No PWHL games? No problem! Five other hockey matchups to look out for this weekend

The IX: Hockey Friday with The Ice Garden, Feb. 9, 2024

Happy weekend everyone! It’s Emma Sullivan here from The Ice Garden for Hockey Friday. Without any PWHL games on the schedule, let’s find some other hockey games to keep an eye on to fill your time over the weekend! From the NCAA, to the Rivalry Series and even some Euro Hockey Tour action, there’s plenty of hockey that you could — and should — be watching. Let’s get into some of those matchups. 

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What to watch

Rivalry Series: USA vs Canada, games six & seven 

Friday 8 p.m. EST and Sunday 2 p.m. EST 

After the U.S. took the first three games of the series, Canada stormed back to win the next two, including a come-back win Wednesday. Last season, the Canadian team reverse-swept the Americans to steal the series win, and they’ve now closed the lead to just 3-2 over the first five games in this year’s matchups. 

It was the younger players that really shone for the U.S. in Wednesday’s game, as Grace Zumwinkle and Gabbie Hughes scored the only goals for the Americans. Meanwhile Nicole Hensley, who has had a fantastic start to the PWHL season (she currently holds a .934 save percentage in six games), got the start over Aerin Frankel in net. Will the U.S. stick with that plan heading into Friday nights matchup after Hensley gave up three goals on 28 shots against? 

On the opposite end, the Canadian veterans were clicking throughout the game, with goals from Brianne Jenner, Renata Fast and Laura Stacey. Will the Canadians be able to capitalize on an overall solid third period Wednesday (following two lackluster ones) to tie the series up? And after that, what happens on Sunday? So many questions, so much talent, so few chances to check in with the U.S. and Canada before the World Championships in April. Don’t let the chances get away. 

NCAA: Quinnipiac’s weekend split against two top teams

Friday vs. St. Lawrence, 6 p.m. EST / Saturday vs. Clarkson, 3 p.m. EST

The Bobcats have been ranked for the better part of the last few years and in two ECAC matchups this weekend, they’re playing two of the other top ten teams in the nation. 

Friday night it’ll be the Saints who come to Hamden, Connecticut. Currently seventh in the USCHO poll, St. Lawrence has been battling out for a top spot all season long, and with a high powered offense they’re sure to keep things interesting. Saturday against the Golden Knights is a different story. Clarkson is third nationally, and for good reason. Their goal differential this season is +69, thanks in part to goaltender Michelle Pasiechnyk who was nominated for the goaltender of the year award earlier this week. QU on average can score 3.6 goals per game, however Clarkson’s only been allowing 1.2 against per contest. This can definitely be a close matchup if both Pasiechnyk and QU’s Logan Angers, another goaltender of the year semifinalist, can stand strong in the crease. 

This weekend marks the second time in 2023-24 that QU will play a weekend split between St. Lawrence and Clarkson after losing to both teams in October. Now, in their home arena, they’ll look to switch that up. It won’t be easy if their recent records are any tell: Since Jan. 19 QU is 1-4-0, Clarkson is 4-2-0 and St. Lawrence is 5-1-0. Two wins this weekend puts Quinnipiac right back into the mix for a top-four spot in the ECAC though, and they’ll definitely be looking to cause chaos in the last few weeks of the regular season. 

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NCAA: WCHA brings a top-ten national matchup 

St. Cloud vs. Minnesota: Friday, 7 p.m. EST and Saturday, 3 p.m. EST

It’s the toughest division in the NCAA for good reason, and no better matchup exemplifies that than St. Cloud State versus Minnesota. The two teams may be separated by 17 points in the conference standings however — based on the depth of the WCHA — St. Cloud ranks 10th in the national poll to Minnesota’s fifth. The Huskies played the Gophers tight in the first two contests of the season, falling 2-1 in October and tying 1-1 in December. 

Minnesota is riding a six game hot streak, while St. Cloud has dropped their last five, including back-to-back sweeps at the hands of Ohio State and Wisconsin. What this very well could come down to are special teams — Minnesota has the top ranked power play in the nation, which has been converting at a 39% rate to this point on the season. Opposite that, St. Cloud’s penalty kill has been middle of the pack, with an 84.2% kill rate. There should definitely be some offensive fireworks, and if that’s your thing, check out the weekend series in the state of hockey. 

European Hockey Tour: Czechia’s challenging weekend 

Friday vs. Finland, 12 p.m. EST / Saturday vs. Switzerland, 12 p.m. EST / Sunday vs. Sweden, 11:30 AM EST

The most recent World Championship bronze medalists are serving as the hosts for this installment of the European Hockey Tour. Their weekend games are no easy feat, with back-to-back-to-back games against Finland, Switzerland and Sweden to close out the weekend in Liberec. 

Czechia hit the ice for their first game on Thursday, where they handedly beat Germany 7-1. Finland and Switzerland faced off themselves on Thursday as well, with the Finnish team claiming the win 3-1 thanks to two goals from standout Susanna Tapani. Czechia will look to capture wins over both on Friday and Saturday respectively. 

Closing out this iteration of the tour is the host team against Sweden. Emma Söderberg made 40 saves en route to the 2-1 shootout victory over Finland on Wednesday, and looks to continue that momentum. All three games for the host nation should be close and tough, as they try to close out the international set on a high note. A lot of talent is on display in these games, and any chance to tune in should not be missed. 

Coastal female hockey development opportunity

Planning on being in Nova Scotia in July? Looking for a youth development camp? Well you’re in luck. The Coastal Female Hockey Development 2024 camp is open for registration now! 

Featuring PWHL Toronto’s Allie Munroe and Carly Jackson, this camp includes 11 hours of skill development, off ice training, goalie instruction and more. Check out the infographic below for more information!

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Around the hockey world

Boston walks away with a point in 2-1 loss to Montréal — The Ice Garden 

It was a hard fought OT win for Montréal in their first game back from the brief break for the NHL All-Star game. For a deeper look, check out the recap above. 

Belmont/Watertown and their unlikely season of success — The Boston Globe

Only one girls hockey team in the state of Massachusetts remains unbeaten this season — and they’re a first year co-op squad. Belmont/Watertown’s season is unusual to say the least, but they’re having a whole lot of fun while it lasts. 

USA/Canada Rivalry Series Preview — The Victory Press 

The last set of Rivalry series games wraps up this weekend, with some star-studded rosters on either side. For more on the matchups and expectations, this preview has you covered. 

PWHL 2023-24 playoff & standings projections — The Athletic 

In a more analytical piece, The Athletic updated their playoff and standings projections after the first month of the season. Standings are updated after every PWHL game, but for a more monthly overview, be sure to check out the projections before the next games on Feb. 14.

Sophie Shirley thriving in the PWHL, ready for test with Team Canada — The Hockey News

PWHL Boston forward Sophie Shirley scored her first goal of her professional career on Sunday, and has been playing key minutes for the team all season. THN took a look at how important her season has been as she prepared to head to her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for the Rivalry Series.

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Written by The Ice Garden