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].”
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.Barbara Matson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org