The Dream Gap Tour Begins — Key NCAA Matchups — Checking in on the ACHA — Must-click Women’s Hockey Links

The IX: Hockey Friday with Eleni Demestihas, Oct. 21, 2022

Happy Friday! This week I’ll briefly recap the first Dream Gap Tour stop, cover some PHF offseason news and preseason shenanigans, and wrap up with some NCAA and ACHA check-ins. 

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The Dream Gap Tour opened this past weekend in Montreal. After four games, three teams have a 1-1-0 record, and Team Sonnet has a 1-0-1 record. 

Team Scotiabank opened the season with a 4-2 loss to Team Sonnet, then bounced back hard with a 5-0 win against Team adidas on Sunday. Team Harvey’s lost 4-2 to Team adidas on Saturday and came back to beat Team Sonnet in a shootout on Sunday. You can read a great recap of the first four games from Simon Hopkins at the Ice Garden, here.

You may have seen this ridiculous Poulin shootout goal from that Harvey’s vs. Sonnet game making the rounds.

Since it’s so early in the season, it’s difficult to tell what the standings will look like as the season progresses. For right now things seem more or less perfectly even among all four teams. The energy level during these games seemed different to me than during NCAA or PHF games, but that makes sense given the fact that these rosters don’t practice together. There were some players who came in with chemistry, but plenty of the first two games were spent finding chemistry among players who have spent more time as rivals than teammates.

I think Sam Donovan has been a massively underrated talent in the pro game for years. Here she is assisting a sweet Sarah Potomak goal:

Donovan is my pick for a player to watch coming out of this first weekend, as I think she will continue to find ways to create offense all season. She spent two seasons in the NWHL with the Connecticut Whale during a time when the team struggled to score, and in the PWHPA we have really seen her get the opportunity to shine with more ice time.

In PHF news, the Riveters won a pair of games against the Beauts in New Jersey this past weekend. These games were extremely physical and riddled with penalties, which is exactly what you’d expect between these two teams, preseason or not. That being said, the Beauts don’t seem to have quite overcome their difficulty finding the net. Although this roster was built specifically to address what GM Nate Oliver described as a desire for depth scoring, there wasn’t much of that last weekend. The Beauts only managed one goal over the two games, while the Riveters scored seven (5-1, 2-0). 

Emma Nuutinen did not play for Buffalo, though it sounds like she’ll be fine for the start of the regular season. Although I expect that will help, I doubt the answer for Buffalo is as simple as whether she’s in or out of the lineup. We’ll have to see if they can find their scoring touch in-season, but on paper, you’d expect them to find the back of the net more than they have in years past.

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Quite a pass from Leah Marino to set Bujold up for this particular goal in the second game:

This coming weekend the Force will play the Pride in a preseason game in Vermont, which will be extremely interesting. The Pride are down a stalwart defender in Lauren Kelly, but they’ve signed Taylor House and we know that Mary Parker has also joined them. I’m interested to see what their solution is on defense, but if their forwards can score enough goals it may not be as big of an issue as you’d expect. 

In off-the ice news, former Buffalo Beauts captain Taylor Accursi took to the internet to clear up the situation this offseason, or lack thereof.

Fans had expressed confusion and concern over the fact that the Beauts did not seem to be re-signing her, and if there was any doubt, stitching the ‘C’ onto Dom Kremer’s jersey made it pretty clear they weren’t reuniting. That being said, the Beauts have never addressed this as an organization, and the optics of the situation don’t look great for them. Accursi played for the Beauts for years and was an iconic and recognizable part of the team and the league. To have only her statement, and no corresponding statement from the Beauts, definitely leaves a sour taste in the mouth of many a Beauts fan.

On one hand, I can understand from a team perspective why they might choose to move on. Accursi is a police officer, and her schedule is not very flexible. There were several games last season she was unable to attend, which is difficult to justify but especially for a player expected to slot in on the top line and shoulder the captaincy. All that being said, you would think that a player of her caliber with her history might at least get a thank-you post. I’m not saying they need to retire her number (although I can understand the argument that they might or should), but the total silence has just alienated the fans even further after an offseason of high roster turnover that was already tough for fans to swallow. 

In the NCAA, Ohio State still tops the weekly poll, followed by Minnesota and then Northeastern. All three programs are undefeated and have looked about as dominant as expected. Of note, though, Penn State has crept up to number twelve. That’s well deserved in my opinion, based on the difficulty of their schedule so far. They went out to Boston and beat Boston College–formerly ranked, but no longer in this week’s poll–and then tied them the following day, which is a massive pair of results for them that suggests their early success against Wisconsin wasn’t entirely a fluke. Do I think they’re ready to hang with the top dogs full time? Not yet. But they’ve earned their spot on the poll.

Notably, the poll includes a handful of Ivy League schools whose seasons have not yet started. Yale, Princeton and Cornell are all still sitting pretty at 0-0-0, so their spots in the poll are subject to change. Harvard is 0-1-0 as of this writing, sitting towards the bottom of the poll at number fifteen last week. 

This weekend is the Adirondack Ice Breaker tournament in Lake Placid, so you can and should tune in to that and watch Clarkson vs. Syracuse and Holy Cross vs. St. Lawrence. The first game is likely to be a closer one, but you never know what’s going to happen when it’s just one game against an opponent. The winners and losers will play each other the following day.

In Hockey East, the Battle of Comm Ave happens this weekend, and Boston College will be really itching for a win against Boston University after dropping a handful of points against Penn State last weekend. UMD (4) vs. Ohio State (1) is my other matchup to watch this weekend, because any top-five matchup is likely to be a lot of fun.

In Division I ACHA news, Indiana Tech is topping the charts with a 7-0-1 record. Dakota Fowler is leading the team with fourteen points through eight games, split evenly between goals and assists. Colorado State University is hot on their heels with a 7-1-0 record, and Midland University, with a game in hand, is in third with a 6-1-2 record. 

Funnily enough, mirroring the school’s DI success, Penn State’s Camryn Salaski leads the ACHA first division with seventeen points. There are four players tied at sixteen points, three out of Colorado State.

Indiana Tech’s Avery Johnson came through with a clutch game-winner against Midland University for her first collegiate goal:

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Written by Eleni Demestihas