HAMDEN, Conn. — The Wisconsin women’s hockey team advanced to the national championship game with a 5-0 win over Clarkson on Friday evening.
Senior Sam Cogan led the Badgers with a goal and two assists while senior Annie Pankowski added two goals to lead Wisconsin.
The game felt closer than the score indicated, though the Badgers seemed to dominate puck possession and zone time throughout the game. They outshot Clarkson 13-5 in the first period, though it ended in a scoreless draw.
In the second, junior Abby Roque opened the scoring midway through the period off a brilliant drop pass from freshman Britta Curl. Roque had transitioned to a supporting role to linemates Curl and WCHA Rookie of the Year Sophie Shirley and leads the team with 31 assists, but found herself in the perfect position in the slot to pick up her 11th goal of the season.
“What led to that was a good forecheck by my linemates. Britta Curl made a nice play to break it up right before that. She got a good pass from the defense and kept that puck together, too. The puck was bouncy and she did a great job. Sophie drove the net and left me wide open and I figured I’d shoot it as fast as I can before the goalie got over and I was lucky enough to have it sneak in on the ice,” said Roque.
The Badgers took four penalties in the game, including three through the first two periods, but their penalty kill was up to the task. The Golden Knights could not get a rhythm going and weren’t able to pick up momentum with the extra attacker. With each successful penalty kill, Wisconsin grew more confident.
The game was a rematch of the 2017 title game where Clarkson blanked the Badgers 3-0 and the revenge was sweet for Wisconsin, who held the Golden Knights to just 14 shots on Friday. Clarkson has the two top scorers in the country, but the Badgers held them scoreless. Goalie Kristen Campbell earned her 10th shutout of the season. The victory was also her 34th, setting a program record for wins in a season by a goalie, breaking the previous mark that was shared by Olympians Ann-Renee Desbiens, Alex Rigsby and Jessie Vetter.
Clarkson’s Loren Gabel and Elizabeth Giguère accounted for 10 of the Golden Knights’ 14 shots, meaning the rest of the team combined for just four shots in the 60 minutes. The pair were also each minus-3 on the night.
“We knew they had a pretty potent top line, but (we) more just focused on the things that we needed to execute. (We were) aware when they were on the ice, but not putting so much focus on those players. (We knew) that if we execute our own game plan, we were going to shut those players down,” said Campbell. “We did a really good job, especially on the penalty kill, keeping them to the outside and not allowing their top players to get really clean looks from in tight.”
The game broke open just past the midway point in the third period for Wisconsin when Cogan scored on what was meant to be a pass from behind the net, but deflected off two Clarkson players and ended up in the net. Less than three minutes later, Pankowski carried the puck into the zone and held off a defender before sniping a goal top shelf to make it 3-0.
Clarkson tried to make a comeback, but Pankowski added an empty-net goal and junior Presley Norby scored with 55 seconds left to ice the 5-0 win.
“They’re deep. You just have to play a really good, solid game. As the game went on, they made us have to change the way we were playing. We had to start pressing and that gave them more opportunities. They do a good job at making you have to battle,” said Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers.
Wisconsin will face WCHA foe and border-rival Minnesota in the national championship game Sunday at 2:30 p.m. EDT. The Badgers and Gophers have been the top two ranked teams in the country the entire year and have played each other five times so far this season. They split their regular season series, with each team winning two games and the goal differential coming down to a single empty-net goal back in October. Wisconsin took the most recent meeting, a 3-1 win in the WCHA tournament championship game two weeks ago.
The game will be televised on Big Ten Network.