Duluth has bumpy road to title game
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - If Jessica Koizumi would have sat down in September and plotted out the women's hockey season point by point, it wouldn't have looked like this:...
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - If Jessica Koizumi would have sat down in September and plotted out the women's hockey season point by point, it wouldn't have looked like this:
-- A load of injuries at the start of the second half and a handful of losses against opponents the Minnesota-Duluth senior forward may have deemed inferior.
But the end point would've been this:
-- The Bulldogs (24-10-4) face the top-seeded and defending national champion Wisconsin (35-1-4) in the women's NCAA Frozen Four final at Herb Brooks Arena in an all-Western Collegiate Hockey Association finale at noon today.
It's the Bulldogs' first trip back to the finals since winning their third consecutive title, a 4-3 double-overtime win over Harvard, at the DECC in 2003.
The Bulldogs topped Boston College 4-3 in double overtime in Friday's semifinals to advance. By early Saturday night, UMD had not yet named a starting goalie. Senior Riitta Schaublin has played in the two previous NCAA tournament games.
"This is the game we wanted since the season started," Koizumi said. "This is senior night No. 2 for me. I've wanted this game so bad."
Koizumi missed her own senior night, the last time the Bulldogs hosted Wisconsin and pushed the Badgers to overtime in back-to-back nights before tying 1-1 and losing 2-1. She was sidelined with an MCL tear for the series but returned the following week in a fitted brace.
Koizumi has played a significant role in getting to the championship. In last week's 3-2 quarterfinal win over Mercyhurst in Erie, Pa., the senior forward scored the game-tying goal and the game-winner in overtime. In Friday's semifinal, Koizumi teamed up with sophomore Sara O'Toole to score her second goal of the game - again, the deciding goal in overtime.
Wisconsin enters the game with a hot goalie. Sophomore Jessie Vetter hasn't allowed a goal in the postseason since last year's quarterfinal win over Mercyhurst. She earned her 10th shutout of the season in Friday's 4-0 win over St. Lawrence.
-- Harvard senior forward Julie Chu of Fairfield, Conn., was named the Patty Kazmaier Award winner by USA Hockey on Saturday at a brunch at the Crowne Plaza. The award is given annually to the top Division I college women's hockey player.
Other top-three finalists included last year's winner, Wisconsin's Sara Bauer, and Mercyhurst's Meghan Agosta - the first freshman ever to make the top three. Marin was a top-10 finalist.