Bemidji State at (1) Wisconsin
Bemidji swept Minnesota Duluth last week, but has losses to Lindenwood and Providence. They should carry quite a bit of confidence and momentum into the weekend, but this is a team that I’m never sure what exactly to expect from. Playing in Madison is never easy and the Badgers feature the top three scorers in the country on their top line. Goaltending is the Beavers’ biggest question mark and this is not a team you can afford to be soft against in net. Bemidji has used three different goalies this season, while Wisconsin’s Kristin Campbell is allowing .83 goals per game and has three shutouts already. This should be a sweep for Wisconsin, but Bemidji won’t be easily beat.
(2) Minnesota at (9) Ohio State
The Gophers took last season’s series against the Buckeyes 3-1, with the lone loss coming at home. Minnesota is undefeated so far this season, while Ohio State is on a four-game winless streak. They were swept by the Badgers and had two ties against Minnesota State last weekend where the Mavericks took the extra conference point in each game. The Buckeyes will be looking to get back on track, but it won’t be an easy task. Minnesota is not only allowing just 1.12 goals per game, but they have the top scoring defense in the nation. I expect a split, but both teams have the ability to sweep.
(3) Northeastern at Providence
The Huskies are undefeated while Providence has started the season 2-2-2. The Friars have played a number of close games, but seem to still be searching for that extra bit that will allow them to convert those close contests into wins. Senior goalie Clare Minnerath was extremely limited in ice time prior to becoming the start this season and has been handling the transition pretty well, but she’ll be tested this weekend. Northeastern should win this one.
Lindenwood at (4) Clarkson
Clarkson has had just one home game thus far, so they’ll take advantage of home ice and great fans. The two teams have never played each other, though Clarkson senior transfer has experience playing the Lions from her time at St. Cloud State. The Golden Knights are led by Elizabeth Giguere (4g, 7a) and Gabrielle David (3g, 7a). Both teams are splitting time in net, so watching how the coaches choose handle the matchups will be interesting. I expect Clarkson to sweep.
(8) Robert Morris at (5) Cornell
This should be the premiere series of the weekend. Cornell gets a tougher draw for their opening weekend than they probably anticipated when they scheduled these games. The Ivies have the challenge of having to play teams nearing mid-season form the very first time they take the ice for the season. I’m expecting these two to split, but wouldn’t be surprised if Robert Morris is able to earn a win and tie.
Syracuse at (6) Princeton
This is the first look we’ll get at this year’s Tigers, who are returning all five of their all-ECAC players from last season. Princeton is solid in every part of the game, with scoring threats, a solid blue line and experience in net. They’re going to be a team to reckon with this season. Syracuse has a lot of potential and is exciting to watch. The two teams split a series last year in Syracuse, but Princeton should sweep this one.
Quinnipiac at (6) Princeton
Princeton jumps right into the season with a third game this week on Tuesday. Quinnipiac will be coming off a weekend against Sacred Heart that they should sweep. The Bobcats build their game on defense and they’ll need to find a way to keep Sarah Fillier and Maggie Connors in check to keep the game close. But I think Princeton has too many weapons for Quinnipiac to overcome. The Tigers win this one.
Holy Cross at (6) Boston College
The Eagles already have a 6-0 win over Holy Cross on their resume this season and it’s unlikely this game will go differently for the Crusaders. BC is averaging more than four goals scored per game and is allowing just one goal in each contest. They’ve got too much firepower for Holy Cross and will win this one.
Maine at (6) Boston College
The Black Bears have a number of offensive weapons and are one of the most interesting teams to watch, in my opinion, as they mix a number of playing styles together. They will have their hands full with the Eagles, who won both the teams’ meetings last season. Not much has been able to slow down Boston College’s scoring. BC is likely to win, but I think if there’s a team that might be able to give them a surprising run for their money, it’s Maine.
Penn State at (10) Boston University
This should be a fun series to watch, with two very evenly matched teams. The two have played six games against each other all time and the overall record is 2-2-2. BU responded to a loss to UNH with two straight wins, while Penn State is 3-0-1 over the past four games since dropping a pair to Wisconsin. Chantal Burke has been solid for the Nittany Lions, taking over in net for the injured Jenna Brenneman. I think we’ll see a split here, but each team as the ability to sweep.