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  • Women’s Frozen Four Semifinals


    The first game of the day was between Boston College (40-0-0) and Clarkson University (30-6-4). Unexpectedly it was Clarkson who struck first and it happened early enough in the game, at 2:27, that the stream wasn't up and functioning. However, they showed it again later (and if you're interested, the NCAA has video of entire games from the Frozen Four up on their website). Genevieve Bannon carried the puck down the right and made a quick pass from the bottom of the circle to Rhyen McGill, who tipped it in past goaltender Katie Burt. Savannah Harmon had the second assist.

    Kelly Mariani took a cross-checking penalty at 12:40, which Clarkson killed. Then Boston College's Tori Sullivan earned the same penalty at 17:35. This power play was also converted, however Clarkson's advantage was prematurely cut short at 19:00 because Lauren Lefler earned a slashing penalty. This penalty dragged in second period and then also expired. Clarkson went back on the penalty kill 44 seconds later because Josiane Pozzebon checked an Eagle as she came into the zone. On that power play BC's Alex Carpenter generated a great chance on goal from the right side, but Shea Tiley scrambled for the puck and eventually made the save after fending off a rebound or two.

    Cayley Mercer widened the gap at 5:29 with a shot just left of the right circle as her teammate, Olivia Howe, screened Burt. Kelly Mariani assisted. Boston College eventually used their timeout at 8:19 to rest their skaters when they couldn't change them after a prolonged Clarkson attack. Six minutes later Lexi Bender at the right circle passed the puck to Carpenter at the crease. She handles it for a moment and is taken out by Erin Ambrose. As the puck skitters to her left, Haley Skarupa swoops in, nabs the puck and scores at 14:32.

    This kicked off a series of three overlapping penalties for Clarkson. After Ambrose's cross-checking penalty at 14:32, Bannon goes to the box for checking at 15:22 and then Pozzebon for the same at 16:18. While Ambrose was not allowed out of the box when her penalty expired because Clarkson had an additional 50 seconds of 5-on-3 penalty kill, the officials did not immediately let anyone out when Bannon's penalty expired. This was a problem. Through sheer doggedness the Golden Knights killed all the penalties. Then to end the period Dana Trivgno tussled with Ambrose next to Clarkson's net and had her stick in the air, which earned the pair high sticking and holding penalties respectively.

    Thanks to the mutual penalties third period started with 1:52 of 4-on-4 hockey. Obviously frustrated by their circumstance, as this was the first time the Eagles trailed going into third period all season, Megan Keller checked a Knight into the corner at 2:42 and Clarkson went on the power play. Boston College killed it and the tripping penalty Meghan Grieves earned along the backboards at 7:16. They swarmed Clarkson for at least half the period, putting shots on Tiley whenever possible, though a lot of them went wide. As everyone chased the puck around the zone Shannon MacAulay leapt into Sullivan, knocking her down just outside the crease as she chased the play, which sent MacAulay to the box for checking at 12:43.

    At 16:07 Kaliya Johnson became Boston College's unexpected hero when she tied things up with her 7th career goal in her 141st career game. Johnson just slapped the puck on goal from the slot and Tiley was screen by two of her own teammates, which allowed the puck to slip in the bottom left corner. Keller and Carpenter had the assists. Then Carpenter took a high sticking penalty at 17:54, which effectively put her out of play for the rest of the period. At 19:06 Clarkson used their timeout to reenergize and make a final push to pull ahead and win it in regulation. However, like every other power play in the game, they were unsuccessful and third period ended in a 2-2 tie.

    Shortly after overtime started Boston College was in Clarkson's zone along the boards. After getting the puck from Kenzie Kent, Carpenter carried the puck from the backboards to the center of the right circle and passed across the ice to Skarupa in the left circle. She immediately shot and scored just 58 seconds into overtime. Boston College won 3-2, extending their undefeated streak to 40 games.

    The second game of the day was Minnesota and Wisconsin's sixth meeting of the season and every one was a tightly contested border battle. This was no exception. Minnesota was the first to find the back of the net at 2:15. Lee Stecklein had carried the puck down left side and along the backboards before passing sideways as she was about to pass behind the net to Taylor Williamson in slot, who scored. Williamson's been pushing hard for another goal in the last handful of games, so it was nice to see her score. Megan Wolfe had the second assist.

    Wisconsin pushed hard for the equalizer. On one of the Badgers' attempts there was a mess at Minnesota's net and goaltender Amanda Leveille ended up on her side. Kate Schipper was upset enough by the crowding that she knocked Sarah Nurse over at the crease. Wisconsin continued to press for any advantage and eventually Sophia Shaver caused a turnover by Gopher Amanda Kessel along the left boards. Leveille went down for the save, but Shaver shot high, beating the goalie at 11:35 unassisted.

    While first period had been penalty free, Sophie Skarzynski drew one on Kim Drake for tripping at 2:04. Minnesota didn't get full use of their power play, as Milica McMillen earned interference penalty for taking Emily Clark down at 3:33. When McMillen was on the way to the box her right arm appeared to be hurt and she got checked out while she sat before returning to play. The Badgers cycled quickly and put some rapid fire on Leveille, but she defended well. After the penalty expired the Gophers went back on the attack. One such attempt resulted in the Gopher crashing into Wisconsin's Ann-Reneé Desbiens, which caused them to spin out of the crease together, and yet the goaltender still made the save. Eventually Wisconsin used their timeout at 12:15 to simply rest their skaters because Minnesota kept coming.

    Then near the end of the period Wisconsin launched their own attack. At one point after Leveille made a save three Gophers pushed Rachel Jones in the crease as McMillen rammed another Badger into the net. The officials broke it up and resumed the game; content to just let them play. Later during another Badger attack Leveille made the initial save on Samantha Cogan's attempt from behind the net, but she didn't control the rebound. As it drifted out of the crease Emily Clark caught the puck and knocked it in, pulling Wisconsin ahead with just 17.8 seconds left in the period.

    When third period started Kessel wasn't idle and buried the puck from the slot off a pass from Hannah Brant, backtracking up the left circle, just 27 seconds in. Stecklein had the second assist. Desbiens was sent wind milling as a Gopher knocked into her while chasing the puck on an icing. Like much of the game there was a lot of high skill back and forth as the teams chased the puck around the rink. At one point Brandt was coming in from the left side, got knocked down, and crashed into the net's side, sending it completely off its moorings. A little later a Gopher slide across the ice and crashed into Desbiens, likely helped into that position by a Badger. As the period wound to a close Jones tripped Kessel as she was exiting Minnesota's zone and went to the box at 19:32. The penalty carried over into overtime, but Wisconsin killed it.

    During overtime Kelly Pannek earned a slashing penalty at 3:29 for knocking Jones' stick out of her hand. Leveille made a cool glove save as Wisconsin buzzed around them. Shortly thereafter, as Wisconsin was making a player change a puck hit a player in the skate. Refs called a too many skaters penalty and it immediately went under review before ultimately being waved off. Pannek returned to the box at 7:56 for tripping Nurse and sending her crashing into a couple other skaters. The Gophers spent the whole penalty throwing the puck into Wisconsin's zone and once the penalty expired the teams continued racing across the ice. Late in OT Rookie of the Year Sarah Potomak rushed up the left side, battled a Badger for the puck, and then banged it home under Desbiens' arm at 15:00, winning the game for Minnesota 3-2.

    On Sunday Minnesota faces Boston College at 1pm CT. The NCAA will be streaming the game live on their site and it will be a game worth watching. This final game will determined the 2016 National Champion. While Boston College comes in with a perfect record so far this season, Minnesota is the defending champion, and have not only won four out of the last five championships, but have played in all five title matches. Minnesota is also the only women's hockey team in NCAA history to record a perfect season, which will no longer be the case if they lose this game. The Gophers have a lot riding on this final game, but they perform well under any situation. Here's hoping they can bring home a 7th national title.

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