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  • Wisconsin Women Clinch WCHA Regular Season Title


    Saturday afternoon Wisconsin played their typical strong offense, stronger defense style. They didn't score until late in the first period, after Maverick Anna Keys earned a roughing penalty at 16:18 and Badger Annie Pankowski received one for interference 11 seconds later. During the resulting 4-on-4 play Sydney McKibbon sunk the puck in with an assist from Sarah Nurse.

    Second period Baylee Wellhausen outskated MSU defense to score with a low shot at 5:45. Erika Sowchuk and Kim Drake had the assists. Shortly thereafter Sowchuk scored her own goal, unassisted at 7:58. When Courtney Burke took a checking penalty, the Badgers used their PKâwhich is the most successful in the countryâto halt the Mavericks in their tracks. Those two minutes also included Wisconsin goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens jabbing Savannah Quandt with her stick when the forward was too pushy after the whistle. Later Desbiens aggressively raced out of her crease to play the puck above the circles, which she successfully managed. Wisconsin was unable to convert on Jordan McLaughlin's late period slashing penalty.

    Maverick Amanda Conway went to the box for tripping at 7:27 of third period. This allowed McKibbon to score again at 8:01, tipping in Burke's redirect. Pankowski had the second assist. Steph Keryluk's slashing penalty put Wisconsin back on the power play, but MSU's goaltender, Brianna Quade, repelled the Badgers. She made a total of 49 saves, but Wisconsin shut out Minnesota State 4-0. This was junior goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens's 16th shutout of the season. With one more she will tie the NCAA season shutout record, which was set by Gopher Noora Räty during the 2012-2013 season.

    Sunday was Wisconsin's senior day, as it was the last home game of the regular season. This meant senior Jorie Walters started in goal for the Badgers, while Quade soldiered on for MSU. However, Walters wasn't allowed on the ice for long, only getting to make one save before being replaced with Desbiens at 6:31. That was when Drake went to the box for cross-checking. Badgers killed the penalty, then at 11:40 Burke scored, earning her 100th point, from between the circles. Wellhausen and Sophia Shaver had the assists. A minute later Davidson and McKibbon receive simultaneous penalties for roughing and slashing respectively. No one scored on the 4-on-4, nor was there scoring during Badger Mikaela Gardner's holding minor at 16:35.

    The penalties continued to mount in the second period when Wisconsin's Lauren Williams went to the box for hooking at 4:03. This time MSU captain Katie Johnson scored from the circle ten seconds into the power play, Anna-Maria Fiegert and Conway assisting, to put the Mavericks on the board. At 5:20 Conway earned a tripping penalty and during the resulting power play McKibbon knocked the puck into the net, but the ref declared it a no goal. Upon review the decision stood. MSU went on to kill another penalty, this time roughing by Sarah Bustad at 9:43. However, when Lena Duesterhoeft went to the box for holding at 14:30, Clark banged it home after multiple rebounds. Burke and Pankowski assisted. Then Lindsey Coleman's late period hooking penalty expired after trickling into third period.

    That's when the floodgates really opened and the Badgers lit up Quade. A Badger shot hit the post whereupon Clark and Sam Cogan dug for the puck in the crease. When it popped out Pankowski scooped it up to score at 3:25. Then Davidson was called for a delayed hooking penalty. During the delay Clark scored again from the top of the right circle, Burke and Drake with the assists, at 4:06. Nurse went on to score during the power play with a shot from the blue line. Pankowski and Burke had the assists.

    At Nurse's goal Minnesota State called a time out. Less than a minute after play resumed Fiegert threw Shaver into the boards headfirst and was sent to the box for cross-checking. MSU killed the penalty, but McKibbon didn't need a power play to shoot the puck through traffic and over Quade into goal after Rachel Jones fed it to her. Immediately following the 10:27 goal Quade was replaced with backup Katie Bidulka. The goaltender change didn't help, because at 12:32 Shaver redirected the puck to Wellhausen, allowing her to shoot into the empty side of the net; Gardner had the second assist.

    The Mavericks must have been frustrated by the hole they were in, as Conway took another tripping penalty. It was delayed just long enough for Sowchuk to score at 16:25 with Schaver and Burke assisting. Sowchuk went on to take an interference penalty at 18:11 and was joined a minute later by Keryluk, for slashing, who spent the rest of the game there.

    After putting 57 shots on goal to MSU's 12, Wisconsin won 8-1. Sweeping the Mavericks meant that the Badgers won the WCHA regular season title with a record of 24-1-1-1 (30-1-1-0 nationally). This is the fifth time the Badgers Women's Hockey team has won the WCHA regular season title. Even more impressively they accomplished this feat while still having two more games left to play in the season, which will be against Minnesota, who are second in the conference (22-3-1 WCHA, 27-3-1 nationally). This takes some of the pressure off Wisconsin during the upcoming border battle because if they hadn't swept MSU, the Gophers might have taken their title.

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