D1 in DC: A Thanksgiving Tournament in the Nation’s Capital

Hockey East and WCHA collide this weekend for a four-game tournament

On the 24th and 25th of November, four Division 1 programs will meet in Washington, DC, for the second D1 in DC. Boston University, Northeastern, Minnesota State-Mankato, and Wisconsin will face off in four games over two days on Thanksgiving weekend. The event is going to be hosted by the Washington Pride of the JWHL.

A tale of two extremes

The western teams involved in this tournament are interesting. Wisconsin is easily the favorite to win the NCAA tournament this year, as they have yet to lose a game this season. The 16-0-0 Badgers have some of the best talent in the country, including Abby Roque, Mikaela Gardner, and Kristen Campbell. They lead the WCHA in scoring offense (3.62 GF/GM) and scoring defense (0.94 GA/GM). Roque and Presley Norby are first and second in points, Claudia Kepler is tied for first in goals, and Campbell is first in GAA (0.94) and save percentage (.951).

On the other side, Minnesota State sits in the basement of the conference, tied with St. Cloud State with three total points. Their 2-11-1 overall record is one of the worst in the nation, and their lone conference win came against St. Cloud. Jordan McLaughlin has been their best offensive player this season, leading the team in goals (five) and points (10). That puts her in a four-way tie for 21st in the conference. They rank last in scoring defense (3.21 GA/GM) and next to last in offense (1.93 GF/GM).

Release the hounds

Boston’s two dog-based colleges will send their teams down to DC as both try to right the ship on disappointing starts to their seasons. Northeastern had Hockey East title aspirations heading into this year, but sit at 7-7-2 overall and 5-4-1 in conference through the first leg of the schedule. The Huskies are averaging 2.50 GF/GM and 2.31 GA/GM, good for sixth- and fourth-best in the conference respectively. Their leading scorers are Kasidy Anderson and Bethesda, Md., native Veronika Pettey, who will return home to play near where she grew up. Aerin Frankel has assumed starting goaltender responsibilities and pitched two shutouts over the course of her first three career starts.

Boston University has begun the slow climb back towards the top half of the Hockey East standings. After beginning the season 1-5-1, a changing goaltenders and giving starting duties to Corinne Schroeder, the Terriers are now 4-6-2 overall and 3-5-2 in Hockey East. The Terriers exploded for seven goals this past weekend against Vermont and are now third in scoring offense (3.08 GF/GM) and fourth in defense (2.31 GA/GM). Easily the highlight of the season for BU has been Victoria Bach and her 10 goals and 10 assists. Bach had four goals against Vermont on Friday and has been lethal at the top of this lineup with Rebecca Leslie.

What to watch

Each WCHA team will face each WHEA team, so BU will face Minnesota State on Friday and Wisconsin on Saturday, while NU will play the opposite schedule. Wisconsin is easily the best team in the country now, and it is difficult to pick against them this weekend. BU is riding a big wave after a huge four-point weekend, and if Schroeder can continue her stellar goaltending, the Terriers may have a shot at an upset. Schroeder has yet to allow more than two goals in a game, so Wisconsin’s lightning-hot offense will need to be fully operational to get past her.

Northeastern should be able to handle a Minnesota State team that has looked hopeless since the start of the season. The Huskies split a series with Maine this weekend, but there is seemingly no way they can lose against one of the worst teams in the nation. Facing Wisconsin is probably also a loss, but perhaps someone like McKenna Brand or Denisa Křížová can return to her 2016-17 form and start finding the back of the net.

Washington Pride host the second D1 in DC

Technically, this is the second D1 in DC. There was an event of that name hosted by the Washington Pride in January, when St. Lawrence and Mercyhurst played a two-game series at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Kush Sidhu, the Hockey Director and U19 Head Coach of the Pride, said the idea for a four-team tournament has been brewing for almost eight or nine years, but it was not until BU’s head coach Brian Durocher went down to DC, for a Frozen Four featuring the BU men’s hockey team, that it started to come together.

“We met at a coaching conference in Naples, FL, where a lot of teams are trying to fill their schedules. [Durocher] wanted to do some women’s games in DC. I said, if you want to do it, let’s do it.”

They were able to get the other three teams on board and are now hosting their first four-team tournament.

This will be an exciting weekend of hockey as four teams will get to play in a new venue in a city that does not see much college hockey. Student athletes will be able to see the nation’s capital over a holiday weekend and compete in what could be the first of many four-team tournaments.

On Friday, Nov. 24, Boston University will play Minnesota State at 1 p.m. and Northeastern will face No. 1 Wisconsin at 4 p.m. On Saturday, Nov. 25, Wisconsin will play Boston University at 1 p.m. and Northeastern will play Minnesota State at 4 p.m.