While it can be difficult to find the silver lining following a loss to Minnesota in the WCHA championship, one positive is that Wisconsin (30-4-2) won’t have to wait long for a rematch.
Only hours after their disappointing 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (24-10-3) on Sunday, the Badgers found out they would get a chance for revenge the next Saturday at home in Madison for the NCAA women’s hockey tournament.
The Badgers controlled their first tournament game against the Bemidji State Beavers early, scoring only 41 seconds in. The Badgers came away from the game with a win, outscoring the Beavers 4-1 in a solid effort.
Wisconsin had all the momentum they should have needed heading into the game against Minnesota. However, the Gophers had their season and a tournament berth on the line, and the added motivation propelled them past the Badgers.
Minnesota needed to win the WCHA tournament in order to make the NCAA tournament. If the Gophers had lost, they would have missed out on the NCAA women’s hockey tournament for the first time since 2007.
“You’re desperate, and you play with a level of urgency that’s really hard to find throughout the regular season,” Sidney Peters, the goalie for the Gophers and tournament MVP, told the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Taylor Wente of the Gophers scored the first goal of the game only 66 seconds in, tipping a shot past Wisconsin goaltender Kristen Campbell.
Delaney Drake of the Badgers scored her first collegiate goal about three minutes later, but it would be the last of the game for the Badgers.
Taylor Williamson scored one minute and 40 seconds into the second period, giving Minnesota a lead they would not lose.
Nicole Schammel scored an empty-net goal to seal the win for Minnesota. The Badgers had been battling to tie the game but Wente, who scored the first goal of the game, was able to set up Schammel’s empty-netter.
“I think you could tell they really wanted it, especially at the end of the game,” Wisconsin’s Abby Roque said to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Although Wisconsin outshot Minnesota, 32-24, Campbell faced a number of high quality chances that the Badgers simply couldn’t match on the other end of the ice.
The Badgers had only won their previous four games against Minnesota this season by one goal each time.
“They didn’t play any different,” head coach Mark Johnson told uwbadgers.com. “Those four outings were very similar.”
Johnson noted that the Badgers had a good effort, but “just didn’t create enough opportunities to get one by her [Minnesota goaltender Sidney Peters] today.”
Wisconsin will gets its rematch with the Gophers this Saturday at LaBahn Arena in the quarterfinals of the NCAA women’s hockey tournament.
Puckdrop is set for 2 p.m.