NCAA Frozen Four Recap & Title Game Preview
Updated: May 1, 2022
This weekend is the Frozen Four for women’s hockey as the biggest ever field for the NCAA tournament will be crowning a champion on Sunday. The four teams in the semifinals included the runners-up of last years’ tournament Northeastern Huskies, the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, the overall number 1 seeded Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Yale Bulldogs.
The defending national champions, the Wisconsin Badgers lost to Northeastern in the quarterfinals as the Badgers struggled to find an offensive presence and be productive on the power play and penalty kill against a strong Huskies side. Two power-play goals led Northeastern to a 4-2 victory over the Badgers. The Huskies are the number 3 seed for the tournament.
For Minnesota Duluth, they took on the number 2 seed, Minnesota Golden Gophers, winning by a score of 2-1 after a goal from Gabbie Hughes early in the third period. The Gophers were the regular season WCHA champions based on points per game. They made it to the WCHA Final Faceoff as they beat the Duluth Bulldogs in the semifinals to advance to the final against Ohio State before ultimately losing in overtime.
The Ohio State Buckeyes faced the Quinnipiac Bobcats in a thriller quarterfinal, the Buckeyes just barely edging out the Bobcats by a score of 4-3 in double overtime. The Buckeyes are the WCHA Final Faceoff champions beating the Golden Gophers 3-2 in overtime. In their quarterfinal against Quinnipiac, the Buckeyes were tested being taken into double overtime before a winner was found by Clair DeGeorge to seal the trip to the frozen four for the Buckeyes.
The Yale Bulldogs were looking for revenge against ECAC rival, Colgate, after losing the conference final 2-1 the week prior to their NCAA quarterfinal against Colgate. The Bulldogs were successful on their revenge tour, beating the Raiders in overtime with a goal from Tess Dettling to send the Bulldogs to their first-ever Frozen Four.
Entering the Frozen Four, upset-minded Minnesota Duluth faced Northeastern, one of the most in-form teams in the country currently. The Huskies have two-time National Goaltender of the Year, Aerlin Frankel who very rarely gives up goals in the net making incredible saves for the Huskies to keep the game tied into the first overtime period. Duluth’s goaltender, Emma Soderberg equally made some amazing saves to keep her team level with the Huskies throughout the entire game. Northeastern struck first in this game with forward Skylar Irving scoring late into the second period to put the Huskies up 1-0, going into the second intermission. The Bulldogs were able to tie the game up about halfway through the third period with Taylor Anderson, scoring the goal that sent the game into OT.
At the 18:15 mark of the second overtime, Naomi Rogge sent the Bulldogs to their seventh ever NCAA title game. Rogge’s comment on her game-winner was simple, "The puck was just bouncing in the neutral zone, and I saw Hewey (McKenzie Hewett) fly and all of a sudden Giggy (Elizabeth Giguère) wound up with it. I was just trying to go hard to the net and I called for it and she gave it to me and I just tried to get it off as quick as I could." Getting past Frankel is no easy feat, and Rogge did so in beautiful and clutch fashion.
The Ohio State Buckeyes and Yale Bulldogs meet in the semifinals of this years’ NCAA tournament, both looking to clinch a spot in their first-ever national championship game. All the scoring in this game occurred in the second period of the game after a scoreless first period. Yale took an early lead in the second period scoring under two minutes into the second through Tabea Botthof. Ohio State went to the power play and was successful with Paetyn Levis after a brilliant passing scheme from the Buckeyes to set up Levis for the equalizer. Jenn Gardiner was able to use her technical ability and speed to get past the Yale defenders and roof a shot into the upper netting past Yale’s Gianni Meloni. Meloni made 36 saves for the Bulldogs, keeping this game a one-goal game throughout the second and third periods.
Ohio State’s head coach Nadine Muzerall commented on the game and atmosphere saying, “What an exciting game. We knew it was going to be a grind. It was a great crowd, a lot of fans. All the Penn State fans cheering against us, which is always fun, but the atmosphere was great. I just want to commend these girls. They came back from being down again. The last couple of games that we’ve had, we’ve been down and fought back, so I just really compliment how resilient they are and how they play with a lot of heart. They don’t quit and they believe in each other.”
The Buckeyes and Bulldogs will meet in an all-WCHA National Championship on Sunday, March 20 with the puck drop scheduled for 4 pm. The game will be streamed and available to watch on ESPNU. These two squads have met four times throughout the season having first faced off on December 3 and 4, and then again on January 21 and 22. The four-game series is split evenly with both Duluth and Ohio State recording 2 wins and 2 losses throughout the 4 games. In the December series, Duluth came out to a hot start, beating the Buckeyes by a score of 5-2. The Buckeyes responded well the next day winning the second game 6-2. During the January series, the same pattern continued with the Bulldogs coming out and winning the first game, this time by a score of 1-0. The Buckeyes, again, responded by beating the Bulldogs 3-1. So this national championship could go either way. As a recap, the Buckeyes are playing for their first-ever national championship in their first-ever national championship title game. The Bulldogs are playing for their sixth national championship and are in their seventh title game but their first since 2010 when they beat Cornell 3-2 in 3OTs. If the Bulldogs win, they will tie Minnesota and Wisconsin for the most ever national championships with six. If the Buckeyes win, they will become the fifth-ever national champion with only four teams ever winning the tournament before. It’s set up to be an amazing national championship and no matter what happens, it will be one for the books.
Fun Facts about this years’ Frozen Four
This is the first time ever the Frozen Four has not had either Minnesota or Wisconsin as one of the four teams
This tournament was the largest ever field of teams with 11 teams
Both teams in the national championship were on the losing side of the Frozen Four last year
Northeastern and UMD played last year with Northeastern winning 3-2 in OT
Wisconsin and OSU played last year with Wisconsin winning 4-2
There may be a new first-time champion for the first time since 2014 when Clarkson won their first national championship over Minnesota
The UMD-Northeastern game was the second-longest Frozen Four game ever, clocking in at 98:15