After sweeping St. Cloud State in stunning fashion, the Badgers (30-4-2, 19-1-2 WCHA) face off against the No. 9 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the WCHA semifinal in Minneapolis Saturday.
Both series between the two teams this season were close, with the last two matchups resulting in ties. Out of the four games that the Badgers and the Buckeyes played this season, each team has come out on top just once.
The Badgers have not played Ohio State in WCHA playoff competition since 2010 when they lost two overtime games to the Buckeyes in the quarterfinal round. Despite their losing track record against the Buckeyes in previous postseason conference play, Wisconsin has enjoyed great success in the WCHA tournament.
Since Mark Johnson took the reigns of the program in 2002, he has led the Badgers to victory in the WCHA semifinals 11 out of their 17 conference playoff appearances. The only time the Badgers did not advance past the quarterfinals of the WCHA tournament is when Johnson took a one-year sabbatical to coach the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey team in 2010.
With a history of WCHA Playoff dominance, the Badgers enter Saturday confident in their ability to perform at the highest level when it counts the most. The Badgers seem to be able to tap into this postseason momentum when it counts the most, especially against tough opponents like the Buckeyes.
Aside from their domination of St. Cloud State last weekend, Wisconsin also enters the weekend with a flurry of accolades to their name.
Senior captain Annie Pankowski was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Year as well as the WCHA Player of the Year. Also receiving WCHA awards were freshman Sophie Shirley for WCHA Freshman of the Year, junior goalie Kristen Campbell for WCHA Goaltender of the Year and Johnson for WCHA Coach of the Year.
Yet these trophies aren’t a guarantee for postseason success. With an average of just two goals per game scored against the Buckeyes this season, the Badgers have largely struggled to achieve their characteristic offensive production when facing Ohio State.
Women’s hockey: Badgers defeat St. Cloud State to advance to WCHA Final FaceoffLast weekend, the University of Wisconsin Badgers (30-4-2, 18-4-2 WCHA) took on St. Cloud State (10-25-2, 5-19) in the first Read…
But coming off of their second-best offensive performance of the year against any opponent, look for the Badgers to come out swinging against a team that has stifled their production all season.
The Badgers have struggled to close out games against the Buckeyes throughout the year but with the top offensive producer and goalie in the conference, it’s tough to bet against them.
Puck drop is set for 5 p.m. Saturday evening from Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. The game can be listened to live on 100.9 FM.