- NCAA-Best Three WCHA Teams in National Tournament: The Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) has three representatives -- more than any other conference -- in the eight-team field that will compete for the 2018 NCAA championship. Wisconsin (the tournament's second seed), Minnesota (Final Faceoff champion) and Ohio State (first-ever appearance) will be vying to win the WCHA's 17th national title in the league's 19 seasons (16th NCAA crown).
- Wisconsin (30-4-2) and Minnesota (24-10-3) will meet six days after their WCHA Final Faceoff championship clash, dropping the puck on their sixth "Border Battle" contest of the season. The game will be held at sold-out LaBahn Arena, where the Badgers own a 28-game unbeaten streak (27-0-1), a 52-1-2 record over the last three seasons and three-straight wins over the Gophers. UW swept the four-game regular season games, with four one-goal contests (Minnesota's 3-1 win at the WCHA Final Faceoff was 2-1 until an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left). Minnesota owns a 4-2 lead over Wisconsin in their six all-time NCAA tournament matchups, including four-straight wins (at the 2012 and 2014-16 Frozen Fours). The Badgers' last NCAA tournament victory over the Gophers came in their most recent quarterfinal-round game: a 3-2, overtime decision at Ridder Arena.
- Ohio State's (23-10-4) first-ever NCAA tournament game will come in Chestnut Hill, Mass. against No. 4 seed Boston College (30-4-3). The Buckeyes and Eagles have never met.
- About Wisconsin: The Badgers, who have been No. 1 or 2 in the national opinion polls each week of the season, are the No. 2 seed for the 2018 NCAA tournament. Wisconsin is back in the national postseason for the fifth-straight campaign and 12th time overall -- tied with Mercyhurst for the second-most appearances of any program. UW is 21-7-0 (.750) all-time in NCAA tournament play, including four Frozen Four championships.
- Wisconsin is second in the country with an .861 winning percentage (.861, 30-4-2), while the Badgers are tied for the fewest losses and tied for the third-most wins.
- UW ranks fifth among NCAA Division I teams by averaging 3.31 goals per game, while sophomore goaltender Kristen Campbell (a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-10 finalist) has started every Badgers game and leads D-I netminders with a 1.16 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage and 11 shutouts (tied).
- The Badgers won their third-straight WCHA regular season championship (and seventh overall), joining Minnesota (2013-15) as the only teams in league history to go back-to-back-to-back.
- About Minnesota: The Gophers extended their season by defeating Ohio State and Wisconsin to win the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff and earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Minnesota is making its NCAA-record 11th straight tournament appearance (snapping a tie with Mercyhurst from 2005-14), while extending its own mark with its 16th overall trip. The Gophers are 24-10-1 (.700) in 35 all-time NCAA tournament games, along with a record six Frozen Four championships (among their seven overall national titles).
- Minnesota is 21-2-2 when leading after two periods this season and is 21-2-0 when allowing two-or-fewer goals in a game. In four 2018 postseason games, redshirt-senior Sidney Peters leads NCAA goaltenders with a .972 save percentage and a 0.75 goals-against average. She is 4-0-0 and one of seven NCAA netminders with a playoff shutout this season.
- UMN senior Sydney Baldwin became just the third full-time defensive player to earn WCHA Player of the Year honors. She is tied for second among NCAA blueliners with 32 points (12g-20), while she leads the country with 99 blocked shots.
- The Gophers' 2018 Final Faceoff title was their seventh WCHA playoff championship all-time, matching Wisconsin for the most in league history.
- About Ohio State: The Buckeyes are continuing their historic season with their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Ohio State is joining other newcomer Colgate as the 22nd and 23rd teams to compete in the NCAAs.
- Led by WCHA Coach of the Year Nadine Muzerall, Ohio State has set a school record with 23 overall wins, while the Buckeyes' 14 league wins and second-place finish in the WCHA standings were both program bests. OSU has the sixth-most victories among D-I programs this season.
- OSU's freshman forward duo of WCHA Rookie of the Year Emma Maltais and Tatum Skaggs has been prolific. Maltais leads the WCHA with 40 points overall (16g-24a), the most by a Buckeye since two-time Olympic medalist Natalie Spooner collected 50 in 2011-12. Skaggs paces the WCHA with 23 goals among her 37 points (and is tops with 0.62 goals per game).
- Redshirt-junior goaltender Kassidy Sauvé is third nationally with nine shutouts and is sixth with a WCHA-best 849 saves. Freshman Amanda Zeglen is 2-1-0 this postseason, while she stopped 25-of-26 shots in the WCHA Final Faceoff semifinal.
- Olympic Year: The WCHA was proud and honored to have 37 current and former players competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, representing seven universities and playing for five countries.
- Thirty (30) players with WCHA ties brought home medals, including 14 that helped Team USA win its first gold since 1998. Canada's silver medalists featured nine WCHA players, while seven alumnae earned bronze with Finland.
The Week in Review (2018 WCHA Final Faceoff)
- The nation's premier conference tournament again staged a competitive and entertaining championship weekend, as nationally-ranked Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota, along with upstart Bemidji State, staged three memorable games.
- Minnesota, playing to extend its season, won their seventh WCHA playoff championship after defeating Ohio State, 2-0 in the semifinals and Wisconsin, 3-1 in the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff championship game.
- The Badgers' Baylee Wellhausen notched the first Final Faceoff hat trick since 2012, helping UW past BSU, 4-1 in the first semifinal.
- Final Faceoff Most Outstanding Player Sidney Peters, Minnesota's redshirt-senior goaltender, stopped 64-of-65 shots.
- Full recaps, box scores, photo galleries and video highlights are available at wcha.com.
2018 WCHA Final Faceoff Semifinal #1
(1) Wisconsin 4, vs. (4) Bemidji State 1
(March 3 at Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)
A competitive and entertaining 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff got underway with a game tighter than the final score indicated, as top-seeded Wisconsin got a Baylee Wellhausen hat trick for a 4-1 win over No. 4 seed Bemidji State.
Wellhausen lit the lamp just 41 seconds into the game for a quick, 1-0 Badgers lead. But, the Beavers settled in and found the equalizer from senior Emma Terres with 34 seconds remaining in the opening period. Wellhausen's shorthanded tally at 11:06 of the second stanza broke the 1-1 tie and stood as the game-winner, while Maddie Rolfes provided an insurance marker with 9:15 remaining in regulation. Wellhausen, UW's co-captain, then completed the first Final Faceoff hat trick since 2012 with an empty net tally. Kristen Campbell made 22 saves for the Badgers, while BSU freshman Kerigan Dowhy had 27 stops.
2018 WCHA Final Faceoff Semifinal #2
(3) Minnesota 2, vs. (2) Ohio State 0
(March 3 at Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)
After UConn upset Boston College earlier in the day in the Hockey East semifinals, the mission became clear for Minnesota: Win the Final Faceoff or risk seeing its season end. The third-seeded Gophers and redshirt-senior goaltender Sidney Peters responded, blanking No. 2 seed Ohio State, 2-0.
Peters was fantastic en route to her fourth shutout of the season and 16th of her career, making 33 saves. She turned aside 10 shots in the first period, seven in the second and 16 in the third as the Gophers were clinging to a 1-0 lead for the first 19 minutes of the frame. Freshman forward Grace Zumwinkle, the regular season WCHA Scoring Champion, netted both Minnesota goals, scoring an even-strength marker at 2:26 of the second period and the game-clinching, empty-net tally with less than a minute remaining. Ohio State freshman goaltender Amanda Zeglen was also fantastic, stopping 25-of-26 shots.
2018 WCHA Final Faceoff Championship Game
(3) Minnesota 3, vs. (1) Wisconsin 1
(March 4 at Ridder Arena; Minneapolis, Minn.)
Again playing for their NCAA lives, the Gophers (and Sidney Peters) again rose to the occasion, defeating the Badgers, 3-1 to win the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff and earn the league's automatic bid to the national tournament. In beating Wisconsin for the first time in five tries this season, Minnesota also captured its seventh WCHA playoff title, matching UW for the most in league history.
Peters made 31 saves (including 24 over the final 40 minutes), the continuation of an excellent weekend that saw her stop 64-of-65 shots and earn 2018 WCHA Most Outstanding Player honors.
A pair of freshmen traded first-period goals, with Minnesota's Taylor Wente scoring her 11th of the season at 1:06 and Wisconsin's Delaney Drake netting her first collegiate goal at the 4:19 mark. Taylor Williamson, who overcame a serious illness that forced her to miss 33 games this season, wrote another triumphant chapter with the game-winning goal, coming 1:40 into the second period and giving the Gophers a 2-1 lead. Nicole Schammel iced the win and the WCHA Final Faceoff crown with an empty-net goal with 14 seconds remaining.