NCAA Roundup: Ohio State Maintains No. 1, UMD Rising up the Ranks, and More

The NCAA season is hitting winter break, but the ice is just heating up for some of these schools. Take a peek at this week's roundup of stories.

NCAA Roundup: Ohio State Maintains No. 1, UMD Rising up the Ranks, and More
Minnesota-Duluth's Tova Henderson scored the overtime-winning goal for the Bulldogs Dec. 8 against St. Cloud State. (Photo via @UMDBulldogs on Twitter)

We're hitting a bit of a lull in the NCAA season, but that doesn't mean we're short on stories or surprises. I'm sure you've all seen my newest colleague Emma Sullivan's breakdown of some of the more surprising storylines thus far in the 2023-24 campaign, but if not, you should. As for today's lineup, let's get into the biggest stories mid-December hockey has to offer.

This week's D1 Women's Poll is live!

Bulldogs bulldozing their way into the top 10

Minnesota-Duluth has made a habit of stunning some of the best teams in the nation this year. It all started with a 3-2 victory over Wisconsin, where sophomore Hailey MacLeod had a 42-save performance to rival them all. Then, they blanked then-No.2/3 Colgate 3-0, tying them 1-1 the next afternoon to keep their weekend intact.

They still haven't struck the exact balance they need offensively, moving on to split another weekend with Wisconsin and a weekend against St. Cloud State. It seems like one game, they have all they need, but the next they just can't seem to get it together, and if you look at the current stat sheet there isn't really one player the Bulldogs can go to for offense. Reece Hunt, Mannon McMahon, and Clara Van Wieren have been the most consistent, but none have hit double digits in terms of goals.

Of course, having goals scored by committee is never a bad thing, but I think it would help a lot if UMD had that one night-in-night-out goal scorer a la OSU or Colgate to help them get to that next level. Still, their shot blocking and overall defense has been strong, and I think they've cemented themselves as a hell of a tough team to play against, which counts for a lot.

Ohio State is the new Wisconsin

I'm sure I've just scandalized the entire Midwest trying out that clumsy reference to Orange is the New Black, but bear with me — if the Badgers looked damn near unstoppable to start this season, the Buckeyes are definitely that right now. They're heading into their winter break with just two losses so far and a near-perfect 13-1-0 WCHA record. They've beaten Wisconsin, they've beaten Minnesota, and they've split with Colgate, showing they are the ones to top in the 2024 half of the year.

It's been so WCHA-heavy for so long that it's not a surprise we're seeing OSU dominate, but given just how strong Wisconsin looked out of the gate, it's been a bit of a surprise that since losing to the Buckeyes, they've been up and down in the scores and steadily slipping down the ranks as teams like UMD have started catching up.

And OSU has even more to be excited about on an individual level, because...

OSU's Gardiner joins Rivalry Series squad in Team Canada debut

Yep, yet another Buckeye will be donning a National Team jersey, with leading scorer Jennifer Gardiner making her senior team debut as part of the December roster for the Rivalry Series. Gardiner will join former teammate Sophie Jaques and face off against American Buckeyes Hannah Bilka and Cayla Barnes on Dec. 14 in Kitchener, Ont., and Dec. 16 in Sarnia, Ont.

Gardiner is one of three Canadians making their debuts, with the others (Anne Cherkowski and Nicole Gosling) heading over from Clarkson. I'm stoked to see what Gardiner will do, as I really enjoy her style of play and think she can help Canada claw their way back from an 0-2 series deficit.

Where has Northeastern been?

After being pegged to lead Hockey East in the preseason coaches' poll, it seems as though the Massachusetts-based Huskies have fallen way off of the radar. And I mean, after losing a powerhouse top line of Alina Muller, Maureen Murphy, and Chloé Aurard, I guess it's not a shock – but the lack of consistency from a perennial contender like Northeastern has left the conference more or less open for the taking. Boston College and UConn are in a dead heat for the time being, but teams like Vermont, Maine, and of course Northeastern themselves aren't far behind in a conference that seems to have some parity, but not a lot of sure bets for the national championship.

That's not to say the Huskies can't turn it around, and indeed, they were on a bit of an upswing prior to going on their winter bye, enjoying a three-game win streak (3-1 against BC, 4-2 against Providence, 3-2 in OT against BU). They have a whole month to regroup and get their skates under them, and hopefully some of that time will be spent working on their special teams and getting a bit more chemistry amongst the forwards. Again, check out Emma's piece, which includes a great overall breakdown of what has plagued the Huskies in the first half of the season.

Full Scores – Dec. 8-10, 2023

Friday, Dec. 8:

Minnesota 5, Wisconsin 3

UMD 2, St. Cloud State 1 (OT)

Penn State 3, Yale 2

Sacred Heart 3, Post 0

Vermont 4, Merrimack 2

Franklin Pierce 4, Assumption 0

BU 2, Holy Cross 1

Providence 6, UNH 0

Union 3, Rensselaer 2

LIU 3, Saint Michael's 1

St. Thomas 4, Bemidji State 2

Saturday, Dec. 9:

Ohio State 6, Minnesota State 1

Wisconsin 5, Minnesota 1

St. Cloud State 5, UMD 1

Quinnipiac 6, Princeton 5 (OT)

Yale 3, Penn State 1

Maine 6, Dartmouth 3

BU 5, Providence 1

Post 3, Sacred Heart 2

Bemidji State 4, St. Thomas 0

LIU 3, Saint Michael's 1

Assumption 4, Franklin Pierce 0

Union 3, Rensselaer 1

Sunday, Dec. 10:

Ohio State 4, Minnesota State 1

Brown 4, UNH 2

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post originally had Anne Cherkowski and Nicole Gosling listed as playing for Colgate University. TIG apologizes for the error.