In the opening game of the WCHA Final Faceoff, the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers were able to walk away with the win after defeating the No. 4 Minnesota Golden Gophers 5-3.
Even though the Badgers were outshot 26-23 by the Golden Gophers, the Badgers’ ability to capitalize on power plays and scoring opportunities proved to make the difference in this game. On five man-advantage opportunities, the Badgers were able to convert two for goals, including a last second shot by Forward Britta Curl to put the Badgers up by two in the third period.
Forward Sophie Shirley was able to get the game started with a score for the Badgers in a gridlocked first period, but it was Freshman Forward Makenna Webster who was able to win the day for the Badgers.
The Freshman scored two goals in the second period to give the Badgers a 3-1 lead. The Gophers were able to score twice in the third period, but were unable to equalize after having their offensive effort constrained by penalties and their inability to contain the Badger offense.
Head coach Mark Johnson credits strong team play and exceptional performances from the younger players for the win.
“That line has played well since we switched them around a few weekends ago,” Johnson said postgame. “You all know, if a player scores a goal or helps their team win, their confidence goes up and I think the last couple weekends, especially last weekend at Minnesota Duluth, I thought that line played well. Makenna (Webster) and Casey (O'Brien), they've grown, they're much better players right now than when we first started with them.
“We've got 17 games with them under our belt. The nice thing about it is they've made strides, they've made improvements, they continue to get better. Certainly with Makenna scoring a couple goals, especially the one late in the second period on the power play.”
Wisconsin will face the Ohio State Buckeyes in the WCHA championship game at 2 p.m. tomorrow.