Mercyhurst Lakers (24-8-4)
Head coach: Michael Sisti, 15th season (387-106-34)
Players to watch: Sr. F Christine Bestland (22
Road to the Frozen Four: def. Syracuse 2-1 (CHA semifinal), lost to Rochester Institute of Technology 2-1 in 2OTs (CHA final), def. Cornell 3-2 (NCAA quarterfinal)
Frozen Four facts: Has reached the Frozen Four for the fourth time (2009-10, 2013-14) during a NCAA-record 10 straight appearances in the national playoffs, but has never won a national championship. … Has a 1-2 Frozen Four record, with the lone win coming against Minnesota in the 2009 semifinals. … Lost to Wisconsin in the 2009 title game. … Lost to Cornell in the 2010 semifinals and Boston University a season ago, both in Minneapolis. … Has a 5-8 record in the NCAA playoffs. … Has a 4-8-4 all-time record against Clarkson, tonight’s semifinal opponent, but went 1-0-1 against the Golden Knights in Potsdam, N.Y., in October (2-0 win and 1-1 tie).
Outlook: The Lakers are decided underdogs as the only unseeded team in the field for the second straight year. They struggled against BU a season ago. Can they claim their first national title in a season where they weren’t even expected to make the NCAA tournament?
Clarkson Golden Knights (29-5-5)
Co-head coach: Matt Desrosiers & Shannon Desrosiers, 6th season (132-68-27)
Players to watch: Sr. F Jamie Lee Rattray (28-34-62), So. D Erin Ambrose (14-36-50), Sr. G Erica Howe (29-5-5, 1.03, .944, 14 SO), Sr. F Brittany Styner (13-33-46), Sr. F Carly Mercer (14-31-45), Sr. F Vanessa Gagnon (17-13-30)
Road to the Frozen Four: def. Quinnipiac 6-0 (ECAC semifinal), lost to Cornell 1-0 (ECAC final), def. Boston College 3-1 (NCAA quarterfinal)
Frozen Four facts: Clarkson makes its Frozen Four debut tonight. …The Golden Knights have set a new school record for wins in a season. … Rattray is one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which honors the national player of the year, stands second in Division I in points. … The Desrosiers are the first husband-wife coaching tandem in college hockey. … Howe, who leads all goaltenders nationally in goals-against average and shutouts, spearheads a Golden Knights’ defense that has allowed one goal or fewer in 31-of-39 games.
Outlook: The Golden Knights enjoyed the best season in program history. But Mercyhurst, their semifinal opponent, proved to be a tough opponent earlier in the season. Can they overcome the Lakers and the nerves that may surface in their first Frozen Four?
Road to the Frozen Four: def. Minnesota Duluth 4-1 (WCHA semifinal), def. North Dakota 3-1 (WCHA final), def. Boston University 5-1 (NCAA quarterfinal)
Frozen Four facts: Looking for a third straight national championship and fifth overall (2004-05, 2012-13). … Has an 86-1-1 record in the last 88 games. … Had a 62-game winning streak snapped in a 3-2 loss to North Dakota on Nov. 17. … Brandt, the nation’s leading scorer, joins Clarkson’s Rattray and Cornell junior F Jillian Saulnier as finalists for the Kazmaier Award, which will be awarded Saturday. … Only other blemish was a 2-2 tie with Ohio State on Jan. 11. … Has won 17 straight games since then by a combined 80-11 score. … Has 10 players with 28 points or more.
Outlook: This is the powerhouse Golden Gophers’ title to lose. But first they have to get back rival Wisconsin in an all-WCHA semifinal.
Wisconsin Badgers (28-7-2)
Head coach: Mark Johnson, 11th season (335-65-30)
Players to watch: Sr. F Brittany Ammerman (22-21-43), Sr. G Alex Rigsby (17-6-2, 1.17, .950, 7 SO) Jr. F Blayre Turnbull (18-22-40), So. D Courtney Burke (5-21-26), Sr. F Madison Packer (11-11-22)
Road to the Frozen Four: lost to North Dakota 1-0 (WCHA semifinal), def. Harvard 2-1 (NCAA quarterfinal)
Frozen Four facts: Has won four national championships (2006-07, 2009, 2011). … Won their last title by beating Boston University at Tullio Arena in March 2010. … Had four losses in their last nine games. … Johnson was a member of the gold medal-winning Unites States Olympic team that won at Lake Placid, N.Y. … He also coached the U.S. Olympic Women’s Team to a silver medal in 2010 in Vancouver. … Lost all four meetings with Minnesota in the regular season. … Have a NCAA-best 17-3 all-time record in the national playoffs. …
Outlook: The WCHA has won all 14 national championships in tournament history. The conference is guaranteed to have a team in the title game. But will it be the Badgers?
- Victor Fernandes