The Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey team was awarded the #2 overall NCAA Tournament seed Sunday night after losing to Ohio State in the WCHA Championship Game. The Gophers will host a home NCAA Quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon against the winner of the opening round game between Minnesota-Duluth and Harvard on Thursday night.
Minnesota had a chance at the #1 national seed if they had won the WCHA Championship game Sunday afternoon but they could not hold onto a 2-0 lead in the third period before the Buckeyes tied the game and forced overtime. The Buckeyes got a power play after Minnesota’s Olivia Knowles was whistled for a checking penalty with 8 seconds left in regulation. The Buckeyes Sophie Jacques would score the game winner just 21 seconds into overtime after Emily Brown’s clearing attempt ended up right on her stick and she put the puck past Gopher goalie Lauren Bench.
The Buckeyes were awarded the #1 overall seed after their victory and will host the winner of Quinnipiac and Syracuse in what is the 7/11 game. Wisconsin was the #6 seed and will hit the road for the first time in a NCAA Tournament opening round since 2008 and will face off against #10 seed Clarkson in a rematch of the 2017 NCAA Championship game won by the Green Knights. The winner of that game gets #3 seed Northeastern in what could be a rematch of the 2021 title game won by the Badgers. #4 seed Colgate won the ECAC Tournament and will have a rematch against conference foe Yale who is the #5 seed and who Colgate defeated in overtime Saturday night.
The Minnesota bracket will be filled with a familiar foe and a historical rival. #8 seed Minnesota-Duluth will play #9 seed Harvard at Ridder Arena at 6 PM Thursday night. The winner of that game will advance to play the Gophers Saturday at 2PM at Ridder Arena. Minnesota defeated UMD 5-1 in the semifinal of the WCHA Tournament on Saturday and went 3-2 against the Bulldogs this season. Minnesota and Harvard have a long history in the NCAA Tournament with the Gophers knocking off the Crimson in the NCAA Championship game three times in 2004, 2005 and 2015.
It’s about the best draw the Gophers could ask for. In theory via chalk the Gophers should have gotten the Quinnipiac/Syracuse pod at Ridder, but one of the NCAA’s stated policies in the addition of the new teams to the NCAA tournament was to aid attendance without damaging bracket integrity too much. They did that here giving the Gophers the 8/9 game winner instead of the 7/10 game winner, and providing a second Minnesota team to help attendance in Minneapolis.
We will have a full preview later this week ahead of the Gophers game on Saturday.