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Women's Frozen Four: Caroline Harvey back home, with a job to do

Mar. 21—HOME, TO WHITT

Now at Wisconsin, NH native returns to UNH for title —D1

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DURHAM — Caroline "K.K." Harvey is happy to be back in New Hampshire, but extra friends and family in the stands won't detract from the job at hand.

Harvey, who lived in both Salem and Pelham growing up, will play her first college hockey game in her home state tonight (7:30), when the University of Wisconsin meets Colgate in the NCAA Women's Frozen Four at the Whittemore Center.

No. 2 Wisconsin (34-5-0) is the Western College Hockey Association champion and defending national champion. The No. 3 Raiders (32-6-1) won the ECAC title.

No. 1 Ohio State (33-4-0), last year's national runner-up, will face No. 4 Clarkson (33-4-2) at 4 p.m.

"Super excited to be home," Harvey said at Wisconsin's post-practice news conference on Thursday. "It's definitely nice having the home crowd with you — friends and family supporting the girls here. ...We're just here as a team to take care of business and get the job done."

Harvey, who played for Team USA in the 2022 Winter Olympics, was named the WCHA Defender of the Year and is a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award — the highest individual honor in women's college hockey.

The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Whittemore Center lobby and be broadcasted on the NHL Network on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Harvey, the first Badger defender since 2007 to be a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier, led all WCHA defenders this season in points with 35 (five goals, 30 assists) in 30 games.

Harvey, a sophomore, missed seven games with a knee injury after the Badgers' 4-0 triumph over Bemidji State on Oct. 20. The 5-foot-8, offensive-minded defender posted a two-assist outing in her return — a 3-0 Wisconsin triumph over Minnesota Duluth on Dec. 2.

The Badgers felt Harvey's absence, 21st-year Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said.

"We talked — the coaching staff — about when she wasn't practicing with us and when she came back and started practicing again," Johnson said. "Just the energy level and the pace of practice went up astronomically."

During the rehab process, Harvey, 21, said she learned how to be more independent and to be a better teammate.

"It was obviously pretty difficult mentally and physically but, coming back, all I wanted to do was be on the ice and with the team," Harvey said. "When I was out during that time, I would just be positive and try to support the team and then, coming back, I was just motivated to do whatever I could do to help the team's success."

Since her return to the blue line, Harvey has recorded 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) and had both a five- and four-game point streak.

Wisconsin is 20-3-0 since Harvey came back.

She scored the game-winning overtime goal in the Badgers' 2-1 win over St. Cloud State on Feb. 3 — their 10th triumph as part of a 15-game winning streak.

"She's a winner in all aspects," Wisconsin graduate-student forward and captain Britta Curl said of Harvey. "She puts in so much work that people don't see and that rubs off on people. I think it's just a mental confidence that the team feels when she's out on the ice with us because we know that she's one of the best players in the world let alone in college and to have her on the ice with us is huge."

Johnson said it can be challenging for players to return from injury. When they do, he said, they have to regain confidence while knowing they don't want to get hurt again.

Harvey has found that balance, Johnson said.

"The confidence has been at a real high level," Johnson said, "and I think what K.K. is able to do for us and any team she plays on is she impacts the game in a lot of different areas. To have her back, to have her healthy, to have her confident, to have her smiling again — that's good for us and it all starts in our practices."

Barnes and the Buckeyes

New Hampton School graduate and former Boston College player Cayla Barnes will try to help Ohio State get back to the national title game in today's 4 p.m. semifinal.

Barnes, a graduate-student transfer and defender, was an All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association First Team selection this season. The two-time U.S. Olympian led all the defenders in the conference with 24 points during the regular season and now has 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) on the year.

Barnes leads the Buckeyes in plus-minus (plus-68) and blocked shots (54).

Tickets, please

Tickets are available at UNHtickets.universitytickets.com. General public tickets for the semifinals, which are good for both games, range from $25-$100. General public tickets for Sunday's championship game range from $25 to $62.50.

Senior, youth, faculty/staff/military and group ticket options are also available.

ahall@unionleader.com