The long wait for the eight-team Division One NCAA women’s hockey tournament finally comes to an end this weekend. A tournament once limited to just the Frozen Four host site every year will finally be spread to four campus sites on Friday and Saturday this weekend, for what is sure to be an electric atmosphere across Minnesota and New England.
And it’s not just any eight-team NCAA bracket, it’s a fully-funded bracket. After months of refusing to comment on the specifics of its tournament pairings, the NCAA finally let its bracket do the talking. The NCAA is spending the money to fly all four visiting teams across the country not only to avoid intraconference quarterfinal matchups, but also to preserve perfect bracket integrity by ensuring that No. 1 Minnesota was paired with the lowest-ranked team of the tournament. It’s the kind of funding that the much more long-standing NCAA D-III men’s tourney, which failed to avoid a first-round intraconference matchup, can only dream about. But women’s hockey fans are certainly grateful to have it.
The truly national D-I tournament (still officially considered a “National Collegiate” tournament because D-II teams are involved) offers a unique opportunity to test the strength of the different conferences. No CHA or Hockey East teams reached NCAAs prior to this season, so how do their conference champions stack up against the best of the WCHA and ECACHL? The WCHA has been superior to the ECACHL in nonconference play so far this season, but what will be the story come March? A lot of questions will be answered this weekend.
NCAA Quarterfinal Schedule
Providence at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
St. Lawrence at Minnesota-Duluth, 7 p.m.
Mercyhurst at Harvard, 4 p.m.
Wisconsin at Dartmouth, 7 p.m.
Internet Broadcast Info
The game at Minnesota is available through www.gophersports.com. The game at UMD is available through www.warpradio.com and entering the call letters WDSM in the upper corner. The game at Harvard is available through USCHO Game of the Week postseason broadcast schedule.
USCHO Game of the Week: Wisconsin at Dartmouth
The Game of the Week preview can be found here.
Providence (21-10-5, 14-4-2 Hockey East)
Top Scorers: Karen Thatcher, Jr., F (25-33-58), Rush Zimmerman, Sr., F (26-30-56), Sonny Watrous, So., F (21-18-39)
Top Goaltender: Amy Thomas, Sr. (20-9-5, 2.43, .898)
Scoring Offense: 3.25 (9th)
Scoring Defense: 2.58 (16th)
Penalty Minutes: 14.3 (9th)
Power Play: 42 of 228, 18.4% (9th)
Penalty Kill: 206 of 235, 87.7% (9th)
Providence-Minnesota is one of two quarterfinal that matches conference champions — Harvard-Mercyhurst is the other… The Friars bring a seven-game unbeaten streak into the postseason… They are 2-1-1 against the NCAA field with a 5-1 win over St. Lawrence, a 1-1 tie against Harvard, a 10-2 loss to Dartmouth and a 4-3 win over Mercyhurst… Rush Zimmerman has scored half of her 26 goals in the Friars’ last 13 games… Providence is 13-0-1 when leading after the first period, but just 9-7-2 on the road.
No. 1 Minnesota (33-2-2 overall, 25-1-2 WCHA)
Top Scorers: Natalie Darwitz, Jr., F (39-63-102), Krissy Wendell, Jr., F (40-55-95), Kelly Stephens, Sr., (30-39-69)
Top Goaltender: Jody Horak, Sr. (21-2-2, 1.39, .928)
Scoring Offense: 4.86 (1st)
Scoring Defense: 1.30 (2nd)
Penalty Minutes: 13.1 (16th)
Power Play: 64 of 212, 30.2% (1st)
Penalty Kill: 192 of 213, 90.1% (3rd)
Minnesota has won 19 of 20, and the only defeat, a 4-2 loss to Minnesota-Duluth, was the only game during that stretch in which the Gophers allowed more than three goals… The more recent 1-0 win over UMD is also the only time the Gophers were outshot all season… The Gophers are 8-2-2 against the NCAA tournament field this season… Minnesota is 17-0-1 at Ridder Arena this season… With 102 points, Natalie Darwitz is just 12 short of the all-time single-season mark held by A.J. Mleczko (Harvard ’99)… The Gophers lead the nation with 19 shorthanded goals, and Krissy Wendell leads the individual race with seven… Lyndsay Wall has scored 32 of her 45 points on the power play.
Providence-Minnesota Series History
All-time: 5-1-0 Minnesota
10/24/99: PC 1, Minnesota 0
10/23/99: Minnesota 3, PC 1
2/21/99: Minnesota 5, PC 1
2/20/99: Minnesota 1, PC 0
12/29/97: Minnesota 3, PC 0
St. Lawrence (26-7-5, 14-3-3 ECAC)
Top Scorers: Rebecca Russell, Sr., F (28-35-63), Emilie Berlinguette, Jr., F (20-23-43), Chelsea Grills, So., F (19-23-42)
Top Goaltenders: Jess Moffat, Jr. (10-2-3, 1.88, .929), Meaghan Guckian, Fr. (13-5-2, 2.28, .922)
Scoring Offense: 3.26 (8th)
Scoring Defense: 2.05 (8th)
Penalty Minutes: 14.6 (7th)
Power Play: 39 of 262, 14.9% (16th)
Penalty Kill: 202 of 238, 84.9% (16th)
St. Lawrence went 3-3-2 down the stretch after a 23-4-3 start… the Saints went 2-4-2 against the NCAA field this year… The Saints are 1-2 all-time in the NCAA tournament… The first NCAA regional quarterfinal will also be a rematch of the first NCAA final in 2001 won by UMD… Emilie Berlinguette had just six points in her first 13 games but now has 37 in her last 23… St. Lawrence went 12-5-2 away from Appleton Arena this season.
No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth (26-5-2 overall, 22-4-2 WCHA)
Top Scorers: Caroline Ouellette, Sr., F (31-47-78), Noemie Marin, So., F (29-26-55), Jessica Koizumi, So., F (24-16-40)
Top Goaltender: Riitta Schaublin, So. (20-3-1, 1.46, .944)
Scoring Offense: 3.91 (5th)
Scoring Defense: 1.55 (4th)
Penalty Minutes: 15.2 (5th)
Power Play: 50 of 219, 22.8% (5th)
Penalty Kill: 186 of 202, 92.1% (2nd)
UMD went 3-3 down the stretch after a 23-2-2 start… UMD went 6-4-1 against the NCAA field, 1-2-1 against the Gophers, 3-2 against Wisconsin and 2-0 against Harvard… UMD is 6-0 all-time in the NCAA tournament… UMD went 13-1 at home this year, its lone loss was in its last game against Minnesota, but Friday’s quarterfinal will not be played at the DECC… Second-liner Ali Lehrke has points in five of UMD’s last six games.
St. Lawrence – UMD Series History
All-time: 7-1-0 Minnesota-Duluth
11/2/03: UMD 5, SLU 0
11/1/03: SLU 3, UMD 2
12/9/01: UMD 4, SLU 1
12/8/01: UMD 8, SLU 2
*3/25/01: UMD 4, SLU 2
Mercyhurst (28-6-2, 11-0-1 CHA)
Top Scorers: Teresa Marchese, Sr., F (20-31-51), Samantha Shirley, Jr., F (17-19-36), Stefanie Bourbeau, So., F (18-11-29)
Top Goaltenders: Desirae Clark, Sr. (16-6-2, 1.14, .940), Laura Hosier, Fr. (12-0-0, 0.75, .953)
Scoring Offense: 3.69 (6th)
Scoring Defense: 1.06 (1st)
Penalty Minutes: 13.2 (15th)
Power Play: 46 of 228, 20.2% (6th)
Penalty Kill: 197 of 213, 92.5% (1st)
Since a 4-0 Nov. 28 victory over New Hampshire, Mercyhurst is 21-2, the best record in the country since that date, and the Lakers’ 10-0-0 active unbeaten streak is second only to Harvard’s… The Lakers are 0-3-1 against other teams in the NCAA field, St. Lawrence (2-2 T, 1-2 L), Dartmouth (3-4 L), Providence (2-3 L)… Mercyhurst is 22-0-1 when leading after the first period but 0-4-1 when trailing after the second period… Mercyhurst drew a school-record 1,123 fans for its only other meeting with Harvard, and there was a Wednesday night pep rally to send off the Lakers for the upcoming NCAA quarterfinal… Goalies Laura Hosier and Desirae Clark are 1-2 nationally in the major goaltending categories… Teresa Marchese has averaged a goal and an assist per game in her last eight games… Samantha Shirley has 17 goals and 15 assists in the Lakers’ last 23 games after having just four points in their 7-4-2 start… The Lakers’ losses to St. Lawrence and Providence are the only games in which their goaltenders have faced more than 30 shots… Mercyhurst is second nationally with 11 shorthanded goals.
Harvard (24-6-3 overall, 17-1-2 ECAC)
Top Scorers: Nicole Corriero, Sr., F (54-29-83), Julie Chu, Jr., F (12-49-61), Sarah Vaillancourt, Fr., F (21-38-59)
Top Goaltender: Ali Boe, Jr. (20-5-2, 1.79, .913)
Scoring Offense: 4.45 (4th)
Scoring Defense: 1.79 (5th)
Penalty Minutes: 13.8 (11th)
Power Play: 52 of 210, 24.8% (2nd)
Penalty Kill: 178 of 199, 89.4% (6th)
Harvard’s 17-0-2 mark in 2005 is the longest unbeaten streak in the nation… the Crimson has killed penalties at a 93 percent success rate during that stretch, having allowed just eight power play goals, after allowing 13 in its first 14 games… Harvard goalie Ali Boe has a 94 percent save percentage in her last 10 starts, and she posted a 97 percent save percentage in the ECACHL tournament… Harvard has been held to fewer than 30 shots just five times this season, in losses to UMD and Minnesota and wins over Brown, Princeton and Dartmouth… Harvard went 4-4-2 against schools in the NCAA field, 4-0-1 against the ECACHL schools, 0-4 against the WCHA schools in 2004, plus a tie against Providence… Harvard’s top line includes three of the nation’s top seven scorers per game, including the all-time single-season goal-scoring leader Nicole Corriero… Senior defenseman Ashley Banfield trails only Minnesota’s Lyndsay Wall in points per game among defensemen… The Crimson has a power play goal in 16 of its last 17 games, good for a 32 percent conversion rate during that stretch.
Mercyhurst-Harvard Series History
All-time: 1-0-0 Harvard
2/2/03: Harvard 5, Mercyhurst 2