VAIL — Welcome to East meets West way out west.
Boston University and Northeastern from Hockey East and Wisconsin and St. Cloud State from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) descend on Dobson Arena today and Saturday for a weekend of top-flight women’s Division I hockey in what should be a treat for local fans.
Half a Beanpot
When one thinks of BU and Northeastern hockey, naturally Boston College and Harvard come to mind. After all, that quartet competes for the Beanpot every February for Boston hockey bragging rights.
The Northeastern Huskies possess the women’s Beanpot topping BU, 4-1, along the way this past winter. The Terriers, however got the last laugh, knocking off Northeastern in Hockey East title game.
BU went all the way to the NCAA championship this past spring, bowing to Minnesota, 6-3. That said, the Golden Gophers are on a bit of roll, as we’ll see.
The Terriers picked up right where they left off this past year, starting this season at 9-1-1, including a perfect 6-0 start in Hockey East. Their closest call so far was a 3-2 overtime thriller … at Northeastern.
‘Miracle’ and almost a miracle
Wisconsin’s head coach is none other than Mark Johnson, who was on the “Miracle on Ice” Men’s Olympic Hockey Team in 1980 at Lake Placid, N.Y. (He also played in 1976.) Everyone remembers Mike Eruzione’s game-winner against the U.S.S.R., but that iconic sports moment wouldn’t have happened without two scored by Johnson in that game.
Just like BU, Wisconsin is an NCAA power. The Badgers have four national titles to their credit, including the last one in 2011, a 4-1 win against the Terriers in the finals.
Wisconsin is off to fast start at 8-2 with the only blemishes on its record being losses to Minnesota.
And that brings St. Cloud State into the picture. This set of Huskies may not look too impressive when it comes to its record (1-8-2), but they nearly turned the world of NCAA women’s hockey on its ear this past weekend. The Huskies had Minnesota, winners of 59 straight games including the 2012 and 2013 NCAA championships, down 3-2 with 2:02 left before the Gophers rallied for a 4-3 win to make it 60 in a row. No one will be taking St. Cloud lightly this weekend.
Ladies, take the ice
In addition to the four games, there will be a girls hockey clinic on Sunday. From 10-11 a.m. Johnson will be instructing. Pizza and autographs from Badgers players will follow. This is for skaters from kindergarten to high school. Registration is $10 and available by calling 970-479-2271.