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Wisconsin Women’s Hockey Wins OT Thriller in Final Faceoff Semi



Wisconsin Women's Hockey defender Carolina Harvey, seen celebrating the game-winning-goal in the 2023 Frozen Four semifinals
Wisconsin's Caroline Harvey (4) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in a 3-2 overtime victory over Minnesota in a women's hockey national semifinal at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn. on Friday March 17, 2023.

Wisconsin women’s hockey entered the weekend with a chance to knock off its two biggest rivals on back-to-back days. After splitting a pair of games in Minneapolis with the Golden Gophers in December, Wisconsin again faced Minnesota in Ridder Arena. This time, it was for a spot in the conference tournament championship game. Minnesota, the reigning WCHA Final Faceoff champions, gave the Badgers all they could handle. Thanks to some late-game heroics, UW advanced to Saturday evening’s contest against #1 Ohio State.

Badgers and Gophers Come out of the Gates Hot

The first period was a back-and-forth affair. The Badgers came out and showcased their offense. Wisconsin, which scores the second-most goals per game in the country, scored on its first shot on goal. a perfect zone entry by UW’s Casey O’Brien turned into a tic-tac-toe goal for Wisconsin’s leading scorer Kirsten Simms. The goal, scored a mere 38 seconds into the game, was Simms’ 100th career point.

The Gophers added a pair of goals in the first period. Minnesota seemingly scored on its first shot, but the officials overturned the goal call following a replay review. The officials determined that Audrey Worthington kicked the puck past Wisconsin goaltender Ava McNaughton.

McNaughton got the start in net for the Badgers in a bit of a surprise move by Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson. The true freshman has been UW’s second starter most of the year while redshirt junior Jane Gervais was starting the first game each weekend.

Perhaps with some playoff hockey jitters, McNaughton struggled early. Shortly after their disallowed goal, Minnesota buried a pair just over three minutes apart from each other. However, after the Badgers allowed 12 shots on goal in the first period, they locked down defensively.

Wisconsin Women’s Hockey Dominates Second Period Against Minnesota

The Wisconsin women’s hockey team’s domination of the middle frame started with a powerplay goal by Simms. The WCHA Player of the Year tallied her second of the game following a perfectly executed play off the draw. That goal, which tied the game at 2-2, was the lone goal for well over 20 minutes of game time, but it was not without other opportunities for the Wisconsin women’s hockey team to score.

Seconds later, Minnesota forward Peyton Hemp put the Gophers back on the penalty kill after being called for roughing. Although the Badgers failed to score on the power play, it was a two-minute onslaught of offensive pressure. Even after Hemp left the penalty box and Wisconsin’s advantage expired, the Badgers peppered Gophers goaltender Skylar Vetter until a stoppage with just under six minutes remaining in the period. The nearly five minutes of continuous pressure helped UW outshoot Minnesota 13-3 in the second.

Late Game Heroics Send Badgers and Gophers to Overtime

When Hemp finally broke a third-period stalemate, it appeared she scored the game-winning goal. The Gophers center slipped the puck past McNaughton with a mere 3:44 remaining in regulation. After Minnesota’s 12 shots on goal in the first period, Wisconsin had only allowed seven since the opening frame, but it appeared that effort would not be rewarded. The power-play goal resulted from a mental lapse by UW third-line center Marianne Picard who passed the puck with her hand on a faceoff.

After Minnesota took a 3-2 lead, the Badgers put two shots on goal but needed extra help. With 98 seconds remaining in regulation, coach Johnson pulled McNaughton for the extra attacker. A couple of close attempts on the empty net nearly put the game away for the Gophers. A pair of blocked shots by Minnesota’s Abbey Murphy nearly stopped Wisconsin in its tracks, but it was not enough.

With 8.8 seconds remaining, the Badgers’ prayers were answered thanks to a goal by Casey O’Brien. The All-WCHA First Team selection banked a shot into the net off the back of Vetter to tie the game at 3-3 and send it to overtime.

Wisconsin Women’s Hockey Clinches Spot in WCHA Final Faceoff Championship With Overtime Victory

Although Wisconsin dominated the shots on goal for the final 40 minutes of regulation, overtime was, much like the first period, back-and-forth action. Both teams recorded four shots in 12:01, but a Badger who had been sniffing around the net all night put the game to bed.

UW’s Lacey Eden has a knack for shooting the puck. Her 24 goals on the season were the fifth-most in the country, but the All-WCHA Second Team selection had one more highlight reel moment in her for overtime. On her sixth shot on goal of the game, she finally buried one with a nifty backhand shot after finding herself open in the slot with the puck.

The goal sent Wisconsin to the WCHA Final Faceoff championship game on Saturday. There, the country’s #1 team, Ohio State, will meet the #2 Badgers again after the two teams split a pair of games in Madison two weeks ago. The game is at 4:30 PM CT in Minneapolis and will be streamed on Big Ten Plus. On Sunday, Wisconsin will learn its NCAA Tournament fate during the Selection Show, which will be televised on ESPNews at 11:00 AM.

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BadgerNotes' resident college basketball sicko, Kedrick Stumbris covers Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball and women's hockey teams unlike anyone else. He received his B.A. with economics and political science majors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018 and has had his work published on Bleacher Report and Verbal Commits.