Wisconsin scored four second-period goals to take command in its 5-0 victory over Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA Final Face-Off.
“Certainly pleased with our effort this afternoon, especially the second period,” coach Mark Johnson said.
The Badgers (33-3-1) kept the puck in the attacking zone for much of the middle frame, and pulled away with three goals in the final six minutes to take a five-goal lead into the second intermission.
“Courtney [Burke’s] goal to start the period off under a minute put Duluth maybe a little on their heels, and then we just built off that and played very well,” Johnson said.
Ann-Renee Desbiens made 17 saves to up her NCAA record for shutouts in a season to 19.
“It’s not something you think about,” Desbiens said. “It just happens, and it just shows how consistent we’ve been since the beginning of the season.”
Mikaela Gardner, Annie Pankowski, Kim Drake, and Sarah Nurse also scored for the Badgers. Sophia Shaver, with two assists, had the only multipoint game.
“As a forward, it’s really nice to have the depth that we do,” Pankowski said. “There’s a lot of confidence in each other, and knowing that whoever is on the ice can put the puck in the net. There’s a lot of momentum that can come from that, too.”
Minnesota-Duluth (15-21-1) sees its first season under coach Maura Crowell come to an end.
“Tough way to end the season, but Wisconsin is clearly a very talented team,” Crowell said.
The Badgers were able to exert their will as the game went along.
“They’re fantastic at just cycling and using their D, and their D come down the wall and they just possess really nicely,” Crowell said.
UMD’s quarterfinal series provides a bright spot to punctuate its season.
“That was a great weekend for us,” Crowell said. “Going into Friday night’s game, our mentality was, this is a new season. As an underdog, I think people really get excited about that, because whether you had enough wins throughout the season, you can reset the batteries, and start focusing, and everybody is 0-0 again. I think that really fired up our players.”
Wisconsin knows that it will be a top-three seed in the NCAA tournament no matter what happens in Sunday’s final, but the Badgers aren’t worried about that right now.
“You don’t often get a lot of chances to play for a trophy,” Johnson said. “Tomorrow, we play for another trophy so we’re excited about that opportunity.”