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Patrick Donnelly | | October 27, 2022

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Minnesota highlights the top women's college hockey games of the week

The top college hockey storylines for 2022-23

This week's women's hockey slate brings us a series between the two top programs in the nation, some big conference matchups and more. Here's everything you need to know for this weekend's top games. 

The best of the best: No. 1 Ohio State faces No. 2 Minnesota

After the Buckeyes swept a national championship rematch with then-No. 4 Minnesota Duluth last weekend, they find themselves eyeing a potential natty preview with the Gophers. 

The remaining undefeated WCHA teams come in on a roll with the Buckeyes (8-0-0, 8-0-0 WCHA) grinding out a pair of 3-2 wins against UMD, while Minnesota (6-0-0, 6-0-0 WCHA) has been mowing down their opponents with a 36-8 goal differential. 

OH HOW SWEEP: How Ohio State swept UMD in a national championship rematch

The Gophers most recently swept upstate rival St. Cloud State, winning 4-2 before grinding to a one-goal win themselves with a 2-1 result on Saturday. Fifth-year forward and U.S. Olympic-returner Grace Zumwinkle has had the hot hand for Minnesota with 12 points (7g, 5a), including two goals and an assist against the Huskies last weekend. Redshirt sophomore Abbey Murphy (6g, 5a) and reigning Patty Kazmaier Award winner Taylor Heise (2g, 6a) have been strong as well. Starting netminder Skylar Vetter has been nothing short of dominant with a 4-0-0 record, one shutout, a .949 save percentage and 0.94 goals against average.

For the Buckeyes, Jenna Buglioni and Jennifer Gardner were the heroes last weekend, with Buglioni picking up two goals on Friday, including the overtime winner, and Gardner racking up two goals and an assist on the weekend, chipping in Saturday's go-ahead goal. Gardner (2g, 7a) is next to star defender Sophie Jaques (7g, 4a) for the team lead in points. In net, junior Amanda Thiele has been serviceable, going 6-0-0 with a 2.25 GAA and .852 save percentage.

Ohio State's power play has been a force (33.3 percent), while Minnesota's penalty kill has a 95 percent success rate.

The Gophers are 79-23-5 all-time against the Buckeyes, although Ohio State took last year's season series 4-1. 

Given the rankings, the firepower and the undefeated records, this is possibly the best matchup of the young season. But something's got to give with one of these teams at some point, right?

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

WCHA Clash: No. 3 Wisconsin takes on No. 5 Minnesota Duluth

The Bulldogs hung with the Buckeyes last weekend, coming half a period from a series split, but Emma Soderberg and the defense couldn't hold OSU off any longer. They return home to face yet another high-flying offense in the Badgers.

Since losing to Penn State in an upset on opening night, the Badgers (9-1-0, 6-0-0 WCHA) have been laying waste to their schedule, albeit against weaker opponents in Lindenwood, St. Thomas, St. Cloud and Bemidji State. Nevertheless, Wisconsin's outrageous offensive output cannot be ignored as the Badgers are averaging 6.3 goals per game, and allowing 0.9. 

A pair of underclassmen redshirt sophomore forward Lacey Eden (8g, 9a) and freshman blue-liner Caroline Harvey (4g, 13a) have led the potent attack with 17 points each. Graduate forward Sophie Shirley (7-9--16), junior Casey O'Brien (6-10--16) and graduate Jesse Compher (6-9--15) have been dominant as well. Even with uncertainty around the starting netminder coming into the year, redshirt sophomore Jane Gervais and redshirt senior Cami Kronish have been excellent for Wisconsin, both sporting sub-one GAA's and save percentages north of .940. 

Graduate captain Gabbie Hughes (1g, 2a) and senior forward Mannon McMahon (1g, 1a) were the top skaters for Duluth (6-2-0, 2-2-0 WCHA) against OSU, while graduate goaltender Emma Soderberg kept them in it all weekend, combining for 73 saves in the series. That's what Soderberg has done all year with a .935 save percentage, a 1.28 GAA and two shutouts. Hughes has been strong since the start of the year, too, with 12 points in eight games.

RANKINGS: Check out the latest USCHO poll

Wisconsin is 56-33-15 in their all-time meetings with the Bulldogs, going 3-1-0 last year and 7-2-1 in their last 10. 

The Bulldogs are looking to recover from their first losses of the season, but it won't be easy as they try to contain yet another dangerous offense. 

ECAC heavyweight bouts

It's no secret the ECAC is absolutely loaded this season, acting as sort of an east coast answer to the WCHA. Whether it's a Yale team coming off a run to the Frozen Four, Colgate and Quinnipiac contending in the national tournament, or Princeton returning one of the game's best players from the international stage, the ECAC should be one of the most exciting conferences this season. This weekend's conference schedule is a wild one. 

No. 4 Colgate travels to No. 10 Princeton

Princeton ices a promising squad this year with Sarah Fillier back in the mix, but they'll face one of their toughest tests all year right away as they open the season against defending conference champion Colgate.

The Raiders have been on a tear this season after last year's disappointing national tournament upset to rival Yale, jumping out to a 9-0-0 record (5-0-0 ECAC). They have five shutouts on the season already, and are coming off a sweep of a formidable No. 14 Vermont squad. The goaltending tandem of sophomore Hannah Murphy (.949 save percentage) and junior Kayla Osborne (.964) has seemed unbeatable at times for Colgate with multiple shutouts apiece and GAA's below one. 

Offensively, the Raiders have trotted out a one-two punch of upperclassmen forwards in senior Danielle Serdachny (17 points) and junior Kristyna Kaltounková (16 points), who each have eight goals. 

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

Meanwhile, the Tigers failed to meet expectations last season, skating to a 13-15-5 record (9-10-3 ECAC). However, there are reasons for optimism this year as they return six of their top eight scorers from 2021-22, including senior forward Maggie Connors (13g, 9a) and junior Annie Kuehl (10g, 6a). Despite graduating their starting goaltender, the succession plan in net looks solid too. Sophomore Jennifer Olnowich was good in a small sample size in her debut season, recording a .946 save percentage, 1.38 GAA and 2-0-1 record in four appearances last year. Entering the mix as well is freshman Taylor Hyland, a promising prospect out of Wellesley, Mass.

The biggest reason of all, however, is undoubtedly Fillier. Ascending the ranks among the best players in the women's game right now, the Tigers' junior captain is returning to the collegiate ranks after a dominant run with the Canadian national team that saw her put up 11 points in seven games both the Olympics and World Championships en route to a pair of gold medals. During her freshman and sophomore years, she put up back-to-back 22-goal and 57-point campaigns, finishing as a Patty Kaz finalist both years.

Historically, Tigers are 28-11-5 against the Raiders and 5-3-2 in their last 10 matchups, going 0-1-1 last year. 

Even without the stakes on the line for both teams, whether it's Princeton looking to bounce back and start off on the right foot, or Colgate looking to stay on a roll, Fillier might be worth the price of admission by herself. 

No. 7 Quinnipiac hosts No. 8 Cornell

Our tour of the ECAC takes us to Hamden, Conn., home to the Bobcats and one of the better matchups in women's hockey on Friday. 

After needing overtime to beat Maine in the season opener, Quinnipiac (7-0-0, 1-0-0 ECAC) hasn't come close to a loss in five straight games, most recently taking down a talented Harvard group, 5-2. QU has gotten steady contributions from top to bottom through six games with graduate forward Shay Maloney (4g, 6a) and junior Olivia Mobley (2g, 8a) leading the way.

HISTORY: Here's every NC women's hockey champion since 2001

Like their feline counterparts in the Tigers, the Bobcats have been tasked with replacing their starting goaltender after graduate Corinne Schroeder moved on, but Logan Anders (.921 save percentage 1.23 GAA) and Catie Boudiette (.981, 0.33) have been up to the challenge. 

Cornell started their year with a dominant sweep of Mercyhurst last weekend, outscoring the Lakers 10-2. Returning stars Gillis Frechette (3g, 2a) and Danielle Izzy (2g, 3a) picked up right where they left off from last season, each recording five-point weekends. 

Junior netminder Deanna Fraser allowed two goals on 35 shots in her two starts last week, including a shutout on Friday.

The Big Red are 6-3-1 in their last 10 against Quinnipiac, and 19-11-7 all-time. The Bobcats swept the season series last year with two shutout wins, outscoring Cornell 7-0.

With Cornell trying to back up its top-10 ranking and season-opening sweep, and Quinnipiac aiming to gain ground on Colgate, this battle of ECAC dark-horses should live up to the hype.

No. 9 Yale visits Harvard

The battle for Ivy League supremacy travels through Cambridge, Mass., as the Crimson look to hit their stride, while Yale aims to have a good season debut. 

Harvard (1-1-0, 1-1-0 ECAC) began their year with a 5-2 loss at home against Quinnipiac that saw the Bobcats get out to a 3-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. They admirably bounced back with a 3-0 win versus Dartmouth, but they face a tougher test in the Bulldogs, fresh off a march to the national semifinals. 

The usual suspects have been good for Harvard from the get-go, despite the split results, as senior forwards Anne Bloomer (2g, 2a) and Kristin Della Rovere (2g, 1a) off to productive starts. Between the pipes, sophomore Alex Pellicci has been solid, even with the shaky start against QU, posting a .936 save percentage.

For Yale, they return largely the same core that came within a goal of the national title game, falling to eventual champion Ohio State, 2-1 in the Frozen Four. Forward Elle Hartje is back after a breakout sophomore season that saw her rack up 16 goals and 51 points, while point per game seniors Claire Dalton (13-30--43) and Charlotte Welch (13-25--38) also return. In goal, Pia Dukaric looks to build on a solid rookie season, splitting time with Gianna Meloni and putting up a .929 save percentage, 1.36 GAA, five shutouts and a 10-3-1 record.

The Bulldogs and Crimson split the season series last year with a 3-1 win each. Yale is 3-6-1 in their last 10 contests against Harvard, who has the all-time edge, 79-13-6. 

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

While Harvard looks to find their footing early, Yale is looking to start strong with another Frozen Four bid in their sights. 

No. 8 Cornell battles No. 10 Princeton

It doesn't get any easier for the Tigers after Colgate as they will remain at home for their Saturday contest when they welcome the Big Red to town in what should be another entertaining game. Princeton has the slightest edge with an all-time record of 49-47-7 against Cornell, going 1-0-1 last season against the Big Red. 

No. 4 Colgate meets No. 7 Quinnipiac

The Raiders' road swing continues when they travel to Quinnipiac on Saturday to face the Bobcats, who will be fresh off a bout with Cornell. Colgate went 2-1-0 against QU last season, adding to a decided advantage in their last 10 against the Bobcats (7-3-0). In the all-time series, the Raiders are 25-16-5.

Minnesota topples Ohio State, St. Cloud downs Wisconsin and more from Friday

Here's everything you need to know from a loaded Friday night in women's college hockey.

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The 2023 women's Frozen Four begins Friday, March 17, at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn. The national championship is Sunday, March 19.

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