Badgers and Gophers Battle for No. 17: For the sixth-straight season and 14th time in the event's 19-year history, at least half of the Women's Frozen Four field is made up of teams from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association as No. 1 seed Wisconsin and No. 2 seed Minnesota are joined by a pair of ECAC teams at the People's United Center in Hamden, Conn. The Badgers (sixth-straight Frozen Four and 12th overall) and Gophers (12th-straight and 14th overall) are vying for the WCHA's 17th national title and 16th NCAA crown in the league's 20-year existence. All three games of the 2019 Women's Frozen Four will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
- Wisconsin (33-4-2) is making it sixth-straight Women's Frozen Four appearance, which ties Minnesota (2012-17) for the longest streak in the history of the event. The Badgers defeated CHA postseason champion Syracuse, 4-0, in the NCAA Quarterfinals on March 16 in Madison, Wis. to advance. The Badgers have now won 11 consecutive quarterfinal matchups and enters play this weekend with a 23-8 (.742) all-time record in NCAA play.
- Minnesota (31-5-1) is participating in its 17th NCAA postseason and making its 14th trip to the Women's Frozen Four. The Gophers will be making their 12th-straight Frozen Four appearance when they hit the ice on Friday afternoon. Minnesota defeated Princeton, 5-2, in the quarterfinals in Minneapolis on March 16. The Gophers are 25-11-1 (.689) all-time in NCAA play with seven national titles and have missed the NCAA tournament only twice in the event's 19-year history.
About Wisconsin: The top-ranked Badgers will take on No. 4 seeded Clarkson in Friday's second semifinal at 6 p.m. CT. UW leads the all-time series with Clarkson 3-1-1 but the Golden Knights won the last meeting, 3-0, in the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four Championship in St. Charles, Mo. Wisconsin is in its 16th season under Mark Johnson, who is 492-87-43 (.826) as head coach at his alma mater. The 1980 "Miracle on Ice" hero has led UW to six-straight NCAA Frozen Four appearances, the longest active streak in the country. In 31 NCAA tournament games all-time, Wisconsin has outscored its opponents, 100-44 (3.2-1.4 gpg).
- Senior Annie Pankowski was named a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award for her efforts volunteering with OccuPaws, an organization that helps train guide dogs in Wisconsin. Pankowski, who was named a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top-Three Finalist on Feb. 28, leads the WCHA with 47 points this year on 25 goals and 22 assists.
- Junior Abby Roque is close behind with 41 points, good for fifth in the WCHA. The 2018 WCHA Forward of the Year matched her season-best in points from last year with her third-period goal against Syracuse.
- Junior Kristen Campbell leads the NCAA with 33 wins this year while her goals-against average of 1.09 is also the best in the WCHA. The Brandon, Manitoba, native ranks first in the NCAA with nine shutouts. Campbell's 33 wins are tied for the most in school history with Olympians Ann-Renee Desbiens, Alex Rigsby and Jessie Vetter.
About Minnesota: The Gophers will face Cornell in the first semifinal at 3 p.m. CT on Friday and are seeking a record eighth NCAA national title. Minnesota has won four of the last seven national championships under head coach Brad Frost. The Gophers own 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
- 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 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).
- Kelly Pannek is Minnesota's active career scoring leader and is No. 10 in school history 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.
- Eleven 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.
The Week in Review
NCAA Quarterfinal - Saturday, March 16
(2) Minnesota 5, Princeton 2
(Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)
The line of Sarah Potomak, Kelly Pannek, and Amy Potomak combined for four goals and nine points as the No. 2 University of Minnesota women's hockey team recorded a 5-2 win over Princeton in Saturday's NCAA quarterfinal game at Ridder Arena. With the win, the Golden Gophers secured the program's 14th NCAA Frozen Four berth.
- Minnesota (31-5-1) scored three third-period goals, including a pair of empty-net goals, in the game's final 10 minutes to break a 2-2 tie. Pannek scored the eventual game-winner with 9:13 remaining before Sarah Potomak and Nicole Schammel sealed the win with empty-net goals in the game's final 1:06.
- The Gophers were led by Sarah Potomak's four-point effort (2g-2a), and her linemates Pannek (1g-2a) and Amy Potomak (1g-1a) also had multi-point games. Taylor Williamson picked up an assist on Schammel's empty-net goal for her 50th career point, and Sydney Scobee made 24 saves for the Maroon & Gold as the Gophers outshot Princeton, 39-26.
- Sarah Fillier scored both goals for Princeton (20-8-5), and Tiger goaltender Stephanie Neatby made 34 saves.
- The Tigers got on the board first when Fillier struck at the 5:26 mark of period one, but Minnesota responded just 1:46 later when Sarah Potomak scored her ninth of the season to even the score at 1-1.
- The Gophers then took the lead with a goal from Amy Potomak with 1:55 remaining in period one when she tapped in the rebound off a shot by Pannek in the slot, and Minnesota took a one-goal lead into the first intermission.
- However, Fillier scored her second of the game just 2:43 into the second period to even the score and the teams remained locked at 2-2 until Pannek solved Neatby midway through the third period with her 16th goal of the season.
- Princeton pulled Neatby for the extra attacker with 1:50 remaining, but S. Potomak and Schammel iced the win with empty-net tallies.
- Only one penalty was called in the game as Minnesota was perfect on the penalty kill at one-for-one, holding off the Tigers on the game's lone power play early in the third period.
NCAA Quarterfinal - Saturday, March 16
(1) Wisconsin 4, Syracuse 0
(LaBahn Arena; Madison, Wis.)
The No. 1 Wisconsin women's hockey team is heading back to the NCAA Frozen Four after defeating Syracuse, 4-0, Saturday at LaBahn Arena. Senior Annie Pankowski scored twice while juniors Abby Roque and Presley Norby each tacked on a goal for Wisconsin (33-4-2) in Saturday's' contest in front of 2,423 fans at LaBahn. The attendance matched the largest crowd in rink history.
- After a quiet opening period, the Badgers got rolling in the second thanks to Pankowski. The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-three finalist rifled in two goals in the frame, the first coming on a blast 2:33 into the period and the second coming nearly 10 minutes later to put UW up 2-0 heading into the final frame.
- The Badgers extended that lead with 7:44 left in the third when Roque stole the puck, looped around the Syracuse (13-22-3) net and snuck in Wisconsin's third goal of the game.
- Norby put the exclamation point on the win, scoring with just over a minute remaining to ice the game for the Badgers.
- Wisconsin outshot the Orange, 47-15 in the victory. The Badgers are now 17-0-1 in games when they tally 40-49 shots on goal.
- Junior Kristen Campbell made 15 saves to earn her NCAA-leading ninth shutout of the year. In addition, she earned her 33rd win, which matches the school record for most wins in a single season by a goaltender.
- Annie Pankowski's two goals in today's victory gives the senior co-captain eight goals in the five postseason games this season. The Laguna Hills, Cali., native now has 18 postseason goals, which rank third in school history behind Meghan Duggan (20) and Hilary Knight (19).
- Wisconsin is now 23-8 in NCAA tournament games and has won its last 12 NCAA quarterfinal games. UW improved to 6-0 in NCAA quarterfinals at LaBahn Arena and has outscored its opponents 28-2.