Erie, P.A. — Four national championships in six years. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The Wisconsin women’s hockey team claimed the Western Collegiate Hockey Association conference trophy and playoff trophy, and now it completes the trifecta: bringing the National Championship trophy back to Madison after beating Boston University 4-1 Sunday afternoon.
Senior forward captain Meghan Duggan held back tears while summing up the moment.
“I don’t think you can set it up any better than this,” Duggan said. “What our team has done this year is all I could ask for from the girls. I’m just so proud of our team. Not only for tonight but just the way we carried ourselves the entire season. We worked day in and day out, and that really showed tonight. … We played for each other, we played for our school, our staff, and it’s just an outstanding feeling. We’ve been chasing after that trophy all year.”
Junior forward Brooke Ammerman capitalized on one of the game’s few power plays, putting the Badgers on top 2-1 15:36 into the second period with what became the eventual game-winning goal.
From the drop of the puck, Wisconsin controlled the pace and momentum of the game. Despite a goal-filled second period, the game was stuck at zero after the first period even with the Badgers creating plenty of scoring opportunities.
“It was just a battle between two great teams,” Duggan said. “They have a solid defensive core. … I think it was just going to come down to who put the puck in the net first.”
And that’s exactly how it went.
Two and a half minutes into the second period, junior forward Carolyne Prevost fired a rocket five-hole from shortly in front of the blue line to put Wisconsin on the board first.
Prevost also scored an empty netter in the final seconds of the game to make the win just a little bit sweeter.
“Prevost had an exceptionally incredible game,” Duggan said. “She was moving her feet, she’s so fast — that girl, she can really fly by people — and she showed that tonight. They’ve been a core group for us, a backbone. Hats off to them tonight. Hats off to Prevost for hitting those two goals. She played big tonight, and that’s what we needed.”
Prevost’s linemate, senior Mallory Deluce, scored a momentum-changing goal about 17 minutes into the third.
As the clock wound down, Boston was starting to really push the tempo and bring the pressure, as it only needed a goal to tie the game up and send it to overtime. Junior forward Hilary Knight brought the puck across the blue line and sent it to the net. Deluce caught the rebound and shot it past BU’s netminder to give the Badgers their final push to the finish.
“This is what we’re known for at Wisconsin,” Prevost said. “We have so much depth on all three lines. [Duggan] always says sometimes it’s not going to be their line that wins the game; it’s going to be the second or third line. We stepped up to the plate today.”
Before the Badgers were even able to fight for the national title, they had to get past Boston College.
In a close battle into the final minute, Wisconsin did not seem as on top of its game as normal. Sophomore forward Brianna Decker and Duggan helped get their squad back on track.
With 48 seconds remaining, Duggan sent the puck to the net, where Decker picked up the rebound and knocked it in to seal the 3-2 win and send the squad into the national title game.
“Big-time play by a big-time player,” Johnson said of Duggan’s initial effort. “When the game is tied, I think if you looked our season, when we need something to happen and we need someone to score a goal and make the play, [Duggan] has been able to do that, and so to cap it off today with a beautiful goal with under a minute to go was a big play for us.”
The chemistry Wisconsin had this season was something most teams dream of possessing, and the Badgers believe it helped them achieve as much as they did. With that chemistry came a stronger team effort, and Johnson couldn’t be more proud.
“They spent the whole season being a team,” Johnson said. “They’ve had a bulls eye on the front of their jerseys for a long time here. It’s tough to be No. 1 for any stretch of a season, but to not have lost a game since early November, that’s very difficult and certainly very challenging. They’ve been a strong team. They’ve got great chemistry; they’ve got great leadership. I’m happy for them. It was an outstanding group, and they earned the championship. We’re real excited to take the trophy back to Madison.”