Women’s Frozen Four 2024: Schedule, top players, how to watch


The 11-team field for the 2024 NCAA women’s hockey tournament is set, with the Frozen Four to be held March 22 and 24 at the Whittemore Center in Durham, New Hampshire.

The top two seeds — Ohio State and Wisconsin — were the last two teams standing last season, with the Badgers beating the Buckeyes 1-0 for the national title. The teams have combined to win the past four NCAA tournaments, with the Badgers taking the title in 2023, 2021 and 2019, and the Buckeyes winning it all in 2022. (The tournament was not held in 2020 because of COVID-19.)

The NCAA field consists of the five conference champions — from the CHA, ECAC, Hockey East, NEWHA and WCHA — plus six at-large teams, based on the PairWise rankings. The top five seeds have a first-round bye, with the other six teams squaring off March 14. The regional finals will be hosted by the top four seeds on March 16.

To get you ready for all the action, ESPN college hockey analyst Paige Capistran breaks down all 11 teams in the field and shares her players to watch. Capistran and fellow ESPN analyst Angela Ruggiero also make their Frozen Four picks.

Schedule

All times ET

First round
March 14

No. 8 Minnesota Duluth 1, No. 9 UConn 0 (2 OT)

No. 6 Cornell 7, No. 11 Stonehill 1

No. 7 St. Lawrence 1, No. 10 Penn State 0 (OT)

Regional finals
March 16

No. 5 Minnesota at No. 4 Clarkson, 2 p.m.

Cornell at No. 3 Colgate, 2 p.m.

St. Lawrence at No. 2 Wisconsin, 3 p.m.

Minnesota Duluth at No. 1 Ohio State, 4 p.m.

Frozen Four
at Durham, New Hampshire

National semifinals, March 22, 4 and 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

Championship, March 24, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)

The field

(Statistics entering NCAA tournament)

Ohio State (32-4-0)

PairWise ranking: 1

How Buckeyes got in: At-large bid

Numbers to know: The Buckeyes have the top offense in the country (5.26 goals per game) and are fifth in defense (1.29 goals allowed per game). Raygan Kirk leads the country with a 0.96 goals-against average, while Ohio State’s balanced attack features 14 players with at least 20 points, led by Hannah Bilka (20 goals, 25 assists, 45 points) and Jennifer Gardiner (18-26-44).

Paige Capistran’s take: Ohio State plays a complete team game. The Buckeyes’ roster is loaded with talent and their lineup competes hard. Transfers Bilka and Cayla Barnes made an immediate impact and brought their national team experience to an already solid roster. Ohio State has all the tools to win its second national championship.


Wisconsin (33-5-0)

PairWise ranking: 2

How Badgers got in: WCHA tournament champion

Numbers to know: Wisconsin has three of the country’s top five players in points per game: Kirsten Simms (1.97), Casey O’Brien (1.82) and Britta Curl (1.61). Simms, the WCHA Player of the Year, has has multiple points in 23 of 36 games this season and has eight game-winning goals, second in the nation.

Capistran’s take: Wisconsin rolls into the NCAA tournament on a high after beating Ohio State in the WCHA championship game. Linemates O’Brien and Simms, both top-10 Patty Kazmaier finalists, have undeniable chemistry. Caroline Harvey came up clutch last season, scoring the overtime winner in the national semifinal against Minnesota, and I’m expecting her to be a weapon on the blue line once again.


Colgate (31-6-1)

PairWise ranking: 3

How Raiders got in: ECAC tournament champion

Numbers to know: Colgate ranks third nationally in offense (4.83 goals per game, more than a goal better than fourth-place Cornell) and tied for second in defense (1.28 goals allowed per game).

Capistran’s take: Postseason games often come down to special teams, and the Raiders take advantage of their power-play opportunities, leading the nation with 43 goals. Colgate’s offensive excellence has been led by Patty Kaz top-10 finalist Danielle Serdachny (22-39-61). Serdachny is one of the most dangerous threats in the country, so Colgate’s opponents can’t lose track of where she is on the ice. Kristýna Kaltounková has been another superstar up front for the Raiders, tallying 55 points.


Clarkson (32-4-2)

PairWise ranking: 4

How Knights got in: At-large bid

Numbers to know: Clarkson leads the country in defense (1.14 goals per game) and has the best penalty kill (91.4%). Senior Michelle Pasiechnyk is one of three finalists for national goaltender of the year, with a 1.31 GAA, .943 save percentage and 24 wins. The Knights have won three national titles (2014, 2017, 2018).

Capistran’s take: The Golden Knights are rock-solid defensively thanks to Pasiechnyk, and with a hot goalie, anything can happen during the tournament. Clarkson’s standout defensive pair of Nicole Gosling and Haley Winn lead the team in points and are playing with a new level of confidence this season. Overall, Clarkson has a deep, skilled lineup.


Minnesota (27-9-2)

PairWise ranking: 5

How Gophers got in: At-large bid

Numbers to know: Minnesota is battle tested, with 16 games against NCAA tournament teams. It is 7-8-1 in those contests, with all eight losses coming to either Ohio State or Wisconsin, and four of them in overtime. The Gophers are seeking their seventh NCAA title and their first since 2016.

Capistran’s take: Minnesota was eight seconds away from knocking off Wisconsin in the WCHA semifinals, before the Badgers scored to tie it at 3 and later win it in overtime. Despite the loss, Minnesota is playing excellent hockey heading into the tournament. The Gophers have the best power-play percentage in the nation (37%), led by Olympian Abbey Murphy (13 power-play goals).


Cornell (24-7-1)

PairWise ranking: 6

How Big Red got in: At-large bid

Numbers to know: Senior Izzy Daniel, the ECAC Player of the Year, is among the best scorers in the country with 1.72 points per game (20 goals, 35 assists). Freshman Karel Prefontaine (11 goals, 11 assists) has provided a boost since moving up to the top line.

Capistran’s take: Cornell has stepped up its game in the second half of the season. The Big Red are playing as a cohesive unit, getting contributions up and down the lineup. Daniel, a top-10 Patty Kaz finalist, leads the way offensively, while freshman goaltender Annelies Bergmann has adjusted well to the college game and has really found her groove the past six weeks.


St. Lawrence (27-10-0)

PairWise ranking: 7

How Saints got in: At-large bid

Numbers to know: St. Lawrence has a pair of players in the top 10 nationally in points per game in Abby Hustler (1.49) and Julia Gosling (1.46). Emma Sofie-Nordstrom (.930 save percentage) has been solid in net, including a 41-save win over Yale in the ECAC playoffs.

Capistran’s take: The Saints have proved they can beat any team in the tough ECAC and carry that confidence into the tournament. St. Lawrence has some offensive weapons up front, including Hustler, Gosling and Anna Segedi. Transfer Mae Batherson was named first-team All-ECAC and runs the Saints’ dangerous power play (31.4%).


Minnesota Duluth (20-13-4)

PairWise ranking: 8

How Bulldogs got in: At-large bid

Numbers to know: Minnesota Duluth has the best goalie tandem in the country in sophomore Hailey MacLeod and freshman Eve Gascon. MacLeod leads the nation with a .954 save percentage, while Gascon is fourth (.951), and they have a combined 12 shutouts. The Bulldogs have won five national titles, the last in 2010.

Capistran’s take: The Bulldogs’ rotation of MacLeod and Gascon have dominated between the pipes. Defense is the most important part of the game when it comes to the postseason, and Minnesota Duluth has it.


UConn (25-7-5)

PairWise ranking: 10

How Huskies got in: Hockey East tournament champion

Numbers to know: UConn is tied for second nationally in defense, allowing 1.28 goals per game. Junior goalie Tia Chan hasn’t lost in regulation since Jan. 6 at Minnesota and has allowed just four goals total in her past six starts (including three shutouts). Chan had 38 saves in an overtime win over Northeastern in the Hockey East final.

Capistran’s take: Connecticut dominated in conference play this season, winning its first Hockey East championship. The veteran team plays its systems to a T and defends well in front of Chan. Senior Jada Habisch was named a Hockey East first-team all-star and has stepped up this season. If the Huskies advance this postseason, it will be because of their defense.


Penn State (22-12-3)

PairWise ranking: 13

How Nittany Lions got in: CHA tournament champion

Numbers to know: Penn State’s Tessa Janecke has been remarkable in the faceoff dot, with 607 faceoff wins — 100 more than anyone else in the country — and a 65.6 winning percentage. Sophomore Katie DeSa had a pair of shutouts in the CHA tournament, including a 1-0 win over Mercyhurst in the title game.

Capistran’s take: The Nittany Lions are the CHA champions for the second year in a row. Janecke, the CHA Player of the Year and a top-10 Patty Kaz finalist, leads the way. In order to shut down Penn State, the Nittany Lions’ opponent has to contain Janecke. Penn State has dealt with adversity as starting goaltender Josie Bothun’s season was cut short by an injury in mid-January, but DeSa has come up big.


Stonehill (21-15-2)

PairWise ranking: 30

How Skyhawks got in: NEWHA tournament champion

Numbers to know: In its second year of existence, Stonehill makes its first NCAA appearance after a pair of overtime wins in the NEWHA semifinals and final. After starting the season 1-6 and entering December with a 7-11 record, the Skyhawks turned things around and enter the tournament on an eight-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the field.

Capistran’s take: The Skyhawks are playing their best hockey at the perfect time. The NEWHA champions compete hard and have bought in on coach Lee-J Mirasolo’s system. Sophomore Alexis Petford (19-15-34) leads the team in points for the second straight year. Stonehill is playing like a team that has nothing to lose.

Players to watch

Danielle Serdachny, Colgate: Serdachny is one of the most offensively gifted players in the NCAA.

Izzy Daniel, Cornell: The ECAC Player of the Year is an offensive weapon but also is a 200-foot player.

Abbey Murphy, Minnesota: Murphy is the ultimate competitor and has a nose for the net.

Caroline Harvey, Wisconsin: The only defenseman among the top-10 Patty Kaz finalists, Harvey is a threat every time she hits the ice.

Kirsten Simms, Wisconsin: Scoring the winning goal in last year’s national championship game has amped up Simms’ confidence, and she continues to deliver in the clutch for the Badgers.

Frozen Four picks

Capistran:

Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a chip on their shoulder after losing the WCHA final and have something to prove.

Wisconsin. The Badgers will build off of their momentum from the WCHA championship.

Clarkson. The Golden Knights’ depth and defense will take them far.

Colgate. The Raiders are playing their best hockey at the perfect time. The ECAC Champions will rely on their offensively gifted forwards.

Ruggiero:

Wisconsin. The defending champs, with three Patty Kaz finalists on the roster, are hitting their stride at the right moment.

Ohio State. The Buckeyes are chock full of talent, including grad student Cayla Barnes, and can get points from a multitude of players.

Colgate. Coming off their fourth straight ECAC championship, the Raiders are getting a lift from conference rookie of the year Emma Pais and the dominant play of forward Danielle Serdachny.

Minnesota. Led by junior Abbey Murphy, the Gophers know how to win in big tournaments and are looking for revenge after their WCHA semifinal loss to Wisconsin.

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