The women’s Frozen Four kicks off with two semi-finals on Thursday – Minnesota-Duluth versus Northeastern and Wisconsin versus Ohio State – and the winners face off in the NCAA championship game on Saturday. All games are broadcast on ESPN Networks. Here is a breakdown of all four remaining teams, including a scouting report from notable alumni.
Minnesota Duluth vs. Northeastern: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN3 / ESPN app
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State: 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU / ESPN app
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN3 / ESPN app
The stakes: No team in the country has been as dominant as Northeastern this season – picking up exactly where it left off from its 32-4-2 season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Huskies ended the 2021 season by winning their last 17 games with a combined result of 86-11. They are currently in an undefeated streak of 21 games. This dynamic has helped Northeastern achieve its first Frozen Four. This is the latest milestone for Trainer Dave Flint, who has steadily taken the program to new levels since taking office in 2008. Flint led Northeastern to his first Beanpot crown (2012), NCAA tournament appearance (2016), and Hockey East Championship (2018)).
Player to watch: The huskies are not lacking in talent. It starts in the backend with Hockey East Defenseman of the Year Skylar Fontaine and goalkeeper Aerin Frankel, the national leader in Save Percentage (0.969) and Shutouts (nine). Chloe Aurard leads the team with 14 goals, but the Huskies best player is Alina Muller, who is the top scorer in the 2021 NCAA season with 37 points in 23 games. (She was also the lead player in the 2018 Olympics.) Swiss-born Muller could be the first European-born player to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given to the best women’s college hockey player.
Turning point: The Huskies dropped their second game of the season, a 2-1 decision against what was then No. 9 Boston College. It ended as a weekend split – and Northeastern’s only loss that season. The Huskies drew 2-2 in New Hampshire on January 9th but were otherwise clean. Northeastern led the nation in goals for (95) and the fewest allowed goals (16) for the regular season.
Scouting report from an alum: The US Olympic champion Kendall Coyne Schofield played for the Huskies from 2011 to 2016. She was hired that year by the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks as a player development coach and became the organization’s first coach. Here’s Coyne Schofield’s take on the 2021 Huskies:
“Your resilience impresses me. I’m a huge fan of Trainer Dave Flint and the work he’s done building the program. They couldn’t finish what they started last year because of the pandemic. They never got to play. ” They won the tournament in seed, but they started right where they left off. You entered the tournament as number 1 for a reason. They made history as the first Northeastern team to not only win their first NCAA game, but make it to the Frozen Four, which makes me so proud as an alum. But I also know they’re not done yet.
“The reason they make history is because they do it together. I can see that from afar: They play for each other. If you watch Alina Muller celebrate when her teammate scores, that’s all you need to know Know about this team, they are genuinely excited and support each other in their successes.
“I think of the year Minnesota had the best striker, goalkeeper and defender, all three Patty Kazmaier finalists [Amanda] Kessel, Noora [Raty] and [Megan] Bozek. The Northeastern team has a composition similar to that of Alina Muller, Aerin Frankel and Skylar Fontaine. Best striker, best goalkeeper, and best defender in the NCAA. But this is also a team that has depth, and the depth helps them win games. I just love how they play together. The culture has changed so positively since I left Northeastern and that is what makes me most proud. ”
Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs
The stakes: The Bulldogs are back in the Frozen Four for the first time since 2010, the last time they won an NCAA title. After UMD was blown up in the Ohio state’s WCHA playoffs, he was relieved to be selected by the selection committee. The Bulldogs scored a 1-0 extra overtime win over Colgate in the quarterfinals to end the dramatic two weeks. They are led by two star strikers, Gabbie Hughes and Anna Klein, who have nearly identical statistical lines, including 21 points in 18 games. Hughes and Klein were both invited to the U.S. women’s national team evaluation camp in Minnesota later that month. You will join the youngest UMD graduates Sydney Brodt and Maddie Rooney for one of the largest contingents of Bulldogs in a US evaluation camp.
Player to watch: Junior Emma Soderberg inherited the Rooney network. In her first year as a starter, Soderberg shone and led all WCHA goalkeepers in the regular season with 1.34 GAA. It also took sixth place in the country with a saving of 0.941 percent (min. 12 games) and second place in shutouts (five). Soderberg recorded her sixth shutout, stopping all 30 shots she had against Colgate to advance to the Frozen Four.
Turning point: The Bulldogs built their NCAA tournament case late when they racked up four points out of a possible six against Wisconsin in the regular season finale. Then against Ohio State in the WCHA semifinals it didn’t go so well. The Bulldogs gave up four goals in the first eight minutes of the second half – and sent Soderberg to the bench – and lost 7-2. It was their most embarrassing and one-sided defeat of the season. A general offering that rewarded the Bulldogs for their earlier work gave UMD new life and purpose. “I also felt like I was getting a second chance,” senior Hanna Markel told the team’s website. “Because after losing to Ohio State we really weren’t sure we’d play another game.”
Scouting report: Goalkeeper Maddie Rooney, who helped Team USA win gold at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics, played for the Bulldogs from 2015 to 2020. Rooney is UMD’s leading provider of career savings, minutes and games. Here’s Rooney’s take on the 2021 Bulldogs:
“I think UMD’s greatest strengths are the execution of systems, the dedication to the D-Zone, great goalkeepers, physicality, graininess and overall just the pure heart that is broadcast across the team. That leads to everything being done becomes what they have to do to stay. ” I think they can win anything because it’s been a long time since the Bulldogs were in the Frozen Four. And they did the sheer talent to win, but real hunger is what will reign in this championship game. When it comes to facing another WCHA team, it can play in their favor because you know how to easily beat those teams when you play them so often. “
– UMD women’s hockey (@UMDWHockey) March 16, 2021
The stakes: The Badgers are technically the defending champions as last year’s tournament was canceled. This is Wisconsin’s seventh straight trip to the Frozen Four, an NCAA record. If the Badgers won it all, it would be their sixth national championship that Minnesota would ever tie for most. At the helm of the Badgers for nearly two decades, Mark Johnson is used to coaching talented players and this team is no different. “The depth that we have on this team, the ability, it’s incredible,” said Captain Daryl Watts. “Our third line, in my opinion, would be the first on pretty much every other team in the country. It’s a very special group of girls.”
Player to watch: Watts is the favorite to win Patty Kazmaier this year – three years after she first won the award as a freshman at Boston College. The Toronto native, who moved to Wisconsin as a junior, led the nation this season with goals per game (0.94) and points per game (1.83). Senior Sophie Shirley (22 points in 18 games, two goals in the NCAA quarterfinal win over Providence) is also a finalist. Both Watts and Shirley are part of a strong attack that has only scored northeast goals per game this season. Wisconsin were up 40 goals in just 18 games.
Turning point: Wisconsin defeated the state of Ohio in the WCHA championship in overtime to secure a trip to the NCAA tournament, and a berth in the Frozen Four was little to be doubted as Wisconsin kept falling out of the tournament’s opening round. The Badgers have not allowed a goal in an NCAA quarterfinal game since 2015, a distance of 302-53. In this year’s quarterfinals, the Badgers held Providence without a shot until nine minutes after the start of the second half – with an advantage of 82:31 when attempting to shoot in a 3-0 win.
Scouting report: Hilary Knight is one of Team USA’s most recognizable faces. Amid her international success, she was a star for the Badgers, graduating in 2012 as the program’s front runner in goals (143), points (262) and winning goals (30). Here’s Knight’s take on the 2021 Badgers.
“Their greatest team strength is that they are a dynamic group in both D and D. Excellent scoring opportunity / skill combined with experience and leadership. The key to winning the next round is a quick start and consistent puck management. Play badger hockey. My current favorite players are Britta Curl, Grace Bowlby and Natalie Butchbinder. I like the way Lacey Eden got into the badger roster. I think they can win anything because they’ve been there before and are hungry , to win . “
Ohio State Buckeyes
The stakes: In 2018 Ohio State made the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. The Buckeyes deserved another trip in 2020 after winning the WCHA championship. However, when they got to the airport to board their flight, they found that the tournament had been canceled. “Obviously the last year has been disappointing,” said Senior Tatum Skaggs. “The thing you have to keep in mind is that everyone has been through exactly the same thing. Everyone felt the same way. It just stinks because we were at such a high level last year and we won the WCHA and then it became obvious broken off We deserve that feeling now. We’re excited because we deserved to go to the national tournament last year and it just didn’t happen. So our time is now at last. “
Player to watch: Elderly striker Emma Maltais is a finalist for Patty Kazmaier. She and Skaggs (a team high of 19 points in 19 games) are the Buckeyes ‘two most talented players and top 10 on the Buckeyes’ record books for career points. Nine players have scored between 10 and 19 points this season.
Turning point: The Buckeyes face Wisconsin in the Frozen Four – a rematch from the WCHA championship game less than two weeks ago that the Badgers won in overtime. Ohio State and Wisconsin tied the season 2-2, but after the Badgers win the WCHA title, the Buckeyes seek revenge. The best game Ohio State has played this year was the WCHA semi-final, a 7-2 drubbing against Minnesota-Duluth – with a lot of pent-up energy after three straight weeks of training without a game.
Scouting report: Jincy Dunne graduated as one of the top defense attorneys in Ohio State programming history last year and became the first female ice hockey player to be named Ohio State Sportswoman of the Year. The two-year captain and two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year winner spent the past season as an assistant in the US state of Ohio. Here’s Dunne’s take on the 2021 Buckeyes.
“Your stamina and fitness are one of the team’s greatest strengths. In terms of X and O, your pre-exam is great, unstoppable, it’s super hard to play against. You have a lot of skill. And in terms of intangibles, me I think they are one of the hardest working teams ever. You will never find them. If there is time left there is always a chance, if they don’t already win. Their unit, their ability to get along is this Culture really special.
“I’m always partial to all defenders. Riley Brengman did a really great job as freshman D and will have a fantastic four years. It’s been a pleasure to watch Lisa Bruno and me develop over the past four years, I think Madison is bizal a rock star. She’s so solid, her side play is great. Sophie Jaques was my D partner and I just love her.
“I love to watch Tatum and Emma skate up front, they are so fast. And [Jenna] It was fun to watch Buglioni as a newbie and how she possessed her role.
“I give Nadine a lot of recognition and props [Muzzerall]Because as a manager, she set the standard for our program and did everything possible to ensure that we as athletes achieve this standard. And along the way, culture became a culture where we all really care about each other. “