For the third year in a row, the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team is WCHA postseason champion.
The Badgers (31-2-4-0, 22-2-4-0 WCHA) started off this weekend’s tournament by defeating the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Saturday afternoon. The Hawks (16-16-6, 11-12-5 WCHA) have been one of Wisconsin’s toughest opponents this season, so the Badgers knew facing them to start off the Final Face-Off would be a challenge.
The Badgers and the Hawks seemed to be relatively well-matched, with both teams scoring goals during the second period of play. With 11 penalties called during the game, eight of them being against North Dakota, it was clear this was going to be a close, physical game.
The Hawks seemed to believe bullying Wisconsin on the ice would be the trick to winning, and North Dakota’s leader seemed to be sophomore forward Rebekah Kolstad. Kolstad, who had been aggressive in previous matchups between these two teams, earned herself a major penalty and was also given a disqualification penalty. She will be suspended for a certain number of games if North Dakota’s season continues after this weekend.
Even with all the chaos, Wisconsin still managed to clinch the win, thanks to junior forward Emily Clark. Clark scored her 20th career game-winning goal Saturday.
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Sunday’s contest featured a surprise for the Badgers. During the second round of tournament play, the University of Minnesota, Duluth defeated the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
While the Badgers didn’t have to play the Gophers in their home arena, Duluth was not going to be an easy victory for the Badgers. With the No.1 and the No. 2 teams squaring off on the ice, it was clear the winner of this game was truly going to be the best in the WCHA.
With both teams scoring in the first period, it was clear the game would go to the team who managed to capitalize on the most opportunities. The win was thanks to Wisconsin’s junior forward Annie Pankowski and senior forward Sarah Nurse, who managed to create three scoring opportunities during the third period.
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Thanks to the UW’s first line of Nurse, Clark and Pankowski, the Badgers are bringing home Wilma for the third year in a row. Wisconsin will now wait for the NCAA to announce the schedule for the next round of playoffs.