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Wisconsin women’s hockey: UW bows out to Ohio State in WCHA semifinals

The Badgers dropped their third straight to the Buckeyes, 2-1, on Saturday night.

@BadgerWHockey; Wisconsin Athletics

For the first time in almost a decade, the Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team will not be playing in the WCHA Tournament final. On Saturday evening, the Badgers fell to Ohio State, 2-1, at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. This is the third straight defeat the Badgers have suffered at the hands of the Buckeyes.

After a scoreless first period that saw the ice tilted in the Badgers favor, Wisconsin finally broke through 67 seconds into the second when Sophie Shirley sprinted across center ice to retrieve a long pass from Chayla Edwards, drove in on net and slipped the puck past Buckeyes’ goalie Amanda Thiele.

Wisconsin’s lead didn’t last long as Ohio State tied the game up at one less than five minutes later and then added the game-winner a few minutes after that. All of the scoring in the game took place in 7:04 of the second period and, despite a host of excellent chances in the third period (with multiple pucks clanging off of posts and a couple of breakaways), the Badgers couldn’t tie things up.

UW outshot OSU 34-18 on the game, but Thiele stood tall in net all game and stymied the Badgers repeatedly, stopping 33 of those 34 shots. Wisconsin’s defense also blocked 17 shots, but couldn’t keep Ohio State off the scoreboard in the decisive second period. The Badgers were also 0-for-3 on the power play, mustering a combined two shots with the six minutes of advantage.

“I thought we had a good game tonight. I wasn’t disappointed at all in our effort. The way we played—we played well enough to win, but unfortunately we didn’t, so it’s a learning opportunity for everybody… we’re trending in a good direction,” head coach Mark Johnson said after the game, according to friend of the blog Nicole Haase.

Ohio State will now play Minnesota in the WCHA Championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. The winner of that game is projected to receive the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, with the losing team receiving the No. 2 seed.

Using the invaluable women’s hockey Pairwise simulator at BCInterruption it looks like the Badgers are pretty close to locked in to No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, the margin between the 5-seed (Yale in all of these scenarios) and the 6-seed becomes closer if Ohio State beats Minnesota for the WCHA Tournament title.

If the Badgers are the 6-seed, they’ll play in the opening round of the tournament against, most likely, the winners of the CHA Tournament, Syracuse. If they won that game, they’d have to travel to Boston to take on Northeastern, in a rematch of last season’s national title game.

Up next: The 2022 NCAA Women’s Hockey Championship will air on Sunday night at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNews.