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NCAA Frozen Four: Badgers, Buckeyes Back at it
Rivals Wisconsin, Ohio State Return to Title Game

Ohio State’s Raygan Kirk won for the 21st time in 23 appearances this season (Photo: OSU Athletics).

DURHAM, N.H. -- For the second consecutive year, WCHA rivals Ohio State and Wisconsin will square off in the NCAA Frozen Four championship game.

Top-ranked and No. 1 overall seed Ohio State got past Clarkson in Friday’s first semifinal, while defending NCAA champion and second-seeded Wisconsin downed Colgate in the nightcap.

It all sets up a rematch of last year’s national title game, which the Badgers won 1-0.

Sunday’s NCAA Frozen Four championship game is set for 4 p.m. ET at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore Center Arena. The game can be seen on ESPNU in the United States and on TSN+ in Canada.

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Ohio State 4, Clarkson 1

The final score shows a three-goal margin of victory for Ohio State. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort on the part of Clarkson G Michelle Pasiechnyk (Sr., Ottawa, Ontario).

The ECAC Goaltender of the Year, who made a career-high 61 saves in the NCAA Quarterfinals against Minnesota, was brilliant once again Friday. Pasiechnyk stymied the nation’s highest-scoring offense at nearly every turn through two periods, stopping 39 of 40 shots over the first two periods to send the two teams into the second intermission deadlocked at 1-1.

The Buckeyes eventually broke through in the latter stages of the third period.

Sloane Matthews (So., Plymouth, Minn.) gave the Buckeyes their first lead at 13:12 of the final frame, and Joy Dunne (Fr., O’Fallon, Mo.) – the national rookie of the year – made it 3-1 just under four minutes later. It was Dunne’s team-leading 23rd goal of the season.

Fifth-year D Hadley Hartmetz (Phoenixville, Pa.) provided the finishing touches with an empty-net goal with 1:54 remaining.

“You’ve just got to keep chipping away,” said Dunne. “We know [Pasiechnyk] is a great goalie, and she proved it today. We just kept chipping away and believing in our teammates. Hats off to her. There were some saves…I think all of our jaws were dropped that she got those.”

Pasiechnyk finished with 49 stops in a valiant performance. Her Buckeye counterpart, Raygan Kirk (Gr., Ste. Anne, Manitoba), stopped 17 of 18 shots, as the Buckeyes outshot the Golden Knights 53-18.

“We kept fighting and kept pushing because we knew one was going to pop,” said Matthews, “it was just a matter of when.

Ohio State, with a school-record 34 wins, now shifts its focus to Sunday’s national championship and an opportunity to avenge its 2023 title game loss to their WCHA rivals.

“That’s playoff hockey at its finest,” said OSU Head Coach Nadine Muzerall. “We just had to change the mindset of not playing afraid to lose and play to win. Very proud to get to the championship game on Sunday.

“The end goal is to win it all and it’s going to be a dogfight.”

Wisconsin 3, Colgate 1

Three different players scored a goal and Ava McNaughton (Fr., Seven Fields, Pa.) stopped 25 of 26 shots for the Badgers, who have the chance to not only repeat as champions, but to win their fourth crown in the last five Frozen Fours.

Sophomore Kirsten Simms (Plymouth, Mich.), one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, broke a scoreless tie to get the Badgers started midway through the first period.

It was the 33rd goal of the year for Simms, pulling her into a tie for the national lead with Minnesota’s Abbey Murphy. It was also her NCAA-leading 75th point.

Classmate Vivian Jungels (So., Edina, Minn.) made it 2-0 for Wisconsin with 8:31 left in the third period, but Colgate’s Kristýna Kaltounková (Sr., Vlasim, Czechia) answered with an extra-attacker goal with 2:10 left on the clock.

The Raiders pressed for the equalizer until UW’s Laila Edwards (So., Cleveland Heights, Ohio) sealed the win with an empty-netter with only 12 seconds remaining.

“Our defense was super solid from start to finish, from blocking shots and getting the puck out, just little chips,” said Simms. “The energy coming into the third period and how our team came collectively in that third was huge, and just knowing that we are going to finish it out today.”

McNaughton was at her busiest in the third period, when she made 14 of her 25 saves. Colgate’s Kayle Osborne (Sr., Westport, Ontario) stopped 18 of 21 shots.

Both teams went scoreless on the power play, Colgate going 0-5 and Wisconsin 0-4.

Wisconsin is attempting to become the first back-to-back NCAA women’s hockey champion since Clarkson in 2017 and 2018

“We’re excited to win the game and move on and get an opportunity to play the last game of the season,” said UW Head Coach Mark Johnson. “We look forward to Sunday and the challenges that it will present to us, and the whole team and staff are excited for the opportunity.”

Of Note:

  • Ohio State is making its third straight appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four championship game. The Buckeyes won the program’s first national title in 2022 and followed up with a runner-up finish in 2023.
  • Kirk won for the 21st time in 23 appearances this season.
  • Anne Cherkowski (Sr., Coldstream, British Columbia) scored the lone Clarkson goal, her 15th of the year. That tied her for the team lead with Dominique Petrie (Gr., Hermosa Beach, Calif.).
  • UW’s Casey O’Brien (Sr., Milton, Mass.) assisted on the first two Badger goals, her 49th and 50th helpers of the season, a new single-season school record.

Must Read

Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State tops Clarkson, advances to NCAA women’s hockey championship
ESPN: Wisconsin, Ohio State in title game rematch
The Hockey News: Matthews sends Ohio State to NCAA women’s hockey final
The Lantern: Buckeyes win Frozen Four semifinal 4-1, break program wins record
USCHO: Three late goals power Ohio State to 4-1 win over Clarkson as Buckeyes return to title game
USCHO: Wisconsin downs Colgate in national semifinal, will rematch Ohio State for 2024 national title
Wisconsin State Journal: 3 things that stood out as Wisconsin downed Colgate in Frozen Four semifinal
Wisconsin State Journal: How it looked as Wisconsin arrived for the Frozen Four on the red carpet


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