Women's hockey will crown its NCAA champion today, but once again, the final game will not be available on television. Sure you can live stream it on your laptop, but the Women's Frozen Four continues to be played in a broadcast black hole.
Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote a fantastic story detailing the problem with getting the women's hockey championship on TV. The problem, at heart, is that Turner Broadcasting has the rights to the Women's Frozen Four and chooses only to produce it as a live-streamed event. For another outlet, like the Big 10 Network, to broadcast the women's title game, it would need to buy the rights from Turner. The Big 10 Network tried to do that two years ago, but the sides could not reach an agreement.
And so women's hockey ends up in an incredibly difficult situation. They're asked to do more to grow and market their game, but one of the biggest opportunities to introduce people to the sport -- through showing the championship game on TV -- isn't afforded to them. Live streaming is nice but that's marketing to the choir. I'm only going to a live stream if I'm already interested and motivated to find it. I'm already a fan. I've already bought it. You grow the game by introducing it to casual fans.
Sunday's national championship will be played in 3,400-seat Ridder Arena and the event has been sold out for months. Minnesota will face Harvard for the national title. The Gophers have won four national titles while Harvard was the runner-up three straight years (2003-05).
The Crimson advanced after upsetting Boston College, 2-1, in the national semifinal. That loss ended the collegiate career of Emily Pfalzer (Getzville) who now joins the U.S. National Team for the Women's World Championship. Pfalzer was named a Division I All-American and became the first defenseman for BC to reach 100 career points. This season she had 41 points with eight goals, four of those coming on the power play.
At Division III, Hamburg native Bridget Smith was the first All-American from Oswego. The senior went 13-5-1 with six shutouts. Her save percentage of .946 ranked third nationally while her goals-against average of 1.69 was 13th.
Plattsburgh won its second straight NCAA championship beating Elmira, 3-2. Sophomore defenseman Julia Duquette (North Tonawanda) had four assists in 30 games while freshman defenseman Elizabeth Viola had an assist in 27 games played.
Elmira had two Western New York natives on its roster. Freshman forward Meghan Fonfara (Elma) had three goals and three assists in 21 games while frsehman defender Rachel Grampp (Williamsville) had three goals and nine points in 25 games.