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NCAA week 24 preview: Marching on to the finish

ECAC and WCHA feature most exciting semifinal match-ups

Will No. 1 Badgers take home WCHA crown?
uwbadgers.com

This week sees the end of conference play, with all teams looking to become champions and enter the NCAA tournament. In an exciting semifinal match-up we see top five teams Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota fighting for the WCHA trophy. UMD easily advanced to the Final Face-Off after sweeping St. Cloud State. With a 24-5-5 overall record (19-5-4 WCHA) the Bulldogs are a strong contender to win the WCHA this year. The defending National Champions had a more difficult time advancing to the Final Face-Off, taking all three games to do so. With a 25-6-5 overall record (19-4-5 WCHA) the Gophers can still pull off a trophy season.

John Mazza previews Week 24:

No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 5 Minnesota, Saturday March 4 @ Ridder Arena

  • The Bulldogs dominated St. Cloud State last weekend, sweeping the Huskies and advancing to the WCHA Final Face-Off.
  • Sophomore netminder Maddie Rooney (Andover, MN) made 21 saves for Duluth, leading her team to a 5-0 shutout.
  • With a goal and two assists, Patty Kaz finalist Lara Stalder (Luzern Switzerland), now has a point in her last 13 games. This effort helped propel the Bulldogs to a 6-2 win.
  • In a surprising turn of events, it took three game for the defending National Champions to advance to the WCHA semifinals.
  • Lee Stecklein (Roseville, MN), Patti Marshall (Thief River Falls, MN), and Katie Robinson (Kasson, MN) scored for the Gophers in the 3-1 victory in game one of the series.
  • After falling 2-1 in game two, Minnesota found itself in risk of missing the Final Face-Off. However, Kelly Pannek’s (Plymouth, MN) two goals lifted the Gophers to a 3-2 win and advanced them to their 18th consecutive Final Face-Off.

RIT vs. Penn State, Thursday March 2 @ HarborCenter

  • RIT finished the season fifth in the CHA, and now will face Penn State to advance to the semifinals.
  • Despite goals from Cassie Clayton (Pickering, ON) and Caitlin Wallace (Brantford, ON), the Tigers fell to Mercyhurst 3-2 last Friday.
  • In the last game of the regular season, RIT fell 4-0 to Mercyhurst. Netminder Brooke Stoddart (Elmvale, ON) made 29 saves in the loss.
  • Though swept by Syracuse, Penn State will be the four seed in the CHA tournament this weekend.
  • Amy Petersen (Minnetonka, MN) scored the lone goal for the Nittany Lions in the 5-1 loss on Friday night.
  • In her last regular season game, Hannah Ehresmann (Minnetonka, MN) stopped 21 of 23 shots, but her team could not find the back of the net falling 2-0 to the Orange.

No. 8 Princeton vs. No. 3 Clarkson, Saturday March 4 @ Cheel Arena

  • After taking an overtime loss in game one of the series to Quinnipiac, Princeton came back to take games two and three to advance to the semifinals of the ECAC tournament.
  • Coming off a 3-2 overtime loss, the Tigers knew it was win or go home. Freshman goaltender Steph Neatby (Toronto, ON) came up big, making 29 saves leading to a 2-0 shutout.
  • Two first period goals from Molly Contini (Arthur, ON) and Sylvie Wallin (Edina, MN) led Princeton to a 2-1 win in game three and a spot in the ECAC semifinals.
  • With a sweep of RPI, Clarkson easily advanced to the conference semifinal.
  • Taking a quick lead from a Corie Jacobson (Warren, ON) goal, the Golden Knights defeated the Engineers 4-1 on Friday.
  • Genevieve Bannon’s (Candiac, QC) two-goal performance on Saturday propelled Clarkson to a 5-2 victory.

Northeastern vs. Boston University, Saturday March 4 @ Walter Brown Arena

  • It was Husky versus Husky action as Northeastern swept UConn to gain a spot in the Hockey East semifinals.
  • A four-goal third period, as well as a 24 save performance from Brittany Bugalski (Boynton Beach, FL) led Northeastern to a 6-2 win in game one.
  • It took overtime for Northeastern to win game two. After ending regulation in a 2-2 tie, Denisa Křížová (Homi Cerekev, Czech Republic) scored the game-winning goal in overtime, sending Northeastern to the Walter Brown Arena this weekend.
  • Taking the series against New Hampshire in game three, the Terriers will play for their sixth Hockey East title on home ice this weekend.
  • After losing game one, BU came out strong in game two. Taking the lead on a Samantha Sutherland (Fernie, BC) short-handed goal, the Terriers defeated the Wildcats 4-3.
  • A two-goal performance by Rebecca Leslie (Ottawa, ON) gave the Terriers, and head coach Brian Durocher, their 250th win and advanced them to the Hockey East semifinals for the 10th straight season.

Note: All rankings listed are from Week 22’s SB Nation’s Women’s College Hockey Division 1 Poll.