March 7, 2009

 

Courtesy of Wisconsin Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team marches into the WCHA Final Face-off championship game thanks to a 3-1 comeback victory over the University of Minnesota Duluth (25-8-4) Saturday evening at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. Wisconsin (30-2-5) faces host-school Minnesota in the finals at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow’s game will be streamed live via the league's official web site at WCHA.CSTV.com and WCHA.TV and by WISC-TV's Channel 3000.

The Badgers trailed 1-0 late into the second period, but rattled off three unanswered goals to reach the WCHA championship game for the fifth year in a row. With the win, Wisconsin goaltender Jessie Vetter became the winningest goaltender in NCAA history as she notched the 87th win of her career.

The first period was a scoreless affair as neither team was able to find the back of the net. Wisconsin outshot Minnesota Duluth 8-to-5 in the period and held the Bulldogs without a shot for the first six minutes of the game. Both teams found themselves on the power play one time in the frame, but neither was able to convert.

The Bulldogs broke through first, scoring 8:20 into the second period. The goal came on UMD’s third power-play in a span of less than five minutes. Haley Irwin’s shot from outside the right circle was tipped in by Pernilla Winberg, who had positioned herself in front of the net on the left side. Joceylne Larocque was also given an assist on the play.

Wisconsin tied it up though with a power play goal of its own. Coming at the 15:36 mark of the second period and 11 seconds into the man-advantage, Alycia Matthews tallied her third goal of the season as she ripped a shot from the point that deflected off a Duluth player and in. Brittany Haverstock was given the primary assist as she fed the pass across the ice to Matthews, while Brooke Ammerman notched the secondary assist.

With just 1:21 remaining in the period the Badgers took a 2-1 lead as Giles scored her 15th goal of the season. Taking a pass from Meghan Duggan up the boards, Ammerman carried it up the ice and into the UMD zone, where she was surrounded by a bevy of Bulldog players. Spinning to her right, Ammerman found Giles all alone inside the left circle. Giles got off a shot that hit UMD goaltender Johanna Ellison in the glove and trickled into the net, just staying inside the right post.

"The defense played great today," Giles said. "Both teams were playing defensively. Most of our opportunities came on the power play so it felt good to get an even-strength goal."

Minnesota Duluth outshot Wisconsin 16-to-9 in the period while going 1-for-4 on the power play. The Badgers were 1-for-1 on special teams in the period.

The Badgers added an insurance goal late in the third period as they registered their second power-play goal of the night. Duggan scored her 21st goal of the year as she tipped in a shot by Hilary Knight with just 2:46 remaining. Angie Keseley was given the secondary assist on the play. With the goal, Duggan is now second all-time in school history in postseason goals with 11. In addition, thanks to her two-point evening, Duggan is now tied for second all-time in school history in postseason points with 25.

For the game, Wisconsin outshot Minnesota Duluth 29-to-26. Vetter finished with 25 saves, while Ellison stopped 26 shots. The Badgers were 2-for-4 on the power play, while the Bulldogs ended 1-for-5.