WCHA Women's Final Faceoff
Saturday-Sunday, Ridder Arena * All games on FloHockey.tv
First semifinal: No. 4 seed Gophers vs. No. 1 Wisconsin, 1 p.m.
The skinny: Fourth-ranked Minnesota (11-7-1) meets second-ranked Wisconsin (12-3-1) for the fifth time this season. The Badgers rolled 5-0 and 6-3 in mid-January in Madison before a tighter series three weeks later in Minneapolis, where Wisconsin rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 in overtime before Minnesota came back for a tie and shootout triumph the next day. The Badgers are 14-4-2 against the Gophers over the past four seasons, including a 2-0 win in the 2019 NCAA championship game. … Wisconsin features two Patty Kazmaier Award finalists in forwards Darry Watts, the 2018 winner for Boston College, and Sophie Shirley. Watts (15 goals, 16 assists, 31 points) is second nationally in scoring, while Shirley (9-13-22) is tied for seventh. Grace Bowlby led WCHA defenders in scoring with 15 points. G Kennedy Blair (1.59 goals-against average, .935 save percentage) has started every game for Wisconsin. … Gophers senior forward Grace Zumwinkle, another Kazmaier finalist leads the nation with 16 goals and is fifth in scoring with 23 all on assists. Freshman F Abbey Murphy (7-10-17) ranks second on the team in scoring, followed by junior F Taylor Heise (7-8-15). Coach Brad Frost has been alternating goalies Lauren Bench (9-5-0, 2.16 GAA, .924) and Makayla Pahl (2-2-1, 1.75, .935) lately. He did not divulge who'll start.
Second semifinal: No. 3 seed Ohio State vs. No. 2 seed Minnesota Duluth, 5 p.m.
The skinny: The Buckeyes (11-5) are the defending Final Faceoff champions. They split a pair of games at Minnesota Duluth in January, falling 2-0 in the opener before winning 1-0 in the finale. Ohio State went 4-2 against the Gophers and 2-2 against Wisconsin. F Tatum Skaggs (6-7-13) leads Ohio State in scoring, with Jenna Buglioni (7-5-12) and Jennifer Gardiner (6-6-12) a point behind. G Andrea Braendli is 9-5 with a 1.91 GAA and .923 save percentage. … Minnesota Duluth (11-5) closed the season with a 6-1 surge. It beat Wisconsin 4-2 on Friday before falling 4-3 in overtime on Saturday. Had the Bulldogs won that game, they would have been regular-season champions. F's Anna Klein (11-10-21) and Gabbie Hughes (10-10-20) provide the scoring punch from UMD and get help from D Ashton Bell (3-9-12). Hughes has nine goals and three assists in the past six games. G Emma Soderberg ranks second nationally in GAA (1.34) and third in save percentage (.951).
Championship: Semifinal winners, 2 p.m. Sunday