MINNEAPOLIS — Another game, another shutout for Ann-Renée Desbiens.
The junior stopped all 35 Minnesota shots to record her 20th shutout of the season and fourth straight in the WCHA tournament to carry Wisconsin to a 1-0 victory and its second-straight title.
She didn’t have a favorite save in the outing.
“To be honest, they’re all as important, because if one goes in, we’re probably not going to be here,” Desbiens said.
With that type of goaltending, Wisconsin (34-3-1) knows it can win with just one goal, and Sydney McKibbon provided it in the second period.
“Rachel Jones made a nice play,” McKibbon said. “She had the puck in the slot, and I was just yelling, ‘Shoot, shoot, shoot’ because I had the screen in front.”
The screen proved effective.
“I didn’t see the shot and it hit me, and I had no idea idea where it was,” Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille said.
The puck slid under and behind the Minnesota goaltender, where McKibbon won a battle with three Gophers seniors to get her stick on it first.
“It’s a game of bounces,” McKibbon said. “You never know what’s going to happen. Zero-zero game, one goal is going to be the decider.”
The senior stopped the other 23 Wisconsin shots, but the damage had been done.
The Gophers (32-4-1) were denied in four power-play opportunities, although the final one was abbreviated due to a matching penalty 24 seconds later. Wisconsin went into both intermissions knowing it would have to start the following period on the penalty kill.
“We go into the locker room, and just try to plan what we’re going to do,” Desbiens said. “I just make sure everyone knows we have an amazing PK, so we know what to do. Just focus on that. Do the little things that we’ve been doing really well the entire season.”
Minnesota was shut out for the second time this season.
“Congratulations to Wisconsin; they played a great game,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said. “We didn’t score, and when you don’t score, it makes it very difficult to win. Credit them for that.”
While Minnesota largely carried the play after the McKibbon goal at 13:12 of the second period, its shooters could never solve Desbiens.
“With the way she’s been playing lately, definitely need to get more people to the net,” Minnesota captain Hannah Brandt said. “It’s the only way we’re going to get pucks past her.”
Other than the goal, Annie Pankowski had the Badgers’ best chance when she broke in alone midway through the opening period, but her shot hit the crossbar and stayed out.
Sarah Potomak came the closest to beating Desbiens, but twice she put shots over the crossbar with net available.
“The players certainly earned it,” Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. “I’m very proud of what they put forth.”
Desbiens was named the Most Outstanding Player of the WCHA Final Face-Off. She was joined on the all-tournament team by three teammates — Emily Clark and McKibbon at forward and Courtney Burke on defense. Minnesota forward Amanda Kessel and defenseman Sydney Baldwin were also recognized.
Wisconsin will be the second-seeded team in the NCAA tournament and will host a quarterfinal next weekend, as will Minnesota as the likely third seed.