MINNEAPOLIS — Once Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson knew his team only had five minutes of overtime in the WCHA consolation game, he was ready to make one of the most unorthodox of moves — pulling his goaltender with the score tied. That’s how desperately the Badgers were looking to make a final positive statement to the NCAA selection committee.
Thanks to Karen Rickard’s goal at 2:19 of overtime, the No. 5 Badgers (25-6-3) never had to make that move in earning the 5-4 victory over Ohio State (16-16-3) for third place in the WCHA tournament.
Rickard’s game-winner came as she received Jackie Friesen’s pass from behind the net, and with the defense closing in on her, she snapped the puck just inside the right post.
“I didn’t even know it went into the net until Friese started celebrating,” Rickard said. “There were a million things running through my head because I was so happy, and it was really a big win for us.”
The goal prevented what was almost a dreadful squander for the Badgers. Wisconsin had jumped to a 3-0 lead thanks to two goals from top goal-scoring freshman Lindsay Macy and one from all-time leading scorer Meghan Hunter. But Ohio State came roaring back with three of its own in the second period.
Jeni Creary led the way the Buckeyes that period with a goal two assists. On the first Ohio State goal, she helped worked the puck out the point from where the Buckeyes scored on a screen. On the second goal, she delivered an exceptional individual effort, scoring as she fell down in the crease on a rush to the net.
“We knew it was our last game for us as a team being together, and there were five players playing their last game and we wanted to do it for them,” Creary said of the comeback.
Wisconsin took a 4-3 lead on a third period goal from its other top-scoring freshman sensation Sara Bauer. But that lead was short-lived too, as Ohio State’s Tessa Bonhomme scored on a 5-on-3 just moments later, setting the stage for Rickard’s heroics.
Now that the Badgers’ playoff schedule is finished, they will turn to scoreboard-watching for the next week. Wisconsin stands No. 5 in the USCHO.com PairWise Rankings, and the Badgers will likely need a St. Lawrence loss in the ECAC semifinals to have a chance at a Frozen Four bid.
“Karen’s giving us some life here, but a few things have to happen here in the next week for us to really have a shot,” Johnson said. “Now hopefully we get a couple breaks and get ourselves in this weekend. Bottom line is we didn’t show it this weekend, but we’re capable of skating with anyone in the country.”