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Wisconsin women’s hockey wins WCHA after trip to Duluth

Badgers win third straight conference title

The second-ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team (27–3–2) entered Friday’s road game with Duluth determined to finish its journey to a third straight WCHA regular-season title.

With defensewoman Mikaela Gardner back in the lineup, albeit not yet at full strength, the Badgers returned to form and cruised to a 5–0 victory. With a magic number of one game, Wisconsin knew all it needed was a win, and it delivered.

But the Badgers didn’t need to wait for the game to end to be crowned WCHA champions.

About halfway through Wisconsin’s second period on Friday, Ohio State handed Wisconsin the title by (shockingly) losing to last-place Minnesota State.

With the first-place WCHA finish, the Badgers automatically qualify for the semifinals of the WCHA tournament. They will face the winner of the fourth and fifth-place quarterfinal game on March 3 in Ridder Arena. It appears that fourth and fifth-place struggle will be between Duluth and Bemidji.

"It’s a tough trophy to win," head coach Mark Johnson said. "The teams that win it have to be consistent and they have to improve over the course of the season. This group was able to clinch it tonight, so congratulations to them. They certainly did that."

Wisconsin’s Friday victory over Duluth was a clinic in Badger hockey. About five minutes into the game, Wisconsin raced out to a quick 2–0 lead thanks to goals by Caitlin Schneider and Maddie Rowe. The first period finished off with a goal from Lauren Williams. And they finished Duluth off with a pair of goals from Presley Norby and Baylee Wellhausen. Goaltender Kristen Campbell earned an NCAA-best 10th shutout on the season thanks to her 17-save performance.

Once Wisconsin wrapped up the title, the second game of the series was a struggle, much more like the road issues we are used to seeing from the Badgers. Wisconsin fell down 3–1 about halfway through the game, and shots were even until Wisconsin dominated the third period. With increased pressure on Duluth’s goaltender in the final frame, Sophia Shaver scored a pair of third-period goals to lift Wisconsin to a 3–3 OT tie.

Wisconsin then entered a shootout to determine who gets the extra point in the WCHA standings. Thanks to Sam Cogan and Campbell, Wisconsin was able to pull away with the shootout victory. Wisconsin is a perfect 2–2 in overtime shootouts this season.

Wisconsin will be back in Madison to take on Minnesota for senior weekend Feb. 16–17.