If you enjoy defense and outstanding goaltending, the 2022 women's Frozen Four semifinals were right in your wheelhouse.
First, Minnesota Duluth took down No. 3 Northeastern, 2-1, in double overtime. No. 1 Ohio State followed that up with a 2-1 win over Yale in the second game.
The national championship between Ohio State and Minnesota Duluth is set for Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
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Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Frozen Four semifinals.
1) Minnesota Duluth’s terrific run continues
Friday was a day of revenge for Minnesota Duluth. Last season saw Minnesota Duluth get all the way to the Frozen Four only to fall to Northeastern, 3-2, in overtime.
This season provided a different result, as the Bulldogs took down the Huskies, 2-1, in double overtime. It was Naomi Rogge blistering one past Northeastern goalie Aerin Frankel to send UMD to the final.
NAOMI ROGGE SENDS @UMDWHockey TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!! #WFrozenFour pic.twitter.com/qEMHQ1krJT— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 18, 2022
So far, this has been an outstanding postseason for Minnesota Duluth. First it was a convincing 4-0 win over Harvard. Next was a 2-1 upset win over No. 2 Minnesota in the quarterfinals. Now Minnesota Duluth has another upset win — this one over No. 3 Northeastern.
2) Incredible goalie duel between Emma Soderberg and Aerin Frankel
The biggest reason as to why Minnesota Duluth and Northeastern needed two overtimes to decide a winner was due to the play of Minnesota Duluth goalie Emma Soderberg and Northeastern’s Frankel.
Both teams had countless opportunities to end the game at different points. Northeastern finished with 50 shots, while Minnesota Duluth posted 47.
UNREAL save by Emma Soderberg! OT continues... #WFrozenFour x @UMDWHockey pic.twitter.com/tUwiJ75Y7q— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 18, 2022
Soderberg turned away 49 of Northeastern’s 50 shots, which is a new career-high. Despite giving up the OT-winner, Frankel was also outstanding, making 45 stops.
Soderberg has a .982 save percentage through three wins. Not bad, right?
3) Jennifer Gardiner’s eventual game-winner was terrific
Goals in big games like the ones we saw on Friday often come the hard way. They are scored through tip-ins and passing plays and overall teamwork. Some are even fluky.
BRACKET 2022: View the 2022 women's tournament bracket
Jennifer Gardiner’s game-winner on Friday was none of those things. It was pure skill.
Gardiner received the puck in the neutral zone and turned up ice. Her first order of business was dealing with Yale defender Emma Seitz who stepped up at the red line. Gardiner recognized it and took it to the outside, going around Seitz.
Smooth skating... sweet move... TOP CHEESE! 🧀— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 19, 2022
Jenn Gardiner puts @OhioStateWHKY up 2-1 in the 2nd!
🎥 ESPN+ x #WFrozenFour pic.twitter.com/S8c5ZaGfLU
Gardiner created time and space for herself. Her next task was passing Yale defenseman Greta Skarzynski. She made it look way too easy, but she took advantage of Skarzynski reaching for the puck.
Then she put one upstairs on Yale goalie Gianna Meloni.
4) How will the double overtime game impact Minnesota Duluth in the national championship?
Minnesota Duluth played almost 100 minutes to beat Northeastern on Friday. As great an effort as it was, it will be interesting to see if that has any negative impact on their performance against Ohio State on Sunday.
The Bulldogs are a balanced team on an outstanding run. But Ohio State is the No. 1 team in the country. The Buckeyes play with great speed and thrive at pinning the opposition in their own zone.
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It goes without saying: Minnesota Duluth will need its legs against Ohio State. Finishing a double-overtime game less than 48 hours before does not put the Bulldogs at an advantage.
5) Despite the loss, Yale played Ohio State the right way
It is hard to say a team who lost did things the right way, but Yale actually did that on Friday.
Yale thrives on defense. Meloni has been a top goalie in net all season long and its team defense complements her play well. They succeed at making life easier on the goaltender.
Time after time, Yale was hemmed in its own zone by the powerful Ohio State offense, but the Bulldogs went with a simple approach — they packed it in and looked to block shots.
Ultimately, they limited the Buckeyes to two goals on 37 shots. One goal came on the power play and the other came in a tremendous individual effort.
Ohio State was certainly the better team, but Yale did everything it could to win.