The No. 2 University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team (16-3-1, 12-3-1 WCHA) advanced to the 2021 National Championship Game after defeating rival Ohio State (13-7, 11-5) in the Frozen Four.
After winning in 2019, Wisconsin was the defending national champion after the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Badgers take on No. 1 Northeastern (22-1-1, 17-1-1 Hockey East), the regular-season and tournament champions of the Hockey East Conference. The Huskies enter the matchup on an impressive 18-game winning streak after beating Minnesota Duluth in overtime in their Frozen Four game.
In Wisconsin’s matchup against Ohio State, the Badgers started the game hot and got the puck to Ohio State’s defensive zone right off the opening face-off. The immediate pressure led to a goal scored by Makenna Webster 79 seconds into the game, set up by a great pass from Casey O’Brien behind the Buckeye net. Caitlin Schneider was credited with the secondary assist after dumping the puck into the zone to initiate the play.
On the other end of the ice, Badgers goalie Kennedy Blair continued her stellar play and stopped all 10 of the Ohio State shots she faced. The first period came to a close with the Badgers leading 1-0.
In the second period, O’Brien got involved in the offensive attack again for the Badgers after an assist in the opening frame. She capitalized on a back door pass from Schneider and found the net to extend Wisconsin’s lead to 2-0. The third line of Schneider, O’Brien and Webster continued their offensive dominance once again with another goal to put the Badgers up three.
This time it was Schneider who scored, with assists from both of her linemates. After falling behind by three, the Buckeyes provided some push by getting on the board for the first time off a goal from Gabby Rosenthal. They followed with more offensive opportunities, but Blair stood tall. The Badgers held a 3-1 lead after two periods.
The Buckeyes pulled to within one goal just seven minutes into the third period after a Sara Saekkinen goal, giving the Buckeyes life with plenty of time left.
The Buckeyes pulled their goalie with less than a minute left in regulation, looking for the tying goal. Daryl Watts finished off the effort for the Badgers with an empty net goal with 15 seconds left in the game, making it 4-2.
The Badgers will be back in the NCAA National Championship Game Saturday, March 20 with a chance for their sixth title. Puck drop is at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN U.