HomeSportsWomen's college hockey - Top players, Frozen Four picks, key storylines

Women’s college hockey – Top players, Frozen Four picks, key storylines

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The ladies’s school hockey season is about to enter the homestretch with convention races heating up, significantly within the ECAC and WCHA. The majority of the highest groups within the nation play in these two leagues, with defending nationwide champion Ohio State main the best way.

With the Buckeyes trying to repeat, they’re going to have loads of competitors from convention mates Minnesota, Wisconsin and Minnesota Duluth, in addition to ECAC leaders Yale, Quinnipiac and Colgate, plus Hockey East energy Northeastern, amongst others.

As soon as the convention tournaments wrap up, consideration will flip to the NCAA tourney, which expanded to 11 groups in 2022. The choice present for the event is scheduled for March 5, with the Frozen 4 to be held in Duluth, Minnesota, on March 17 and 19. Protection of the ladies’s choice present and event, together with the Frozen 4, will likely be on the ESPN networks and streaming by the ESPN App.

However there’s nonetheless loads of hockey to be performed earlier than all that. To get you caught up on the place the season stands and what we’re trying ahead to the remainder of the best way, we requested former collegiate stars Angela Ruggiero (Harvard), Hilary Knight (Wisconsin) and Kelly Pannek (Minnesota) for his or her high storylines of the season, gamers to look at and front-runners for the Patty Kazmaier Award and Frozen 4.

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What has been essentially the most fascinating storyline up to now?

Angela Ruggiero: The NCAA isn’t any stranger to repeats, so I am excited to see whether or not Ohio State can pull off the championship win once more this season. The Buckeyes have been dominant towards top-ranked opponents and have proven unbelievable depth all through the season. I do not know if anybody can knock them off the rostrum.

Hilary Knight: Teaching and participant buy-in have ignited the Yale hockey program. From persistently having a dropping document previous to the pandemic-lost season of 2020-21 to being a confirmed contender for the intense lights of the Frozen 4, Yale has continued to shine. Many thought final 12 months’s Frozen 4 berth was a one-off, however Yale has one thing to show and has proven it’s right here to remain. The Bulldogs’ play speaks for itself.

Kelly Pannek: The ECAC exhibiting its power. In ladies’s school hockey, it has turn out to be widespread lately to see faculties reminiscent of Ohio State, Northeastern, Wisconsin and Minnesota sitting on the high of the nationwide rankings. Nevertheless, this 12 months, we’ve got seen three faculties from the ECAC — Yale (No. 2), Quinnipiac (No. 4) and Colgate (No. 5) — battle their method to the highest of each the USA Hockey and USCHO polls and present they’re legit contenders for the nationwide championship.

What participant is essentially the most enjoyable to look at?

Ruggiero: Minnesota fifth-year senior Grace Zumwinkle has been lighting it up this season. Scoring 100 profession objectives isn’t any small feat, and she or he’s accomplished it with such ease. I additionally love how selfless she is with the puck. She all the time has an ideal learn on her opponents and finds holes within the protection.

Knight: Penn State’s Tessa Janecke is absolutely discovering her sport. She is enjoyable to look at due to her sheer expertise and the best way she sees the ice. And the very best half is she is simply getting began. She’s simply 18 and in her freshman season.

Pannek: I’m going to indicate a bit of Minnesota bias right here and go together with Abby Boreen, one other fifth-year senior for the Gophers. She is a key participant for a squad that has a ton of expertise and expertise, and despite the fact that she is not the largest identify on the roster, when Minnesota wants some toughness and grit within the postseason, it can flip to Boreen.

Who’re your front-runners for the Patty Kazmaier Award?

Ruggiero: I believe it’s unreal that I’m nonetheless, 20-plus years later, the one defenseman to win the Patty Kaz. This 12 months, I would like to see Ohio State’s Sophie Jaques celebrated on the high, and I believe she may be very deserving of the respect. She’s been killing it on each side of the ice all season and has the stats to indicate for it. Eighteen objectives and 17 assists by 26 video games?! As a defenseman?! Sophie is a participant to look out for, and it is undoubtedly time for a defenseman to be acknowledged for all their laborious work, which typically can go unseen.

Knight: It is true, Sophie Jaques is having (one other) stellar 12 months. Ohio State’s success is largely due to Jaques’ constant efficiency. She has set the tone for OSU on the blue line, constructing off of final 12 months’s unbelievable efficiency. Colgate’s Danielle Serdachny can be making a robust bid to be a top-three finalist. I am excited to see how Colgate fares the rest of the season and if Serdachny’s manufacturing continues to ramp up.

Pannek: Minnesota’s Taylor Heise, the 2022 Patty Kazmaier winner, must be within the dialog as she has picked up proper the place she left off final season with an much more loaded workforce alongside her. And I agree with Hilary: One other participant to control is Colgate senior Danielle Serdachny, who has been main the cost offensively for the contending Raiders. Each Heise and Serdachny are large offensive producers, and if they will proceed to ship in key moments down the stretch, I would not be stunned to see them as top-three finalists.

Who’re your picks to make the Frozen 4?

Ruggiero: The Frozen 4 race is tight this season, however I am predicting we’ll see final 12 months’s winner, Ohio State, together with Minnesota, Yale and Northeastern. It is nonetheless anybody’s guess, however these 4 squads have actually impressed me by way of their cohesion and talent to push by robust sport conditions. On the finish of the day, these two issues are all that matter.

Knight: I am going to decide Ohio State, Minnesota, Yale and Colgate. The Buckeyes and Gophers are loaded, and Yale is battle-tested, though event matchups will likely be essential for his or her path to the nationwide title. That fourth spot is there for the taking. Colgate is placing collectively some nice hockey, however one cannot write off Northeastern, because it makes a stable push earlier than we get to the postseason. Coach Dave Flint’s squad is balanced and versatile, and constructed to achieve various postseason situations. The Huskies have stable goaltending and balanced traces, to not point out they will depend on Alina Müller’s 200-foot sport.

Pannek: I’m going to remain fairly near what the present rankings say and go together with Ohio State, Yale, Minnesota and Colgate. With the WCHA and the ECAC being the very best conferences this season, it would not shock me to see two groups from every of these conferences discover their manner into the Frozen 4. Nevertheless, any workforce that goes into the playoffs with momentum and nice goaltending could make it to Duluth.


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