NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch - 2024 NCAA National Championship game
- 2 min read

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch - 2024 NCAA National Championship game

NCAA Women's Hockey: What to Watch - 2024 NCAA National Championship game by Nicole Haase

It's the last game of the season as the title game is played at Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, New Hampshire on Sunday.

Wisconsin vs. Ohio State

Sunday at 4:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Televised live on ESPNU

In a replay of the 2023 title game, we are guaranteed the WCHA will be home to the 20th National Champion as two conference-mates face off to be named best in the country on Sunday afternoon. Wisconsin is 2-0 against OSU in the Frozen Four, beating the Buckeyes 1-0 last season in the championship game and taking them down 4-2 in the national semifinal in 2021.

In the end, it's the two teams that were ranked #1 during this season and the top two seeds of the tournament playing and it should be an absolutely spectacular hockey game if the last few meetings between these two are any indication of how the championship match will play out.

There's little love lost between these two teams and not much new to say as it's the sixth time they'll be playing each other this season. Ohio State took the first two games at home back in October. The teams split their series in Madison to end the regular season. Wisconsin won the WCHA Tournament Championship game 6-3.

The Badgers were missing Patty Kazmaier top-ten finalist KK Harvey in the first series and Patty Kazmaier top-three finalist in the second game of that series. They have lost just one game in 2024 - to Ohio State. Ohio State has lost two in that time - both to Wisconsin.

OSU coach Nadine Muzerall said that - all due respect to Wisconsin - she felt her team beat themselves in the WCHA title game with mental mistakes. She also said she thought there was little physically her team would need to do to prepare for the title game - the preparation was all mental. Sloane Matthews and Joy Dunne said after the Buckeyes' semifinal game that the team had the wrong mindset when the puck dropped and Clarkson's early goal forced them to reset.

All of that is easier said than done. Muzerall hopes the fact that her roster is full of seniors and grad students gives them an advantage. Wisconsin's team is younger, but a bigger proportion of those players played in last year's game. Nerves are inevitable and I'm not sure age or experience will make a difference.

The game may come down to goaltending. Ohio State's Raygan Kirk was a top three finalist for Goalie of the Year. She's second in the country with a 1.10 goals against average. Wisconsin's Ava McNaughton is 10th with a 1.47 goals against average. McNaughton split the season, but took over full time for the playoffs and was outstanding in the semifinal game.

Another crucial advantage could come through special teams. There were no penalties called in Ohio State's game, while the Badgers had four. That makes it difficult to know how Sunday's game will be called. The Wisconsin penalty kill is riding high after not allowing a power play goal Friday, even through a full two minutes of five on three.

Muzerall and Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson have very different personalities, but I thought it was interesting that the both said - in their own ways - that their biggest hope for Sunday's game is that their team leaves everything out on the ice. They said they want their players to know that they did everything they could against a great opponent and if the final score doesn't fall their way, they can be proud of what they did and not have regrets.

(Photo: Nicole Haase)