The Golden Gopher women’s hockey team continues its quest for a historic eighth national title by making the program’s 14th appearance at the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four this week. No. 2 seed Minnesota (31-5-1) faces Cornell (24-5-6) in Friday’s first national semifinal at 3 p.m. CT at the People’s United Center in Hamden, Conn.
The second semifinal features No. 1 seed Wisconsin (33-4-2) and No. 4 seed Clarkson (30-7-2) with puck drop set for 6 p.m. CT, and the semifinal winners advance to the national championship game at 1:30 p.m. CT Sunday.
Fans can catch all three Frozen Four games live on the Big Ten Network. Free audio and live stats will be available at GopherSports.com, and tickets for the Frozen Four are on sale now at QuinnipiacBobcats.com.
2019 NCAA Frozen Four: How They Got Here
No. 2 seed Minnesota used a 5-2 win over Princeton to advance to the Frozen Four while top-seeded Wisconsin, the WCHA Final Faceoff champion, defeated CHA tournament champion Syracuse by a score of 4-0 in the quarterfinal round. The other two quarterfinal games required overtime as Cornell upset No. 3 seed and Hockey East tournament champion Northeastern, 3-2 in overtime, and No. 4 seed Clarkson, the ECAC Hockey tournament champion, prevailed over Boston College, 2-1 in overtime.
Gophers in the NCAA Postseason
Minnesota is making its 12th-straight and 17th overall appearance in the NCAA postseason. The 2019 WCHA regular-season champion Gophers have won four of the last seven national championships, and Minnesota has only missed the NCAA tournament twice in its 19-year history. Overall, the Gophers are 25-11-1 in NCAA tournament games since 2000-01.
Gophers at the Frozen Four
Minnesota returns to the NCAA Frozen Four after a one year hiatus and is making the program’s 14th overall Frozen Four appearance. The Gophers are 14-8-1 at the Frozen Four, including going 8-5-0 in national semifinal games, since the 2000-01 season.
Minnesota is 21-0-0 when leading at the first intermission this season, and the Gophers improve to 25-0-0 when leading at the second intermission.
When allowing only one goal this season, Minnesota is perfect at 11-0-0.
Grace Zumwinkle is tied for second in the nation with seven power-play goals this season.
Emily Brown (4g-23a) is tied for ninth in the nation in scoring among blue-liners with 27 points.
Nicole Schammel leads the Gophers with 13 multi-point games, and she has at least one point in 30 games this season.
Gophers Balances Frozen Four Veterans and Newcomers
Fourteen Gophers are making their Frozen Four debuts this season as Minnesota’s freshmen and sophomores, along with transfers Sydney Scobee and Jackie Pieper, make their first-ever Frozen Four appearances. Meanwhile, 11 Gophers have competed at two Frozen Fours, and redshirt senior Kelly Pannek leads the way as a three-time NCAA Frozen Four participant and two-time national champion.
About the Series: Minnesota vs. Cornell
Minnesota owns a 4-0-0 all-time record against Cornell dating back to November 1997. Most recently, the Gophers defeated Cornell by a score of 3-1 in the 2012 NCAA semifinal round in Duluth, Minn. The previous three meetings saw Minnesota earn a home sweep over the Big Red in February 1999 and post a 3-2 win in a tournament at Princeton in February 1997.
About the Series: Minnesota vs. Clarkson
Minnesota is 5-2-0 all-time against Clarkson in an all-time series dating back to November 2009. The Gophers and Golden Knights have met in three NCAA tournament games with Minnesota going 1-2-0; the Gophers won 3-2 in overtime in the 2010 NCAA quarterfinal round but most recently fell 5-4 in the 2014 national championship and dropped a 4-3 decision in the 2017 national semifinal round.
About the Series: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin
Minnesota has a 52-38-11 all-time record against the Badgers in a series dating back to February 1998. The Gophers and Badgers split two series during the 2018-19 regular season with Minnesota winning 1-0 and falling 4-1 on the road in Madison, Wis., in late October before losing 2-1 and winning 3-1 at Ridder Arena in mid-January. Most recently, the Gophers fell 3-1 to the Badgers in the WCHA Final Faceoff championship game.
In 37 games, Nicole Schammel (15g-31a), Grace Zumwinkle (25g-16a), and Taylor Heise (13g-22a) lead the Gophers in scoring. Schammel leads the WCHA with 31 assists while Zumwinkle leads the league with 25 goals, and Heise is third in scoring among WCHA rookies with 35 points.
Spreading the Wealth
Ten Gopher forwards have scored at least nine goals this season and, in total, 19 different skaters have scored goals. Eight Gophers have at least 25 points, and 15 different players have reached double figures for scoring on the year. Fifteen different players have scored game-winning goals for Minnesota led by five from Taylor Heise.
Nation’s Top-Scoring Offense
The Gophers have the NCAA tournament field’s top-scoring offense averaging 4.27 goals per game while allowing just 1.81 goals per game. Minnesota’s 158 goals for this season is the best in the NCAA. The Gophers had a 14-game winning streak from Nov. 2 to Jan. 12, outscoring opponents, 74-24.
Special Special Teams
The Gophers rank second in the NCAA with a .253 power-play percentage (25-for-99). Meanwhile, the Gophers are third in the WCHA with a penalty kill percentage of .859 (73-for-85).
2019 Senior Salute
The Gophers celebrated their eight seniors Tianna Gunderson, Emma May, Kelly Pannek, Jackie Pieper, Nicole Schammel, Sophie Skarzynski, Sierra Smith, and Taylor Williamson during the team’s series with Minnesota State (Feb. 15-16). Over the last four seasons, Minnesota has posted an overall record of 116-28-10 in 152 games from 2015-16 to 2018-19. The Gophers went 75-19-10 in WCHA regular-season games over the last four years. The Gophers seniors have hung three banners during the last four seasons as Minnesota won the 2016 national championship, took home the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff title, and most recently won the 2019 WCHA regular-season championship.
Minnesota’s 1-0 win over Wisconsin (Oct. 27) marked the 350th career win for head coach Brad Frost, whose all-time coaching record now stands at 374-69-31. Frost is in his 12th season at the helm of the program.
MNN Sports Director Mike Grimm spoke with Brad Frost about the weekend:
Kelly Pannek is Minnesota’s active career scoring leader ranked 10th all-time with 186 points (72g-114a). She chases Gigi Marvin in ninth place (87g-108a). Pannek’s 114 career assists are tied for sixth in program history; she recorded her 100th career assist in Minnesota’s season-opener. Sarah Potomak is tied for 25th in program history with 132 career points (45g-87a) as well.
Six Gopher rookies have scored their first collegiate goals as Amy Potomak (Sept. 28) and Taylor Heise (Sept. 29) scored in Minnesota’s season-opening weekend while Catie Skaja found the back of the net against Minnesota Duluth (Oct. 5), and Emily Oden scored her first two career goals against St. Cloud State (Oct. 13). Abigail Boreen netted her first collegiate goal against St. Cloud State (Nov. 17), and Crystalyn Hengler found the back of the net against Ohio State (Jan. 26).
WCHA Regular-Season Champions
This season Minnesota won the program’s 10th WCHA regular-season title and the Gophers’ first since the 2014-15 season as the Maroon & Gold wrapped up the regular season with a road sweep at Bemidji State to secure six league points. The Gophers finished with 58 points, two points ahead of regular-season runner-up Wisconsin with 56 points. As regular-season champions, Minnesota won the first-ever Julianne Bye Cup, the new WCHA regular-season championship trophy named in honor of long-time women’s hockey advocate Julianne Bye.
Gophers Finish as WCHA Final Faceoff Runner-Up
Minnesota fell to Wisconsin by a score of 3-1 in the WCHA Final Faceoff championship game after posting a 4-1 win over Minnesota Duluth in the semifinal round. Nicole Schammel led all players with three points in the WCHA Final Faceoff, scoring two goals including the game-winner against the Bulldogs and recording an assist on Minnesota’s lone goal against Wisconsin. Grace Zumwinkle (2g) and Emily Brown (2a) had multiple points for the Gophers in the WCHA tournament as well.
Gophers Medal at Four Nations Cup
Kelly Pannek joined Gopher alums Megan Bozek, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Amanda Kessel, and Gigi Marvin in winning gold with the U.S. Women’s National Team at the 2018 Four Nations Cup. Fellow Gophers alumna Noora Raty won bronze with Finland in the tournament, while redshirt junior Sarah Potomak was named to Canada’s National Women’s Team for the tournament but was unable to participate due to injury.
Pannek Serving as Captain
Kelly Pannek is Minnesota’s captain this year. Pannek returned to Minnesota for her redshirt senior season as an Olympic gold medalist after helping Team USA to gold at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Twenty Years of WCHA Women’s Hockey
The 2018-19 season marks the league’s 20th anniversary season. Throughout the season, the WCHA has celebrated the past, present, and future of college hockey’s premier conference. Gopher greats Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Natalie Darwitz, Amanda Kessel, Gigi Marvin, Noora Raty, and Krissy Wendell were among the 20 players named to the WCHA’s 20th Anniversary Team.
Gophers Sign Three for 2019-20
Three incoming student-athletes are joining the Gophers for 2019-20 in goaltender Makayla Pahl (Rochester, Minn.), forward Sydney Shearen (Hugo, Minn.), and defense Madeline Wethington (Edina, Minn.). Wethington received the 2019 Minnesota Ms. Hockey award and led Blake to a Section 6AA runner-up showing while Shearen led White Bear Lake to the Section 4AA title and finished with 25 points (14g-11a) in 25 games played. Pahl was a 2019 Let’s Play Hockey Senior Goalie of the Year award finalist and posted a .940 save percentage with a 2.50 goals against average in 21 games for Rochester Mayo this season.
After Minnesota played in the Windjammer Classic (Nov. 23-24), Vermont became the 14th state where the Gophers have competed in program history: Connecticut, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
Home, Sweet Home
The 2018-19 season marks the 17th season of Ridder Arena serving as the home of Gopher women’s hockey. Minnesota has an all-time record of 285-46-21 in home games at Ridder Arena, including a 17-4-0 mark in 2018-19, dating back to the 2002-03 season.
Quest for Eighth National Title in 2018-19
Minnesota has won four of the last seven national championships and has seven national titles overall (2000, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016). The team looks for a historic eighth title national crown in 2018-19.