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2023 NCAA Women's Frozen Four Preview

By Peter Odney , 03/16/23, 2:15PM CDT


Top-seeded Ohio State faces red-hot Northeastern, while border battle foes Wisconsin and Minnesota are featured in the nightcap in Duluth.

Ohio State vs. Northeastern (2:30 PM CDT)

Jennifer Gardiner is one of two All-Americans for Ohio State, along with Sophie Jaques.

No. 1 seed Ohio State scored twice in the second period and three times in the third to pull away from Quinnipiac for a 5-2 win in the NCAA Columbus Regional, pushing the Buckeyes into the fourth Frozen Four in program history. 

The Buckeyes (32-5-2) are led in scoring by three Canadians, paced by Surrey, British Columbia native Jennifer Gardiner’s 21 goals and 56 points. Toronto native Sophie Jaques followed with 24 goals and 48 points, and Emma Maltais (Burlington, Ontario) rounds out the trio with 11 goals and 47 points. 

In goal, Amanda Thiele has posted a 19-3-1 record this season to go along with a 1.92 goals-against-average, and a .910 save percentage. Thiele has also recorded three shutouts this season. 

Ohio State has two members of its program in the running for national awards this season. Head Coach Nadine Muzerall is a National Coach of the Year finalist, while Jaques is one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given annually to the nation’s best women’s college hockey player. Earlier, Muzerall was named WCHA co-Coach of the Year with St. Cloud State’s Brian Idalski. Gardiner and Jaques earned All-American honors this week, with Jaques making the First Team and Gardiner placing on the Second Team.  

Northeastern (34-2-1) is unbeaten since a Nov. 15 loss to Providence, and has won 22 consecutive games coming into the Frozen Four. The Huskies topped Yale 4-1 on the road in New Haven for a spot in the national semifinals, getting one goal each from Lily Shannon, Alina Mueller, Chloe Aurard, and Maureen Murphy. Goaltender Gwyneth Philips stopped 38 of 39 shots in the win over the Bulldogs. 

Like Ohio State, Northeastern wields a Patty Kazmaier Award finalist in Alina Mueller. Mueller has been named at least a top-10 finalist for the award in each of her five collegiate seasons. She is one of three players in the Frozen Four with 60 or more points, totaling 27 goals and 60 points thus far. 

Graduate Student forwards Maureen Murphy (20 goals, 35 assists, 55 points) and Chloe Aurard (20-34-54) give the Huskies some extra firepower.

The senior goaltender Philips has earned a sparkling 0.81 goals-against-average, a .961 save percentage, and 10 shutouts during the 2022-2023 campaign.

Mueller and Philips were named First Team All-Americans on Thursday, March 16. 

Sophie Jaques is one of three finalists this season for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given annually to the nation's top Division I female hockey player.

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota (6:00 PM CDT)

Wisconsin's Britta Curl is tied with Casey O'Brien for the team's lead in goals with 19 on the season.

It’s a border battle (a tired phrase, but appropriate) for the Frozen Four’s nightcap in Duluth, as Wisconsin takes on Minnesota for the sixth time this season. 

Junior Casey O’Brien leads a Badger attack that features a remarkable 10 players with 30 or more points this season, pointing to a balanced offense with several scoring options. Britta Curl (19-22-41) and Lacey Eden (17-23-40) can be counted on for exciting offensive play.

The Badgers (27-10-2) made their way to the Frozen Four thumping Long Island 9-1 and edging No. 3 seed Colgate 4-2 in Regional play. The win over Colgate was the first victory over the Raiders in Badger women’s hockey history. 

No. 2 seed Minnesota (30-5-3) has the most recent win over Wisconsin in the season series, but presumably feels the sting of a 1-3-1 overall record against the Badgers. The Golden Gophers blanked Minnesota Duluth 3-0 in the previous round, with Catie Skaja, Madeline Wethington, and Abbey Murphy each scoring once. Goaltender Skylar Vetter finished with 30 saves in the win over the Bulldogs.

2022 Patty Kazmaier Award winner Taylor Heise leads the Golden Gophers (and the rest of the Frozen Four field) in scoring with 29 goals and 65 points, followed by Grace Zumwinkle (25-36-61) and Abbey Murphy (29-21-50).

Heise was named a First Team All-American on March 16, and Zumwinkle earned Second Team All-American honors. The pair make Minnesota one of just three programs to place multiple skaters on the All-American teams. 

Taylor Heise leads Minnesota with 29 goals and 65 points this season. The 2022 Patty Kazmaier Award winner was recently named to her second straight All-American team.

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