March 8, 2009


Courtesy of Wisconsin

Using goals from five different players, the No. 2 Wisconsin women’s hockey team toppled No. 1 Minnesota 5-3 to capture the 2009 WHCA FINAL FACE-OFF Championship at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. Sunday afternoon. The win marked the third championship in program history (31-2-5) and earned the team the WCHA’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Hilary Knight, Jasmine Giles, Alycia Matthews and Jessie Vetter were each named to the All-Tournament team and Vetter was named Tournament MVP.

Like in the Badgers’ semifinal win against Minnesota-Duluth, the first period featured zero goals. Both teams showed off their penalty-killing prowess instead, killing off three penalties apiece. Wisconsin was forced to play 5-on-3 for 3:30 midway through the period when successive penalties were called on Rachel Bible, Knight and Olivia Jakiel. Minnesota (31-4-3) had their own 5-on-3 to kill off for 1:10, but the defenses held strong and neither team lit the lamp. Wisconsin outshot Minnesota 7-to-4 in the period.

Wisconsin finally capitalized on the power play when it took a 1-0 lead at the 9:46 mark of the second period. Skating with a 4-on-3 man-advantage, Erika Lawler won a faceoff in the Gopher zone. Lawler won it to Knight, who passed it back to Angie Keseley at the blue line. Keseley then passed it to her right to Giles who sent a slap shot past Minnesota goaltender Alyssa Grogan for her 16th goal of the year and second of the weekend.

The Badger lead grew to 2-0 just 57 seconds later as Meghan Duggan also tallied her second goal of the weekend. A penalty to Minnesota had just expired when Brooke Ammerman held the puck behind the goal line in the Minnesota end. Duggan then positioned herself in front of the net, and despite two Gopher defenders keying on her, was still able to tip in the pass from Ammerman. Matthews was also credited with an assist on the play.

Minnesota would get one back though with 4:33 remaining in the period. After a faceoff win in the neutral zone, Terra Rasmussen took a pass from Michelle Maunu and skated into the UW zone. Her shot was able to beat Vetter five-hole to cut the Badger advantage in half. Sarah Erickson notched the secondary assist on the play.

In the period, Wisconsin outshot Minnesota 12-to-9 while going 1-for-3 on the power play. The Gophers were 0-for-2 on special teams in the second period.

The Badgers extended their lead to 3-1 just over seven minutes into the third period. Malee Windmeier, who was able to keep the puck in the offensive zone, passed it to Knight who carried the puck down into the far corner. Knight’s centering pass found Lawler open in the slot and she was able to put in her 17th goal of the year.

Wisconsin was then able to turn a five-minute major for checking from behind on Erickson into two goals late in the third period.

Wisconsin scored its second power-play goal of the game with 5:07 remaining as Keseley gathered a loose puck to the left of the net and found Bible wide open in the slot. Bible was able to send a wrister past Grogan for her third goal of the year.

The second goal of the power play came 30 seconds later as Knight scored her nation-leading 40th goal of the year. Falling to the ice, Knight was able to chip it in from in front of the net. Brittany Haverstock and Keseley were each given assists on the play.

Minnesota added two goals in the final two minutes but it was too little too late as Wisconsin proved victorious.

For the game, Wisconsin outshot Minnesota 34-to-18. Vetter finished with 15 saves, while Grogan stopped 29 shots. The Badgers were 3-for-11 on the power play, while the Gophers finished 0-for-5.

The NCAA tournament field will be announced at 5 p.m. today on