The week after New Year’s seems to be a light one for a lot of people, but it’s not when it comes to key national games in women’s college hockey.
Two games dot this week’s intersession schedule that could be previews of national semifinal or championship games on both the Division I and III levels: Thursday evening’s Boston College versus Clarkson tilt, and Plattsburgh’s Sunday afternoon hosting of Norwich.
In a snowy and cold Postdam, N.Y., the surging Eagles (15-3) will test their mettle against what some believe to be the best team on the East Coast in Clarkson. The Golden Knights are led by sure-to-be Patty Kazmaier finalist Jamie Lee Rattay. The junior forward sits eighth in the nation in goals per game with 0.83. She has proven her usefulness in clutch situations, having scored five game winning goals so far this season, leading the nation in the category.
Another key part of Clarkson’s success has been the play of junior goaltender Erica Howe, who sits in the top ten of almost all of the statistical categories for goaltenders this season. In Howe, Clarkson has a steady netminder who has been able to make huge stops against experienced offenses like North Dakota’s and Cornell’s. She’s made over 30 saves in a game five times this season, including two 36-save games. One of those 36-save games was against Quinnipiac, a team who, like Boston College, has two extremely strong forward lines with well distributed goal scoring.
What will help Boston College counter a strong Golden Knights squad could be the high level of practice the Eagles’ leaders have been at over the holidays. The Eagles sent four members of their current squad to U.S. National Team Winter Camp last week - Emily Field (Littleton, Mass.), Alex Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.), Emily Pfalzer, and Haley Skarupa. The four spent the break playing among the nation’s best, which should leave them well-tuned for the strong team Clarkson has to offer.
The Eagles will especially need to bring that national team level game Thursday night – Clarkson has not lost the first game of a back-to-back game weekend at all this season.
If Boston College does fall to Clarkson this Thursday, that could spell success for their Hockey East neighbor, Northeastern. All three of Clarkson’s losses this season have come in the second game of a back-to-back.
Just over an hour and a half away (if all the roads are well plowed, of course), Norwich will travel to Plattsburgh for a Sunday afternoon game. The two teams are securely in the national top ten on the Division III level, but Plattsburgh is having the more successful season thus far. Plattsburgh is undefeated through 11 games. Their only non-win was a 2-2 tie against Norwich in both teams’ second regular season game of the season. The Cardinals have two players in the nation’s top ten of scoring: Jenny Kistner (1.8) and Teal Gove (1.45). In October’s meeting between the two teams, Kistner (a former Maine Black Bear) and Gove connected on a key third period goal that got Plattsburgh on the scoreboard.
Norwich isn’t that far behind with a 6-1-3 record. Transfer Tori Charron has been on a tear this season. She’s only been left off the scoresheet twice, and is right up there in the national scoring leaders with Kistner and Gove. When the two teams met in late October, Charron had two assists.
Game of the Week
Player of the Week
Lindsay Holdcroft, goalie, Dartmouth College
In Dartmouth’s 4-2 win in a non-conference matchup against Providence, junior goaltender Holdcroft made 32 saves despite being peppered from a wide variety of Friars’ forwards. The win moved Dartmouth to a mark of 7-4-2 on the season, which puts them among the ECAC’s elite. Holdcroft’s individual record improved to 6-3-2.
Division III Note of the Week
Bowdoin sits at 5-1-1 on the season thanks to two long weekend wins out West. The Polar Bears earned a solid 3-2 win against Wisconsin’s St. Norbert on Sunday. Sophomore Schuyler Nardelli and senior captain Kayte Holtz combined for helpers on two of Bowdoin’s goals. The helpers were Nardelli’s first of the season, and she now leads Bowdoin’s scoring with five goals and two assists. In a 4-3 overtime win over Concordia on Monday, Holtz scored the game winner with just ten seconds left in the extra frame.
1) Harvard (9-1-1 overall, 7-0 ECAC) - The Crimson head out to Union and RPI this weekend in ECAC play. Their 2-2 tie of New Hampshire in early December will be huge motivation for Harvard, and expect them to take out some pent up scoring aggression on their conference mates.
2) Boston College (11-3-2 overall, 8-2-1 Hockey East) - This Thursday’s matchup against Clarkson looks to be one of the best games of the season. The Eagles defense should have one of their biggest challenges yet, but Blake Bolden and company have proven their mettle several times already this season.
3) Boston University (11-3-3 overall, 6-2-1 Hockey East) - The Terriers won’t skate back into action until next Tuesday, when they face a UConn team who hasn’t won a game since October 26th.
4) Northeastern (10-5-2 overall, 5-4-1 Hockey East) - The Huskies are taking an intersession week to train in Lake Placid before they face St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend. They haven’t played since December 5th, when they edged Dartmouth, 3-2.
5) Dartmouth (7-4-2 overall, 3-3-1 ECAC) - The Big Green have to make an appearance on the Power Rankings after being on the fringe this week, since they were one of the few teams who actually played over the break. Dartmouth has won three straight games, including a strong 4-2 win on New Year’s Eve against Providence. Dartmouth joins Ivy foe Harvard in back-to-back games against RPI and Union this weekend. Fans will get the best sense of what this team can do next Friday, when they face Quinnipiac for the first time since October.