Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

The Red head to the Frozen Four with their eyes on the national title.

March 21, 2019

And Then There Were Four: Cornell Heads to Connecticut for National Semifinals

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A thrilling victory last weekend gave Cornell women’s hockey a spot in the Frozen Four for the first time since 2012. The Red takes on Minnesota on Friday for a spot in the national championship game.

How to watch or listen

Cornell and Minnesota face off at 4 p.m. on Friday, followed by Wisconsin and Clarkson in the other semifinal at 7 p.m. The two winners will then compete for the title at 2:30 p.m Sunday. All games will be played at the People’s United Center in Hamden, Connecticut. The games can be viewed on the Big Ten Network.

Series history

Cornell is 0-4 all-time against Minnesota. The teams’ last matchup came in the Red’s last Frozen Four appearance in 2012; the Gophers won 3-1 en route to the national title.

Cornell last time out

The Red caused the one upset of the quarterfinal round, besting three-seed Northeastern in overtime, 3-2. Cornell squandered a two-goal lead in the third period, but was saved by freshman Gillis Frechette’s goal in overtime to clinch the victory.

Minnesota last time out

The Golden Gophers took care of business last weekend, as the No. 2 seed defeated seventh-seeded Princeton. Minnesota fell behind early, but the Gophers quickly dug out of that hole, tying the game less than two minutes later. Tied at two entering the third period, Minnesota pulled away by outscoring the Tigers 3-0 in the final period, winning 5-2.

Hello from the other side

On the other half of the bracket remains one foe familiar to the Red and one to the Gophers.

Two ECAC teams remain in the Frozen Four, as Clarkson — which beat Cornell in the ECAC championship game at Lynah Rink two weekends ago — also advanced to the national semifinal. They too won in overtime, beating Boston College 2-1. The Golden Knights are looking to three-peat as national champions.

They will play top-seeded Wisconsin, a member of the same conference as Minnesota, the WCHA. The Badgers didn’t need overtime in the quarterfinals, shutting out Syracuse 4-0.

Scouting the Gophers

Minnesota (31-5-1, 19-4-1 WCHA) ended up with the best record in the WCHA, finishing two points ahead of Wisconsin. However, the Gophers fell to their rival in the WCHA tournament championship game.

The Gophers are not a team with many holes, but they certainly have an enormous strength: their offense. Minnesota averages 4.27 goals per game, which ranks second in the nation. They are led by sophomore forward Grace Zumwinkle, whose 25 goals this season tied for the most in the WCHA.

Cornell wins if…

It can remain focused for the entirety of the game. Against Northeastern, the Red shut the Huskies out except for a five minute stretch where the hosts scored twice, allowing them to tie the game. Especially against a potent offense like Minnesota’s, the Red can’t afford any defensive letdowns.

What they’re saying in Ithaca

Senior forward Lenka Serdar on playing Minnesota: “We are so excited to play a team that we haven’t faced this season. It is refreshing not having a history against a team like Minnesota. They are a good team but we are focusing on playing our game and being the aggressor in order to win.”

Sophomore forward Maddie Mills on the team’s approach against Minnesota: “We are going to have to capitalize on our opportunities in the offensive zone and limit our mistakes in the D-zone. I think it’s going to be important to have a level head throughout the entire game.”

Head coach Doug Derraugh ’91 on adjustments heading into the Frozen Four: “Special teams are always important in the Frozen Four. We need to be more disciplined. We can’t afford to take many penalties.”

What they’re saying in Minneapolis

Senior forward Kelly Pannek on going to the Frozen Four: “It’s a fun experience regardless of how it turns out. We’ve been fortunate enough to have many people in this program be a part of it. I’m looking forward to [seeing] the awe in their faces when there’s these cool things that happen being in that moment but reminding them that it’s still hockey. It’s still the game. We’re still the same team.”

Coach Brad Frost on playing Cornell: “They’re a lot like Princeton. They’re fast, they have a good first line. They’re deeper at defense with two Canadian national team defensemen on their roster, but they play like us. They get up and down the rink, it should be another up-and-down game.”

Freshman forward Amy Potomak on the gameplan against Cornell: “Our depth on offense will take over when we need it to. But if we play defense well, we’ll be successful if we stick together.”

Sound smart

From 2012 through 2016, Minnesota went on a stretch during which it won four national championships in five years (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016).

Fun fact

According to Niche, Minnesota ranks fourth in “Best Colleges for Agricultural Sciences in America.” Cornell is No. 1.