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Patrick Donnelly | NCAA.com | October 20, 2022

Previews for the best games in women's college hockey, beginning with No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Minnesota Duluth

Ohio State wins its first women's hockey championship

This week's women's hockey slate brings us a top-five matchup, a storied rivalry, and lots more. Here's everything you need to know for this weekend's top games:

No. 1 Ohio State hosts No. 4 Minnesota Duluth

  • When: 6 p.m. Friday | 3 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: OSU Ice Rink, Columbus, O.H.
  • How to watch: Friday and Saturday on BTN+ (subscription required)

The defending champion Buckeyes will welcome the Bulldogs for a highly-anticipated matchup between WCHA foes and last year's national championship opponents. 

OSU is undefeated with a 6-0-0 (6-0-0 WCHA) record, coming off a weekend sweep of Bemidji State that saw the Buckeyes outscore the Beavers 9-2. Likewise, Duluth is 6-0-0 (2-0-0 WCHA) out of the gates. UMD was idle this past weekend, but most recently swept conference foe Minnesota State, grinding to a 2-1 overtime win before a 2-0 shutout the following day.

ROAD TO A CHAMPIONSHIP: How Ohio State won their first national title in 2022

Ohio State figures to be right in the heat of the Frozen Four conversation with talent at each position. Between the pipes, they've gotten quality starts from both junior Amanda Thiele and senior Raygan Kirk.

There's defender Sophie Jaques, who will undoubtedly be in the mix for the Patty Kazmaier award by season's end, picking up WCHA Defender of the Week for the second week in a row after a six-point weekend (4g, 2a) against Bemidji. She's got three multi-goal outings to her credit this season with a total of 11 points (7g, 4) in six games. Not to mention upperclassmen forwards Jennifer Gardner (2g, 7a) and Emma Maltais (1g, 6a) each producing over a point per game. In all, six Buckeyes are at or above a point-per-game clip.

The Bulldogs try to slow down that potent attack, which they've done to every opponent this season, surrendering just four goals in six games while putting up 16 of their own. Graduate goaltender Emma Soderberg has been nothing short of stellar for Duluth with a .952 save percentage, a 0.69 goals against average, and two shutouts.

Offensively, forward Gabbie Hughes (1g, 8a), a Patty Kaz finalist last year, and fifth-year defender Ashton Bell (5g, 3a) have each been on a tear to start the year.

Ohio State is looking to strengthen its hold on the WCHA with Minnesota Duluth setting its sights on proving it's right up there with the best of the best. 

The Battle of Comm. Ave: Boston College faces Boston University

What's better than the Battle of Comm. Ave? You have two historic hockey schools that do not like one another at all, clashing on the ice. 

BC, currently receiving votes, has been in and out of the back end of the polls this season. The Eagles are off to a 3-2-1 (2-0-0 HEA) start, coming off a frustrating weekend at Penn State with a 3-2 loss and a 2-2 tie. Despite the inconsistent results, BC is definitely still in the mix in Hockey East (at least for second place so long as Northeastern is doing their thing). Senior captain Hannah Bilka (4g, 5a) and sophomore forward Abby Newhook (3g, 3a) are each off to great starts, as expected, and both netminders have been solid. Graduate Abigail Levy is 2-1-1 with a 1.96 GAA, a .939 save percentage and a shutout, while freshman Grace Campbell looks promising, posting a .933 save percentage and 2.01 GAA in two starts. 

WHAT TO KNOW: Click or tap here for 5 women's hockey storylines to watch this season

The Terriers are looking to find their own consistency as well, skating to a 2-2-0 record (1-1-0 HEA). They haven't blown the doors off in terms of production, but that's what you'll get out of a Brian Durocher team— a steady defensive effort, dogged pursuit on the forecheck (get it?) and solid goaltending. 

Freshman forward Clara Yuhn has had a nice start to her career with two goals and an assist, while senior Julia Nearis (1g, 2a) and graduate Jesse DeVito (3a) are also leading the production. Looking at the crease, graduate Andrea Brändli (a transfer out of Ohio State) has yet to allow a goal this season with two shut out wins, and despite her winless record so far, sophomore Callie Shanahan has been steady with a .922 save percentage. 

Both teams are likely looking for more depth production from their role players, but it's still fairly early in the year. Both BU and BC will have no trouble getting up for this weekend's series as these games rarely disappoint. 

Non-conference challenges

No. 6 Colgate welcomes No. 14 Vermont

One of the most intriguing non-conference matchups this weekend features an ECAC power and a Hockey East sleeper. 

Picked to three-peat as conference champions, the Raiders have blown through their schedule, starting the year 7-0-0 with five shutouts and a ridiculous 29-3 scoring margin. They're trouncing formidable opponents too in ranked Penn State as well as Syracuse and Mercyhurst (both receiving votes at the time). 

PATTY KAZ: Click or tap here for a way-too-early watchlist for the Patty Kazmaier Award

Junior forward Kristyna Kaltounková has just laid waste to teams with 15 points (8g, 7a) in seven games, and so has senior forward Danielle Serdachny with 14 points (6g, 8a). Seniors Kaitlyn O'Donohoe (2g, 7a) and Allyson Simpson (7a) are over a point per game. In goal, junior Kayla Osborne (.967 save percentage, 0.55 GAA) and Hannah Murphy (.977 save percentage, 0.33 GAA) have been nothing short of great. 

Vermont has had its own solid start to the year with a 4-1-1 marker (2-1-1 HEA). The Catamounts are new to the rankings this week, having gone unbeaten in their last three games and most recently beating UConn (receiving votes) 6-1. 

They've gotten contributions up and down the lineup with 2022 Patty Kaz finalist Theresa Schafzahl (7g, 3a) leading the way, as well as upperclassmen Corinne McCool (2g, 6a) and Natálie Mlynková (1g, 7a). Junior goaltender Jesse McPherson has been steady with one shutout, a 140 GAA and .907 save percentage. 

Colgate's high-flying offense will attempt to keep rolling, while UVM looks to show last year's strong season wasn't a fluke. 

No. 10 Cornell opens season looking to stifle Mercyhurst

The Big Red, along with the rest of the Ivy League schools, haven't gotten underway this season, and they'll have a stiff test in the Lakers (receiving votes) to open their year and back up that top-10 ranking. 

Cornell is looking to build on a .500 season last year, going 14-14-2 (12-8-2 ECAC) with a split against Mercyhurst to start the season. They return senior Gillis Frechette, who led the team with 12 goals and 25 assists for 37 points in 28 games, and senior Izzy Daniel (8-24--32 in 28 games). Sophomore Deanna Fraser will look to stake her claim to the crease after putting up a .910 save percentage in three starts last season. 

FROZEN FOUR: Click or tap here for way-too-early 2023 women's Frozen Four predictions

Mercyhurst has a 5-3-0 record in the early going, riding a three-game win streak that includes a victory over then-No. 10 Clarkson. The Lakers may not have the same star power in terms of production that Cornell boasts, but freshman Thea Johansson (3g, 4a), sophomore Sydney Pederson (2g, 4a) and Liliana Perrault (2g, 4a) have each had nice starts to the season. Graduate transfer Jada Brenon (formerly of Holy Cross) has a .989 save percentage and two shutouts, while senior Ena Nystrøm has been solid with a .913 save percentage and 2.29 GAA.

Adirondack Ice Breaker: No. 11 Clarkson battles Syracuse

  • When: 7 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Herb Brooks Arena, Lake Placid, N.Y.
  • How to watch: Boxcast.tv

One of two matchups in this early midseason tournament pits the the Orange, looking to right the ship after a disastrous start to the season, against the Golden Knights, trying to establish themselves in a loaded ECAC. 

Clarkson has had a strong start to the season, going 6-1-1. The Golden Knights also swept Syracuse last weekend, outscoring the Orange 7-4 in the home-and-home series. Seniors Darcie Lappan (5g, 8a) and Gabrielle David (4g, 8a) have paced their squad through the first few weeks, while junior netminder Michelle Pasiechnyk has been a rock in goal with two shutouts, a .947 save percentage and a 1.00 GAA.

RANKINGS: Check out the latest USCHO poll

Meanwhile, it hasn't been quite the beginning of the season that reigning CHA champion Syracuse envisioned. The Orange are 1-6-0 and in the midst of a five-game skid. They've been shut out three times, averaging just 1.43 goals per game. Graduate student Lauren Bellefontaine (1g, 4a) and sophomore Sarah Marchand (1g, 3a) have been the main sources of offense. Graduate goaltender Arielle DeSmet has a .907 save percentage and a 2.74 GAA. 

The Golden Knights are looking to keep rolling as they head into conference play, while Syracuse hopes to find their footing for the rest of the season.

A win on Friday mean's a date with the winner of St. Lawrence and Holy Cross as each team tries to add some early season hardware to the trophy case. 

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