DULUTH, Minn. — Wisconsin is back in the championship game for the sixth time in seven seasons after surviving an early Boston College goal before scoring the next five to pull away and win, 6-2. It is the second consecutive year the Badgers defeated the Eagles in the Frozen Four semifinal.
“For the most part, it was probably one of the better games we’ve played in the last couple of weeks, so it’s a good thing,” Badgers coach Mark Johnson said.
The Badgers (33-4-2) got two goals from Brittany Ammerman and Hilary Knight, and single tallies from Carolyne Prévost and Brooke Ammerman. The Ammermans became the first sisters to score in the same Frozen Four game.
Brittany said she was excited to hear that, but added the win on its own was pretty exciting.
Perhaps the biggest goal of the night was that by Prévost. With the game tied, 1-1, a puck squirted past the point on a BC power play, and the speedy senior was off to the races with Emily Pfalzer of the Eagles in pursuit.
“I saw her kind of fumble the puck at the blue line,” Prévost said. “I basically had from the blue line all the way in by myself, so I was panicking a little bit, but the goalie challenged me a little bit, so I was able to move to the outside and almost basically have an open net.”
Her unassisted goal provided a 2-1 lead for the Badgers.
“When teams score in women’s hockey, people get excited,” Johnson said. “So it’s a big goal, and it creates energy within our bench.”
“I’m extremely proud of the way our team played a full 60 minutes and gave it everything we had,” BC coach Katie King Crowley said, although she hoped for a different outcome.
At least in part, that was due to the efforts of Prévost, who had a goal and an assist.
“She’s quick,” King Crowley said. “I think she’s one of their quickest players.”
Hilary Knight swelled the lead to two goals 94 seconds into the middle frame, breaking in two-on-one, cutting to the middle, and scoring upstairs on BC goaltender Corinne Boyles.
“They came out and got that goal within two minutes of the start of the period to make it 3-1, so that was a tough one,” King Crowley said.
The BC coach liked the start better than the teams’ last meeting, when she felt her club may have been a bit starry-eyed.
Rookie Emily Field gave the Eagles (24-10-3) a flying start. Field took a pass from junior defenseman Blake Bolden and slipped the puck by a defender before sliding it through Alex Rigsby’s five-hole just 57 seconds from the drop of the puck.
“I still have the puck, I still have the puck,” Field said was her reaction to finding herself in alone on the goaltender. “I remember talking about shooting low, shooting low, shooting low. I got close, and I was kind of blank, and I just shot the puck where I knew I should and it went in.”
Johnson had said it was important to set the tone early with a strong start on the first shift.
“Obviously, they weren’t listening to me,” he said. “Unfortunately for us, Emily Field makes a nice play and we’re down 1-0.”
Wisconsin evened the score six minutes later on a low shot by Brittany Ammerman, the first of her two goals on the night.
“It’s really exciting to come out the way I did tonight,” she said. “It gives me a lot of confidence.”
After going down 3-1 early in the second period, BC survived back-to-back penalties including 11 seconds of five-on-three time without losing ground. However, Brittany Ammerman tallied again at 17:21 of period two, and Wisconsin began to take greater control.
Senior Brooke Ammerman tipped in a shot by Prévost to put Wisconsin up by four, but the Eagles got another five-on-three opportunity, and this time they converted.
Alex Carpenter let a shot go from the slot that deflected off of a Wisconsin skate and into the net; BC was back within three at 5-2. The goal was the 21st in Carpenter’s first season.
“It was definitely very exciting,” Carpenter said of her team’s trip to the Frozen Four. “It was great to be here as a freshman, and hopefully, we’ll get back here in years to come. It was just a good experience all around.”
Boyles finished with 32 saves in her first Frozen Four appearance. Rigsby made 22 saves in earning the 33rd win of her season.
Now the Badgers know that win or lose, Sunday will be the last game of their Frozen Four experience, and in the case of those like Knight and Prévost, their careers as Badgers.
“It goes by quickly, and you have to take it all in,” Knight said.