Gophers women’s hockey ‘hangry’ to be back in NCAA Tournament

The Gophers have been frozen out of competing for a spot in the Frozen Four the last two seasons.

The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 NCAA Tournament just hours before puck drop, and Minnesota was not selected to participate in 2021. 

But the Gophers received the No. 2 overall seed for the tournament this year, and will host Thursday’s winner between Minnesota-Duluth and Harvard. It’s safe to say Brad Frost’s squad won’t be lacking motivation in this postseason. 

"They’re ‘hangry’ might be the best way to say it," Frost told FOX 9 of his team’s hunger to win in 2022.

Last year, the Gophers were not selected for the tournament for the first time in 15 years. It’s something Frost is still salty about.

"They’re hangry, I guess, might be the best way to say it," Frost told reporters on Wednesday. "How grateful our team is to be in this position again, the way we’re playing and our season has been extended. They’re ready, they have a very strong belief in themselves as a group."

The Gophers (29-8-1) left no doubt about their NCAA Tournament fate this time around. They won the WCHA regular season title and have the leading scorer in the nation in Taylor Heise. They handled the Bulldogs 5-1 in the playoff semifinals before taking Ohio State to overtime in the league title game.

The Gophers got called for a penalty with eight seconds left in regulation, and the Buckeyes won the game 3-2 with a power-play goal 23 seconds into overtime. Frost said they’ve moved on from that game, and will be ready Saturday afternoon.

"The team is great. They’re motivated, they’re ready. As we look back at the goals against both in the Ohio State game and the Duluth game, there was a pattern there. They all came from behind the net. We just lost some coverage in front, things that we can improve on and get better at," Frost said. "I know they’re a motivated group here ready for Saturday."

A win Saturday, and the Gophers head back to the Frozen Four. Minnesota last won a national championship in 2016. The Gophers are seeking their first Frozen Four appearance since 2019.