Ohio State enters women’s hockey tourney as No. 1 seed again

Ohio State enters women’s hockey tourney as No. 1 seed again

Ohio State captured a second consecutive No. 1 seed for the 2024 NCAA women’s college hockey tournament, where the Buckeyes will be seeking revenge after last year’s championship game loss.

The Buckeyes (32-4-0) took the top spot in Sunday’s selection show despite losing to No. 2 seed Wisconsin (33-5-0) in Friday’s WCHA final. That defeat had to stir up memories for Ohio State of falling to the Badgers 1-0 in the 2023 tournament final. That secured a record seventh championship for Wisconsin — and the Badgers could be on another collision course with Ohio State.

Colgate (33-5-0) is the No. 3 seed, followed by Clarkson (32-4-2) at No. 4 and Minnesota (27-9-2) at No. 5.

In the single-elimination format, the top four seeds will host regional action from Thursday until Sunday.

The first round, all on Thursday, will feature Minnesota-Duluth (20-13-4) taking on UConn (25-7-5), Cornell (24-7-1) facing Stonehill (21-15-2), and St. Lawrence (27-10-0) going up against Penn State (22-12-3). Those winners will advance to take on Ohio State, Wisconsin and Colgate, respectively, in second-round matchups, when Clarkson and Minnesota will also face off.

The Frozen Four and championship game will be held March 22 and 24 at the Whittemore Center in Durham, New Hampshire.

This is the third season with an expanded 11-team format for the women. Five teams receive automatic bids by winning their conference tournaments, with the other six decided by a selection committee.

Ohio State and Wisconsin will be favored once again to reach the final after impressive regular seasons. The Badgers lead the country in scoring this season thanks in large part to sophomore Kirsten Simms, who paced all WCHA skaters in points and was named the league’s player of the year. That’s the fourth time in six years that a Badger has earned that honor.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes were WCHA regular-season champions for the second straight year and might even be deeper now than they were when they won the program’s first national title in 2022. The Buckeyes boast excellent goaltending from Raygan Kirk, who was named a finalist for the women’s hockey goalie of the year.

Colgate’s strength projects to be its special teams prowess. The Raiders pace all teams with 43 power-play goals on the season and are fifth overall on the penalty kill.

Clarkson boasts a top-ranked defense and superb goaltending from Michelle Pasiechnyk (another goaltender of the year finalist). Minnesota is back in the tournament despite losing 11 graduating players and has the nation’s top power-play percentage (37.1%). Both UConn and Stonehill are making their first NCAA tournament appearances.

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