Northeastern, Boston College earn NCAA berths

The NCAA announced the eight-team field for the Division 1 women’s hockey national tournament Sunday night and while two local teams were selected, there won’t be a rematch of the Hockey East championship in Saturday’s opening round. Northeastern, which beat Boston College for the Hockey East title earlier Sunday, will host Cornell at 1 p.m., while the Eagles travel north to take on Clarkson (time TBA).

Wisconsin (32-4-2), which upended top-ranked Minnesota in the WCHA final, earned the No. 1 seed and will host Syracuse (13-21-3), a first-time visitor to the NCAAs. No. 2 seed Minnesota (30-5-1) hosts Princeton (20-7-5), making its first NCAA appearance since 2006.

Third seed Northeastern (27-5-5) which earned a bid with its Hockey East tournament title, will try to reach its first Frozen Four with a win over ECAC regular-season champion Cornell (23-5-6) at Matthews Arena. The Huskies are in their third straight NCAA tournament, but have yet to move beyond the quarterfinals.


“It’s a new season and we’re one game away from the Frozen Four and this program’s never done that before,’’ Northeastern coach Dave Flint said. “With this group I’ve told them since Day 1 they can beat anybody in the country if they put their minds together and stay together as a team. I think we proved that [Sunday].”

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NU goalie Aerin Frankel picked up MVP honors in the conference championship, giving her team a shot of momentum.

“Sky’s the limit for this team and it starts with the goaltender,” Flint said. “Championships are won with great goaltenders . . . It’s just so important. She gives our team a lot of confidence. So with her in net I feel like we can beat anybody.”

Fifth-seeded BC (26-11-1), meanwhile, is playing in its ninth consecutive NCAA tournament and 11th overall, and takes aim at its eighth Frozen Four, still trying to capture that elusive national title.

Defending national champion Clarkson (29-7-2), seeded fourth, won the ECAC title for the third straight year, beating Cornell, 4-1, as Loren Gabel scored twice to increase her nation-leading goal total to 40.


The conference winners received automatic bids: Hockey East (Northeastern), ECAC (Clarkson), College Hockey America (Syracuse), and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (Wisconsin). The at-large bids are awarded on several criteria, including record, strength of schedule, RPI, head-to-head competition, and results versus common opponents.

No. 2-ranked Wisconsin is paced by US national team player and WCHA offensive player of the year Annie Pankowski, who had one of Wisconsin’s three goals in the championship game, including her sixth goal in the last four games. The Badgers also have the goalie of the year (junior Kristen Campbell) and coach of the year, again, Mark Johnson.

Syracuse dominated the CHA title game earning a 6-2 win over No. 1 seed Robert Morris for the school’s first NCAA bid. The Orange have played in six conference championship games previously, but never won. Facing a powerhouse Wisconsin team is a tall task.

Minnesota, seven-time national champions, is led by Nicole Schammel (14-31—45) and Grace Zumwinkle (25-26—41). The Gophers take on Princeton, which features high-scoring rookie Sarah Fillier, who leads the team at 20-35—55. Both Minnesota and Princeton lost in the semifinals of their conference championships. The Tigers faced Minnesota the last time they were in the NCAA tournament in 2016, jumping out to an early lead before eventually falling.

Barbara Matson can be reached at