutout of Mercyhurst. She faced extra pressure in the first and third periods, with 15 and 13 saves in those periods, respectfully. Lanteigne finished the weekend with 81 saves after posting 44 in a losing effort Friday night.
Junior forward Stepanie Grossi helped Syracuse earn four conference points with a sweep of Penn State. Grossi had four points in the two games, scoring one goal and adding three assists. Grossi leads the Orange with 17 points on the season.
Lindenwood earned its second win over a ranked opponent in its last three games, taking down No. 7 Robert Morris, 2-1 on Friday. The Lady Lions struck midway through the first period for a 1-0 lead, then, nine minutes after Brittany Howard tied the game early in the third period, Tirra Lemoine scored her first goal of the season to give Lindenwood the win.
Robert Morris’ Jaycee Gebhard had three points over the weekend, giving her 30 on the season. She is the first rookie skater to reach 30 points in 2016-17 and leads NCAA freshmen with 1.36 points per game. Gebhard ranks first amongst freshmen with 16 assists and is tied for second with 14 goals.
Brittany Howard set the Robert Morris record for career assists with her pair of helpers in Saturday’s victory. She now has 72 assists in her two-plus seasons.
Laura Bowman still sits on 97 career points after being shutout for a second straight weekend. Bowman is three points shy of becoming the first Penn State player to record 100 career points.
Three of the nation’s top-four teams in this week’s national opinion polls hail from the WCHA. Wisconsin remains the unanimous No. 1 in both the USCHO.com and USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine polls, followed by No. 2 Minnesota Duluth and No. 4 Minnesota.
Minnesota Duluth has ascended to its highest ranking since Oct. 4, 2010 following a sweep of Minnesota – the Bulldogs’ first over the Gophers since Oct. 29-30, 2010. UMD is now 6-3-3 (.625) this season against nationally-ranked opponents.
UMD senior forward Ashleigh Brykaliuk, who had three points (1g-2a) against Minnesota, is on a career-long 13-game point streak (8g-9a=17pts) – the longest by a Bulldog player since Laura Fridfinnson had a 13-game binge between Jan. 22 and March 7, 2010.
St. Cloud State hosts Minnesota State this weekend, with Friday’s contest televised live on FOX Sports North Plus as part of the Hockey Day Minnesota 2017 festivities. This marks the first time in the 11-year history of the event that women’s college hockey will be featured, while FSN will also broadcast Saturday’s series finale.
SCSU freshman goaltender Janine Alder, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist with Switzerland, continues to have an outstanding rookie campaign. She made 59 saves last Saturday at Wisconsin – the third-most in school history – and, with three shutouts this season, is the first freshman netminder in program annals with multiple clean sheets.
Minnesota State’s six victories this season are more than the Mavericks had in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns combined. Senior goaltender Brianna Quade, who has eight games with 30+ saves this season, is just 72 stops shy of 2,000 for her career (1,928).
No. 4 Minnesota (16-5-2/12-4-2-2 WCHA) returns home to Ridder Arena for the first time in 54 days. The Gophers will host Ohio State (11-11-2/5-11-2-0 WCHA), as Buckeyes’ bench boss and former Minnesota All-American Nadine Muzerall coaches at her alma mater for the first time. Muzerall has already guided OSU to more wins than it had in all of 2015-16 (10-25-1).
Gophers’ junior forward Kelly Pannek is riding a 19-game point streak (13g-30a=43pts), in which she has at least one assist in each contest. She leads the country in assists (35), points (48), assists-per-game (1.52) and points-per-game (2.09), while tying for fourth with a +26 rating.
North Dakota forward Ryleigh Houston leads WCHA freshmen with 18 points (6g-12a). The Fighting Hawks’ freshman class is third nationally with 54 combined points (23g-31a).
Wisconsin junior forward Emily Clark has been on fire lately, with five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in her last five games. Last Friday, she and fellow junior Annie Pankowski became the first Badgers’ duo with hat tricks in the same game since Feb. 19, 2011 (Hilary Knight and Madison Packer.)
Wisconsin drew 15,369 fans for its “Fill the Bowl” game last Saturday at the Kohl Center, making it the highest-attended women’s hockey game ever in the United States. The Badgers defeated St. Cloud State, 2-0, in a game that out-drew NHL contests played that day in Florida (14,795) and Arizona (12,015).
With a pair of shutouts last weekend, Wisconsin senior Ann-Renée Desbiens extended her own all-time NCAA record. She now has 48 career blank slates.
With her next shutout, Bemidji State senior goaltender Brittni Mowat will match former All-American Zuzanna Tomcikova for the all-time program record with 18.