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Top-10 showdowns highlight busy college hockey weekend

The season has only just begun and already we have seen some impressive performances. Ohio State got a rare win at Minnesota last weekend, Boston College swept Minnesota Duluth, Wisconsin continues to look like the best team in the country, and Boston University’s Victoria Bach carved up the Northeastern defense for an early goal of the year nominee.

This weekend is bound to produce more of the same, so here are three games to keep an eye on:

No. 5 Minnesota Duluth (2-2-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) vs. No. 7 Ohio State (3-0-1, 1-0-1 WCHA)

Friday 6:07 p.m. ET/Saturday 3:07 p.m. ET

Minnesota Duluth opened the season with a sweep against Penn State but was unable to pick up any points against Boston College last weekend. The Bulldogs outshot the Eagles through the two games, 63-52, meaning they were getting chances, but weren’t able to capitalize. UMD has been able to get production out of its youth so far, with half of the Bulldogs goals coming from freshmen, including Ashton Bell who scored twice against BC last weekend. Maura Crowell’s team is still very young, so the opportunity to play another Top-10 team on the road in Ohio State will only benefit them moving forward.

Ohio State had perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend, winning in Minnesota for the first time in over a decade, and followed that up with a tie the next night. North Dakota transfer Charly Dahlquist netted the game winner Friday, as her line with Emma Maltais and Tatum Skaggs has paid dividends early on for coach Nadine Muzerall. Skaggs took home the WCHA Rookie of the Week award and Maltais won the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week award following a four-point weekend from both players. Kassidy Sauve continues to be a wall between the pipes for the Buckeyes, and they will need her to play big again this weekend. The Buckeyes are 15-65-3 all time against UMD.

[More from Excelle: Former North Dakota forward Charly Dahlquist found a new home with Ohio State]

No. 6 Northeastern (2-1-1, 2-0-0 WHEA) vs. No. 8 Colgate (2-0-0, 0-0-0 ECAC)

Saturday 6:00 p.m. ET/Sunday 2:00 p.m. ET

Northeastern will get its third straight series test in No. 8 Colgate this weekend. After starting the season against the defending champions in Clarkson, the Huskies collected a sweep against rival Boston University last weekend. They rallied from down 2-0 in the series opener, scoring three straight to win game one before the offense exploded to the tune of six goals the following night. Veronika Pettey took home the WHEA Rookie of the Week award after tallying her first three collegiate points and Denisa Krizova, who is 10th all-time in program history in points, scored her first goal of the season Saturday as well. They’ll be looking to figure out Colgate’s stingy defense this weekend in Hamilton, N.Y.

Colgate couldn’t have gotten off to a better start to their season as they posted back-to-back shutouts against St. Cloud State. Sophomore goaltender Liz Auby was named ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week as the Stoughton, Wisc., native now has three consecutive shutouts and hasn’t allowed a goal in 200:19. The Raiders defense played a big role in the St. Cloud State series, limiting the Huskies to only 24 shots in the two contests. Northeastern is capable of scoring in bunches, so not allowing them to break out on the rush and limiting the shots on Auby will be the key again for Colgate.

No. 9 Minnesota (1-2-1, 0-1-1 WCHA) vs. (RV) Bemidji State University (1-2-1, 0-0-0 WCHA)

Friday 3:07 p.m. CT/Saturday 3:07 p.m. CT 

Minnesota is set to hit the road for the first time Friday, which could be a welcome sight as the Golden Gophers haven’t began the season as they were hoping. After splitting their opening series with Merrimack, Minnesota failed to register a win in its series with Ohio State last weekend. The Gophers have been strong on special teams this season, killing .917 percent of their penalties while converting .286 percent of their power plays. However, transition defense has gotten the team into trouble this year, something coach Brad Frost is hoping to correct against Bemidji State.

Bemidji State put up a good showing against No. 2 Clarkson this past weekend despite losing both contests. The Beavers have rotated two goalies in both series against Syracuse and Clarkson, with senior Erin Deters starting the first game and redshirt freshman Lauren Bench coming in for game two. The pair has combined to hold opponents to a 1.72 goals-against average while posting a .947 save percentage. However, the Beavers were badly outshot against Clarkson, 73-42, so they will need to flip that total regardless of who’s in net if they want to begin WCHA play with a win against Minnesota.

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