The No. 1 University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team is riding high after a thrilling weekend sweep of No. 2 University of Minnesota, Duluth and clinching the WCHA title outright. After tying the first game in a 1-1 shootout Saturday, the Badgers came out hungry on Sunday as they torched the Bulldogs for eight goals in an 8-0 shutout.
With the impressive performance on Senior Day Sunday, the Badgers secured their second straight conference title and the program’s sixth all-time since the program’s beginning in 1999. Though they earned the regular season title, head coach Mark Johnson knows the season is not over yet, he said at a Monday night news conference.
“Even though we clinched the championship, in the bigger picture, there’s still a lot of things at stake,” Johnson said. “Depending on the outcome of the two games this weekend, they can certainly have ramifications of things down the road.”
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Junior forward Baylee Wellhausen led the Badgers’ 8-point effort, had her first college career hat trick and her 14th goal on the season. Johnson had only good things to say about Wellhausen.
“I’ve known her a long time, and when she comes into the rink, she always seems to be happy and upbeat,” Johnson said. “I’m really happy for her, she works hard, she’s a great kid, does well in the classroom, and it’s really enjoyable to see her get rewarding.”
The regular season WCHA crown, however, should mean more to the Badgers than the impressive sweep this weekend. Every season Wisconsin has finished atop the historic conference they have reached the NCAA championship game, outside of last year in which they lost to rival Minnesota University in the Frozen Four.
With a eight-goal beatdown of the second best team in the country, this senior-dominated squad looks poised to win the program’s first championship since 2010 and their fifth overall. The road to that title, however, will run through the Gophers as it always does.
Johnson and the Badgers will have another chance to test out their future championship goals against that No. 4 Minnesota squad this weekend. The teams met earlier this year in Madison and the Badgers split the series. This time the Badgers look to keep it rolling into the playoffs with a series sweep in Minneapolis.
It will mark the sixth time this season the Badgers face a top-10 team. Wisconsin is 7-2-1 against top 10 teams this year.
“I think we’ve played, by far, the hardest schedule of any team in Division 1 hockey,” Johnson said.
Minnesota has been in the top five in the rankings all season long, and will by no means be an easy series win. The season’s second Border Battle series will take place in Minneapolis on Saturday and Sunday, both games at 3 p.m. CT.