ST. CHARLES, Mo. — The No. 1 Wisconsin women’s hockey team advanced to its first national championship game since 2012 by defeating No. 4 Boston College 1-0 Friday night in the first semifinal at the women’s Frozen Four.
Senior defenseman Mellissa Channell netted the game-winner with just 16.2 seconds left in the third period. Junior Annie Pankowski was down low and pushed it back to Channell at the point.
“I wasn’t really aiming, I was just trying to hit the net and create a rebound or something, but it hit the perfect corner, so I guess it was a lucky shot,” said Channell.
The play was set up by freshman Abby Roque, who won the offensive-zone faceoff. Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said it was a gut reaction to put Roque in the faceoff circle in that position.
“[Roque] played strong and had a very good game,” said Johnson. “She doesn’t mind getting dirty – in the dirty areas. She’s really good at possessing the puck and controlling the puck. She was given an opportunity at the end to do something she’d been doing for 60 minutes.”
Boston College controlled the first part of the opening period, outshooting Wisconsin 11-1. The Badgers seemed to find their game with two successful penalty kills where they allowed the Eagles just a single shot and put together multiple short-handed chances.
“We were fortunate to get out of that section of the game with the score 0-0,” said Johnson. “It comes down to a team getting an opportunity and capitalizing on it and it took us to almost the end of game to capitalize on one of ours.”
The Badgers went on to out-shoot the Eagles 31-10 over the final two frames.
Both teams had near-misses in the second period. Wisconsin goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens came out of the net to corral a loose puck, something she’s known for doing. She changed her mind on the clearing pass and decided to send it across the ice instead. She misjudged her location and actually rang the puck off the outside of her own post. The puck popped out to a BC player, but Desbiens was able to recover and make a save.
Boston College goalie Katie Burt made an acrobatic save, reaching behind her with her stick to push an airborne puck up and over the crossbar.
“I thought that was an unbelievable hockey game [and] I’m so proud of the way our team played,” said BC coach Katie Crowley.
The fast start was something Desbiens isn’t necessarily used to, but she said it helped her to be involved in the game early. And she was proud of how well the Badgers weathered the early attack.
“BC played their best hockey in the first,” Desbiens said. “They came out super fast at us, but we were fortunate they didn’t get the bounces they wanted and we kept building from the first period. We grew as the game went on. We stayed compose and didn’t panic. We just took a step back and then moved forward from there.”
Desbiens recorded her NCAA-leading 17th shutout this season and extended her career record to 55.
Wisconsin will face the winner of the second semifinal between Clarkson and Minnesota in the national championship game at 2 p.m. CDT Sunday. The game will be shown live on the Big Ten Network.