What to Watch: Classics and Cups

Holiday weekends often mean special tournaments and showcases in college hockey, and because most women’s teams are on an extended break around Christmas, Thanksgiving is typically the busiest weekend for special events. This year, we have three classics and cups, as well as some other key nonconference clashes.

Nutmeg Classic
Yale hosts the 12th edition of the Nutmeg Classic, a true tournament setup whose field includes the three Connecticut teams plus an invited guest, which this year is Merrimack.

The event kicks off Friday at 4 p.m. EST as the Warriors face the Bulldogs, with the second semifinal matching No. 5 Quinnipiac and Yale scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. EST. The losers of the semifinals meet on Saturday at 4 p.m. EST, with the winners squaring off in the championship game at 7 p.m EST. Last year’s Nutmeg Classic title was won by the Bobcats, as they defeated Clarkson in the championship game.

Mayor’s Cup
Providence hosts Brown as the crosstown rivals contest the 21st annual Mayor’s Cup. Early this month, it looked like the game might be matching two winless teams, but both have rebounded to put up a crooked number in the win column. The host Bears bested the Friars, 2-1, a year ago. This year’s Cup gets under way on Saturday at 1 p.m. EST at Schneider Arena.

Windjammer Classic
Vermont and Gutterson Fieldhouse host the inaugural Windjammer Classic. While this event intends to bring in one team from every conference in future years, this year’s field doesn’t include an entrant from the CHA. Thus, the second-round pairings are predetermined to prevent a fourth regular-season meeting between Hockey East teams Vermont and Boston University.

The Terriers will compete in the early game both days, playing Cornell at 1:00 p.m. EST on Saturday and Ohio State at the same time on Sunday. Later, Vermont will face Ohio State at 4:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, and the Catamounts clash with the Big Red in that time slot on Sunday.

No. 8 Harvard at Minnesota-Duluth, Friday, 4:07 p.m. CST, and Saturday, 1:07 p.m. CST
This is one of two series where an ECAC team travels to take on a WCHA foe, although the action might have been more compelling had the ECAC squads traded destinations.

Not that this series lacks for intrigue. The entire Minnesota-Duluth coaching staff was aligned with Harvard last season. UMD head coach Maura Crowell and Laura Bellamy were Katey Stone’s assistants behind the Harvard bench, and Samantha Reber was one of the Crimson’s captains.

The two programs have played 14 times previously, but not since 2006, and it’s been a full 10 years since they met in Duluth. The Bulldogs hold a 9-4-1 advantage in the encounters, but the Crimson swept the most recent series.

Dartmouth at No. 1 Wisconsin, Friday, 7:07 p.m. CST, and Saturday, 3:07 p.m. CST
The Big Green and the Badgers haven’t played as often — Dartmouth won three of the previous five games — but they did meet slightly more recently, with Wisconsin coming out on top in the 2009 NCAA tournament. The Big Green were shut out in that contest, and that has been the fate of the majority of Wisconsin’s opponents this year. However, Dartmouth has the highest scoring average of any team that the Badgers have played to date.

North Dakota at Syracuse, Friday, 7 p.m. EST, and Saturday, 3 p.m. EST
Two teams that came up just short of the NCAA tournament face off in Syracuse. The Orange fell in overtime of the CHA championship game, but earlier, they visited Grand Forks in January and gained a split versus North Dakota. That was one of the costly losses that helped deny UND an at-large invitation. That January series was the first between the two programs.

Maine at Robert Morris, Friday, 7:05 p.m. EST, and Saturday, 3:05 p.m. EST
The only team in the CHA with a winning record out of conference tries to keep it that way when it entertains the Black Bears this weekend. The Colonials salvaged a split when the teams met last season in Orono, taking a 1-0 victory after dropping the opener in overtime. Maine has lost five of its previous six games this month.

No. 2 Boston College at No. 4 Northeastern, Saturday, 2 p.m. EST
Don’t be like me and forget all about this battle of ranked teams! Although for a battle of teams that sit this close in the rankings, I’m not sure that the outcome is really in doubt. The Huskies’ close game with BC last weekend would suggest that it is, but their less dramatic loss to Harvard says that it isn’t. The Eagles last lost to Northeastern when the senior classes were freshmen, so the Huskies will need to hope home ice tips the scale.