Women’s hockey: Badgers take home WCHA title with wins over Bulldogs, Gophers

first_imgMINNEAPOLIS — In a weekend that started out with a game against one University of Minnesota team, and ended with another, the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team can officially call themselves Western Collegiate Hockey Association champions.When the weekend started, the Badgers (34-3-1, 24-3-1 WCHA) found themselves facing a more aggressive University of Minnesota-Duluth (15-20-1, 10-17-1 WCHA) in the semi-final game of the WCHA conference tournament.Wisconsin showed their grit as a team and shut Duluth out with a final score of 5-0, allowing themselves to advance to the final game against University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.In her 19th shutout of the season, goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens managed to block all 17 shots she saw on goal. Desbiens, who already has an NCAA record for most shutouts in a single season, surpassed her own record, solidifying her spot in NCAA history.Saturday’s game also meant that Wisconsin has ended every playoff game, until this point, with a shut-out, which is just another accomplishment that they can add to their long list of accomplishments in the season.Looking back on it now, Desbiens still cannot believe how this season has unfolded for her and her team.“If you had asked me at the beginning of the year, I would have said that [my NCAA shutout record] is not a real thing,” Desbiens said. “I [didn’t] think that was possible. It’s amazing. Everything that everyone in front of me has been doing is amazing.”Sunday’s contest against the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities (32-4-1, 24-4-1 WCHA) tested Wisconsin to its absolute limit, with three high-intensity periods of play from both teams. The Badgers managed to end Sunday’s contest with a 1-0 score.The true sign of Wisconsin greatness came from their defense, as the unit managed to keep Minnesota from scoring, even though Minnesota gained four power-plays from Wisconsin penalties.Another remarkable feat was the cool, calm demeanor of Desbiens, who seemed to not feel the pressure of the NCAA finals. In fact, Desbiens could be seen dancing in her goal right before the third period began, even though her team would start the period a man down.Desbiens’ calm demeanor could also be considered a sign of trust, trust in a defensive zone that she knew would protect her until the very last buzzer. Desbiens was certainly not far off the mark, with the Badger defense using every measure and body part possible to make sure the Minnesota puck stayed out of the Badgers’ net.Gaining their 22nd shutout of the season shows this Wisconsin defense is truly a force to be reckoned with, and when UW is on their game, they are nearly unstoppable.Head coach Mark Johnson will now enter the NCAA playoffs with a WCHA regular season and conference champion team. When asked about his team, Johnson’s response was simple.“I’m proud of the team and certainly proud of their effort this afternoon,” Johnson said.last_img

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