The Minnesota Gophers played their WCHA Final Face-off Championship this past weekend into the #2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Sunday morning the NCAA announced the 2023 Women’s Hockey Tournament bracket. The Gophers will host a quarterfinal matchup at 2PM Saturday against the winner of the first round game between #7 seeded Minnesota-Duluth and #9 seeded Clarkson. The winner of the quarterfinal will advance to the NCAA Frozen Four March 17th and 19th in Duluth.
If the brackets were set out perfectly chalk, UMD would be playing the #10 seed Penn State the winner of the CHA conference. However, since #8 seed Quinnipiac and #9 seed Clarkson are both from the ECAC and could not play one another in the opening round of the tournament, the NCAA had to move one team or another. They chose to protect the top seed as #1 Ohio State will host the winner of #8 Quinnipiac and #10 Penn State and the #7 and #9 teams will head to Minneapolis. In the other two bracket quadrants #3 Colgate will face the winner of #6 Wisconsin and #11 Long Island, the NEWHA Conference automatic bid winner. The 4/5 matchup will be Yale hosting Northeastern.
The way this year’s bracket was assigned is nearly a carbon copy to last years for Minnesota—which did not end well for the Gophers. The Gophers were the #2 seed last March and faced the winner of the #7 seeded UMD Bulldogs and #10 seeded Harvard Crimson. UMD won that opening round game and advanced to face Minnesota in the quarterfinal. A week after the Gophers defeated UMD 5-1 in a WCHA Semifinal, the Bulldogs got 37 saves from Emma Soderberg and rode her to a 2-1 upset win. UMD would go on to lose the NCAA Championship game to Ohio State.
Minnesota went 4-0 this season against the Bulldogs with no game decided by more than two goals. Soderberg is still the starting goaltender for UMD and you know she would love to once again upset the Gophers and send UMD back home to play for a NCAA title on their home ice. The Gophers last faced Clarkson in the Frozen Four semifinal in 2017 where the Golden Knights knocked off the Gophers 4-3. Notably Clarkson also defeated Minnesota in the 2014 NCAA Championship game ending Minnesota’s quest for three NCAA titles in a row.
Tickets will be available later today from the U of M ticket office! Let’s pack Ridder!
We will have a much deeper dive on the NCAA Tournament and the Gophers path to their 7th NCAA title later this week.