In this week’s edition of The Takeaway, we’ve got notes on who’s making a run as the season winds down, who still has something to prove, and top performers and games to watch as the postseason looms ever closer.
5 Things to Know
New No. 1 in town: There’s been some serious contention in the polls this week following Wisconsin’s upset loss to Minnesota State. It’s worth noting that the Badgers were without starting goaltender Kristen Campbell; still, they managed just one goal against the Mavericks in Saturday’s performance, opening the door for Cornell to take over the No. 1 spot in the USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.
At this juncture, it’s difficult to argue against that for the Big Red. The differences between the top tier of teams is marginal to me, and while I personally lean towards Wisconsin’s and Northeastern’s forward cores, what is really striking about Cornell is their defense. Their blue line is an elite group that features Micah Zandee-Hart, Jaime Bourbonnais, Willow Slobodzian, and Kendra Nealey. Kristin O’Neill is very good at generating offense and around her is a balanced attack. But nobody has been better at snuffing out offense and not giving up goals than the Big Red this season.
Northeastern takes home the beans: Northeastern won the 2020 Beanpot title on Tuesday night in thrilling fashion, when Lauren MacInnis scored in sudden-death overtime to give the Huskies a 4-3 win over BU. After a back-and-forth game, freshman Jess Schryver put Northeastern on top, 3-2, off a power-play goal with about five minutes left to go in regulation.
But the Terriers, looking to defend last year’s championship on home ice, would not go away there. Sammy Davis, who scored the overtime winner in last year’s title game, tied it up for BU with about 22 seconds left in the game. The teams then played a five-minute overtime to make it an official NCAA game before breaking for a full 20-minute period. 16 minutes in, MacInnis notched the winner and the storied pot of beans for her team.
Hockey teams aren’t always rewarded for fantastic social media content but that appears to be what happened this time out. BU has been on their game with hilarious Boston sports references, but Northeastern’s Huskies on the Street video was an all-timer.
Minnesota Duluth making a run: The Bulldogs have totally turned the tables on two fellow WCHA opponents within the last couple of weeks. Two weekends ago, they visited the Gophers and suffered a 5-0 blowout loss at the hands of their rivals. Since then, they’ve rattled off three straight wins against two top-six teams in the country, first to close out the series against Minnesota, then to sweep Ohio State last weekend.
Gabbie Hughes, who’s been the player all year for UMD, has unsurprisingly been lights out in all three wins. She scored the game-winner against the Gophers, assisted on the game-winner against the Buckeyes in game one, and then scored two goals and two assists in a 4-1 win to close out the series.
It’s been a historic stretch for the program, and the Bulldogs have made it clear they can play with anyone as we near the postseason.
In the Beanpot consolation game, BC picked up a much-needed win against Harvard, 3-1.
Logjam at the top of the CHA: There’s a lot still to be decided in the top half of the College Hockey America standings, with Mercyhurst and Robert Morris set to face off this weekend in Erie. Just three points separate the Colonials (21), Lakers (20), and third-place Syracuse (18). And after this weekend’s series, the Orange will close out the series with back-to-back series against Mercyhurst and RMU.
The Lakers and Colonials split their first series and they’ve been pretty evenly matched all season long. Both teams have legit talent at the top of their lineup, namely Jaycee Gebhard for RMU and Emma Nuutinen for Mercyhurst. The difference this weekend may come in net, where freshman Raygan Kirk is having a standout year for Robert Morris, giving the Colonials a possible edge.
The Orange, as the defending CHA Tournament champions, are not to be forgotten about, either. Sophomore Abby Moloughney is following up a strong freshman season with 24 points so far this year to lead the team in scoring. Syracuse is also getting sizable contributions from its rookie class this year; this article from The Daily Orange has some good details on that.
Quinnipiac’s steady rise: The Bobcats have quietly put together a very efficient season. They rank ninth in the nation in goals per game margin, scoring 2.80 goals per game and giving up 1.70. That is largely due to the play of Abbie Ives in net, who has a 1.76 goals against average and .931 save percentage. The emergence of sophomore Lexie Adzija up front (11 goals, 16 assists, and 27 points in 29 games played) is also making a difference.
Since the new year, Quinnipiac is 8-3-0, and all three of those losses have come against ranked teams. The Bobcats may not have a blazing offense that scores consistently with three lines, but their defense is solid, their goaltending is excellent, and they could absolutely play spoiler down the stretch—and beyond. They’re a team to watch for me as we near conference playoffs.
Mikyla Grant-Mentis, Senior, Forward, Merrimack: Grant-Mentis cemented herself in the Warriors’ record books last season, becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer with 114 points.
With an assist on Jones' goal, Mikyla Grant-Mentis is now the all-time points leader for the Warriors!— Merrimack W. Hockey (@MerrimackWIH) February 8, 2020
In 133 games, Grant-Mentis tallied 55 goals and 59 assists for 114 points! Congratulations Buckey! #GoMack | #HEAW pic.twitter.com/2oRx1Sqowy
Terra Lanteigne, Senior, Goaltender, RIT: Lanteigne picked up a mind-numbing 61 saves last weekend to help the Tigers tie with Syracuse. That performance came after a 56-save night against the Orange.
Reece Hunt, Freshman, Forward, Bemidji State: Hunt scored a hat trick on Saturday as the Beavers pushed for an upset against Minnesota, netting all three goals for her team in the 6-3 loss.
Daryl Watts, Junior, Forward, Wisconsin: Watts posted back-to-back four-point games against St. Cloud State. She continues to lead the NCAA in scoring with 66 points and has 10 points in her last four games.
Alina Müller, Sophomore, Forward, Northeastern: Müller was just named the Women’s Hockey Commissioner’s Association National Player of the Month. She’s riding a six-game point streak in which she’s scored six goals, eight assists, and 14 points. She had a goal and two assists to help Northeastern advance to the Beanpot championship.
Carly Bullock, Senior, Forward, Princeton: Bullock has six goals in her last four games and was riding a seven-game point streak up until last Friday evening.
Here's a look at some of the highlights from Carly Bullock's award-winning week: pic.twitter.com/ymS7M8PArG— Princeton Hockey (@PWIH) February 3, 2020
Carrigan Umpherville, Freshman, Forward, LIU: Umpherville scored a hat trick in the Sharks’ 7-4 win against Franklin Pierce last Friday.
Theresa Schafzahl, Sophomore, Forward, Vermont: Schafzahl scored four goals in the Catamounts’ split with UConn last weekend, and netted the game-winning goal on Sunday.
Ella Shelton, Senior, Defender, Clarkson: Shelton posted two goals and two assists in Clarkson’s 5-0 win over Brown last Friday night.
Lucy Morgan, Freshman, Goaltender, St. Lawrence: Morgan is having a great first season with the Saints, ranking sixth in the country with a .938 save percentage. She’s given the team every chance to win when she’s between the pipes, and was named the WHCA National Rookie of the Month.
Chloé Aurard, Sophomore, Forward, Northeastern: Aurard picked up Beanpot MVP honors after posting two goals and two assists in the championship game.
Don’t Miss It
Upcoming games to watch for:
Princeton at Clarkson (Saturday, Feb. 15): This one will have big implications on both ECAC playoff seedings and the national playoff picture. Clarkson needs three points to catch Princeton for second place in the ECAC; the Golden Knights also sit seventh right now in the PairWise, while Princeton sits fifth. The Tigers won this season’s earlier meeting, 2-1.
Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota State (Friday, Feb. 14, and Saturday, Feb. 15): The Bulldogs are coming off of a huge sweep over Ohio State and the Mavericks are coming off of a big upset win against Wisconsin. I’m super intrigued to see whether UMD can keep it rolling and possibly move up in the PairWise before the regular season ends, but Minnesota State is not to be overlooked.
Ohio State at Wisconsin (Saturday, Feb. 15, and Sunday, Feb. 16): Both the Buckeyes and Badgers are looking to rebound this weekend after their losses last week. Wisconsin swept OSU earlier this year in Columbus. Also of note for this series: Sunday’s game will take place inside the Kohl Center for Wisconsin’s “Fill the Bowl” promotion, which should bring a fantastic crowd out.