The 2022 NC women's ice hockey tournament expanding to 11 teams looks like a pretty great idea after the first round.
The college hockey world was treated to an extra round of hockey on Thursday night and there were some great moments. When it was all said and done, Quinnipiac, Minnesota Duluth and Wisconsin moved on to play in the quarterfinals.
BRACKET 2022: Click here to view the 2022 NC women's ice hockey tournament bracket
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the first round.
1. Gabbie Hughes took over for Minnesota Duluth in 4-0 win against Harvard
Heading into Minnesota Duluth's first round matchup with Harvard, there wasn't much senior Gabbie Hughes hadn't yet done in her terrific college career. But there was one notable individual accomplishment she still had yet to achieve: a hat trick.
That changed Thursday night, as Hughes netted a trio of goals in her squad's 4-0 drubbing of Harvard. All three of her goals weren't just a testament to how great she played, but to how dominant her line was from start to finish.
Her first, which came just 39 seconds into the first period, came off a terrific set-up from linemate Elizabeth Giguere. Anna Klein also assisted on that one. Her second, which came just 25 seconds into the second period, came off a a terrific set-up from Klein. Giguere also assisted on that one.
See what I mean?
🎩🎩🎩 @hughes_gabbie— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 11, 2022
There’s no better time than the NCAA tournament to score your first hat trick! #NCAAHockey x 🎥 @UMDWHockey pic.twitter.com/G4QPwwWZ6U
The best came on the hat trick goal. Giguere stopped in transition, feathered a saucer pass to where Hughes was going to be and Hughes finished the play off, potting her third of the night.
That line is going to be an extremely difficult one to stop for No. 2 Minnesota on Saturday.
2. Wisconsin held off Clarkson's comeback to win, 3-1
It looked like it was going to happen. With the two other first round games both in the books as four-goal wins, it felt like there needed to be some sort of epic comeback mixed in and Wisconsin-Clarkson would provide it.
With just over two minutes to play in the final 20, Clarkson had Wisconsin, who was up 2-0 at that point, on the ropes. The puck was loose around the Badger net and goaltender Kennedy Blair was down. That was when Clarkson's Nicole Gosling swooped in and fired one past Blair to cut the lead to 2-1. Shortly after, Clarkson pulled the goalie for the extra attacker.
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Delaney Drake scored on the empty net with under 20 seconds to play, but it was still quite the effort from Clarkson to make it close.
It's no secret that Wisconsin, the defending national champions, were favored heading into Thursday night's game. But The Golden Knights left it all out there, outshooting the Badgers, 31-25, and 15-6 in the third period.
Wisconsin will take on No. 3 Northeastern on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
3. Quinnipiac took over in the second period en route to 4-0 win over Syracuse
After one period of the Syracuse-Quinnipiac first round matchup, things were fairly even. Even though the Bobcats led in shots, 7-4, the score was knotted up 0-0 and neither team had many great chances through the opening 20.
That changed in the middle 20. Quinnipiac came out firing, outshooting the Orange, 13-7, and potting two goals.
2 goals to finish the 2nd period with a 2-0 lead! 🎥⤵️— QU Women's Hockey (@QU_WIH) March 11, 2022
Taylor House and Sadie Peart light the lamp and we are rolling into the 3rd 🔥 pic.twitter.com/WQBLOOjX19
The scoring started a little over halfway through the frame when the puck was bouncing around the front of the Syracuse cage. Amidst the chaos, Taylor House slid one into the net, giving the Bobcats the 1-0 lead. Then, just a few moments later, Sadie Peart deposited a pass from Courtney Vorster to make it 2-0.
BRACKET REACTION: 5 takeaways from the bracket release
That strong second period set the tone for a quick start in the third. Jess Schryver sniped one in to make it a three-goal lead just over two minutes into the final 20.
Up next for Quinnipiac is No. 1 Ohio State in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The Bobcats will need that second period performance in every period if they want to advance past the mighty Buckeyes.