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Monday, June 24, 2024
The Wisconsin Badgers fell one win short of capturing their fifth national title in program history. The Clarkson Knights celebrate their championship in the background as the horn sounds. 

The Wisconsin Badgers fell one win short of capturing their fifth national title in program history. The Clarkson Knights celebrate their championship in the background as the horn sounds. 

Wisconsin Badgers plethora of scoring chances not enough to capture national title

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Even the best game plans can fail to produce results, and even the best players can make mistakes.

Wisconsin’s women’s hockey team learned those lessons the hard way in their 3-0 championship game loss to Clarkson last Sunday at the Family Arena in St. Charles.

The Badgers had played their best first period in several games, but it all came apart at the beginning of the second period when senior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens cleared a pass from behind her own net that ended up on the stick of Clarkson’s Savannah Harmon, who put the Golden Knights up a goal just 27 seconds into the second frame.

It was an uncharacteristic and costly mistake from the Patty Kazmaier Award winner, but with more than 39 minutes remaining in the game, the Badgers still had plenty of opportunities to even the score.

“You just need to let it go and let the game keep going and you need to save the next one. So you just need to put it behind you,” Desbiens said.

The Badgers appeared to do just that in a stretch immediately following the goal, during which they kept Clarkson bottled up in its own end for more than three minutes and generated several quality scoring opportunities.

That was the theme of the day for Wisconsin, which got 35 shots on Clarkson goaltender Shea Tiley after falling behind, but simply couldn’t get a goal.

"It's just unfortunate that the puck didn't go in, it wasn't due to a lack of scoring opportunities or creating good chances,” head coach Mark Johnson said. “For whatever reason, the pucks don't go in some nights and for this afternoon's game it just didn't go in for us."

Wisconsin had at times been plagued by an inability to turn their abundance of shots into scoring opportunities, but it managed plenty of quality looks at the net in Sunday’s game. Forwards Sarah Nurse and Emily Clark each came close to scoring, with Nurse missing just high on a breakaway and Clark ringing one off the bottom of the crossbar.

Time and time again the Badgers drove hard to the net and fought for rebounds, but each time the puck emerged from the scrum in Tiley’s glove or on the stick of a Clarkson player.

“They got the bounces, we didn’t, and that's just how hockey goes,” Desbiens said.

The officiating had an undeniable impact on the game, most notably when Clark had a second-period goal disallowed for goaltender interference, along with several would-be penalties for Clarkson that went uncalled.

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Those penalties could have lead to valuable power plays for the Badgers, but ultimately it was their own inability to score that cost them a chance at a national title.

After the game, Johnson seemed upbeat about the team’s performance, despite the final result.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome, but the kids played hard, they played well,” Johnson said. “It was a special group, it was a special season, they're going to have some great memories to reflect on, so I'm certainly proud of that.”

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