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Bulldogs' road back to NCAA title game, Frozen Four in Duluth is a familiar one

Minnesota Duluth will open the NCAA tournament against Clarkson in the first round in Minneapolis on Thursday, with Minnesota once again waiting in the NCAA regional final on Saturday at Ridder Arena.

Bulldogs watch NCAA selection show
The Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team watches the NCAA tournament selection show inside their locker room at Amsoil Arena on Sunday, March 5.
Matt Wellens / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth’s path to playing at home in two weeks in the NCAA Frozen Four at Amsoil Arena will be a very, very familiar one.

The seventh-seeded Bulldogs are heading back to Ridder Arena in Minneapolis for the second season and second weekend in a row to play in an NCAA regional, taking on No. 9 Clarkson at 6 p.m. Thursday, with the winner advancing to play No. 2 Minnesota at 2 p.m. Saturday in Minneapolis for a berth in the Frozen Four on March 17-19 in Duluth.

Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell said there’s a lot to like about the draw, starting with the familiarity.


“We have a bus trip instead of a flight, the rink we were just in last weekend, hopefully the hotel we're just in last weekend,” Crowell said. “So our routine stays pretty similar and if we're successful, we get to come home after that.”

UMD was just at Ridder Arena this weekend for the WCHA Final Faceoff, where they were edged 2-1 by the NCAA tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, Ohio State in the league semifinals.

A season ago, the Bulldogs lost in the WCHA semifinals one weekend, only to return the following week to beat Harvard in the first round and Minnesota in the regional final to reach a second-straight Frozen Four.

Now the Bulldogs embark on a similar path to not only reach a third-straight Frozen Four, but to win the national championship game that they lost a year ago to Ohio State on the Penn State campus.


“That feeling of being able to get a bid into the NCAA Tournament never gets old,” UMD fifth-year senior Gabbie Hughes said. “That excitement, the nerves all day long leading up to it as soon as you wake up in the morning, the night before as soon as you go to bed, that's all you're thinking about is being able to be a part of that. Watching the show and being in the locker room with the girls and being able to make it into that tournament, it doesn't get old no matter how many times you do it.”

Ranked ninth in the Pairwise, Clarkson was the last at-large team to get into the NCAA tournament after finishing fourth in the ECAC during the regular season. The Golden Knights upset ECAC regular season champion Yale in the league semifinals and lost to Colgate in the championship.

UMD opened the 2022 NCAA tournament a year ago with a commanding 4-0 victory over the ECAC regular season champion Crimson before upsetting the second-seeded Gophers on the University of Minnesota campus 2-1.

Bulldogs sixth-year senior forward Naomi Rogge said it was easy not to look past Harvard a year ago to a rematch with Minnesota — who UMD lost to in the WCHA semifinals a week earlier — because the Gophers are a familiar opponent. They saw Minnesota five times prior to the NCAA tournament last year, and they’ve seen Minnesota four times this year — all losses — so there’s no need to study up.

The focus a year ago was all on Harvard. The focus of the following four days will entirely be on Clarkson. UMD will worry about the Gophers if and when they get to them, Rogge said.


“Our coaches do a good job of telling us, ‘Take it one game at a time,’ and we actually buy into that. We don't really look too far ahead,” Rogge said. When we're practicing the week before, it's usually focused on that opponent, not so much the weekend.”

NCAA women's hockey tournament

All times CT

Thursday’s regional semifinals

Ohio State Regional: 8. Quinnipiac (29-9) vs. 10. Penn State (27-8-2), 5 p.m.

Colgate Regional: 6. Wisconsin (25-10-2) vs. 11. Long Island (20-13-3), 5 p.m.

Minnesota Regional: 7. Minnesota Duluth (25-9-3) vs. 9. Clarkson (29-10-2), 6 p.m.


Saturday’s regional finals

Yale Regional: 5. Northeastern (33-2-1) at 4. Yale (28-3-1), 2 p.m.

Minnesota Regional: Minnesota Duluth/Clarkson winner at 2. Minnesota (29-5-3), 2 p.m.

Colgate Regional: Wisconsin/Long Island winner at 3. Colgate (32-5-2), 2 p.m.

Ohio State Regional: Quinnipiac/Penn State winner at 1. Ohio State (31-5-2), 4 p.m.

NCAA Frozen Four


At Amsoil Arena, Duluth

March 17 semifinals, 2:30 or 6 p.m.

March 19 NCAA championship, 3 p.m.

This story was updated at 1 p.m. on March 5, 2023, with more details and comments from the Bulldogs on the 2023 NCAA women's hockey tournament draw. It was originally posted at 11:23 a.m. on March 5, 2023.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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