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Road to the Frozen Four: Daryl Watts & the Badgers Aim To Go ‘Back to Back’

Just in time for International Women’s Day, the NCAA released the schedule and bracket for this year’s Women’s Frozen Four. The format is a little different than the men’s tournament, as the top 8 seeds will face off in a single elimination tournament set to start next Monday.

First let’s start with some great news for NCAA Women’s Hockey. ESPN has acquired the rights to the Women’s Frozen Four as part of a Multi-year deal between them and the NCAA. This year the broadcast will show the Semifinals and Finals through their various networks. So if you are looking to watch some great women’s hockey, you know where to find it.

Before jumping into this article, I would like to take a moment to highlight the some great writers in the hockey world. The guys over at Healthy Skratch do a great job covering the women’s game but it would be remiss of us to not highlight some of the best women writers on International Women’s Day.

(1) Northeastern vs (8) Robert Morris

At the top of the Bracket we have top ranked Northeastern Huskies taking on the Robert Morris Eagles. The Huskies are fresh off their Bertagna Cup win as the Hockey East Champs, but their top seed did not come without some reservations.

The Huskies will look to prove that they are the top program in the country. This team is led the Country’s leading scorer in Alina Mueller (11G/24A), Chloe Aurard (14G/11A) and Skylar Fontaine(11G/14A). They also have the Country’s best goalie in their crease in Aerin Frankel. Her 18 wins, 0.70 GAA, 0.969 SV% and 9 shut outs all lead the NCAA.

This matchup is the only one to feature two Conference Champions. Robert Morris is coming off their first CHA Championship since 2017. Their top players Senior Lexi Templeman (7G/22A) and Michaela Boyle (10G/12A) poised the Eagles offense all season. The Eagles come into the tournament with the mindset to prove that their CHA Championship run was no fluke.

(4) Colgate vs (5) Minnesota-Duluth

The second game of the Top Half of the Bracket sees the ECAC Champs, Colgate Raiders taking on the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. Colgate will look to ride the momentume of their first ECAC title in their programs history. The team has a well balanced attack and they play very good team defense which was evident by their shots against per game.

Minnesota-Duluth is led by the scoring duo of Anna Klein and Gabbie Hughes who both put up 21 points in 17 games. They faced a tougher schedule than Colgate this season given the Conference they play in. The Bulldogs hope that this competition prepared them for the Frozen Four as they attempt to pull off a couple upsets this year.

(3) Ohio State vs (6) Boston College

This matchup will be a showcase of two angry teams going head to head. The Ohio State Buckeyes lost a heart breaker in Overtime as they fell to Wisconsin in the WCHA finals. While her season totals may not jump off the page, Canadian Emma Maltais (5G/10A) led the charge for this team. Her play this year earned her, her second Patty Kazmaier nomination in two years.

Boston College never made it to the finals of the Hockey East Conference which only makes them hungrier to prove people wrong. They are a young team with many Freshman and Sophmore’s playing pivotal roles on this team. The experience they will gain from this year’s tournament will go a long way for the program, but this year they look to be overmatched.

(2) Wisconsin vs (7) Providence

The Badgers definitely have bone to pick when it comes to the seeding. That being said they have been dominant from start to finish, taking home the WCHA Championship. The team is led by WCHA Player of the Year and the favourite for the Patty Kazmaier (in my opinion) Daryl Watts. She led the NCAA in Goals (17) Points per Game (1.83) giving the Badgers the leading scorer in both Men’s and Women’s hockey.

The Badgers were the 2019 NCAA Champs, and with the loss of the 2020 season are still technically the champs. As the title suggests the team looks to go Back-to-Back while proving that they should be the true #1 seed.

Providence does not have the firepower up front that the Badgers do but they have a deep roster. The Hockey East runner-ups will look to bounce back and prove themselves in this tournament. Drawing the Badgers in the Quarterfinals is a tough start, but the Friars are coming out of one of the toughest Conference’s in the NCAA and come into the Frozen Four well prepared for battle.

Patty Kazmaier Award

The Patty Kazmaier Award is presented annually to the best player in Women’s Hockey in Division 1 of the NCAA. Patty Kazmaier played four years at the University of Princeton where she led the team to three consecutive National Championships. The award evaluates players based on their individual/team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, character, competitiveness and a love of hockey.

The list is down to the top 10 nominees, from which a panel will vote and decide the Top 3 including the winner. This list includes a couple Canadians the aforementioned Emma Maltais, Wisconsin’s Sophie Shirley and last year’s winner, Clarkson’s Élizabeth Giguère!

The Top 3 will be revealed on March 18th before the winner is announced on March 27th.

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce Sports family! The Life & Fantasy Podcast just dropped their 5th episode as Spencer and Kaveh discuss Hot Streaks, Claude Juliens, adds/drops and the rookie sensation that is Dolla Dolla Bill Kirill!

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