This Week in D-I Women’s Hockey: Jan. 17, 2008

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We apologize for the significant tardiness with which the column was posted. The delay was a combination of technical and human error.]

Sure, the price of gasoline is headed towards $4 per gallon, which in these parts will almost buy you a gallon of milk.

And sure, jumping on an airplane these days means subjecting yourself to every kind of indignity known to mankind (all in the name of “security” of course).

None of those things should deter anyone from heading out to the rink this weekend, to get a first-hand view of some D-I matchups that could be fun if not competitive, entertaining if not crucial. It indeed be two hours and a few dollars well spent.

Want some suggestions? Tank up the RV or stow your hair gel in a plastic baggie and head out to any of these matchups.

Friday, Jan. 18, 7 pm: Cheel Arena, Potsdam NY — Colgate @ Clarkson

Neither of these teams are nationally ranked … yet. But Clarkson does get a vote in the “bubbling under” category, and anyway, both teams (tied with 11 points each) are stepping all over each other trying to climb up the ECAC ladder.

Colgate has lost once in seven tries (4-1-2) since Dec. 1, but has racked up just two road wins this year. It’s too bad, though, that this tilt faces off at the same time Cornell @ No. 7 St. Lawrence do, just 11 miles down the road. The road teams flip venues the next day, but again, both tilts carry 4 p.m. start times. Come, on Mr. Schedulemaker! Cooperate!

Friday, Jan. 18, 7 pm: Houston Field House, Troy NY — Robert Morris @ RPI

This non-conference tilt, the first of a two-day stay by RMC, definitely does NOT have any national implications. But both squads are exceeding everyone’s expectations, including (if they are completely honest about it) their own.

The Engineers feature freshman forward Kendra Dunlop, who is fresh off her second ECAC Rookie of the Week performance (two goals and a helper).

Meanwhile, Robert Morris has 10 wins, one off the school record.

Friday, Jan. 18, 7:07 pm: Ralph Engelstad Arena, Grand Forks ND — No. 4 Minnesota @ North Dakota

Okay, the Fighting Sioux stand to get clobbered by their neighbors in this two-game weekend set, or so history would suggest. After all, they’ve gone 0-fer-ever (okay 0-for-16) against the Gophers.

But NoDak goalie Brittany Kirkham, the nation’s saves leader (726 and climbing), can make any game seem interesting.

And hey, when is any excuse not a good excuse to visit “the Ralph”, college hockey’s “Palace on the Prairie”.

Friday, Jan 18, 7:07 pm: OSU Ice Rink, Columbus OH — No. 5 Wisconsin @ Ohio State

Another two-game set. You’ll come for the two-time National champion Badgers, you’ll stay for the OSU scarlet and gray rally giveaway towels on Saturday.

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2 pm: Whittemore Center, Durham NH — Providence College @ No. 1 New Hampshire

The Wildcats will be two-days removed from their instate fight with No. 10 Dartmouth, and anyway, who can resist the allure of witnessing what is thus far, the best team in the country.

Waterbug winger Kelly Paton may be the most entertaining Wildcat since Carisa Zaban, the school’s career scoring leader who floated across the Olympic sized sheet a decade ago.

Then again, plucky Providence brings some grit to the table, which hasn’t escaped the attention of USCHO voters. And this is one of the oldest rivalries in all of women’s college pucks, one that dates back to 1977.

New Hampshire may not lose a Hockey East battle this year, but if they do, this could be the one.

And who knows, you might even spot your faithful USCHO correspondent lurking somewhere in the crowd.

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2 pm: City Sports Arena, Detroit MI — Quinnipiac @ Wayne State

For those who like gals with goals, you can see the top two lamplighters in the country, playing on the same line, no less.

We refer, of course, to Wayne State wingers Sam Poynton (21 goals) and Melissa Boal (22), who are cashing in set ups from center Lindsay DiPietro (the Nation’s top assist producer with 29) at an eye-popping pace.

Sunday, Jan. 20, 2 pm: Schneider Arena, Providence RI — Boston University @ Providence College


Sunday, Jan. 20, 8 pm: Kelley Rink at Conte Forum, Newton MA — Dartmouth @ Boston College

You like two-fers? (And who doesn’t.) Then, jump into the jet or jalopy and and shuttle yourself between these two campus venues, situated an hour or so apart.

It’s a perfect way to commence the countdown to Inauguration Day ’09.

Forget the Chargers and Pats (although do try to circumvent the Gillette Stadium maelstrom). This is where the real sporting action is.