NCAA ladies’s hockey event — Matchups, gamers to observe, Frozen 4 picks

 

The NCAA ladies’s hockey event is greater and higher than ever in 2021.

This yr the sector expands from eight to 11 groups, with play starting Thursday March 10. The highest 4 seeds will host the regional semifinals and finals, with the Frozen 4 being held March 18 and 20 at Penn State.

To get you prepared for all of the motion, ESPN analyst Angela Ruggiero, who performed within the Frozen 4 with Harvard twice and received a nationwide title in 1999, supplies her tackle every workforce and her prime gamers to observe. Moreover, Ruggiero and ESPN analyst A.J. Mleczko make their picks for who will make this yr’s Frozen 4 and who will win the nationwide championship.

Schedule

Regional semifinals, March 10: No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 6 Quinnipiac, 6 p.m. ET

Regional semifinals, March 11: No. 10 Clarkson vs. No. 7 Wisconsin, 7 p.m. ET; No. 9 Harvard vs. No. 8 Minnesota Duluth, 7 p.m. ET

Regional finals, March 12: Quinnipiac/Syracuse winner at No. 1 Ohio State, 5 p.m. ET; No. 5 Yale at No. 4 Colgate, time TBD

Regional finals, March 13: Minnesota Duluth/Harvard winner at No. 2 Minnesota, 3 p.m. ET; Wisconsin/Clarkson winner at No. 3 Northeastern, 1 p.m. ET

Frozen 4 semifinals, March 18: 3 and seven:30 p.m. ET, at State Faculty, Pennsylvania (ESPN+)

Frozen 4 ultimate, March 20: 4 p.m. ET, at State Faculty, Pennsylvania (ESPNU)


Groups at a look

1. Ohio State (29-6)

How they obtained in: WCHA event champion

Numbers to know: The Buckeyes, who beat Wisconsin and Minnesota en path to the WCHA title, have the highest offense within the nation with 4.79 targets per sport and are No. 3 in scoring protection (1.47 targets allowed per sport). 4 of Ohio State’s school-record 29 wins have come in opposition to Minnesota.

Ruggiero’s take: With Sophie Jaques on protection main the workforce with 57 factors (together with 11 power-play targets) and a plus-48 plus/minus, coach Nadine Muzerall is doing an awesome job of conserving this workforce disciplined and centered.

2. Minnesota (29-8-1)

How they obtained in: At-large berth

Numbers to know: The Gophers have simply 4 losses for the reason that begin of December, together with their additional time loss to Ohio State within the WCHA ultimate, and have outscored their opponents 100-39 in that span. That stretch included wins over Ohio State, Minnesota Duluth and a 4-0 file in opposition to Wisconsin. Minnesota has some further motivation in returning to the NCAA event after lacking out final yr for the primary time in 15 seasons.

Ruggiero’s take: Minnesota got here on very sturdy within the second half of the season. Ahead Taylor Heise is the main scorer within the nation with 66 factors, and along with her, the Gophers are very deep offensively and play an aggressive sport.

3. Northeastern (30-4-2)

How they obtained in: Hockey East event champion

Numbers to know: Northeastern, which has received a conference-record 5 straight Hockey East titles and was final season’s nationwide runner-up, will not be solely the NCAA chief in scoring protection (1.00 targets per sport), however has the nation’s prime goal-scorer in Maureen Murphy (29 targets in 35 video games).

Ruggiero’s take: With eight graduate college students, Northeastern has an extremely mature workforce. Skylar Fontaine could be very sturdy on protection and ahead Alina Mueller, who has 38 factors in simply 19 video games this season, is again after representing Switzerland within the Olympics.

4. Colgate (30-7-1)

How they obtained in: ECAC event champion

Numbers to know: Colgate enters the NCAA event with 13 wins in its final 14 video games, together with wins over Harvard and at Quinnipiac and Clarkson. Along with being one of many prime scoring groups within the nation, averaging practically 4 targets per sport, the Raiders allowed simply 18 targets over that 14-game stretch.

Ruggiero’s take: Colgate all the time reveals up in large tournaments and has a latest historical past of defeating WCHA groups within the NCAAs. The Raiders will have the ability to depend on this confidence over the subsequent two weeks.

5. Yale (25-8-1)

How they obtained in: At-large berth

Numbers to know: The Bulldogs, the one workforce within the discipline making its first NCAA look, are one of many prime defensive groups within the nation, permitting 1.53 targets per sport.

Ruggiero’s take: Yale additionally reveals up in large video games and has had a wonderful season offensively along with being strong on the blue line. Opening with a rematch in opposition to Colgate after falling in additional time within the ECAC ultimate, Yale is one to observe.

6. Quinnipiac (25-9-3)

How they obtained in: At-large berth

Numbers to know: The Bobcats slumped a bit within the second half with an 8-7-1 file from the beginning of January by way of the top of the common season, however bounced again with a formidable quarterfinal sweep of Clarkson within the ECAC playoffs earlier than dropping to Colgate within the semis.

Ruggiero’s take: Quinnipiac is great at getting again on protection and profiting from offensive alternatives. The Bobcats are bodily and good, and might be a sleeper workforce.

7. Wisconsin (25-7-4)

How they obtained in: At-large berth

Numbers to know: After beginning out 16-0 and reaching No. 1 within the polls, defending nationwide champion Wisconsin slipped to 6-5-1 over its final 12 video games of the common season. That included a 1-5 mark in opposition to NCAA event groups Minnesota, Ohio State and Minnesota Duluth.

Ruggiero’s take: Fifth-year senior Daryl Watts and sophomore Makenna Webster are two gamers to look out for as Wisconsin has a harmful group of forwards. The Badgers’ younger goalies are a attainable weak point however Wisconsin has allowed solely 4 power-play targets all season.

8. Minnesota Duluth (24-11-1)

How they obtained in: At-large berth

Numbers to know: Minnesota Duluth misplaced solely twice in its final 16 video games of the common season, a stretch that included wins over Harvard, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Ruggiero’s take: Gabbie Hughes and Elizabeth Giguere (the Patty Kazmaier winner in 2020 and a finalist this yr) are standout gamers for Minnesota Duluth. Coach Maura Crowell certainly would have cherished to have crushed Minnesota within the WCHA ultimate to construct some momentum and confidence, however the Bulldogs fell brief.

9. Harvard (22-9-1)

How they obtained in: At-large berth

Numbers to know: Harvard, making its twelfth NCAA look however its first since 2015, is tied for sixth within the nation with 3.53 targets per sport and has a top-five power-play unit.

Ruggiero’s take: Regardless of dropping to Princeton within the best-of-three quarterfinals, the Crimson have been dominant within the ECAC exterior of that upset, so that they might be a contender right here.

10. Clarkson (22-11-3)

How they obtained in: At-large berth

Numbers to know: Clarkson made the NCAA discipline on the power of its sturdy first half, because the Golden Knights dropped six of their ultimate eight video games, together with a two-game sweep by Quinnipiac within the ECAC quarterfinals.

Ruggiero’s take: Regardless of their late hunch within the rankings, Clarkson has had an awesome season, led by veteran Caitrin Lonergan, and the Golden Knights have a wonderful energy play, changing at 20%. They do have a really younger roster, and that confirmed late within the season.

11. Syracuse (15-10-6)

How they obtained in: CHA event champion

Numbers to know: The Orange, who have been the highest seed within the CHA event, claimed the second NCAA berth in program historical past by beating Mercyhurst 3-2 in additional time. Syracuse additionally went to OT in its 3-2 semifinal win over RIT.

Ruggiero’s take: Syracuse is a really defensively minded, which is a good factor for this event, and the Orange have plenty of momentum (unbeaten in 11 of their final 12 video games).


Gamers to observe

Skylar Fontaine, Northeastern: Rock strong on the blue line, Fontaine and goaltender Aerin Frankin make for a killer mixture for the Huskies.

Elizabeth Giguere, Minnesota Duluth: Giguere, who received the Patty Kaz award in 2020 with Clarkson, is a power offensively and brings plenty of expertise in her ultimate yr.

Alina Mueller, Northeastern: Mueller had a dominant efficiency for Switzerland within the Olympics because the workforce’s main scorer (4 targets, six assists) and has had three factors in every of her three video games since returning.

Daryl Watts, Wisconsin: The fifth-year senior received the Patty Kaz in 2018 with Boston Faculty and is a top-10 finalist for the fourth time. She is seven factors shy of the profession file of 303, held by Mercyhurst’s Meghan Agosta.

Taylor Heise, Minnesota: The nation’s main scorer was an enormous motive for the Gophers’ success within the again half of the season. She additionally leads the NCAA with 5 short-handed targets and has a plus-44 plus/minus score.

Aerin Franklin, Northeastern: The 2021 Patty Kaz winner, Frankel might be the difference-maker on this event. She led the NCAA in wins (24) and shutouts (11), whereas posting a 1.03 goals-against common and a .956 save proportion.


Frozen 4 picks

Angela Ruggiero: Ohio State, Minnesota, Northeastern, Colgate
Nationwide champ: Ohio State

A.J. Mleczko: Ohio State, Minnesota, Northeastern, Colgate
Nationwide champ: Northeastern

 

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