MINNEAPOLIS — The top-ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team couldn’t generate enough high-quality scoring opportunities in the WCHA women’s hockey tournament championship game, falling to Minnesota 3–1 at Ridder Arena on Sunday.
Minnesota’s season was on the line; its only chance at a NCAA tournament bid was going through Wisconsin. The Gophers were hungry, and they achieved their mission.
According to NCAA rules, even though Wisconsin will be the No. 2 seed in the tournament, the Badgers will almost certainly rematch the No. 5 seed Gophers.
Wisconsin out-shot Minnesota 32–24 on Sunday, but goaltender Kristen Campbell faced a barrage of high-percentage shots and the Badgers couldn’t quite create the same level of opportunities.
Minnesota opened up action with three rapid, high-quality looks, and Taylor Wenty deflected the third one past Campbell’s pad to give Minnesota a 1–0 lead after a mere 66 seconds of action.
The Badgers responded quickly. They reorganized and generated a high-quality opportunity that led to a juicy rebound. Freshman Delaney Drake buried that rebound past Gopher goaltender Sidney Peters’s diving block to score her first collegiate goal. Drake has steadily been given more opportunities due to teammates’ injuries, and she has continued to grow into a more prevalent part of the rotation.
Wisconsin would not find the back of the net again, however.
The second period started out much like the first, with an early goal for the Gophers. Taylor Williamson scored 1:40 into the period after another deflection.
Wisconsin had 38 minutes to answer, and while it generated a few promising opportunities, Minnesota held strong against the Badgers’ attack, just as the Gophers held onto their lead the day before against Ohio State.
And just like the day before, Minnesota put away the game with an empty-netter with less than a minute remaining.
Later Sunday evening, the NCAA selection committee will choose Wisconsin’s visiting foe in next week’s NCAA quarterfinals.
In good news for the Badgers, seniors Baylee Wellhausen and Maddie Rolfes were named to the all-tournament team.