North Dakota earns berth to NCAA tournament with win against Wisconsin
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- North Dakota beat Wisconsin 2-1 on Friday at Ridder Arena. The win advanced UND to its first WCHA Final Face-Off Championship on Saturday.
UND scored the game's first two goals. Senior Ashley Furia deflected a Tanja Eisenschmid shot into the net at 12:36 of the first period. Monique Lamoureux made it 2-0 at 6:04 of the third period, beating UW goalie Alex Rigby on the shortside.
UND goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie was great throughout, however, the Badgers were able to end the shutout at 16:17 of the third period. Erika Sowchuck buried a centering pass from Lauren Unser to cut the lead to 2-1.
Amsley-Benzie made 26 saves in the winning effort, including robbing Brianna Decker on two breakaways and a couple other scoring chances. Rigsby stopped 32 shots.
North Dakota was the hungrier team early as it held Wisconsin to one shot on goal in the first eight minutes, which came from center ice, and was peppering the UW netminder with nine of its own shots on goal. Rigsby held strong, stopping all nine shots while her defensemen did great work of clearing any loose rebounds.
Wisconsin's first real scoring chance came just before the midway point of the first frame as Decker got behind a UND defensemen for a partial breakaway, but Amsley-Benzie made the save to keep the game scoreless.
Just afterwards UND thought it was on the scoreboard, but a goal was immediately waved off after being knocked into the net off a high stick.
A minute later Furia would give UND the lead it wouldn't relinquish with her second goal of the season.
Early in the third period UND was on the power play, but the biggest play came defensively as Amsley-Benzie had to make another breakaway save on Decker.
The 1-0 score held until four minutes remaining in regulation when Jocelyne Lamoureux won a face-off in the offensive zone back to her sister Monique Lamoureux, who quickly fired a dart above Rigsby's blocker to build onto the lead.
Both teams finished the game scoreless on its power-play attempts as UND went 0-for-5 and Wisconsin finished scoreless in three attempts. The Badgers did have 30 seconds of 5-on-3 advantage early in the third period, but UND played big and came up with multiple blocked shots to keep the puck away from the net for the most part.
North Dakota improved to 26-10-1 on the year and extended its program-record unbeaten streak to 13 games. Wisconsin fell to 23-10-2 on the season and will now have to await the NCAA Selection Show in ninth in the PairWise Rankings, a system used to mimic the criteria for the eight-team field that makes the NCAA tournament. UND remains in eighth.