In their final home game of the 2016-17 season, the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team will take on ECAC’s Robert Morris University to secure their spot in the NCAA Frozen Four tournament.
After a successful weekend in which the Badgers (31-2-4-0, 22-2-4-0 WCHA) took down the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota, Duluth to win the WCHA championship, Wisconsin gets to come home and continue their post-season play.
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Moving from a best-of-three tournament style of play to a single-elimination game on Saturday means the Badgers have to be at the top of their game if they wish to get back to the Frozen Four.
The Badgers have luck on their side since they are the top seed of the tournament, and they get to play this do-or-die game at LaBahn Arena. Wisconsin currently has a 15-1-2 record here at home, so defeating them is going to be a tough challenge.
Wisconsin has only met RMU during the 2011-12 regular season. This will be the first time the Colonials (24-4-6, 15-3-2 ECAC) have ever made it this far in the NCAA tournament, so the Badgers’ experience will be a major advantage Saturday.
The UW has tried for the last three years to not only make it back to the Frozen Four tournament but to make it past the semi-final round, in which the Badgers have always fallen to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and thus, ending their season.
This year, things are changing for Wisconsin. Thanks to an impressive defeat by Duluth during the WCHA semi-final round, Minnesota does not gain home-ice advantage this tournament.
As luck would also have it, the Gophers will not only lose their home-ice advantage, but they will also have to play the Bulldogs in order to get through to the Frozen Four. The Gophers are 9-5-2 on the road, and they also sustained two of those losses to the Bulldogs earlier this season in Duluth.
If, and it is a big if, Duluth manages to usurp their fellow Minnesotans this weekend, the Badgers might be able to break their Frozen Four semi-final curse. Wisconsin has a far better record against Duluth (3-1-1) than Minnesota (1-1-2) this season. Facing the Bulldogs in the Frozen Four semi-final round would be much more favorable for the Badgers than facing the Gophers.
Before any of that can happen, the Badgers need to take care of the Colonials. The puck drops Saturday at 2 p.m. and fans can view the game on the Wisconsin Channel or 100.9 FM.