Five at The IX: Ranked Edition – What to Watch

What to watch and read as the PWHL playoffs and NCAA championship grow closer

Happy Friday! Leighann from The Ice Garden here with another round of five during the maddest month of the year. A lot is at stake this week for both the fast-approaching PWHL playoffs and the NCAA Championship. 

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With lots happening, here are my top five must-watch games this weekend (in between the Caitlin Clark masterclasses, that is). 

1 + 2: Frozen Four Semifinals: Starting at 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday, the Frozen Four kicks off with the top seeded Ohio State taking on Clarkson, ranked fourth. After that, reigning champion Wisconsin will take on the third seeded Colgate. We could see a rematch of last year’s championship final between Ohio State and Wisconsin, but because I love the chaos factor, I think seeing Colgate and Clarkson battle would be a treat. 

Both games are available to watch on ESPN+ and TSN+ and TIG’s lovely Angelica Rodriguez gave us the best Frozen Four Preview to prepare.

3: PWHL Minnesota vs Montreal: While Toronto has a stronghold on the first place spot in the PWHL standings with just six games left for each team, the fight for second place is close. Just three points separates Minnesota and Montreal, and they will meet on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. CDT. 

4: NCAA Championship Game: The winners of the semifinal games above will face off on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. EST for all the glory. This is definitely the game of the weekend, as Colgate could break the six-year streak of the other three teams in contention or Wisconsin could go for their second win straight. Either way, it’s a star-studded Frozen Four and you don’t want to miss it.

5: PWHL Boston vs Minnesota: On Monday night, the last two teams in the standings, Boston and New York, face off in a crucial game to gain some standings points, as no team has been eliminated from the playoffs yet. The game starts at 7:00 p.m. EST at UBS Arena, where New York will look for its third win against Boston this season.

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Must-read Links

March is madness for a lot more than just basketball. Before I go, I’ll leave you with a ton of great reads and tweets from this week in women’s hockey.

First, Alberta native Shannon Szabados announced on Instagram that she was inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame this week. Szabados is a legend in both the women’s and men’s game, as the first woman to play in the WHL, AJHL and SPHL as well as being a three-time Olympic medalist for the Canadian women’s national team. She is more than deserving of this induction. 

The Boston Globe’s Emma Healy published ‘Inside the PWHL’s gameday fits: How one Toronto player is using fashion and self-expression to help grow the game. The piece highlights the gameday style of PWHL players, mainly fan favorite Carly Jackson, and how the athletes are bringing attention to the on-ice talent and players through fashion and social media. 

One of the biggest trades so far in the PWHL’s existence came this week, as Shiann Darkengelo was sent from Boston to Ottawa for Lexie Adzija and the rights to Caitrin Lonergan. TIG’s Lydia Murray broke down the trade here

The Michigan Daily’s Lindsay Budin wrote ‘Women’s SportsWednesday: The push toward varsity status for Michigan women’s hockey needs to start now’ earlier this week, detailing the efforts for the Michigan women’s hockey team to achieve varsity status. In the wake of the PWHL’s massive success, the occurrence of Frozen Four weekend, and the overall proof that women’s leagues and teams earn their keep this decade, if there is one thing to read this week, it is this. 

Speaking of the PWHL’s success, Hailey Salvian of The Athletic wrote a viral tweet this week showing how the PWHL Montreal game that will be held at Bell Centre has sold out and will break yet another attendance record for filling up the NHL’s largest capacity arena. This comes just days after Ottawa and Boston broke the American attendance record with 13,736 people in attendance at Little Caeser’s Arena in Detroit. 

If that wasn’t enough, Ian Kennedy of The Hockey News detailed in ‘Glory Days: PWHL Toronto Surpasses Maple Leafs For Longest Winning Streak In City’s History’ how it might not be so bad to be a Toronto hockey fan these days, as the PWHL Toronto team has set a new record full of wins. 

Salvian also gave us ‘Madison Bizal was diagnosed with cancer. It didn’t keep her from playing hockey — and going pro’ this week. As the title implies, the piece will give you a glimpse inside the life of a pro hockey player with another huge part of her story. 

Finally, again from The Hockey News, ‘Lulea Wins Swedish Championship Sweeping MoDo’ finishes you up with some positivity this week. 

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Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
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Written by The Ice Garden