MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The line of Sarah Potomak, Kelly Pannek, and Amy Potomak combined for four goals and nine points as the No. 2 University of Minnesota women's hockey team recorded a 5-2 win over Princeton in Saturday's NCAA quarterfinal game at Ridder Arena. With the win, the Golden Gophers secured the program's 14th NCAA Frozen Four berth.
Minnesota (31-5-1) scored three third-period goals, including a pair of empty-net goals, in the game's final 10 minutes to break a 2-2 tie. Pannek scored the eventual game-winner with 9:13 remaining before S. Potomak and Nicole Schammel sealed the win with empty-net goals in the game's final 1:06.
"I'm so happy that we're headed to the Frozen Four," head coach Brad Frost said. "This is a team that has earned it. They deserve it, but you always get the opportunity to go just because you deserve to go. Again, I think our depth was able to wear Princeton down a little bit tonight - it's a really, really special group. We're excited to get out there."
The Gophers were led by S. Potomak's four-point effort (2g-2a), and her linemates Pannek (1g-2a) and A. Potomak (1g-1a) also had multi-point games. Taylor Williamson picked up an assist on Schammel's empty-net goal for her 50th career point, and Sydney Scobee made 24 saves for the Maroon & Gold as the Gophers outshot Princeton, 39-26.
Sarah Fillier scored both goals for Princeton (20-8-5), and Tiger goaltender Stephanie Neatby made 34 saves.
"These quarterfinal games are always so tough," Frost said. "You saw that again tonight against a great opponent. They wouldn't go away. Their top line, Fillier in particular, was unbelievable. It took a complete team effort to keep her off the scoreboard in the third. I'm really proud of our group."
The Tigers got on the board first when Fillier struck at the 5:26 mark of period one, but Minnesota responded just 1:46 later when S. Potomak scored her ninth of the season to even the score at 1-1.
The Gophers then took the lead with a goal from A. Potomak with 1:55 remaining in period one when she tapped in the rebound off a shot by Pannek in the slot, and Minnesota took a one-goal lead into the first intermission.
However, Fillier scored her second of the game just 2:43 into the second period to even the score and the teams remained locked at 2-2 until Pannek solved Neatby midway through the third period with her 16th goal of the season.
Princeton pulled Neatby for the extra attacker with 1:50 remaining, but S. Potomak and Schammel iced the win with empty-net tallies.
Only one penalty was called in the game as Minnesota was perfect on the penalty kill at one-for-one, holding off the Tigers on the game's lone power play early in the third period.
In the other NCAA quarterfinal games, top-seeded Wisconsin defeated Syracuse by a score of 4-0. The other two quarterfinals required overtime as Cornell upset No. 3 seed Northeastern, 3-2 in overtime, and No. 4 seed Clarkson prevailed over Boston College, 2-1 in overtime.
The Frozen Four semifinal match-ups pit Wisconsin against Clarkson and Minnesota against Cornell at the People's United Center in Hamden, Ct., next Friday, March 22 with the semifinal winners set to face off in the national championship game on Sunday, March 24. Tickets for the 2019 NCAA Women's Frozen Four are on sale now at QuinnipiacBobcats.com.