In the Washington, DC, area, we are starved for women's hockey - which is why I gladly spent the better part of Thanksgiving weekend at Kettler Capitals Iceplex enjoying four highly entertaining, unusual NCAA Division 1 match-ups. (Unusual because eastern and western teams don't often get the opportunity to meet.)
The D1 in DC tournament, the second such event hosted by the Washington Pride of the Junior Women's Hockey League, included Northeastern and Boston Universities from the Boston area, the University of Wisconsin (Madison), and Minnesota State (Mankato). After engineering an upset of first-ranked Wisconsin on Friday and a decisive win over Minnesota State on Saturday, Northeastern came away the weekend's big winner at 2-0. Wisconsin and Boston University were each 1-1, and Minnesota State 0-2.
The UW Badgers have lost a number of seniors since I saw them play the (sadly) now-defunct University of North Dakota team last January, but their team play was impressive in both Friday's loss and Saturday's win (against Boston University).
All four teams displayed an unwavering focus and a consistency of effort, whether leading or trailing, that I often miss in the professional men's leagues. The games were hard fought and physical, but also showcased plenty of pretty stickhandling and shooting skill. A standout player in my mind was Northeastern's senior Denisa Krizova, not because of the hat-trick she scored in Saturday's game against Minnesota State, but because of her incredibly persistent and courageous hard work down low, below the goal, which I happened to be watching from above - amazing! (As it turns out, she's on the Czech Republic's national team. Look for her in the Olympics!)
At least one reporter lamented the fact that this important east-west tournament was not available streaming. He rightly called out the NCAA and the National Hockey League Washington Capitals (Kettler is their practice facility) for overlooking or neglecting the opportunity to make these games available to a larger audience than the 950-or-so fans who were able to squeeze into the venue.
Naturally, I agree. But I would add that, other than the Olympics, the women's games I have seen broadcast, whether streaming or on television, have been disappointing. Not because of the play, but because of the rudimentary fashion in which they are filmed, which makes it difficult or impossible to appreciate the play. Hockey is a fast but nuanced game; proper resources are required to do it justice. The women's game, in particular, which relies on finesse plays rather than on booming hits, will translate particularly well from live to filmed, if done well. I suggest that, in order to help #GrowTheGame, USA Hockey, the NCAA, and the NHL pool their (copious) resources to showcase a number of women's games each season in venues with decent lighting and a reasonable number of professionally-operated cameras.
While we're on the subject, I'm no photographer, and I forgot my camera (a.k.a. my phone) on Saturday. :( But here are a few shots from the weekend.