The University of Wisconsin Badgers are the 2011 Division I Women’s Ice Hockey national champions after a 4-1 victory over Boston University. It is Wisconsin’s fourth national championship, as the WCHA continues its sweep of national titles. Wisconsin finished the season at 37-2-2.
Carolyne Prevost scored the first and last goal and Alex Rigsby made 15 saves.
For coach Mark Johnson, he has led teams to five national championship finals, winning four of them, and an Olympic gold medal game in the past six years.
“No practice tomorrow,” Johnson said. “They spent the whole season being a team. It’s tough to be number one for any stretch of the season, but to not have lost a game since early November is very difficult. They’ve been a strong team, got great chemistry, got great leadership. I’m happy for them. It’s an outstanding group and they earned the championship. We are really excited to take the trophy back to Madison.”
“I think we moved the puck great today,” senior captain Meghan Duggan said. “We came out wanting to win today and not afraid to lose.”
“It was a great performance by the University of Wisconsin,” Terriers coach Brian Durocher said. “Three great periods by them. We found a way to make this an exciting game down the stretch, but it was certainly because of a couple of posts, a great game by Kerrin Sperry, and maybe a little bit of perseverance from our squad. I can’t say enough about the people wearing the scarlet out there. They gave us everything they could for tonight’s game.”
The game was ultimately decided in the middle stanza, which saw Prevost all over the ice, scoring the first goal and nearly adding two more on breakaways.
Wisconsin broke the ice 2:25 into the second period. Stefanie McKeough passed it from the left point to the right point. Alev Kelter fired off a shot which was deflected in front by Prevost.
Minutes later, Prevost nearly made it 2-0 when she burst into the zone, through the defense to go in alone against the goalie, and then firing a shot that beat Sperry but clanged off the crossbar.
Prevost nearly did it again with another breakaway midway through the period. She made every move imaginable, but Sperry was still able to get enough of it to prevent the goal.
“She played an incredible game,” Duggan said. “She was moving her feet. She’s so fast. She really showed that tonight. That line in the second part of the season has been outstanding. Hats off to Prevost for getting those two goals. She played big for us, and that’s what we needed.”
After this play, Durocher called time out to calm his troops down.
“If you don’t intervene on this thing it can snowball in the wrong direction,” Durocher said. “It was still a game at that point.”
It didn’t help right away, as Wisconsin notched their domination up to another level. Kelter, from the left point, shot one off the far post.
The Badgers made it 2-0 shortly afterward at 15:36 on the only power play of the period. Brianna Decker on the left circle fed Hilary Knight down low by the line. Knight still decided to shoot, and the rebound off Sperry went to the middle of the crease. Brooke Ammerman was there to poke it home.
However, before Wisconsin could consider running away with the game, Boston U. struck right back 24 seconds later. Marie-Philip Poulin picked up a loose puck, entered the zone down the left side, and started to cut across the goal. She quickly went to her backhand, lifting a perfectly placed shot into the far upper corner.
“Poulin’s goal was the next shift,” Lauren Cherewyk said. “A quick turnaround was what we needed.”
Despite the close score, Wisconsin clearly dominated the second period, as the shots indicated at 18-4.
The intensity of the third period picked up. Both teams were giving it all they had to try to win the national championship, as shots were even at eight. Rigsby was forced to come up with difficult saves. A two-on-one by Wisconsin led by Prevost was broken up by a Terriers defender.
The Badgers finally got the insurance goal at 16:33 when Mallory Deluce fired home a rebound from the slot. The play was created by Knight, who skated down the right side and took the shot that Sperry was able to save but unable to handle the rebound.
Wisconsin called time out after the goal so Johnson could make sure his players remained calm for the final minutes.
Boston U. pulled their goalie with well over two minutes to play and applied tremendous pressure on the Wisconsin net. However, most of their better shots missed the mark, including a shot off the post.
Wisconsin wound up scoring an empty-netter with 18 seconds left when Prevost fired it in from just behind the red line just inside the post.
Wisconsin had the better of play in the first period, producing their best chances by throwing bodies at the net. Wisconsin outshot BU in the first, 10-4.
However, the Terriers didn’t sit back all period, as they did their own attacking at well.
The best opportunity in the whole period came when BU had their only power play. Holly Lorms was standing all alone next to the post when the puck came to her with the goalie on the other side. With an entire open net to shoot at, Lorms was unable to get any shot off as she appeared handcuffed on the play. Instead, the puck bounced off her body not quite toward the net, and Rigsby was able to get it.
“We were able to score a lot of goals this year,” Johnson said. “The reason we won the game today was because we defended well. We didn’t give them a lot of opportunities, especially in the first two periods.”
BU ends their season at 27-7-4 and their first appearance in the national championship final in their six years of existence.
“I told my team in the locker room how proud I was to be a Terrier today,” senior captain Lorms said. “That is a great group of girls and that will not be the last time Boston University is in a championship game. They will be bringing it home soon.”
Duggan completed the hat trick of Wisconsin Patty Kazmaier award winners to lead their team to a national championship the next day.
“I don’t think you can set it up any better than this,” she said. “It’s just an outstanding feeling. There’s no better way to go out.”
Johnson said of the senior class, “There’s no better way to send them off than with the national championship trophy.”