Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011

Could Badger Women's Hockey host the 2014 Frozen Four?

By Nicole
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Andy Baggot, the UW hockey beat writer for the Wisconsin State Journal, reported today that the Badgers women's hockey team is putting together a formal bid to host the 2014 Women's Frozen Four.

The biggest drawback from the Badgers' bid is that the 2012 FF will be in Duluth, MN and the 2013 FF was awarded to Minnesota.

It does seem unlikely that the committee would place a third straight tournament with a "western school." However, the National Championship has never been won by a team other than Minnesota, Wisconsin or Minnesota-Duluth.

Wisconsin has also set attendance records for women's hockey. In fact, they keep breaking their own records.

2012 will be the third FF in Duluth. 2013 is listed as being hosted by St. Paul, but Minneapolis has hosted 3 FF's prior to that one. Including the scheduled FFs in 2012 and 2013, just seven cities have hosted the 13 FFs ever played in women's college hockey.

One of the concerns, I'd think, is the size of the Kohl Center. While it's a great venue when it's filled to its 15,000 limit for hockey, it will look huge, cavernous and empty if the attendance can only equal that of last year's Frozen Four - under 4,000 people.

If we assume that WCHA teams will continue to dominate the NCAA tournament, it makes sense to place the FF in their geographic area to draw attendance.

In 2010, Minnesota-Duluth won the National Championship while playing in Minneapolis and the stadium was sold to its capacity of 3,400. The NCAA has been content to hold the event in small stadiums.

The men's Frozen Four is considered An Event every year and folks buy their tickets via lottery a year in advance. Many people go regardless of whether their team is playing or not.

If Wisconsin doesn't make the Frozen Four the year the Kohl Center hosts, will fans attend the game anyway? It seems unlikely.

The other question is how Wisconsin would find a way to keep the Kohl Center empty of anything but women's hockey for 5 or so days. Men's hockey and basketball are both playing at that time and it I would guess it would take extraordinary measures to free up the stadium for the tournament.

As a perpetual player on the national stage of college women's hockey, I think this is a huge step for Wisconsin. When you realize their two biggest competitors, Minnesota and UMD, have already hosted multiple FFs, you see how poor it looks that Wisconsin hasn't even been in on the picture.

This would be one more feather in Wisconsin's cap. The product they've been able to produce on the ice speaks for itself, but playing host to a national audience would be a huge step for the program.

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