The women’s hockey season is heading into the final month of regular season play, so it’s time to take a first look at the postseason picture. Most teams have seven or eight games left on their schedule and there are four weeks before the conference tournaments begin. Few postseason spots are assured and there are plenty of moves that can happen in the next few weeks.
As it currently stands, Mercyhurst and Robert Morris are tied atop the CHA. Cornell has a five point lead on Harvard with a game in hand in the ECAC. Northeastern is leading Hockey East and Wisconsin has the top spot in the WCHA.
The CHA tournament is the only one that takes place over a single weekend, so these teams have one more weekend of regular season games than everyone else in the country.
The race for the CHA regular season title is the closest one in the country. Mercyhurst and Robert Morris each have 18 points and are tied atop the league, but Syracuse is just three points behind.
The first conference tie-breaker is head-to-head. The three top teams all play each other over the final weeks of the season, as well. RMU and Mercyhurst face off first, then Mercyhurst will host Syracuse before Robert Morris travels to play the Orange in the final week of the regular season. Each of the squads has split their series with the other thus far this season, so there is plenty left to be decided. The top two teams get a bye in the first round of the tournament, so earning those seeds really makes a difference.
While Syracuse is looking to move ahead in the standings, they also have to hold off Penn State, who are just two points behind them. It looks like the Nittany Lions will end up with the third or fourth seed and will play either Lindenwood or RIT. The same fate awaits whichever of those two three teams ends up third.
Cornell has the top spot in the conference, a game in hand over Harvard and a fairly easy path to the end of the regular season. The Big Red’s next three games are against Clarkson, St. Lawrence and Harvard, but they finish out the season with games against Dartmouth, Brown, Yale, Union and RPI.
Behind the Big Red, things are close. Harvard and Princeton each have 21 points, five points behind Cornell, and Clarkson and Yale each have 20 points. One of those four teams will not get home-ice advantage in the conference tournament.
Should it come down to it, Harvard owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Princeton and Yale. They lost to Clarkson and have another game against the Golden Knights yet to be played.
Princeton hasn’t played Yale yet this season and has a win over Clarkson in their one meeting so far this season. Yale has a win over Clarkson with a game yet to be played.
There are also four teams fighting for the final three spots in the conference tournament. Colgate, St. Lawrence, Union and Quinnipiac are all within three points of each other and at the moment, Quinnipiac would be the first team out. There’s an outside chance Dartmouth could make a play for the final spot, but they sit five points behind the Bobcats with eight games to play.
Colgate split their series with Quinnipiac, tied St. Lawrence once and beat Union once. St. Lawrence owns the tie-breaker with Union, but lost their one game this far against Quinnipiac. Union has won their one game against Quinnipiac.
In Hockey East, Northeastern has clinched home ice for the playoffs, but they’re the only ones.
Boston University, Boston College, Connecticut, Providence and New Hampshire have all clinched playoff spots, which leaves just two available positions for the other four teams.
Maine and Vermont are currently in control of their own destiny. Each team has 16 points and is in position to make the postseason. Holy Cross has seven points and Merrimack has six points, so it will be a seriously uphill battle for either of those squads to move up with seven games left in their season.
With a win on Friday, Northeastern will clinch the Hockey East regular season title. If they tie, they will still clinch at least a share of the title and they would get the number one seed as they own the tiebreaker with Boston University.
Connecticut has split their season series with Providence thus far, with one game left to play. New Hampshire owns the season series against UConn while Providence took the season series from the Wildcats.
Sacred Heart has a five point lead on St. Anselm and a game in hand and a six point lead over Franklin Pierce, though the Ravens have a game in hand on them. The Big Red play two against each of these two teams to close out their season, so there’s a lot of points and position on the line in those games.
The top two teams in the conference will get a first-round bye, so even if Sacred Heart has the top spot locked up, it’ll be a fight to the finish for Franklin Pierce and St. Anselm. It looks like the bottom half of the conference is pretty solidly set. LIU will finish fourth, followed by St. Michael’s and Post.
Wisconsin has a two point lead on Minnesota with two games in hand. The Badgers close out their season with a pair of games each against St. Cloud State, Minnesota State, Ohio State and Minnesota Duluth. The Gophers will have a bye week the second-to-last weeknd of the regular season, which will give them some rest before the postseason push.
If the teams are tied in points at the end of the season, they’ll be co-champions, but Wisconsin would win the top seed (and first-round bye) as they own the head-to-head over Minnesota.
It’s likely that Ohio State will end up in third – they’re seven points behind the Gophers and five points ahead of Minnesota Duluth. The Buckeyes and Bulldogs will face off in Duluth in two weeks, which should be the deciding series in terms of which team ends up third.
The teams also have to worry about Bemidji State, who are just a single point behind the Bulldogs. However, they both have two games in hand over the Beavers. The difference between finishing fourth and fifth is home ice advantage in the tournament. Bemidji also has the toughest path to the end of the season, with games at Ohio State and at home against Minnesota.
Minnesota State will end up sixth and St. Cloud State will finish seventh.