For the sixth time in program history, the Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team has won both the WCHA regular season and WCHA Final Faceoff titles. On Sunday afternoon, UW was forced into overtime by an Ohio State Buckeyes team that has given them fits all season, but a mere 42 seconds into the extra frame freshman Lacey Eden scored to secure Wisconsin’s tournament title.
The Badgers started off the weekend with a game against old rival Minnesota on Saturday afternoon. Sophie Shirley scored in the first period and then Makenna Webster scored the first of her two goals in the second to give the Badgers a 2-0 lead. It seemed like the rout may be on after that but the Gophers scored 86 seconds later to cut the lead in half. Webster potted her second, this time on the power play, just before second intermission to give UW a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
Minnesota just wouldn’t go away, scoring just 95 seconds into the third and then, after Eden scored to make it 4-2, again with four and half minutes left to make it 4-3. With the Gophers goalie pulled and the Badgers on the power play, Britta Curl finally put the game to bed and the Badgers were on to the finals.
Ohio State easily dispatched Minnesota Duluth, 7-2, in the other semifinal and were the team that Badgers, probably, most likely wanted to meet in the finals. Wisconsin opened the season with a loss to the Buckeyes and the two teams ended up splitting the season series 2-2. Lest you forget, this was also a rematch of last year’s finals where the Buckeyes beat the Badgers in OT. This game was for all the revenge marbles, which is a real thing and not something I just made up.
This was a pretty classic final as neither team wanted to make the first mistake and, as such, there wasn’t a whole lot of offense in the first period. The Badgers had two power plays but couldn’t break through against OSU’s defense.
However, just over two minutes into the second period presumed Patty Kaz favorite, and WCHA Player of the Year, Daryl Watts scored off a beautiful cross ice pass from Eden.
The Buckeyes evened things up at one and then had multiple power play opportunities, a 4-on-3 penalty kill, then a 5-on-3 penalty kill and finally a 5-on-4 penalty kill, before Watts scored again, again off a pass (a long pass that Watts chased down brilliantly) from Eden, and the Badgers were heading into the third up 2-1.
Ohio State evened things up in the third and the game ended up in OT just like last year. 42 seconds into the extra frame Eden ended things with a snipe from the high slot after a Buckeyes turnover in their own zone. Eden tallied a career-high three points in the title game on two assists and the overtime game-winning goal. She has 15 points in 12 games with the Badgers.
“She’s earned her time. She’s played very well in the period of time that she’s been with us. She’s scored some big goals prior to tonight. You look at players and their willingness to earn more playing time and get put on a power play and maybe kill a penalty. It’s just the process of us getting to know her and her getting to know us. I couldn’t be happier for her,” head coach Mark Johnson said about Eden after the game.
The Badgers are now on to the NCAA Tournament and should be considered one of the favorites to bring home the national title. Watts put it pretty well, “I think this team, we’re so deep. We’ve got so many skilled players. Even more than that, we get along so well off the ice. I couldn’t be happier to be part of this team. I really like our chances.”