The No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers (28-5-3 overall) dropped a heart breaker on Sunday afternoon to the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes (24-8-6 overall), 1-0 in overtime, in the WCHA Final Faceoff championship game.
Despite outshooting the Buckeyes 41-26 and dominating in the faceoff circle 36-24 the Badgers could not get a puck past Ohio State goalie Andrea Braendli. Wisconsin goalie Kristen Campbell was equally as impenetrable as Braendli until Tatum Skaggs slipped past the Wisconsin defense and beat Campbell for the game winner 4:25 into the first overtime period.
BUCKEYES WIN!!!!!! WCHA CHAMPIONS!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/8yZM86Qwli— Ohio State Women's Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) March 8, 2020
This was Skaggs’ second straight game with an overtime winner. She scored in OT against Minnesota on Saturday evening to win the semifinal game 4-3 and because of her heroics in back to back nights she was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
The Buckeyes, predictably, dominated the all-tournament team with Skaggs, Braendli, defenseman Jincy Dunne and forward Jenn Gardiner all making the cut. Two Badgers were also represented with Mekenzie Steffen rounding out the defense and WCHA Player of the Year Abby Roque finishing off the forward contingent.
Congratulations to our seven All-Tournament Team honorees from the 2020 Final Faceoff! It was an amazing weekend of competition for all four of our teams, and we are proud to have so many excellent players to choose from in making our selections.#WeAreWCHA #FFO2020 pic.twitter.com/P0bBYRVtZw— WCHA Women's Hockey (@WCHA_WHockey) March 9, 2020
This was Wisconsin sixth straight time in the Final Faceoff championship game, the Badgers had won four of the past five, and Ohio State’s first ever Final Faceoff championship win. The Badgers have the most of these championships all-time with eight.
While surely disappointing for Mark Johnson’s squad, there wasn’t much time to sit around and feel sorry as the NCAA Tournament Selection Show was later Sunday evening. Johnson had this to say after the game:
“From my seat, it was a pretty good hockey game. both teams competed at a real high level. There were a lot of battles out there. The effort on both teams was really high, so it comes down to somebody capitalizing on an opportunity. It took until overtime for one team to capitalize, and we end up getting the short stick. Obviously, we’re disappointed we’re not taking the trophy home, but as I told the team, we still have another game left. So, we figure out tonight who we play, and we’ll get ourselves ready for the next game.”
On their bus ride back to Madison, the Badgers learned that they will be the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will host the Clarkson Golden Knights at LaBahn Arena on Saturday. Tickets go on sale at 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, so if you’re reading this right after we publish it you don’t have much time to get tickets.
The official press release from Wisconsin notes “UW has sold out its last six NCAA quarterfinals, including last year’s game that sold out in minutes.”
This highly anticipated game will feature the last three national champions (Wisconsin 2019 and Clarkson 2018 and 2017) and be a rematch of the 2017 national title game that saw Clarkson beat the Badgers 3-0. The Badgers are 4-1-1 all-time against Clarkson, including a 1-1 mark in postseason games and a 1-0-1 record at LaBahn Arena.
“I can speak for everyone and especially us six seniors when I say that we are absolutely ecstatic to have one more game at LaBahn Arena,” UW captain Mekenzie Steffen said. “We are so grateful to have such a solid fanbase and a community that supports us through it all. There is no doubt that we have the best fans in the country and we can’t wait to play in front of them in Madison one last time.”
The Golden Knights enter Saturday’s matchup with a 25-6-6 record after finishing runner-up in the ECAC behind Cornell. Clarkson boasts a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-three finalist in Elizabeth Giguere, who leads the NCAA with 37 goals this year.
UW is led by a forward trio of Abby Roque, also a top-three finalist for the 2020 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, Daryl Watts, the NCAA leader in assists and points, and Sophie Shirley, who is only one goal away from becoming only the sixth Badger to record 30 goals in a season.
Once television, streaming and radio information is announced later this week, we will update you. The winner of Wisconsin and Clarkson will advance to the 2020 NCAA Women’s Hockey Frozen Four, held at Agganis Arena in Boston, March 20-22.