College Sport

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

The women’s college hockey season is about to enter the home stretch with conference racing warming up, especially in the ECAC and WCHA. Most of the nation’s top teams play in these two leagues, with the reigning national champion Ohio in the lead.

As the Buckeyes want to repeat, they will have plenty of competition from conference mates Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota Duluth, as well as ECAC leaders Yale, Quinnipiac, and Colgate, as well as the Northeast Hockey East force and others.

With the conclusion of the conference tournaments, attention will shift to the NCAA Tournament, which has expanded to 11 teams in 2022. A qualifying show for the tournament is scheduled for March 5, with the Frozen Four taking place in Duluth, Minnesota on March 17. and 19. Coverage of the Women’s Qualifying Show and Tournament, including Frozen Four, will be on Sportzshala networks and broadcast through the Sportzshala app.

But there is still a lot of hockey ahead. To keep you up to date on how the season is going and what we’re looking forward to until the end, we asked former college stars Angela Ruggiero (Harvard), Hilary Knight (Wisconsin) and Kelly Panneck (Minnesota) to talk about their main storylines. of the season, players to watch and prize winners Patti Kazmaier and Frozen Four.

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Which storyline has been the most interesting so far?

Angela Ruggiero: The NCAA is no stranger to repetition, so I’m very excited to see if Ohio State can win a championship again this season. The Buckeyes dominated the top teams and showed incredible depth throughout the season. I don’t know if anyone can knock them off the podium.

Hilary Knight: The coaching work and the players’ entry fee ignited the Yale hockey program. Yale continues to shine, from a run of losses ahead of a pandemic-lost 2020-2021 season to a proven contender for the bright lights of Frozen. Many thought last year’s Frozen Four trip was a one-off, but Yale has a lot to prove and has shown it’s here to stay. The Bulldog game speaks for itself.

Kelly Peng: ECAC is showing its strength. In women’s college hockey, it has become common in recent years to see schools like Ohio State, the Northeast, Wisconsin, and Minnesota ranked at the top of the national rankings. However, this year we saw three ECAC schools – Yale (No. 2), Quinnipiac (No. 4) and Colgate (No. 5) – fight their way to the top in both USA Hockey and USCHO. polls and show that they are legitimate contenders for the national championship.

Which player is the most interesting to watch?

Ruggiero: Minnesota 5-year-old Grace Sumwinkle is rocking this season. To score 100 career goals is no small feat and she did it with such ease. I also like how selflessly she handles the puck. She always reads opponents well and finds holes in the defense.

Knight: Tessa Geneke of Penn State really finds her game. She is interesting to watch because of her sheer talent and how she sees the ice. And the best part is, she’s just getting started. She is only 18 years old and in her first year.

Pot: I’m going to show a bit of Minnesota bias here and go with Abby Borin, another Gophers fifth year senior. She’s a key player on a team of immense talent and experience, and while she’s not the most famous player on the roster, when Minnesota needs toughness and grit in the postseason, she’ll turn to Borin.

Who are your top contenders for the Patty Kazmaier Award?

Ruggiero: I think it’s unrealistic that after 20+ years I’m still the only defenseman to win Patty Kaz. This year I would like Sophie Jacques from Ohio State to be at the top and I think she is very deserving of this honor. She’s been killing him on both sides of the ice all season and she’s got the stats to show it. Eighteen goals and 17 assists in 26 games?! How is the protector? Sophie is a player to watch out for and it’s definitely time for the defender to get some recognition for all of his hard work that can sometimes go unnoticed.

Knight: It’s true, Sophie Jacques is having (another) stellar year. Ohio State’s success is largely due to Jacques’ consistent performance. She set the tone for OSU on the blue line, building on last year’s incredible results. Daniella Serdachnaya from Colgate also claims a place in the top three finalists. I’m looking forward to how Colgate performs in the rest of the season and whether Serdachny’s performance continues to improve.

Pot: Minnesota’s Taylor Hayes, 2022 winner Patty Kazmayer, should be in the conversation as she picks up where she left off last season with an even busier team by her side. And I agree with Hilary: Another player to keep an eye on is Colgate’s Daniella Serdachnaya, who spearheads the rival Raiders’ offense. Both Hayes and Serdachny are big offensive producers, and if they can keep delivering key moments, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the top three.

Who will you choose to create the “Cold Four”?

Ruggiero: The Cold Four race is tight this season, but I predict we’ll see last year’s winner, Ohio State, as well as Minnesota, Yale, and the Northeast. One can only guess, but these four squads really impressed me with their cohesion and ability to overcome difficult game situations. In the end, those two things matter.

Knight: I’ll pick Ohio, Minnesota, Yale and Colgate. The Buckeyes and Gophers are loaded and Yale is battle-tested, although tournament matches will be critical to their path to the national title. This is the fourth place to capture. Colgate have some great hockey coming up, but you can’t discount the Northeast as they’re making a big push before we get to the postseason. Coach Dave Flint’s team is balanced and versatile and built to excel in a variety of postseason scenarios. The Huskies have good goaltending and balanced lines, not to mention they can rely on Alina Muller’s game from 200 feet.

Pot: I’m going to stay pretty close to what the current rankings say and will pick Ohio State, Yale, Minnesota and Colgate. Given that the WCHA and ECAC are the best conferences this season, it wouldn’t surprise me if two teams from each of those conferences made the Frozen Four. However, any team that makes the playoffs with momentum and a great goaltender can go to Duluth.


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