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.

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.

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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Game Day Skate: WCHA action begins, Syracuse at Northeastern, Clarkson at Vermont

AES 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

Game Day Highlights

Minnesota Duluth at No. 8 Bemidji State: One of the biggest questions coming into the season was whether or not the Beavers would be able to surpass the Bulldogs in the WCHA standings. We’ll get some semblance of an answer to that this weekend, when the clubs square off in their first WCHA competition of the year. Minnesota Duluth had a tough time against Boston College last weekend, but they’ll face a different challenge this weekend in Bemidji, whose defense and goaltending will carry them. The Beavers are coming off of a pretty strong sweep of Vermont, but they’ll have a few more players to look out for in UMD’s lineup this weekend.

Syracuse at Northeastern: Syracuse is coming off of a midweek loss to Clarkson that saw them fairly overmatched at every position, but the Huskies do not house the same depth in their line-up. The Orange will, of course, have a lot to handle with Kendall Coyne driving the Northeastern offense, but the Huskies’ goaltending is still unproven. Two weeks ago they found themselves in the midst of a shootout with St. Lawrence, and though they had control of it almost the entire way thanks to their offense, Syracuse could make it interesting if top players like Stephanie Grossi and Melissa Piacentini can pot some goals for them.

Clarkson at Vermont: There haven’t really been any surprises to the Golden Knights’ start to the season; they put away St. Lawrence in a home-and-home series last week and then Syracuse earlier this week. They should be able to keep things rolling against the Catamounts here, but UVM will be looking to make a statement in nonconference action after getting swept by Bemidji State last weekend. If Vermont is really hoping to steal a game, they’re going to need someone other than Bridget Baker to chip in up front, and Madison Litchfield will have to do her best to handle a busy night in net.

Players to Watch

Hanna Moher, Forward, Bemidji State: Moher had a goal and two assists in last weekend’s series against Vermont, and continued production from her would help bolster the Beavers’ offense.

Sam LaShomb, Defense, North Dakota: The D came up big last week in UND’s series against RPI, scoring and assisting in the first game and adding another tally in game two.

Stephanie Grossi, Forward, Syracuse: Grossi is often capable of providing the Orange with an offensive spark when needed, and she could make a big impact against the Huskies as Syracuse bids for an upset.

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.

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Game Day Skate: Hockey East Semifinals

#1 Boston College (32-1-2) vs. #5 Connecticut (11-17-8), 1:30 p.m. EST

The Eagles took care of things last week in the quarterfinals, sweeping the Friars handily with a 6-2 win and an 8-0 win. Meghan Grieves and Andie Anastos each notched two goals in the first victory, while Dana Trivigno tallied twice in the second game.

UConn picked up a big sweep over Maine on the road last weekend to advance to the semifinals. The Huskies defeated the Black Bears, 3-2, on Friday, behind a goal and an assist each from Sarah MacDonnell and Kayla Campero. They then completed the sweep with a 1-0 overtime win, with Rebecca Fleming scoring the winner and Elaine Chuli making 45 saves in net.

If UConn is going to pick up another upset win, goaltending is going to have to be a factor once again. Chuli was in net for both games, so it looks like the Huskies will stick with her, but rookie Annie Belanger has also put up really good numbers this season. Either way, UConn will have to rely on its goalie to make the first save and then try and pick up any second-chance opportunities before the Eagles get there. BC is going to rely on its offense, and it will look to score early and often to put this one away as quickly as possible. If scoring becomes a problem, they need to stay committed defensively and be especially wary in transition.

Key Players for Boston College: F Alex Carpenter, F Kenzie Kent, D Lexi Bender

Key Players for Connecticut: F Emily Snodgrass, D Leah Lum, G Elaine Chuli

#2 Boston University (23-8-3) vs. #3 Northeastern (14-16-5), 4:30 p.m. EST

The Terriers swept Vermont last week to advance, earning an 8-1 win on Friday and a 7-2 victory on Saturday. Kayla Tutino led them with a four-goal effort in the first win, and her and Victoria Bach each posted six-point weekends.

Northeastern had to climb out of a 1-0 hole after falling to New Hampshire in the first game of their quarterfinal series, 2-1. The Huskies defeated the Wildcats, 3-2, to force a game three, with Denisa Krisova scoring the game-winner with 1:25 left in regulation. They then knocked off UNH, 4-3, to close out the series behind Kendall Coyne’s hat trick.

Coyne will certainly be a key player for the Huskies as they try and earn the upset over BU. So far this season, she’s got 28 goals and 51 points in 30 games played and is far and away Northeastern’s most dangerous option up front. The Huskies are giving up an average of more than 32 shots on goal per game, so Chloe Desjardins will have to be strong in net and they’ll need to make sure that they finish off their own chances. Northeastern’s lone loss against the Terriers this year came in a 6-3 win; the Huskies likely won’t be able to hold them completely off the board, so they need to find the back of the net consistently themselves.

Key Players for Boston University: F Marie-Philip Poulin, F Samantha Sutherland, D Shannon Doyle

Key Players for Northeastern: F Kendall Coyne, D Heather Mottau, G Chloe Desjardins, F Hayley Scamurra

Game Day Skate: ECAC Semifinals

#1 Clarkson (24-9-3) vs. #4 Cornell (18-10-3), 1 p.m. EST

The Golden Knights swept Dartmouth handily last week in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. They picked up a 6-0 win on Friday, with Cayley Mercer scoring twice and totaling three points on the night. Olivia Howe’s two-assist effort led Clarkson to a 4-1 victory on Saturday as they closed out the series and advanced.

Cornell had a tough match-up against St. Lawrence in last week’s quarterfinals, but still came out on top. Jess Brown snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period to lead the Big Red to a 3-1 win in the first game. In the second game, Cornell trailed 2-0 after 40 minutes of play, but scored three goals in the final 20 to complete the sweep and advance.

Clarkson is still looking for a win against the Big Red this year, but did a much better job of managing their offense in a 1-1 tie after an 8-3 loss earlier in the season. The Golden Knights did not have player of the same caliber as Brianne Jenner or Jillian Saulnier, but their defense is tougher and more tested. Goaltending is also in edge, even with a rookie in net; Shea Tiley ranks among the nation’s leaders with a .944 save percentage and 1.28 goals-against average. Clarkson needs to control play from the defense out and not let the Big Red get the better of attempts at quality chances. Cornell needs to be prepared to match that defense and not give up anything itself.

Key Players for Clarkson: F Olivia Howe, F Christine Lambert, D Savannah Harmon, G Shea Tiley

Key Players for Cornell: F Brianne Jenner, F Jillian Saulnier, D Cassandra Poudrier, F Erin O’Connor

#2 Harvard (23-5-3) vs. #3 Quinnipiac (26-7-3), 4 p.m. EST

The Crimson moved on to the semifinals with a sweep over Yale, defeating the Bulldogs 2-1 and 3-0 last weekend. Miye D’Oench and Sydney Daniels scored in the first game to erase Yale’s lead and give Harvard the edge. On Saturday, Daniels scored the game-winner again and Emerance Maschmeyer posted a 24-save shutout to finish off the Bulldogs.

Quinnipiac’s offense finally got going again against Princeton last week, as the Bobcats defeated the Tigers, 7-0, in the opening game of their quarterfinal series. Taylar Cianfarano scored twice, and Nicole Connery and Emma Woods each notched a goal and an assist. Quinnipiac clinched the series win with a 2-0 win on Saturday.

Harvard has edged the Bobcats in both games against them this season, winning 2-1 on both occasions. While Quinnipiac has its way with possession when playing weaker teams, it’s usually more content to sit back against opponents with more offensive talent, so there ends up being a lot of back-and-forth action. The Crimson have had plenty of success taking advantage of opportunities in those kinds of games, and they’ve also got the goaltending to keep them in a low-scoring game.

Key Players for Harvard: F Miye D’Oench, G Emerance Maschmeyer, F Kalley Armstrong

Key Players for Quinnipiac: F Taylar Cianfarano, F Nicole Connery, D Cydney Roesler, G Chelsea Laden