(Photo: USA Hockey)

The Frozen Four NCAA Women’s Hockey kicks off on Friday in Minneapolis, Minn., with two semi-final match-ups.

Top seed Minnesota will look to reclaim the championship this year after they were runners-up last year, losing to Clarkson University 5-4. Clarkson was knocked out in the quarterfinals this year. Minnesota won the tournament in 2013 and 2012.

Minnesota will face off against fourth-seed Wisconsin at 6 p.m. ET on Friday. Minnesota went 32-3-4 overall this season, 22-2-4 in the WCHA. Wisconsin has an overall record of 29-6-4, going 19-6-3 within the conference.

The Golden Gophers’ leading scorer Hannah Brandt has tallied 32 goals and 38 assists this season for 70 points in 38 games. The team is backstopped by Amanda Leveille, who is 26-3-3, with a 1.19 GAA and .945 SV%.

Wisconsin’s strength also lies in its goaltending, with sophomore Ann-Renee Desbiens, who is 26-6-4 with a 1.1 GAA and .943 SV%. Three players on the team have more than one point per game, with leading scorer Annie Pankowski notching 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists) in 38 games.

Second-seed Boston College will host nearby rival and third-seed Harvard University at 9 p.m. ET on Friday.

Boston College has never played in an NCAA women’s hockey championship game, but the Eagles are looking to turn that around this year. They’re led by 2014 Olympic silver medalist Alex Carpenter, a junior, who has 37 goals and 44 assists in 88 games. Freshman goaltender Katie Burt has had an impressive first season between the pipes, going 30-2-2 with a 1.0 GAA and .942 SV%.

Harvard is hoping to capture its first NCAA women’s hockey title, having been the runners-up in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Harvard went 26-5-3 overall this season, 16-4-2 in the ECAC. The team is coached by the legendary Katey Stone, a longtime coach for the school and coach of the silver-medal winning women’s hockey team from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Harvard’s squad features eight Massachusetts natives, including leading scorer Mary Parker, of Milton. She has 16 goals and 22 assists for 38 points in 33 games.

Winners of each semi-final game will play for the NCAA women’s hockey championship on Sunday, March 22 at 4 p.m. ET.

For latest score updates, follow @w_hockey on Twitter.

 

A college hockey fan and hockey player, Krista Patronick decided to pursue a career in sports management after earning a degree in English from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell in 2009 and spending three years in journalism. She received her Master's of Sports Management from Southern New Hampshire University in 2013. After realizing she was meant to work in the hockey world, Krista went to work in any press box she could get into. She kept statistics, wrote shot charts, tweeted and live-blogged her way to a job as an operations coordinator and marketing director at The Hockey Academy in Hudson, N.H. She works with the company's two junior teams, adult hockey players, and youth teams. Krista is a goalie and enjoys playing hockey in her spare time. She is a die-hard Bruins and River Hawks hockey fan. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @KristaPatronick

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