New Haven Lands 2004 Women’s Frozen Four

The bid to host the 2004 Women’s Frozen Four, the NCAA annual women’s hockey championship, has been awarded to New Haven. The announcement was made jointly Wednesday by co-hosts the New Haven Coliseum, Yale University and the ECAC.

The semifinals will be played on Friday, April 9, with the consolation and championship tilts on Sunday the 11th. Times have not been determined.

The 2004 event will be just the fourth NCAA Women’s Hockey Championship. The 2001 Frozen Four was played in Minneapolis, and 2002 is set for Durham, N.H., on the campus of New Hampshire. Next spring, the event will be hosted by Minnesota-Duluth.

The 8,000-seat New Haven Coliseum (NHC) first opened in 1972. While it turns 30-years-old next October, the first women’s hockey contest in the building was this winter. The U.S. National Women’s Hockey Team played an exhibition game on Dec. 15 and drew 3,276 for its win over Sweden.

“SMG and the Coliseum Authority are pleased to have joined forces with Yale University and the ECAC to land such a prestigious event,” said Coliseum General Manager Lisa Audi. “With national television coverage, numerous out-of-town guests and college hockey’s women’s championship to be crowned at the Coliseum, this is a great day for the city of New Haven.”

The 2002 championship will be broadcast live on CNN/Sports Illustrated and the New England Sports Network (NESN).

The Yale men’s hockey team has had 16 games at the NHC and averaged 4,579 fans. It was the site of the largest home crowd in the history of Yale hockey, when 7,460 showed up for the Bulldogs’ first game at their home away from home, the 1979 Harvard meeting. The Yale women’s program, which began in 1977, has played all of its home games at Ingalls Rink (cap. 3,486).

“We are proud and extremely excited to be a host of a national championship. The New Haven Coliseum is an excellent venue, and we will do what ever it takes to make this a great experience for the athletes, coaches and fans,” said Yale athletic director Tom Beckett.