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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Badgers fall in final period, Minnesota advances to WCHA title game

Wisconsin’s hopes at a WCHA championship were dashed Friday night after coming up short against Minnesota in the semifinal round, losing 4-2.

The Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team (25-10-2)  played against the Minnesota Gophers (29-5-2) last Friday in Ridder Arena for the semifinal game of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Final Faceoff. 

Unfortunately for Wisconsin, they were knocked out on Friday by the Gophers, 4-2. The game was tied going into the final period, but the Gophers pulled away, tallying their first Border Battle win of the season.

The first period started with the Gophers getting on the board early. Madison Kaiser earned the goal for Minnesota just over five minutes into the game. Receiving a centering pass from forward Peyton Hemp, Kaiser made a quick move and fired the shot to go up 1-0.

With over 10 minutes still left in the first, shots on goal favored the Gophers 7-4. Regardless, the scoring was kept at bay and the period ended 1-0 Gophers.

Just under two minutes into the second period, Casey O’Brien tied it up at 1-1. The heads-up play occurred after a Gopher tried to send the puck around the back of the net. The attempt was instead intercepted by O’Brien, who quickly skated in front of the goal to score. 

The Gophers, however, did not let the Wisconsin goal go unanswered. Madeline Wethington put Minnesota up less than five minutes later. 

This goal was scored after a couple of chaotic attempts to get the puck away from the Badgers’ net. Unsuccessful, the puck instead rebounded far out in front of the goal and was scored by Wethington to make it 2-1 Minnesota. 

With 7:25 left in the period, Nicole LaMantia responded with a power play goal, tying it up at 2-2. LaMantia received a centering pass from Jesse Compher, then shot the puck, ricocheting in off the crossbar. The period ended tied at 2-2.

Under four minutes into the third, the Badgers were called for a tripping penalty. With 20 seconds shaved off the two-minute power play, Minnesota struck again. 

This time, Abbey Murphy scored to take the 3-2 lead for the Gophers. Grace Zumwinkle shot the puck all the way from the blue line, and the rebound was poked in by Murphy as if it was a routine play for the pair.

Around the 14-minute mark, shots on goal still favored Minnesota, 26-18. O’Brien got a good look on goal after a breakaway, but Minnesota goalie Skylar Vetter made a huge save. 

Under the two-minute mark, Wisconsin resorted to an empty net and Catie Skaja took advantage to cushion the Gopher lead to 4-2.

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The game ended in a Gopher win and advancement to the final matchup of the WCHA Final Faceoff. The final game determines which team will secure a definitive spot in the NCAA tournament and earn the WCHA title. 

Wisconsin will face Long Island University Thursday night in Hamilton, New York to begin the NCAA tournament. The winner will advance to play Colgate on Saturday.

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