In a defensive stalemate, the Wisconsin Badgers (15-3-1) were able to outlast the Providence Friars (12-8-1) by a score of 3-0 to advance to their seventh-straight Frozen Four.
The Badgers’ defensive energy was nothing short of electric. In this shutout performance, the Badgers outshot the Friars by a tally of 44-12, with the Friars getting zero shots on goal during the entire first period of the game.
To get the game started, forward Brette Pettet scored what would ultimately be the deciding goal halfway through the first frame on an assist from Grace Bowlby and Britta Curl.
After a quiet second period in which the Badgers once again outshot the Friars, forward Sophie Shirley put two shots in the net during the closing minutes of the third period to seal the game and send the Badgers to the Frozen Four. Goalie Kennedy Blair also recorded her sixth shutout of the season, stopping all 12 Friar shots.
If the Badgers are able to keep up this defensive performance, it will be very difficult even for the high-octane Ohio State Buckeyes’ offense to effectively apply pressure.
However, while defensively Providence is a very strong team, the Badgers will need to be able to put more shots on net no matter who they are facing in the later rounds of the tournament. They have shown throughout this season that they are capable of rising to the task.
On their advancing to their seventh-straight Frozen Four — an NCAA record — UW head coach Mark Johnson expressed the Badgers’ desire to get out there and defend their title.
"We're excited to go to the Frozen Four and get an opportunity to win,” Johnson said of the bid. “I've always thought the quarterfinal games in these tournaments were really the most challenging and difficult ones that you really have to get over because you think you're in the NCAA tournament, but you're still really one step from the Frozen Four."
Senior Forward Brette Pettet echoed the sentiment of excitement.
"It's exciting,” Pettet said postgame. “It's been a crazy year and after last year, not having a chance to do this, it definitely makes you a little more hungry. I'm excited for the freshmen coming in and the sophomores who didn't get to experience it yet. I'm very excited and I think our team has worked really hard for this."
Although the Badgers did not ultimately receive the number one seed that many felt they deserved, they are still playing with the same energy and confidence that one would expect from the best team in the country.
The Badgers will face the winner of the quarterfinals matchup between Boston College and familiar rival Ohio State on March 18.