If you sit down to enjoy some women’s college hockey this weekend and notice a few of your favorite players absent, don’t be surprised.
Several of New England’s finest women’s college hockey players are in Vantaa and Kerava, Finland, representing their home nations in the 2012 Four Nations Cup, which runs until Saturday. The eight game tournament features the sport’s four traditional powerhouses – the United States, Canada, Finland and Sweden.
The U.S. roster is led by Harvard head coach Katey Stone (Arlington, Mass.), who has taken a two-week break from her duties for the Crimson for the Four Nations Cup. Stone brings two of her current Crimson players with her on the Four Nations roster: defenseman Michelle Picard (Taunton, Mass.) and forward Lyndsey Fry, who currently is second in both goals (4) and total points (8) among Harvard skaters. Conveniently for the Crimson, they don’t play again until November 18th, when they travel across the Charles River to face Boston University.
Northeastern University is not as lucky. They will face two Hockey East games, a home series against the University of Vermont, without the services of leading scorer Kendall Coyne (12-9-21.) Huskies freshman Paige Savage has joined Coyne on the U.S. roster. Two of the youngest players on the US roster, Coyne and Savage did not see much playing time in their their 4-0 win Tuesday against Sweden – Savage saw 2:32 minutes of ice, while Coyne had 2:31.
When Stone’s US squad lines up for their Wednesday afternoon tilt against Canada, Coyne and Savage will face a familiar Hockey East face in Boston University’s Marie-Philip Poulin. The junior forward, a mainstay of several Canadian international teams, had an assist in Canada’s 6-0 opening day win against Finland. The Terriers will play an important rivalry game against the University of New Hampshire without Poulin’s services on Friday night.
Quinnipiac’s Erica Uden-Johansson gives the Swedish squad their own ECAC flavor. The junior forward has been centering the second line for the Bobcats as of late, and is fourth on the team in total points. Uden-Johnsson is a prime part of Sweden’s offense, playing over 22 minutes in their first round game against the U.S. Quinnipiac will play ECAC games against Union and RPI this weekend with Uden-Johansson.
Several alumni from Boston College, Boston University, Providence College and Harvard will also see significant playing time in the Four Nations Cup. Former Eagles Molly Schaus (Natick, Mass.) and Kelli Stack will be huge factors on the US roster. Schaus will look to cement her place as the go-to goaltender for the Americans with the 2014 Olympics just over a year away.
Harvard alums Julie Chu (Fairfield, Conn.) and Josephine Pucci are a part of their former coach Stone’s roster. Chu is taking a break from assistant coaching Union’s team to play in her eleventh Four Nations Cup. Former Providence College forward Katie Thatcher is also playing for the U.S.
The Canadian team has three former Terriers and a former Friar on the defensive end of the roster. BU alumna Tara Watchorn and Catherine Ward shore up the Canadian defense while Providence’s former goaltender Genevieve Lacasse continues her stellar career on her national team.
Play continues through Saturday, ending with a championship game and third place game.
Player of the Week
Nicole Kosta, Quinnipiac
Often overlooked due to sharing the ice with the scoring machine that is Kelly Babstock, Nicole Kosta is overdue for Player of the Week nods. She sits in third for ECAC points per game with a 5-4-9 line, and is second in the league for goals.
She’s tied with Harvard’s Fry for seventh in the nation in points per game at 2.00, with a bulk of that coming from her 14 overall assists. Kosta had two goals and an assist against Cornell in Quinnipiac’s 4-3 loss last Saturday, which is not too shabby against one of the game’s best defenses.
Game of the Week
New Hampshire vs. Providence College Sunday afternoon
Providence College is undefeated in league play thus far this season, and scored nine goals total in their series last weekend against Maine. They sit on top of the Hockey East standings after beating the Black Bears, but this week starts the meat of their schedule.
New Hampshire still seems hard to gage. They sit fifth in Hockey East and desperately needs some wins out of their three straight league games that they kick off Friday night. Who will prevail – a Wildcats team that knows they need a win, or a Providence team looking to keep the top spot on the Hockey East standings?
1. Boston University (7-2-1 overall, 3-1-1 Hockey East) - Losing just their second game of the season last Wednesday against Boston College, Boston University showed tenacity in coming back to tie the Eagles with a five goal performance last Saturday. The Terriers defense needs work in order to support a the balanced scoring they showed Saturday.
2. Harvard (4-0-0 overall, 4-0-0 ECAC) - Harvard finishes their first two weekends of ECAC play undefeated, which gives them wins over four league teams. If senior winger Jillian Dempsey (Winthrop, Mass.) continues her 2.5 points a game average, Harvard will be able to challenge Cornell down the stretch. The Crimson also are in the midst of a helpful two week break before they begin play again.
3. Boston College (3-3-1 overall, 2-2-1 Hockey East) - Boston College finally found their scoring touch last week in their home and home against Boston University. After being held without a goal in the Eagles’ first three regular season contests for the season, Alex Carpenter (Reading, Mass.) has at least a goal in her last four games.
4. Northeastern (7-1-1 overall, 3-1-0 Hockey East) - Northeastern scored nine goals against UConn last weekend thanks to four from senior Casey Pickett (Wilmington, Mass.) Last weekend showed promise that their scoring can be a bit spread out, and that they will not be reliant on Kendall Coyne going in the hardest part of their schedule. Northeastern’s abilities will best be gauged next weekend in a home-and-home series against Boston College.
5. Providence College (6-3-1 overall, 4-0-0 Hockey East) - Providence College leads Hockey East right now, but has not yet faced any of the league’s top teams. That changes this week, with a Wednesday night game at Boston College. The Friars endurance will be tested, as they follow up the game with the Eagles with contests against UConn and New Hampshire Saturday and Sunday.