Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 NCAA Division I Women's Championship Field Set

The eight-team field is set for the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Ice Hockey Championship.

The three schools earning automatic bids for winning their conference playoff championship were Boston University (Hockey East), Minnesota (WCHA) and St. Lawrence (ECAC), while the five at-large invitees include Boston College, Cornell, Mercyhurst, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have recorded 31victories apiece this season, while Cornell has registered 29 wins.

The four first-round games will be played on March 10 at campus sites. Defending national champion Wisconsin is the top seed in the tournament and will host eighth-seeded Mercyhurst, while second-seeded Minnesota will entertain first-time NCAA participant ans seventh seed North Dakota. Boston University will visit third-seeded Cornell, while St. Lawrence will travel to fourth-seeded Boston College.

The semifinals will be played on March 16 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn., followed by the national championship contest on March 18. Wisconsin, which defeated Boston University by a 4-1 count in last year's championship game, is seeking its fifth NCAA title, which would tie it all-time with Minnesota-Duluth. The Badgers also claimed Division I crowns in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

Junior forward Jocelyne Lamoureux of North Dakota leads all NCAA Division I women's skaters with 48 assists and 72 points so far this season, while junior forward Brianna Decker of Wisconsin is tops in the nation with 36 goals to date. Senior forwards Bailey Bram and Kelly Steadman of Mercyhurst are tied for the national lead with 12 power-play goals apiece, while Steadman is also tied for first in the nation with four shorthanded tallies.

Junior goaltender Noora Räty of Minnesota (pictured above) has gone 30-5-2 this season with a 1.35 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage, along with a nation-best 10 shutouts. Sophomore netminder Alex Rigsby of Wisconsin sports a nation-best .952 save percentage.

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