Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Minnesota Looks to Repeat in Tough Frozen Four

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Minnesota Looks to Repeat in Tough Frozen Four

Article excerpt

If you're looking for a Cinderella sports team to follow, don't stop by the NCAA Women's Frozen Four this weekend in St. Charles.

The best women's college hockey teams are battling at The Family Arena. There are no underdogs left in the bracket, only national powers.

Wisconsin will play Boston College at 5 p.m. Friday and Clarkson faces defending champion Minnesota in the 8 p.m. game. The winners will square off Sunday in the 2 p.m. national championship game.

These teams carry a combined season record of 116-18-14 into this weekend.

"The same group that was at the Frozen Four last year are here again, and so each team has experience, each team understands what it takes to be a champion and so it makes for an exciting field," Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said Thursday afternoon.

"I think one of these four teams is capable of winning the championship here," Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers said. "I don't think anyone is overlooking any other team, I don't think anyone is looking past their first game onto the finals.

"Every team has been in these types of situations before."

Between them, these programs have won 11 of the last 13 NCAA titles.

"The quality of the teams is real high, so I think the people in the St. Louis area and the fans that come out (Friday) afternoon and evening and the championship game will see some high-end hockey," said Johnson, who briefly played for the Blues (17 games in 1984-85) during his 11-year NHL career.

Minnesota scored the only upset in this year's tournament, winning at Minnesota-Duluth 1-0 in the quarterfinals. That prevented Minnesota-Duluth, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, from bidding for its sixth national championship.

But can any Minnesota victory be much of a surprise? The defending champion Gophers have reached the Frozen Four 13 times and won six NCAA titles.

This is their sixth consecutive semifinal appearance. They have reached the last five title games, winning four of them.

"Each team is different every year," said Gophers defenseman Lee Stecklein, one of six seniors on the team. "You have to treat each experience as a unique one. I think this one has gone through more than the other teams in the past, just some more challenges, more injuries. …

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