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Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Badgers win 10th conference title

In a loaded conference playoff, Wisconsin topped the number one team in the conference on their way to another NCAA title conquest.

Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey beat No. 3 Minnesota and top-ranked Ohio State this past weekend to win its 10th Western Collegiate Hockey Association title in 24 years. 

After an overtime triumph against Minnesota on Friday, the Badgers prevailed over No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday to continue their quest for another national championship. Lacey Eden scored the overtime goal against border rivals Minnesota on Friday night to send the Badgers to the WCHA final Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis. 

Wisconsin scored early in the first period when Forward Laila Edwards assisted forward Kirsten Simms to give the Badgers a 1-0 lead over the Gophers. Edwards found Simms off a pass, which split two defenders and left Simms with a 1-on-1 with the goalie. From there, Simms had no trouble steering the puck around Minnesota goalie Skylar Vetter. 

The Gophers responded with two unanswered goals before the Badgers connected multiple passes in a row around the defense, which led to Simms’ second goal to tie the game 2-2. However, Minnesota snuck the puck past Badgers goalie Ava McNaughton to take the lead again in the beginning of the third period. 

Just when a WCHA final seemed out of reach and McNaughton had to leave her net, Badgers forward Casey O’Brien scored with eight seconds left in the game to send it to overtime. Defender Caroline Harvey capitalized on a mishap by the Minnesota defense and left them stunned. 

Eden scored on a sneaky back shot three minutes into overtime, ending the game 4-3 and sending the Badgers to another WCHA final. 

Saturday’s final was set for No. 1 Ohio State to play No. 2 Wisconsin. The Badgers and the Buckeyes had faced off in two previous series this season, with the Buckeyes winning three out of four games. 

Wisconsin took the lead first when Simms, the WCHA player of the year, took the puck down the rink herself and scored halfway into the first period. Two minutes later, Edwards doubled the lead with a long shot that sailed right past the Buckeye goalie. 

Ohio State grabbed one goal back in the beginning of the second period, but the Badgers responded when Edwards capitalized on Wisconsin’s power play and scored another long shot. 

Less than two minutes later, Badgers forward O’Brien made it 4-1, slotting the puck right between the goalie’s legs. Big saves from Wisconsin goalie Jane Gervais punctuated the rest of the period, and forward Britta Curl’s individual scoring effort capped it off to extend the Badgers’ lead to 5-1. 

Ohio State grabbed two goals back in the third period, but there wasn’t enough time to stop the Badgers from winning the game 6-3 and claiming the program’s 10th WCHA title. 

As a result of their success in the WCHA tournament, Wisconsin earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will host the first round at LaBahn Arena. This is the first time in five years the Badgers will host the tournament at home. 

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Wisconsin will play the winner of No. 7 St. Lawrence and No. 15 Penn on Saturday, March 16. 

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