#1 Northeastern Huskies v #2 Wisconsin Badgers - 7:30 PM- ESPNU
Northeastern made their first Frozen Four appearance in program history when the beat Robert Morris. The Huskies became only the 13th team to compete for a national championship when they beat Minnesota Duluth. If they were to beat Wisconsin they would become only the fifth team to win a national championship and the first from Hockey East. This is also the first time any Northeastern team has ever reached a championship game in any sport, thus win or lose this is the best single season performance in school history.
Wisconsin tied the record for consecutive Frozen Four appearances, with their victory over Providence, at seven. Other than in 2010 and 2013 when the Badgers missed the tournament they have made at least the Frozen Four every year since 2006. A victory over Northeastern would move them ahead of Minnesota and into a tie with Minnesota Duluth with six titles for the most all-time.
Patty Kaz Preview
The two favorites to win the award Aerin Frankel of Northeastern and Daryl Watts of Wisconsin are playing in this game. While the voting has already been completed and the winner determined, the announcement will happen at a yet to be determined time. This game will be the first time the two will face off since a tournament in Pittsburgh last year.
Only one team not from the WCHA has ever won a national title, Clarkson who has won three times in the last seven years starting with a win over Minnesota in 2014. There have only been three Hockey East participants, Boston College once and Boston University twice, one of the BU appearances was also in Erie against Wisconsin. The WCHA is 11-2 against teams not in the WCHA in these games, both losses to Clarkson.
How we got here
Northeastern got punched in the mouth to start their semifinal. They started to right the ship but then fell behind 2-0. A strong penalty kill created a power play opportunity that set up the first Huskies goal and after which Northeastern really started to take the game to Duluth, tying it up shortly there after. The overtime period saw lots of physical play and opportunities for both sides, though Northeastern had a few more and eventually buried the winner off the stick of Skylar Fontaine’s 16th shot of the game.
Wisconsin on the other hand did the punching early on, scoring goals in the first two minutes of both the first and second periods. They would add the eventual game winner in the second before letting Ohio State get back into the game. The Buckeyes just did not have enough gas in the tank as a late blocked shot for Watts led to an easy empty netter to seal the game for the Badgers.
Tale of the tape
These teams both won their leagues’ regular season titles (note: HEA did not officially crown a regular season champion in an attempt to hide their seeding formula, which has since been released due to FOIA action at BCInteruption), and their tournament championships. Northeastern was a little more convincing in each situation, but that could be chalked up to a much weaker HEA.
Each team played one opponent from the opposite conference in the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin beat a Providence team handily that Northeastern beat four times with equal dominance, even without one of their top line forwards in the regular season meetings, for reasons. Northeastern was able to edge a Minnesota Duluth team that beat Wisconsin, the Badgers took the second game in overtime which gave them the WCHA regular season crown.
This is an insanely difficult choice to make, and anyone who knows me, knows there is only one choice for me. The truth is this game has to be considered a toss up. Both teams could easily take this game. Of the six first team All-Americans five will be playing in this game, three for NU and two for Wisconsin. Northeastern was the preseason #1 in the SBNation poll and is riding a winning streak that has gone on since their firs weekend of the season. Wisconsin on the other hand has spent most of the season at #1 in all the polls, they have weathered a much tougher WCHA slate as the comically unbalanced schedule saw them primarily play Minnesota and Ohio State.
In the end I think had Northeastern not gotten to play Duluth in the semi they would be in way more trouble. The Huskies have the talent to overcome a slow start against a team like Duluth that no one has to overcome a similar start against a team like Wisconsin. Wisconsin has the history but Northeastern has a little bit more at stake.
Northeastern 3 - Wisconsin 2