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The Takeaway: At the midseason break

Notes on the NCAA field expanding, Lindenwood’s slew of injuries, quality Compher content, and more

Women’s Beanpot Championship Game: Boston University Vs Harvard University At Bright-Landry Hockey Center Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

We’re officially at the midway break in the NCAA Division I women’s hockey season, and in this week’s edition of The Takeaway, we’ve got notes on a new program, a nasty injury bug, and more.

Stonehill will add varsity women’s hockey in 2021-22: Grant Salzano reported for The Ice Garden a couple of weeks ago that Stonehill College will be adding a Division II women’s hockey team in the 2021-22 season. The Skyhawks will join the New England Women’s Hockey Alliance (NEWHA), giving the league seven teams.

It’s exciting news for college women’s hockey as a whole, as well as the NEWHA. 2021-22 is also the first season that the league will be eligible to receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Adding a seventh team should help fill in the schedule a bit more for every NEWHA team, which is ideal from an operations standpoint. You can read more from Grant here.

Lindenwood’s awful injury bug: The Lions have dealt with such overwhelming injuries to their goaltending corps in the last few weeks that they’ve had to: forfeit a game against St. Cloud State, postpone a series against Minnesota State, and play skaters in net in a series against Syracuse. Forward Cierra Paisley played the first game against the Orange and made 31 saves in the 7-0 loss. Forward Madilynn Hickey started the next game and made 32 saves.

The Lions are working with the Mavericks to move their series, which was supposed to take place last weekend, to Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. I can’t recall another time when a team had to actually forfeit a result due to injuries, and you really hate to see any team have to make those decisions—let alone for multiple weeks in a row. Here’s to a healthier Lions squad in the new year.

Ohio State takes down the last undefeated team: This news is a couple of weeks old now, but we no longer have any undefeated teams in Division I women’s hockey, courtesy of the Buckeyes. They beat Cornell on Nov. 29, winning 3-1 and outshooting the Big Red 26-23. OSU fared pretty well in the second game, too, putting up 49 shots, but just couldn’t get more than one past Cornell goaltender Lindsay Browning.

The Buckeyes also split with Princeton this past weekend in a two-game series in Las Vegas. The games were, sadly, not streamed, not even through a fishbowl lens, but we can imagine these were probably two very entertaining contests. It’s early in the year to talk PairWise, but both wins for Ohio State are likely going to be important down the stretch for their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes. They rank first in strength-of-schedule in both the RPI and KRACH, and they’re a top-four team in the country according to KRACH, a metric I lean toward heavily.

A big Battle of Comm. Ave sweep for BU and Jesse Compher: Compher and her fellow Terriers swept BC in a home-and-home series on Dec. 6-7. The Friday evening game was a blowout, with Compher posting a goal and an assist en route to a 6-0 win. It was a big win for the team and for herself, especially with her brother J.T. Compher and the Colorado Avalanche in town. It’s become abundantly clear over the last couple of years that the Avs will take every opportunity to shout Jesse out, and this game was no different. We were treated with some A+ Compher content courtesy of the Avalanche’s social media.

Their posts, though, weren’t riddled with the typical “Male Player’s Sister” narrative that we’re all too used to hearing. This wasn’t the Avs mentioning Jesse as a way to prop up J.T. The Avs did a great job (as they’ve done for a while now) of actually centering Jesse, her story and her achievements. That type of framing is imperative, because it invites fans to support her as an individual and celebrate her as a highly accomplished athlete—both of which are meaningful ventures, regardless of her relatives.

It’s very tempting to point out the connections between players on the women’s side and famous men’s athletes as a way of fostering interest and educating fans. Those relationships and connections are very often important to the players themselves, too. As most of us in women’s hockey know, these types of mentions tend to be common practice for the media, especially during game broadcasts. I think the Avalanche showed us a couple of weeks ago that illustrating those connections isn’t inherently a bad thing, as long as we construct the narratives so that women’s athletes are at the center of their own stories.

Media to mull over: Instead of just one single item here, there are a couple of random media things I think are worth mentioning. The first is this excellent oral history of the beginnings of Boston College’s women’s hockey team, from Boston College Magazine. BC honored the founding team at the Dec. 7 game against Boston University.

And Cornell’s women’s ice hockey team is launching a new podcast, “Over the Goal Line”, hosted by sophomore Finley Frechette. You can check out the teaser episode now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, and WVBR.com.

Top Performers

Lindsay Browning, Junior, Goaltender, Cornell: Browning made a whopping 48 saves in a 5-1 victory against Ohio State back on Nov. 30 to help the Big Red avoid the sweep. She leads the country with a .965 save percentage and a 0.79 goals-against average.

Aerin Frankel, Junior, Goaltender, Northeastern: A non-college hockey shoutout, but a worthy one nonetheless. Frankel stopped 27 shots in a 2-1 victory for Team USA over Canada in the second Rivalry Series game on Tuesday evening.

Tereza Vanišová, Senior, Forward, Maine: Vanišová has four goals, eight assists, and 12 points in her last six games.

Liz Schepers, Junior, Forward, Ohio State: Schepers has been a hugely impactful player all year for the Buckeyes. She’s currently riding a six-game scoring streak, during which she’s posted six goals, six assists, and 12 points.

Maggie Connors, Sophomore, Forward, Princeton: Connors posted five goals over a four-game stretch against Ohio State, Colgate, and Cornell.

Christa Stefanopoulos, Freshman, Forward, RIT: Stefanopoulos posted three goals, two assists, and five points in the Tigers’ two-game series against LIU.

Codie Cross, Senior, Defender, Northeastern: Cross had a one-goal, five-point game against Holy Cross as the Huskies closed out the first half of the season.

Don’t Miss It

Upcoming games to watch for:

Battle at the Burgh (Saturday, Jan. 4, and Sunday, Jan. 5): Northeastern will take on Colgate and Wisconsin will take on Robert Morris in Saturday’s games. Winners and losers will play each other Sunday.

Friendship Series (Saturday, Jan. 4, and Sunday, Jan. 5): Quinnipiac and Merrimack will meet in Belfast, Ireland, for a two-game stint.

Minnesota Cup (Saturday, Jan. 4, and Sunday, Jan. 5): This year’s rendition of the Minnesota Cup features St. Cloud State taking on Bemidji State and host Minnesota Duluth taking on Minnesota State. The winners of the semifinals will advance to Sunday’s championship game.