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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Women’s hockey: Wisconsin ascends to top of WCHA with playoff crown

Badgers dispose of North Dakota, Bemidji State to secure first tournament title since 2011
Brent Cizek

Sarah Nurse’s big weekend led the Wisconsin women’s hockey team to the WCHA Final Face-Off Championship, as the Badgers shutout fifth-seeded Bemidji State 4-0 Sunday afternoon.

The weekend victories gave Wisconsin the fourth seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament, securing a home matchup Saturday.

Nurse scored two goals in the first period against the Beavers in the championship game after recording two goals and an assist in the semifinal matchup with North Dakota on Saturday.


Nurse earned the WCHA Final Face-Off Most Outstanding Player, ending the weekend with four goals and two assists. She now has 15 goals on the season and has scored a goal in four of the last five games, coming on the heels of a 10-game streak without a goal.

“She kept pushing herself and creating opportunities and this weekend, played very well and was a big factor in why we won the tournament,” Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson said.

Nurse found her position on the third line with teammates Sydney McKibbon and Katy Josephs, a line Johnson altered in recent weeks, moving Josephs down from the first line.

Wisconsin’s third line has been productive, as McKibbon found the back of the net in Saturday’s game.

Bemidji State upset top seed Minnesota 1-0 in the earlier semifinal matchup Saturday to advance to the championship game.

The quick start has been something the Badgers have focused on during their current five game winning streak. Wisconsin has scored at least one first period goal in each game during that stretch, something that did not happen in their back-to-back losses prior to that.

Karley Sylvester found the back of the net late in the second period before Katarina Zgraja scored the final goal of the game in the third period.

Wisconsin outshot the Beavers 37-15 in the game after losing the shot battle 27-26 to North Dakota the previous night.

Goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens stopped all 15 shots she faced in the championship game.

This was the first time since 2011 that Wisconsin has advanced to the WCHA championship game. The past three seasons resulted in losses in the semifinal round, with two straight losses to North Dakota the last two seasons in the semifinals.

“The five of us seniors for the past three years haven’t [had] the opportunity to play in this game, so we kind of stressed that over the past week and kind of drove that into everyone’s head and everyone worked hard in practice,” Wisconsin senior Karley Sylvester said.

Brent Cizek

The championship is also the first WCHA Final Face Off title since 2011 for the Badgers. They had previously won championships in 2006, 2007, and 2009. In each of those seasons, the Badgers went on to win the National Championship.

Wisconsin drops North Dakota 4-1 in semifinal Saturday

The Wisconsin sophomore class stepped up in the WCHA Final Face Off semifinal game as the Badgers defeated host North Dakota 4-1 on Saturday.

Three different sophomores lit the lamp, and sophomore goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens led the Badgers into the championship game against Bemidji State.

Wisconsin scored the first goal of the game about 12 minutes into the contest when sophomore Melissa Channell fired a shot from the left circle past North Dakota goalkeeper Shelby Amsley-Benzie.

“We came out with a lot of energy and we were rewarded with our success,” sophomore Sydney McKibbon said. “I think it was big to get the first goal, and it continued for the rest of the game.”

McKibbon was next in line as she scored from the slot early in the second period to double the Wisconsin lead.

Midway through the third period, Nurse collected her 12th goal of the season when she deflected a shot attempt from Jenny Ryan on a power play.

Wisconsin sophomore Sarah Nurse accounted for four of UW’s eight goals in the two WCHA Final Face-Off games this weekend, recording six total points.
Nick Nelson/Dakota Student

Ryan recorded two assists in the game.

North Dakota was able to sneak the puck past Ann-Renée Desbiens late in the third period to cut the lead down to two, but Nurse responded by scoring her second goal of the game, an empty netter, just over a minute later.

“Obviously they were going to come out with a big push in the third period, and I think we responded really well to that by getting the goal, and then when they scored on us, we came back with a big push and finished it off,” Nurse said.

The Badgers got another stellar showing from the sophomore netminder as Desbiens stopped 26 of the 27 shots she faced in the game. She has given up four goals in the past five games, including three playoff wins.

“Obviously, we’re excited,” Johnson said. “It was, for the most part, a pretty tight game both ways. We capitalized on some of the opportunities and certainly the power play goal in the third period was a good goal for us.”

Nurse, McKibbon, Channell and Desbiens were all named to the WCHA Final Face Off All-Tournament Team.

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