The University of New Hampshire is gearing up to host the 2016 women’s hockey Frozen Four this upcoming spring break.  The tournament decides who will be crowned the Women’s NCAA Division I champion and provides plenty of opportunities to see some of the most elite women’s hockey players in the nation.
The Whittemore Center Arena will host the tournament on March 18th and 20th. The focus this year is to make the Frozen Four more than just a few hockey games.  This year there will be an emphasis on making the event an experience for the aspiring youth players, fans, athletes and professional female hockey players.
“I think that at the end of the day people won’t think of it as attending just another hockey game, they’re going to remember it as the Frozen Four at UNH,” UNH women’s hockey alumni Kelly McManus Souza said.
“From a fan and parent perspective I think that this is something that works great.  As a parent, the kids are so excited about it, it feels special.  They’re actually involved in the event so they feel a part of it,” Souza said of having youth players heavily involved in the tournament.  Souza, along with the athletics department, is currently working with youth teams from around the area to have them part of the action during the event.  Certain youth teams will be able to stand on the blue line with the players during the national anthem and participate in mini competitions on the ice in between periods.
“The NWHL, the National Women’s Hockey League which has started this year, will also be here during the week and they’re going to host their awards ceremony live from the Whittemore Center.  They’re going to have their Isobel Cup here, which is the equivalent to the Stanley Cup, to try and draw their fans here to unite and make it a good experience for everyone,” Souza said.
“Part of one of the packages we offer is a fundraising incentive so people can purchase tickets and part of the proceeds will go back to the Denna Laing Foundation,” said Souza.  On top of getting the youth and professional players involved, the athletic department is doing their part to help out the Denna Laing Foundation.  Denna Laing suffered a spinal injury in a NWHL game during the Winter Classic at Gillete Stadium this year and has had the support of the hockey community since.
Jon Danos, the senior athletic director for external affairs, explained the reason UNH is hosting the Frozen Four.
“I think the amenities have a lot to do with the choice.  Geography, proximity to the most elite programs in the country, the building itself, comfort, capacity, accessibility; all of that plays into it,” Danos said.  “We’re really honored to host a significant event that will be televised nationally.”
“These are elite athletes.,” Danos said. “Women’s hockey is on the rise and there’s more and more young ladies playing the game and we’re happy to play a part in promoting that.”
Hilary Witt, the head coach of the women’s hockey team, also commented on the significance of the event.
“I think it’s such an amazing event because you bring the best teams and the best players to one venue and can appreciate the sport for what it is, which is a great sport that a lot of people need to see, so being able to host it and bring the best players and teams to UNH to let people see them is a great thing.”
Tickets for the Frozen Four can be purchased at the Whittemore Center Arena Box Office, over the telephone by calling 1-800-745-3000 or through ticketmaster.com.

Executive Editor