MINNEAPOLIS — At least for a weekend Wisconsin looked like the Badgers of their championship seasons — and then some.
The latest edition of the Badgers (31-2-5) features more weapons up front, and now the stifling defense has returned as well. Wisconsin limited Minnesota (31-4-3) to 18 shots on goal in claiming their third WCHA tournament title in four years.
Im very happy for our team, said coach Mark Johnson. I thought they competed very well today as they did yesterday. They played hard, and they earned the victory today.
Jasmine Giles gave her team a lead it would not relinquish at 9:46 of the second period on a 4-on-3 power play.
I was just trying to get a shot on net and hope for a rebound to pop out, she said.
Angie Keseley and Hilary Knight, who both had three-point games, earned the assists.
Less than a minute later, and four seconds after another Badger power play ended, Meghan Duggan popped in a feed from Brooke Ammerman while stationed on the edge of the crease.
It looked like Wisconsin might blow the game open at that point, but Tera Rasmussen snuck a shot through Jessie Vetters five-hole to give Minnesota a chance at a comeback.
Her angles werent the best, and I think that if we would have kept shooting, we would have been able to capitalize a little bit more, Rasmussen said.
In two previous games, Minnesota had rallied from third-period deficits against UW, but this time the Badgers would not allow it, keeping much of a crowd of 1,730 silenced.
I thought the beginning of the third period was as well as weve played all season, Johnson said. We started taking care of the puck and doing the things we needed to do to have a chance to win the hockey game. It was fun to watch the kids do that this time of the year.
Wisconsin pulled away to a 5-1 lead on third-period goals by Erika Lawler, Rachel Bible, and Knight making a couple of late Gopher goals by Dagney Willey and Brittany Francis academic.
The Badgers took advantage of a wealth of power play opportunities, going three of 11 on the day.
We competed, we battled, but just became a little undisciplined at times, Gopher coach Brad Frost said.
Credit Wisconsin too; they played very, very well. They wanted it just as bad as we did and they did what was necessary to win.
One of those necessities was shutting down Minnesotas high-octane attack.
I think this whole weekend the D has done a good job of not giving teams second opportunities, Vetter said. And what could be an opportunity, they shut the door and stop them.
If Wisconsin played near there best, Minnesota did not.
It wasnt so much that they were better than us, its that we were our own worst enemy tonight, Minnesota co-captain Melanie Gagnon said.
Before the game, Frosty was telling us discipline over emotion, and I think we let our emotions win. Theres a long history, a long rivalry with Wisconsin, and unfortunately, I think we let that get to us one more time. We wont make that mistake again — given the chance.
I think that left lot of us with a bitter taste in our mouth to lose to them by one point in the regular season, Badgers captain Erika Lawler said. I think we used that to our advantage to kind of motivate us a little bit there.
Once again, the team in cardinal and white are able to drive back to Madison from Minneapolis with some hardware.
Were happy to win a championship this year, bringing the trophy home, Vetter said. We call it Wilma, so were bringing Wilma home with us.