This week’s women’s ice hockey schedule was packed with a top-two matchup, a loaded ECAC slate and more.
Here’s what we learned, and what’s next, after a stacked weekend:
Little separates the top teams
Coming into this weekend, Ohio State looked completely unstoppable. Sure, Minnesota Duluth may have given them a scare the previous week, but it was no matter for the Buckeyes as they still came away with the sweep in their toughest test of the young season. While Minnesota looked just as strong, the Buckeyes seemed in good shape to still get results. But the Gophers marched into OSU Ice Rink and took four of six possible points, leapfrogging Ohio State to No. 1 in the polls after keeping them winless on the weekend.
Say hello to your new No. 1⃣ team in the nation!
— Minnesota Women’s Hockey (@GopherWHockey) October 31, 2022
Minnesota’s offense was able to go toe to toe with the No. 2 Buckeyes, who had had some struggles defensively and in goal. Even with the difficulty keeping the puck out of their net, OSU’s attack dragged them into the fight in both games.
TOP-TWO BATTLE: How Minnesota fought to a four-point weekend against OSU
Elsewhere in the WCHA, another pair of top-five teams split the weekend with back-to-back one-goal games with No. 5 Duluth taking Friday’s Game 1 in overtime, 2-1, before No. 3 Wisconsin came back with a 4-3 win Saturday. The Bulldogs stuck to their typical blueprint in the tight first game, keeping a potent Badgers attack in check, before Wisconsin opened it up in the middle of the rematch with three straight goals for the lead.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Quinnipiac stopped a rolling Colgate team dead in its tracks, shutting out the Raiders in a 3-0 win.
The ECAC feels like a total tossup at this point – more on that in a second – while the top of the WCHA could start to feel the same, as well as each of OSU, Minnesota and Wisconsin, have the firepower that few can keep up with. Even Duluth was able to pretty much hang with Ohio State two weeks ago, and proved they could do the same with Wisconsin this week.
The upcoming series between the Badgers and Gophers next week, as well as this weekend’s tilts between Minnesota and Duluth, should tell us a lot about each team.
The ECAC is a gauntlet
The conference slate in the ECAC was packed between three top-10 matchups heading into the weekend as Colgate took on Princeton and Quinnipiac, who also faced Cornell before the Big Red battled the Tigers. Yale also had a tough matchup against Harvard on Friday.
The Raiders took care of Princeton, 5-1, on Friday, taking a 10-0-0 start to Quinnipiac, but the Bobcats suffocated the Colgate attack on Saturday, taking a 1-0 lead in the first and riding it to two empty-netters to close out regulation with the win after beating Cornell on Friday. The Big Red bounced back with a 3-1 win at Princeton next time out.
That day after feeling when you shut out the No. 4 national ranked team 😤
What a great day to be a Bobcat 😎😸 pic.twitter.com/k13qW9QTgp
— QU Women’s Hockey (@QU_WIH) October 30, 2022
No. 8 Yale swept its season-opening weekend with the Crimson and Dartmouth, while Harvard then fell to Brown on Saturday.
RANKINGS: Check out the latest USCHO poll
It was surprising to see Princeton open the year with two straight losses and just one goal in each of the two games as they fell from tenth to No. 14 in the latest rankings. Harvard has also had a rough start to its year with just one win in four games.
On the flip side, Colgate still looks like one of the favorites in the ECAC, and there are very much cases to be made for the other usual suspects: Quinnipiac, Cornell, Clarkson and Yale.
There are more big matchups this weekend as No. 9 Cornell will face No. 10 Clarkson, Harvard will see No. 7 Colgate (who fell from fourth after their loss) and No. 4 Quinnipiac will deal with No. 8 Yale before the Bulldogs host Princeton.
Simply put, there are by no means any easy games in the ECAC this year.
Will there be a legitimate challenger to Northeastern’s Hockey East crown?
The Huskies have slid in the polls for two straight weeks, from third to sixth to now No. 7 after a split at Maine and a 1-0-1 weekend against then-No. 13 Providence (now twelfth).
Gotta make sure you always get your goalie!
— Northeastern Women’s Hockey (@GoNUwhockey) October 30, 2022
The Friars haven’t had a very strong schedule as this past weekend was their toughest test since a season-opening split with St. Lawrence (currently receiving votes).
FROZEN FOUR: Way-too-early women’s Frozen Four picks
No. 13 Vermont, coming off a great 2021-22 and picked to finish second in the preseason Hockey East coaches’ poll, is fresh off a 1-0-1 series with former No. 14 UConn, sweep at the hands of Colgate and a split with No. 15 Boston College in the last three weeks. Although they bounced back against the Catamounts, the Eagles are still 1-3-1 against ranked opponents this year.
Don’t let the polls fool you, the Huskies are still legit.
For now, Hockey East comfortably remains Northeastern’s to lose, and they should be fine going forward. Although, keep an eye on their three games left on the schedule with Vermont and BC as well as their rematch with Providence in November.