2015-16 Game Day Skate: Preseason Rankings; Clarkson vs. St. Lawrence, Minnesota Duluth at Boston College

AES Preseason Rankings

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

To me, Minnesota, Boston College, and Wisconsin are all in a higher grouping. With the depth they’re returning from last season’s national championship squad, the Gophers get the benefit of the doubt to start. BC has the edge over the Badgers because Wisconsin is losing some key seniors up front, but it should be noted that the Eagles are losing an important part of their D corps in Emily Pfalzer, and the Badgers have one of the most dominant goaltenders in the country in Ann-Renée Desbiens.

Clarkson is just a tick below those three, mostly due to the fact that they weren’t so accomplished last year, but with what they’re bringing back, there is absolutely a greater potential for this team. There’s a bit of a drop off after the Golden Knights, as the teams that follow all have some noteworthy question marks. For North Dakota, it’s the offense, but they have All-American Shelby Amsley-Benzie in net and a very good defensive corps. For Boston University, it’s goaltending, which is what held them back last season; the loss of Marie-Philip Poulin is also huge but I expect the Terriers to still be able to score at a high pace.

Harvard had a great run last season, capturing the ECAC Championship and finishing as national runner-ups, but they’re suffering huge losses on the back end with the graduation of Sarah Edney, Josephine Pucci, and Marissa Gedman, and they don’t have a real superstar forward, at least not yet. Netminder Emerance Maschmeyer will keep them in the hunt for hardware in the ECAC, and Brittni Mowat will try and do the same for her Bemidji State team, who is going to rely on a strong defensive system to try and wear down higher-ranked opponents.

Quinnipiac is a bit of an enigma heading into the season; to start, they’ll have to replace Chelsea Laden in net, and they’ve got to figure out how to play at their best for an entire season. I like the group of forwards they’re bringing back, and I like Cydney Roesler and Taryn Baumgardt on the blue line, but the Bobcats have to answer for a significant downturn in the second half of last season.

The 10th team was as hard to rank as ever; it’s hard not to put Minnesota Duluth here over the Saints. Goaltending could be potentially be a big headache for St. Lawrence, but they’ve got a few difference-makers on defense, and I’m willing to give them the edge here to start the year and see what they can do. I expect the Bulldogs to be fully competitive as well, but they have to show that they can really take it to opponents and drive play.

Game Day Highlights

No. 10 St. Lawrence at No. 4 Clarkson: St. Lawrence shuffled through its goaltenders last week, giving all three a period of play in both games against Northeastern. They fared well enough in the first game, looking like the better team for the last two periods and the overtime in a X-X tie. They did little to slow the Huskies’ offense in game two, however, as Northeastern racked up a total of 9? goals.

That’s a red flag going into a home-and-home series with Clarkson, whose offense this season should be pretty potent. Just like last year, this will be a great first test for the Golden Knights, who will look to establish themselves as the team to beat in the ECAC very early. It’ll be worth watching for how well their offense clicks right away; they should be able to control play but are they going to be a team that makes opponents pay for that and cashes in on their chances consistently?

Minnesota Duluth at No. 2 Boston College: The Bulldogs came out of their season-opening series against Lindenwood with a lot of room for improvement. With a new coaching staff behind the bench, it’s very much a work in progress, but they’ll be playing one of the most dominant teams they’ll see all season in just their second week. For Boston College, this is going to be a good opportunity to show right away where they measure up, particularly on the defensive end. In Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Lara Stalder, and Katerina Mrâzovâ, UMD has a few notables who can score, and it would be a big first showing for the Eagles to come out and shut their offense down.

No. 8 Bemidji State at Vermont: Vermont is hoping to climb more firmly back into the Hockey East picture after finishing in second-to-last place last season, and we’ll see how they do against a stingy Beavers squad. The biggest thing to watch for the Catamounts is their goaltending, and how well it matches up with Brittni Mowat’s play at the other end. For Bemidji State, who is hoping to stay in the national picture for the length of the season, this non-conference series is huge. It’s only the second day of October, but it could mean a lot in the PairWise rankings down the road. Either way, they’ll be looking to come out with two wins after knocking off UVM last season, 4-0.

Players to Watch

Kendall Coyne, Forward, Northeastern: Coyne had a big opening weekend last week against St. Lawrence, scoring four goals and five points, including a hat trick in the second game.

Kennedy Marchment, Foward, St. Lawrence: Likewise for Marchment, who after a four-goal weekend looks like she’s ready to become the Saints’ go-to player up front.

Kayla Black, Goaltender, Minnesota Duluth: Goaltending is going to be huge for the Bulldogs, both this weekend and this year, and going up against the Eagles’ dynamic offense is a huge test for Black.

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