Game Day Skate: Clarkson at Harvard, Minnesota at North Dakota

AES Rankings

  1. Minnesota
  2. Boston College
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Clarkson
  5. Bemidji State
  6. North Dakota
  7. Quinnipiac
  8. Harvard
  9. Boston University
  10. Northeastern

Game Day Highlights

#4 Clarkson at #8 Harvard: The Crimson struggled in a 2-1 loss to Dartmouth last weekend to open their season. They were without last season’s leading scorer Mary Parker, as well as a top-five scorer in Lexie Laing. The defense, which was so strong last season, yielded 33 shots on goal to the Big Green. Harvard has a much tougher test this week against Clarkson, but this is also an opportunity for the team to make a statement and re-assert themselves. The Golden Knights are a perfect 9-0-0 so far, and they’re scoring an average of 4.00 goals per game, with five different players scoring at a point-per-game pace, including rookie forward Loren Gabel. Clarkson goaltender Shea Tiley carries a .951 save percentage into the weekend, and Harvard will be without starter Emerance Maschmeyer, who’s with Team Canada for the Four Nations Cup.

St. Lawrence at #8 Harvard: This weekend features a similarly big match-up for the Saints, who look like they have the pieces in place to really push for a spot in the top third of the ECAC standings this year. Forward Kennedy Marchment and defender Amanda Boulier have been the team’s catalysts, with Megan Armstrong and Kirsten Padalis helping to solidify that blue line. Younger forwards like Justine Reyes and Hannah Miller have performed well so far, but veterans Brooke Webster and Jenna Marks have been a little quiet, and I think St. Lawrence would like to see them more involved in production this weekend. The Saints have still not settled on a starter in net, however, and that’s their biggest area of concern going into this game.

#1 Minnesota at #6 North Dakota: After a 5-1 loss to the Gophers last night, UND has a few things to answer for already in this series. Minnesota put them on their heels early and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, and though North Dakota settled in a little more as the game went along, it’s now a matter of how they will respond tonight. We saw the way the team pushed back against St. Cloud State last weekend, scoring three goals in the final 4:28 to to come back and tie it up. Is that the type of team they’re going to be this season, and can they be that team against Minnesota? In a show of their strengths, the Gophers’ play-making abilities and offensive execution were fully on display in the series opener; they typically do a very good job of finding open space and creating quality chances from there, and that was no different last night. Three of their five goals were scored on the rush, including one breakaway, and that’s an area where the Gophers excel because their defensemen are pretty active about jumping in. If UND hopes to have more success tonight, they need to do a better job defending in transition and picking up those players coming late.

Players to Watch

Cayley Mercer, Forward, Clarkson: Mercer posted back-to-back hat tricks last weekend in the Golden Knights’ series against New Hampshire, so she comes into this weekend red hot. She’s scored in every game so far this season, and out of those nine, six have been multi-point outings.

Shara Jasper, Forward, Lindenwood: The Lions begin College Hockey America play this weekend with a home series against Penn State, and before last week’s bye week, they knocked off New Hampshire and Northeastern on the road. That was due in large part to the play of Jasper, who posted five goals and seven points in those two games.

Abbey Frazer, Defense, Harvard: The Crimson have quite a few losses to make up for on the blue line, and Frazer, who was a solid contributor last year, is one player who is undoubtedly going to have to step up this season. She could make an impact this weekend and help the Crimson’s defensive corps settle in against a high-powered Clarkson offense and an efficient one in St. Lawrence.

2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: St. Cloud State Huskies

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Eric Rud (2nd Season)
2015-16 Captains: Vanessa Spataro (C), Lauren Hespenheide (A), Molly Illikainen (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 8-28-1 (5-22-1-1 WCHA/7th place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; swept by Wisconsin in first round of WCHA playoffs

It was a tough season for St. Cloud State, who finished second-to-last in their league, but it was also the first year under head coach Eric Rud for the program so it was a bit of a transition season well. The Huskies dropped their first two games, hosted by the University of Minnesota, to Boston University and Penn State, but earned a split against another nonconference foe in Lindenwood the following weekend. They then enjoyed an undefeated weekend against Minnesota State, beating the Mavericks and then tying them to pick up a few WCHA points.

They followed that up with an upset win over Ohio State in the next week’s series, earning a split with the Buckeyes, and then swept Rensselaer in nonconference play. It was a tough go for St. Cloud State for the rest of the 2014 calendar year, however; their next 11 games were against Minnesota Duluth, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Bemidji State, and they lost 10 in a row there before knocking off the Beavers, 3-0, on Dec. 13.

2015 wasn’t much better for the Huskies, who were then swept by Ohio State, UMD, Minnesota, Bemidji State, and UND before finally picking up another win against the Mavericks on Feb. 16. Later that week, they secured their biggest win of the year, knocking off Wisconsin, 2-1, on the road. The Badgers salvaged a 5-0 win the next day, however, and then swept St. Cloud State in the WCHA quarterfinals with a 5-1 win and a 4-1 win.

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Game Day Skate: Boston College at Cornell, Bemidji State at Wisconsin

AES Rankings

  1. Minnesota
  2. Boston College
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Clarkson
  5. North Dakota
  6. Bemidji State
  7. Harvard
  8. Quinnipiac
  9. Boston University
  10. Cornell

Game Day Highlights

#2 Boston College at Cornell: The Big Red will jump right into things as they play host to the Eagles for their first series of the season. BC’s offense is scoring at any incredibly high pace once again this year, at 5.33 goals per game. The power play is faring better, clicking at a 25% conversion rate, and the Eagles will be hoping to sustain that this weekend as well. Cornell’s got a few questions that need answering, namely about who’s going to replace their losses in production and who’s going to step up in goal, and those will be the biggest tests for the team this weekend against a dominant Boston College squad. Sophomore Katie Burt is putting up outstanding numbers again for BC, with a .944 save percentage and 1.40 goals-against average. Out of last year’s returners, the Big Red will be counting on Erin O’Connor, Taylor Woods, and Jess Brown to threaten her, but all of those players are new to primary scoring roles.

Bemidji State at #3 Wisconsin: The Beavers are coming off of a last-second overtime win against North Dakota, and have done well in WCHA play so far, sweeping Minnesota Duluth the weekend before. But the Badgers, who have been dominant so far this season in all major areas, pose a bigger challenge. They’ll make it much tougher for Bemidji State to have much control, and though the Beavers aren’t a possession-heavy team anyways, they are at heir best when they are still dictating the pace of the game. Wisconsin has the tools in its lineup to prevent BSU from having any say in that area as well. The ice will likely lean heavily in the Badgers’ favor, but they’re still going to need to solve the BSU defense and win battles for pucks in front if they’re going to come away with two wins.

Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota: The Gophers have cruised to a 6-0-0 start this year, and a 4-0-0-0 start in WCHA play. In those four games, they’ve outscored Ohio State and St. Cloud State by a combined 36-4. Last season, the Bulldogs were able to pose an early challenge to Minnesota, tying them, 3-3, on Oct. 11. It’s going to be tougher for this year’s lineup to do the same, however. One particular area where they’re going to be overmatched is on the backend. UMD does not have the same caliber group as the Gophers have with Lee Stecklein, Milica McMillen, and Sydney Baldwin. If those three are able to influence the game as much as we’ve seen so far, the Bulldogs will have little to work with.

Players to Watch

Alex Carpenter, Forward, Boston College: 2015 Patty Kazmaier Award winner Alex Carpenter picked up right where she left off last year, with nine goals and 17 points in six games so far.

G Maddie Rooney, Goaltender, Minnesota Duluth: The freshman has been getting the nod lately in net for the Bulldogs, and she played well against BSU and Minnesota State. She has a .932 save percentage and 1.50 goals-against average coming into the weekend, but the Gophers’ offense is a much bigger test than what she’s seen so far.

F Christian Higham, Forward, Cornell: Higham’s just a rookie but with Cornell’s lack of scoring depth, she should get a chance in the top-six right away to show what she can do.

2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Maine Black Bears

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Richard Reichenbach (3rd Season)
2015-16 Captains: Emilie Brigham (C), Abbey Cook (C) Eve Boissonneault A), Brooklyn Langlois (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 10-20-3 (9-11-1 WHEA/4th place)
Hockey East Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; swept by Connecticut in best-of-three quarterfinal series

The Black Bears began the season with two straight wins, beating New Hampshire in conference play and then earning an overtime win against Robert Morris. They settled for the split the next day against the Colonials, and picked up a tie in their next series against Mercyhurst before getting swept by Quinnipiac. Against Boston University on Oct. 25, they split their series with a big 4-2 upset win, which sparked a three-game unbeaten streak that saw Maine tie Connecticut and shut out Northeastern, 1-0.

They dropped two more in nonconference action against Brown and then split with Providence, losing game two in overtime. The Black Bears swept Vermont but were overmatched by Boston College the following weekend, losing by a score of 8-1. Their troubles in out-of-conference play continued against Union as they were unable to earn a win against the Dutchwomen, suffering a loss and then settling for a tie. They started off January with a loss to BU and a win over the Friars, and then came away winning the season series against Northeastern with a 4-2 win on Jan. 25.

The weekend after that, Maine picked up a 3-0 shutout win over New Hampshire, but that would unfortunately prove to be their last victory of the 2015-16 season. The Black Bears dropped their last six games of the regular season, but still clinched the fourth seed and home-ice advantage for the Hockey East quarterfinals. They drew Connecticut in that series, and the Huskies officially ended Maine’s season with the sweep in the first round of the playoffs.

After an excellent junior season for the Black Bears, goaltender Meghann Treacy was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star. Head coach Richard Reichenbach was a top-three finalist for the league’s Coach of the Year award, and defender Kelsey MacSorley earned Hockey East Honorable Mention All-Star accolades as well.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Mercyhurst Lakers

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Michael Sisti (17th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Emily Janiga (C), Hannah Bale (A), J’nai Mahadeo (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 23-9-3 (14-5-1 CHA/1st place)
College Hockey America Postseason: Conference semifinals; earned a bye to semifinal round with first-place regular-season finish, defeated by RIT in the semifinals

There were plenty of takeaways from the Lakers’ 2014-15 campaign, both good and bad; most expected the team to regress a bit, which they did, but they still maintained their spot atop the College Hockey America standings. They started the season off with a sweep over Providence and a win over Maine, before they tied the Black Bears and split with Northeastern. They then earned back-to-back sweeps, once against Minnesota State in nonconference action and another over CHA opponent Robert Morris. Mercyhurst suffered its first conference loss of the year on Nov. 8 in a series with Syracuse.

They performed well over the rest of the calendar year, going 7-0-1 from that point until a series with Penn State in the middle of December. Things went a little sour then, as the Lakers were swept by the Nittany Lions, and one began to wonder if they were in danger of losing their conference regular season crown. Series with Syracuse and St. Lawrence started off 2015, and Mercyhurst managed a 1-2-1 record in those four games, but picked it up again after that, ending the season on a 6-2-0 run to clinch first place in the CHA once again.

Still, the Lakers were fighting for the season in the postseason anyway, as they were not ranked high enough to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. Winning the CHA Tournament became a must, but the Lakers were bounced for the second straight year by the Tigers, this time in the semifinals. With that, Mercyhurst missed out on a bid into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003-04.

Freshman Kirsten Miller was recognized as one of six CHA Student-Athletes of the Year during the postseason, and Emily Janiga was named the CHA’s Player of the Year. Joining her on the All-CHA First Team was senior defenseman Molly Byrne, who garnered Best Defenseman honors. Senior Amanda Makela was honored with the CHA Goaltending Trophy, and junior Jenna Dingeldein was named to the conference’s Second Team. Forward Sarah Robello earned a spot on the CHA All-Rookie Team.

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Game Day Skate: Clarkson at Boston University, Bemidji State vs. North Dakota

AES Rankings

  1. Minnesota
  2. Boston College
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Clarkson
  5. North Dakota
  6. Harvard
  7. Bemijdi State
  8. Boston University
  9. Quinnipiac
  10. St. Lawrence

Game Day Highlights

#4 Clarkson at #8 Boston University: Clarkson has been dominant so far this season, but this series against the Terriers will provide them with their first real test. BU suffered a surprising loss to Penn State last weekend, most because their goaltending couldn’t stack up, and it’s likely they’ll face the same issue again here with Shea Tiley in net at the other end. There are several forwards in the BU lineup that Clarkson will need to keep in check, but the Golden Knights themselves have a very efficient offense. With the forward depth that both of these teams have, this should be an entertaining one to watch.

#5 North Dakota vs. #7 Bemidji State: Both teams are off to hot starts to the season; UND is 4-0 for the first time in program history, while Bemidji State swept Minnesota Duluth last weekend for the first time and also comes into the weekend undefeated. They’ll play a home-and-home, with the first game in Bemidji and Saturday’s match-up in Grand Forks. Top players like Amy Menke, Meghan Dufault, Becca Kohler, and Halli Krzyzaniak have pushed UND to victory so far, and they’ll be relying on that same top talent to break through again here. The Beavers likely won’t be so content to let UND control all of the play this weekend, but we’ll see how much success they can have pushing things themselves. BSU goaltender Brittni Mowat comes into the series on a roll, having given up just one goal on her last 98 shots faced and owning a .976 save percentage overall.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Minnesota Gophers

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Brad Frost (9th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Hannah Brandt (C), Lee Stecklein (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 34-3-4 (22-2-4-2 WCHA/1st place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference semifinals; advanced to WCHA Final Face-Off with sweep over Minnesota State in the quarterfinals, lost to Bemidji State in the semifinals
NCAA Tournament: Advanced to Frozen Four with win vs. RIT in the quarterfinals, defeated Wisconsin in national semifinals, defeated Harvard to win 2015 national championship

The Gophers hung yet another banner after the 2014-15 season, and did so in pretty dominant fashion, posting their fourth-straight 30-win season. They started off the season playing host to Penn State and Boston University on opening weekend, and beat both of those teams handily. They then headed to Duluth for a series against the Bulldogs and though they came away with the win in game one, Minnesota Duluth earned the win in the shootout in game two. That set up a big road series with Wisconsin, and Minnesota kept up its winning ways against the Badgers, sweeping that weekend. The team returned home and earned another conference sweep against North Dakota the week after.

Over Halloween weekend, Minnesota welcomed Bemidji State to town, and that series did not go in the Gophers’ favor, as the Beavers took five out of six points from them. Minnesota responded well, however, going on a 12-game winning streak and a 19-game unbeaten streak. Their two ties over that stretch came against Wisconsin and Ohio State, but otherwise the Gophers most notably swept the Buckeyes, as well as Princeton and St. Lawrence in non-conference action, and earned another win over the Badgers.

Both of those streaks came to an end on Feb. 6, when Minnesota was shut out by North Dakota on the road, but they won out the rest of the regular season. They salvaged a split the next night against UND and then swept Minnesota Duluth and Bemidji State to head into the postseason on a five-game winning streak. After sweeping Minnesota State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, the Gophers were upset by the Beavers in their WCHA Final Face-Off semifinal game.

They began NCAA Tournament play with a quarterfinal game against RIT and won that decisively, 6-2. They then met the Badgers for the fifth time this season in the Frozen Four semifinals, which they hosted, and skated away with a 3-1 victory to advance to the national championship game vs. Harvard. With a 4-1 win over the Crimson, Minnesota made its return to the top and captured its third national championship in four years.

Hannah Brandt earned Top-3 Patty Kazmaier Award Finalist recognition and along with Rachel Ramsey, received First Team All-America distinction. Dani Cameranesi and Lee Stecklein were named Second Team All-Americans. Brandt was also honored as the WCHA’s Player of the Year and Scoring Champion, and Ramsey, Stecklein, and Cameranesi joined her on the All-WCHA First Team. Ramsey was named the WCHA’s Defensive Player of the Year, and Milica McMillen earned a spot on the conference’s Second Team while Rachael Bona took home All-WCHA Third Team honors. Kelly Pannek and Sydney Baldwin were both named to the league’s All-Rookie Team.

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