Despite some late-season slip-ups, the No. 1 University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team lived up to their lofty expectations and clinched their third-straight Western Collegiate Hockey Association Regular Season Title last weekend.
The clinching win came against University of Minnesota-Duluth in a 5-0 performance, a fitting cap for the dominant Badgers season. After clinching the division, there were still two more games to play. For the regular season victory lap, the No. 7 University of Minnesota Gophers paid LaBahn Arena a visit for a two-game set.
In the first game of the weekend, the Badgers fell behind early in an uncharacteristically lethargic first period. Minnesota senior Sydney Baldwin did it all at the onset of the game for the Gophers, she contributed two goals to give Minnesota the 2-0 advantage.
As has been the rule for the infallible Badgers, this momentary lapse would not last.
Wisconsin junior Sam Cogan came out in the middle period and led the comeback effort. After Cogan’s goal, Minnesota responded with another score of their own. The game would see-saw once again thanks to another Cogan goal.
The 14th leading scorer in the nation Claudia Kepler couldn’t sit out this one and let her teammates have all the fun, so she tossed in two goals to cement the Badger win. Wisconsin beat Minnesota in the first game of the weekend 4-3.
The second match-up and the final game of the Badger’s sparkling regular season was not the shoot-out that was promised by the initial meeting.
Instead, the sell-out crowd in Madison was treated to a grind-it-out victory from the Badgers in a 1-0 shut-out. Senior Maddie Rolfes gave the Badgers their sole goal, which proved to be enough to top the Gophers and close out the season.
This final victory sent the Badgers bragging rights to the stratosphere. This marks the first time Wisconsin has ever swept Minnesota in a season series. Wisconsin remarkably won all four games this season in the border-war by only a single goal margin.
Looking ahead to the WCHA Tournament kicking off March 3, the Badgers will face many of their familiar conference foes in the post-season tournament. If their 20-2-2-0 record has any indication of things to come, it looks like Wisconsin will not have too tough of a time breezing through the tournament on their way to the NCAA Tournament March 6.