The Wisconsin women’s hockey team earned its seventh national title against the Ohio State Buckeyes Sunday afternoon in Duluth, Minnesota.
The Buckeyes entered the game viewed as the heavy favorites. As the reigning national champions, the Buckeyes won the WCHA regular season title, were ranked number one in the country and had a 3-0-1 record against the Badgers this season.
To begin the match, the Badgers continued to ride redshirt senior Cami Kronish’s hot hand in net while the Buckeyes started junior goalie Amanda Thiele.
Not a team to shy away from a challenge, Wisconsin came out of the gates flying. Nicole LaMantia toe dragged past a Buckeye defender and then sniped the puck toward the far left corner of the goal. Unfortunately for the Badgers, Thiele put her cat-like reflexes on display and pushed the shot past the post with her blocker.
Minutes later, the Badgers opened the scoring. Forward Kirsten Simms collected the puck in the slot following a crucial keep-in by forward Claire Enright. Simms, who had the overtime winner vs. the Buckeyes in February, ripped it into the top left corner of the net and left Thiele with no chance.
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Wisconsin’s dominance continued into the second period. Sophomore Sarah Wozniewicz nearly doubled the Badger’s lead, but her shot, fired between the legs of a Buckeye defender, was smothered by Thiele.
One key factor that led to the Badgers’ dominance was their physical play and willingness to put their bodies on the line. The Badgers nearly won every board battle — the red and white seemed stronger and more eager than the Buckeyes throughout the 60 minutes of action.
The Badgers’ will to win was highlighted by back-to-back plays late in the second. First, a Badger defender went airborne and blocked a shot with her fist. Then, when the Buckeyes had a near breakaway, defender Katie Kotlowski dove across the ice and forced a subpar Buckeye shot. In the process, Kotlowski barreled over forward Jenna Buglioni.
Ohio State’s best chance of the period came with 3:30 left. Kronish fumbled a bouncing puck, and forward Gabby Rosenthal was there point-blank for the rebound. Kronish, however, got back in position and stopped the rebound chance.
At the start of the third, the Buckeyes nearly evened the score. Kronish failed to track a routine wrist shot from the blue line, but the puck hit the post rather than the back of the net.
Minutes later, Enright should’ve doubled the Badger’s lead. A great stretch pass by freshman Laila Edwards put Enright in on a breakaway. A slick move got her past Thiele, but she just put her backhand past the wide-open net.
With 12 minutes to go, Ohio State began to ramp up the pressure. Following a Chayla Edwards turnover, Buglioni found forward Paetyn Levis in front of the net. Kronish came up huge, blocking the one-time shot with her skate blade while she slid from post to post.
As time winded down, Ohio State threw everything they had at the Badgers and pulled their goalie in the process. The Badger’s defense stood firm and stifled the Buckeyes normally dynamic offense.
As the clock ticked down to zero, the Buckeyes felt nothing but pain. Across the ice, the Badger line could not contain its emotion. Players poured over the boards, and realizing all their hard work had paid off, the Wisconsin Badgers had secured the 2023 national championship.
This was the Badger’s seventh national championship and their third in the last four completed seasons. All seven titles have come with Mark Johnson at the helm. This championship also pushes the Badgers past Minnesota and gives them sole possession of the record for the most all-time national championships.