Wisconsin's season ends in Frozen Four as Badgers fall to Colgate in double overtime heartbreak

Abby Roque and the Badgers fell in heartbreaking fashion in their double overtime loss to Colgate.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

MINNEAPOLIS — Something just seemed a bit off for Wisconsin at Friday’s Frozen Four game in the Ridder Arena against Colgate. The Badgers had plenty of opportunities but just could not seem to capitalize on enough of them to pull out a victory. Yet again, they left the national semifinals without a title.

“We had opportunities, but for some reason they just wouldn’t work out. It’s a tough way to end the season,” head coach Mark Johnson said.

The first period was full of missed opportunities for both sides. Wisconsin came out of the gates like a five-star michelin chef, peppering Colgate goalie Julia Vandyk with a flurry of shots, taking 11 compared to the Raiders’ mere five. UW and Colgate would trade quality offensive possessions for most of the first period until Colgate forward Breanne Wilson-Bennett broke the tie with a goal 16 minutes in.

Wisconsin picked up where it left off at the start of the second period, creating a host of incredible opportunities right at Vandyk’s feet that just always seemed to fall short. It looked like Wisconsin was finally starting to find its footing offensively, playing aggressively and creating many more open shot opportunities in the second than in the first.

Its aggressive play finally paid off six minutes into the second period when Mekenzie Steffen finally put a loose puck in the net, capping off an offensive sequence that left Colgate reeling.

However, midway through the second period, the Raiders created a one-on-one breakaway chance that was immediately shut down by UW star goalie Kristen Campbell, making an insane play look rather casual.

Colgate seemed to be losing any-and-all momentum, until it earned its first powerplay of the night on a roughing penalty by Abby Roque.

As the boo birds rang throughout Ridder Arena, the Raiders were able to keep the puck in their offensive zone for nearly the entire powerplay. It wasn’t until a minute and a half later that the Badgers were able to win the puck back. But almost immediately Mekenzie Steffen was whistled for a hooking penalty.

This would give Colgate the perfect opportunity to reclaim the lead with 30 seconds of 5-on-3 play. And, just as Abby Roque returned to the ice and it appeared as if Wisconsin’s stellar penalty kill was going to bail it out, Wilson-Bennett put the puck in the net for her second time putting the Raiders up 2-1 right at the end of the period.

The third period started out pretty slow for both sides, trading quality offensive possessions with no production whatsoever. But seven minutes in, Wisconsin’s Claudia Kepler found twine tying the game at two a piece.

With the game tied Colgate started to move in transition really well and started to create a bunch of breakaway chances. Later, chippy play and unhappy fans led to a rowdy atmosphere in the waning minutes of the third as Roque was sent to the box once again. Within the sin bin, Colgate took the lead once again with a goal by Jessie Eldridge, putting them up 3-2.

But, with the game on the line and her team’s back against the wall, Steffen stepped up to the occasion and tied the game at three with three minutes left in the third period sending it into overtime.

In the first overtime, Wisconsin and Colgate — much like the first period — both traded quality possessions with countless missed opportunities. But those missed opportunities weren’t had without a fair share of outstanding blocks by both sides.

The two teams would trade possessions back-and-forth for another 36 minutes until Wilson-Bennett iced the game with her third goal, sending Colgate to the National Championship and Wisconsin home empty-handed.

For the Badgers, the story of the game was their missed opportunities.

Wisconsin doubled Colgate in shots taken, edging them 48 to 24 but still found themselves on the losing end.

“We really pushed to the last second, and tried to will every opportunity in,” senior Baylee Wellhausen said.

Wellhausen said afterward that she can still find a way to hold her head high, saying she was “proud of the effort” her teammates put in through both overtime periods.

It was quite the disappointing loss for the Badgers, however, ending their season when they were so close to a National Championship.

But there is a bright future ahead for these Badgers, who only graduate five seniors. They return their top three scorers in sophomores Abby Roque and Presley Norby and junior Sam Cogan, along with star sophomore goalie Kristen Campbell. Additionally, Emily Clark and Annie Pankowski will return after taking an Olympic break this year.

The future is bright for UW. But Friday marked yet another missed opportunity.

Wisconsin, yet again, came up just short.

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