After an exciting quarterfinal round that included two overtime games and one thrilling third-period finish, we’ve got our field for the 2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Frozen Four. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Clarkson, and Cornell all advanced to the semifinals with wins on Saturday.
No. 2 Minnesota and Cornell will face off in the first semifinal on Friday, March 22, at 4 p.m. ET. No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 4 Clarkson will play against each other in the later semifinal (7 p.m. ET). The winners of each of those games will advance to the national championship on Sunday, March 24. Cornell is the only team left in the field still searching for its first national title.
Wisconsin vs. Clarkson is a rematch of the 2017 NCAA championship game, in which the Golden Knights shut out the Badgers, 3-0. The Minnesota vs. Cornell matchup is a repeat of the 2012 semifinals, which saw the Gophers skate away with a 3-1 win. That marks the last time the Big Red advanced to the Frozen Four.
Here’s a quick rundown of how each team punched its ticket.
Cornell upsets Northeastern in overtime
The Big Red earned a huge road victory over Hockey East champion Northeastern to advance to the Frozen Four. One of Cornell’s biggest tasks in this game was containing the Huskies’ dangerous top line. They caught a break when it was announced that Alina Müller, Northeastern’s leading scorer, would not be playing due to an upper body injury. The Huskies looked a little shaky in the first period and Cornell took full advantage, jumping out to a 2-0 lead before the period closed. Amy Curlew tipped in a Kristin O’Neill shot, and then Grace Graham added another on the power play.
Northeastern picked up steam as the game went on, but couldn’t get on the board in the second period. But the Huskies have been prone to multi-goal outbursts this season, and they had another one left in them about midway through the third to tie the game up. First, Veronika Pettey scored on a diving play at the goal mouth to cut the deficit in half, and then Skylar Fontaine stepped into the play to tie things up about five minutes later. That set up an exciting overtime finish, with rookie Gillis Frechette sealing the deal for Cornell 5:19 into the extra frame on the great breakaway move below. The rookie has been hot lately, with all seven of her goals this season coming in the last 10 games.
Clutch Gene: Gillis Frechette has it!— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 16, 2019
The freshman from Weston, Mass. lifts @CornellWHockey to its first Women’s #FrozenFour appearance since 2012 with her OT game winner!#NCAAWHockey pic.twitter.com/uDca9a5BsP
Though the loss was tough for the Huskies, the game was still a historic one for the team. It was their first time hosting an NCAA Tournament game, and it set a new attendance record for a women’s hockey game at Northeastern with 1,401 fans on hand.
Redemption for Clarkson, heartbreak for BC
The Eagles led this one for the majority of regulation, but thanks to a goal from Clarkson defender Josiane Pozzebon, we got our second overtime matchup of the day. For BC, Daryl Watts scored at the 13:24 mark of the opening period to give her team a 1-0 lead. That score held until Pozzebon tied it up for the Golden Knights with 3:03 remaining in the third.
In their last meeting in the NCAA Tournament, these teams also went to overtime in the Frozen Four semifinals, with Boston College scoring the winner and advancing to the national title game. This time, it was Clarkson who came out on top. Loren Gabel and Elizabeth Giguère both pounced at a loose puck in front of Maddy McArthur; Giguère eventually swatted it home, and the Golden Knights will head to their fourth straight Frozen Four. They’ve won the last two. Last year, they won every tournament game in overtime, and they’re on their way to keeping that streak intact so far this year.
After a late tying goal in the third, @EliGiguere11 finds a loose puck in front to win the game in overtime and send the #GoldenKnights to their fourth consecutive #FrozenFour!! #LetsGoTech pic.twitter.com/dJtbMSn547— Clarkson Womens Hockey (@CUknights) March 17, 2019
Top-seed Wisconsin knocks out Syracuse
The Orange gave the Badgers a good fight in the first period, holding Wisconsin off the board and generating a couple of quality chances themselves. The best was a breakaway for Abby Moloughney, which Wisconsin goaltender Kristen Campbell turned away. In the second period, Annie Pankowski broke things open for the Badgers, netting two goals in a span of about 10 minutes to put her team ahead 2-0. Abby Roque and Presley Norby scored in the third period for a 4-0 final.
Syracuse goaltender Ady Cohen finished with 43 saves on 47 shots, and while the loss is disappointing, the Orange turned in a good effort for their first NCAA Tournament appearance. Cohen, who’s a junior, was an integral part of their run through the CHA and eventually the NCAA quarterfinals, providing Syracuse with stability in goal. At next week’s Frozen Four, look for Pankowski, Norby, and Britta Curl to continue to make an impact for the Badgers. Pankowkski and Curl each had a game-high eight shots on goal against the Orange, and Norby was a constant presence as well, adding six shots on goal to go along with her tally.
Gophers move on past Princeton
Princeton got off to a quick start in this one, as Sarah Fillier and Maggie Connors combined on a 2-on-1 to put the Tigers up 1-0. But the Gophers quickly took control of things after that, thanks in large part to the play of the Kelly Pannek-Sarah Potomak-Amy Potomak line. The Potomaks each scored a goal to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission. (Side note: their nickname is the “Pots and Pan” line, which is an automatic win.)
Early in the second, Fillier struck again to even the score at 2-2. The Pots and Pan line had another goal waved off, leading to a tight third period that saw the two squads trade chances in their efforts to net a go-ahead goal. Eventually, though, that Gopher line scored the winner with about eight minutes left in the game; Pannek knocked in a loose puck that Sarah Potomak had carried in on net. The Tigers pushed hard to tie it, and had one especially great chance right on the doorstep, but the Gophers put in two empty-net goals to skate to a 5-2 victory. Minnesota will surely be looking for that line to pick up right where they left off when they head to Hamden for the Frozen Four.