• ASNetminding: This week in college hockey
Is it possible to overlook a defending national champion and an unbeaten team setting all kinds of records?
Maybe to start the season, but not anymore when it comes to the Providence men and the Wisconsin women hockey teams.
Bolstered by ASN Players of the Week Jason Walman and Ann-Renee Desbiens, both the Friars and Badgers surged in the polls this week with weekend sweeps.
Walman, a 6-foot-1,193-pound sophomore defenseman, tallied four goals and two assists in the Friars’ road sweep at Colgate.
Providence is 6-0-1 and ranked No. 2 in both polls after opening the season ranked seventh. While the Friars lost several key players off last season’s national championship squad, Walman is leading one of the strongest blue-line crews in the country.
His seven goals are tied for tops in the nation and his 12 points rank second nationally. He’s also a plus-9 on the ice, also tied for No. 1 in the nation. Walman is a third-round pick of St. Louis, 60th overall, in the 2014 draft. Last year he tallied just one goal and 15 assists during the Friars’ title run.
Desbiens has backstopped the 10-0 Badgers to a WCHA record eight consecutive shutouts, including 6-0 and 7-0 wins over Minnesota State this past weekend. Wisconsin has not allowed a goal since the first period of an 8-1 victory over Providence on Oct. 3 — that’s 521 minutes and 15 seconds of playing time. The 5-9 junior needed to make just 34 saves combined over the two games.
She has a 0.23 goals-against average and a .985 save percentage. Last season, she had 14 shutouts.
Wisconsin is ranked No. 1 in the polls for the first time this season. Previously unbeaten Minnesota dropped to third, while Boston College (10-0) remained at No. 2.
The Badgers are idle until Minnesota-Duluth comes to town on Nov. 13-14. The Friars also resume play Nov. 13-14 with a home-and-home series against rival Boston University. It will be the teams first meeting since the Friars defeated BU, 4-3, in the national title game last season. The game will be televised on ASN.
Above: Ann-Renee Desbiens is a major reason Wisconsin women are ranked No. 1 in the polls for the first time this season, (Courtesy University of Wisconsin Athletics)