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Wisconsin women's hockey: Badgers' season ends with Frozen Four semifinal loss to Minnesota

Nicole Haase

DURHAM, N.H.  -- It was a bittersweet ending to a record-breaking season for the Wisconsin Badgers.

For the third straight season, Wisconsin was eliminated in the national semifinal by Minnesota. The Gophers edged Wisconsin 3-2 in overtime Friday night in Durham, N.H.

Wisconsin ended an 18-game winless streak against Minnesota earlier this season that dated back to 2011.Unfortunately for the Badgers, that was just one battle and they've yet to win the war against their biggest rival. Coach Mark Johnson called it a bitter pill to swallow.

These are two teams that could not be more similar. In six games this season, the Badgers and Gophers have won three games apiece. Three have gone into overtime, and over the course of all six, Minnesota has scored 14 goals to Wisconsin's 12.

Johnson opened his post-game press conference by joking that he was interested in a game seven. Minnesota Brad Frost called it a classic Minnesota/Wisconsin matchup.

The Gophers jumped out to a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the game on a Taylor Williamson goal with a gorgeous feed from Lee Stecklein. Wisconsin tied it up midway through the first when freshman Sophia Shaver intercepted a pass and had a free shot at the goal. It was an even game, with both teams having spurts of possession and moving quickly through the neutral zone.

The Badgers took a 2-1 lead in the waning second of the second period on an Emily Clark put-back. Give much of the credit to freshman Sam Cogan, who battled behind the net and put a back-hander on Leveille that deflected to Clark on the back post.

The lead didn't last a full minute, as Minnesota's Amanda Kessel evened it up :27 seconds into the final frame.

Minnesota's Sarah Potomak, the National Rookie of the Year, scored the game-winner with five minutes to go in the overtime period. She overtook the puck from junior Mellissa Channell and had a clear path in on Desbiens. She sniped it near post and ended the Badgers' run.

Despite the disappointing and abrupt end to the season, there are some bright spots.

At Friday's award ceremony, sophomore Annie Pankowski was given the NCAA Elite 90 Award, given to the Frozen Four participant with the highest cumulative grade point average. Junior goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens was named first-team All-American. Pankowski and senior captain Courtney Burke were named second-team All-American.

Desbiens also set three new NCAA single-season records. Her 21 shutouts obliterated the previous record of 18 set by Minnesota's Noora Räty. She also has the new record for goals against average (0.76), beating out former Badger Jessie Vetter. Her season save percentage (.960) is also a new record.

The Badgers' team defense also set a new record, allowing just 29 goals in 40 games, an average of .72 goals allowed per game. Maybe more impressive, the Badgers allowed 14 goals to Minnesota in six games, meaning in the other 34 games this season they allowed just 15 goals.