The Golden Gopher women’s hockey team punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament by winning the program’s seventh WCHA Final Faceoff title and earning the WCHA’s automatic NCAA tournament bid over the weekend. The No. 5 Gophers and No. 2 Badgers face off in the NCAA quarterfinal round at 2:07 p.m. CT Saturday at LaBahn Arena in Madison, Wis.
About the NCAA Tournament Field
Minnesota (24-10-3) earned one of four automatic bids into the NCAA tournament after winning the WCHA Final Faceoff. The Gophers join conference champions Mercyhurst (CHA), Clarkson (ECAC Hockey), and Northeastern (Hockey East) to make up the automatic qualifiers. The Golden Knights got the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, followed by at-large qualifiers No. 2 seed Wisconsin, No. 3 seed Colgate, and No. 4 seed Boston College. Ohio State rounds out the NCAA tournament field as the fourth at-large selection. Along with Minnesota at Wisconsin, the other NCAA quarterfinal matchups have Mercyhurst at Clarkson, Ohio State at Boston College, and Northeastern at Colgate.
Gophers in the NCAA Postseason
Minnesota is making its 11th-straight and 16th overall appearance in the NCAA postseason. The Gophers have won four of the last six national championships, and Minnesota has only missed the NCAA tournament twice in its 18-year history. Overall, the Gophers are 24-10-1 in NCAA tournament games since 2000-01.
The Gophers are 10-2 all-time in NCAA quarterfinal games since the tournament expanded to eight teams in 2005. A year ago, Minnesota defeated Minnesota Duluth on the road by a score of 1-0 in the NCAA quarterfinal a week after falling to the Bulldogs in double overtime in the WCHA semifinal round.
Last season, the Gophers saw their streak of NCAA title game appearances come to an end at five with a national semifinal loss to eventual national champion Clarkson, but Minnesota made the program’s sixth-straight and 13th overall appearance at the Frozen Four. Since 2011-12, the Gophers are 15-2-0 in NCAA games. Minnesota owns an all-time record of 24-10-1 in NCAA tournament games since 2000-01 as well.
About the Series: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin
The Gophers are 50-34-11 all-time against Wisconsin. Minnesota is 1-4-0 against Wisconsin this year as the Badgers won all four regular-season meetings this year in four one-goal games. Just last weekend, the Gophers won 3-1 over their border rivals in the WCHA title game. Grace Zumwinkle (2g-2a), Nicole Schammel (1g-3a), Taylor Wente (1g-2a), and Sydney Baldwin (2g-1a) lead Minnesota against Wisconsin this season, and Sidney Peters has played all five games in net, combining for 125 saves on 136 shots faced.
Last Time Out: Minnesota 3, Wisconsin 1
Sidney Peters led Minnesota at the WCHA Final Faceoff by making 64 saves on 65 shots faced and earning WCHA Final Faceoff Most Outstanding Player honors. Sydney Baldwin, Taylor Williamson, and Grace Zumwinkle joined Peters on the all-tournament team as Minnesota defeated Ohio State, 2-0, and Wisconsin, 3-1, in the WCHA tournament. Zumwinkle (2g-1a), Taylor Wente (1g-2a), Olivia Knowles (2a), and Nicole Schammel (1g-1a) led the Gophers on the score sheet over the weekend.
Gophers Win WCHA Final Faceoff
Minnesota won the program’s seventh WCHA postseason tournament last weekend. The Gophers’ 2018 Final Faceoff title is Minnesota’s first since 2014. The Gophers won three-straight titles in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and took home WCHA postseason crowns in 2002, 2004, and 2005. Minnesota has a 48-14-0 all-time mark in WCHA postseason games, including Sunday’s title game win over Wisconsin.
Twenty Years of Gopher Women’s Hockey
Minnesota enters the NCAA postseason with an all-time program record of 621-130-52. The 2017-18 season marks the 21st season in Gopher women’s hockey history, and Minnesota secured the program’s 599th and 600th all-time wins on the road at Bemidji State earlier this season.
NCAA Frozen Four Returns to Ridder Arena
The NCAA Women’s Frozen Four returns to Ridder Arena this season, marking the fourth time the national championship will be played on the Gophers’ home ice. Ticket packages and single-session tickets are on sale now. The national semifinals are scheduled for Friday, March 16 with the national championship game to follow on Sunday, March 18. Ridder Arena hosted the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four in 2010, 2013, and 2015.
Sydney Baldwin (12g-20a), Nicole Schammel (17g-15a), Sophie Skarzynski (8g-19a), Caitlin Reilly (9g-17a), Alex Woken (10g-12a), Patti Marshall (2g-15a), Lindsay Agnew (5g-8a), and Kippin Keller (2g-8a) have already reached career-highs for scoring this season.
MNN Sports Director Mike Grimm sat down with WCHA Player of the Year Sydney Baldwin of Minnetonka to preview the weekend:
(info and picture courtesy of Gopher Sports)