NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch- 2024 NCAA Frozen Four - Semifinals
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NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch- 2024 NCAA Frozen Four - Semifinals

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch- 2024 NCAA Frozen Four - Semifinals by Nicole Haase

The Frozen Four semifinals kick off at Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, New Hampshire on Friday.

Clarkson vs. Ohio State

Friday at 4:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream available on ESPN+

Ohio State are the top-ranked team in the country and enter Friday's semifinal having decimated UMD 9-0 in the quarterfinals. They have just four losses all season and have been a dominant force from the first puck drop. They're an experienced and talented team that was built to be in this exact position. They have succeeded this season by committee and rookie Joy Dunne was named National Rookie of the Year on Wednesday.

Ohio State are strong and smart with the puck and they never let up. Opponents cannot hesitate or slow to make decisions or the puck is already on a Buckeye stick going in the other direction. They're also really hungry. They lost last season's championship to Wisconsin 1-0, and the Badgers also handed them two losses in the past couple of weeks. All of that is to say this team is angry and hungry and extra determined to prove themselves.

At the Frozen Four media day, Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers said that to beat OSU, the Golden Knights need to play their best hockey – and their best hockey is on defense. Clarkson are a team built on defense and they often build their offense from the back, but they are likely going to need to be more proactive than that against Ohio State or they're going to get hemmed in and it will be a really, really long game.

They can't be passive and let Ohio State dictate the pace or wait for the play to come to them before trying to block shots or defend. They have to take chances, not give up any easy ice and trust in their Goalie of the Year Michelle Pasiechnyk. I don't think they can count on shots from the point or being able to stake claim to ice in front of the net to try and create deflections. They have to be creative, not get frustrated and read the game well.

Colgate vs. Wisconsin

Friday at 7:30 PM Eastern

Watch: Paid stream available on ESPN+

These are two teams that play a similar style of fast-paced, transition hockey; they like to strike before the opponents can set up their defense. This game is going to be incredibly fast and very physical. Expect a lot of battles along the boards and in the corners.

Both teams are deep, but they each use that depth in different ways. Colgate's scoring is spread pretty evenly, with numbers decreasing a bit through each line. Wisconsin's top line has the two top-scoring players in the country in Kirsten Simms and Casey O'Brien, both of who are Patty Kazmaier top-three finalists.

One detail to watch in this game will be faceoffs. Both Serdachny and Kalty Kaltounkova have taken more than 500 faceoffs and are above 50%. O'Brien takes the lion's share of them for Wisconsin and has been winning them at a 60% clip since January 1. Puck possession is such a huge part of both of their games that success at the dot could determine which team gets to dictate the flow of the game.

The Badgers have a rookie goalie in Ava McNaughton, who shared time in net for most of the regular season but has taken over starting duties in the postseason. Colgate's Kayle Osborne has started about two-thirds of their games and just has more experience. Both will need to be solid and able to withstand odd-player rushes.

Stick Taps and Snark

↑ Ohio State's Joy Dunne – The freshman was named Hockey Commissioners Association Rookie of the year.

↑  Clarkson goalie Michelle Pasiechnyk – was named HCA Goalie of the Year.

↓ National semifinals not on TV – In 2021, the evening semifinal was televised on ESPNU, while the afternoon game was on ESPN+. This is the third year in a row that both semifinals have been relegated to the network's paid streaming site.

↑  Connecticut coach Chris MacKenzie – MacKenzie was named HCA Coach of the Year.