MINNEAPOLIS. - The No. 2 Wisconsin women's hockey team is back on top of the WCHA after defeating the No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers, 3-1, at Ridder Arena to win the 2019 WCHA Final Faceoff Championship on Sunday.
Postgame Press Conference - Wisconsin
Postgame Press Conference - Minnesota
Sophomore Caitlin Schneider, freshman Britta Curl and senior Annie Pankowski all scored for Wisconsin (32-4-2, 18-4-2-0 WCHA) in Sunday's' contest to lead UW to its eighth WCHA tournament title, the most of any school in the league.
The Badgers took the lead early off a blast from Schneider with 11:49 left in the first to send UW up a goal after one period of play.
Curl extended that lead in the second on a beautiful step-through shot just 2:41 into the period.
Minnesota (30-5-1, 19-4-1) would respond back late in the second on a power play that made it a one-goal contest heading into the final third of play.
In one of the most heated and contested periods of the season, the Badgers hung tough against relentless Minnesota attack on net in the third. With time winding down, Pankowski struck on an empty-net to give the Badgers a 3-1 lead and secure the championship victory for the Badgers.
Three Notes of the Game
- Badgers netminder Kristen Campbell was dominant Sunday, thwarting 21 Golden Gophers shots on goal in the win. The junior now has 32 wins this year and is one victory away from tying the school single-season wins record.
- The scoring-duo of freshman Britta Curl and senior Annie Pankowski has been electric as of late. Both Curl and Pankowski tallied their sixth goal in their last four games on Sunday.
- UW has now won 17 of its last 18 WCHA postseason games and holds a 51-15-0 all-time record in conference playoff games.
Straight from the Rink
UW Head Coach Mark Johnson
On winning the WCHA Final Faceoff
"We're very pleased with the outcome of the game, I thought we played in a lot of areas very well and did the things necessary to keep them off the scoreboard. As I told the team a few minutes ago, they earned it, they played hard yesterday and found a way to win a game late in the third period last night and then they came back and competed at a real high level from the drop of the opening puck. I'm happy for them, you watch them celebrate and they commit themselves. It's a long-grinding season and anytime you get an opportunity to play for a trophy and then win it, it's special. They're going to have some memories that they'll be able to take away from this season and it'll put a smile on their face, so I'm very happy with the way they played and certainly happy that we're taking the trophy back to Madison."
On the game:
"We did a lot of things that we needed to do in this atmosphere and in this type of game. I was impressed with our compete level and thought our energy level was pretty good after playing in a challenging game last night."
Senior forward Annie Pankowski
On after scoring her empty-netter:
"With a team like Minnesota, they like to lay the pressure on. When they get buzzing, especially late in the game, that desperation is dangerous and so for us if we can put the puck in like that it really takes the wind out of their sales and boosts us up a little bit. It felt really good to get that final goal."
On what this win means being a senior:
"It's an awesome opportunity to play for a championship, especially in an arena like this. It was such a great experience, especially with so many Badgers fans out there and we are really grateful for that."
On the Badger fans that made the trip:
"That's definitely special and credit to all of our fans who drove from Madison, and our band too. They make it feel like home and are really our sixth player on the ice."
Freshman forward Britta Curl
On her line clicking:
"From the start we just worked well together, they're two great players. I think anyone with them would work well but they're really unbelievable players and certainly really fun for me."
On facing Minnesota for a fifth time:
"I was pretty confident in our team. I don't think at any point during the game we felt otherwise. We weren't scared, we were confident in ourselves and we did a really good job winning battles and races."
The Badgers will find out their NCAA fate on Sunday during the selection show for the 2019 NCAA National Collegiate Women's Ice Hockey Championship, which will begin at 8 p.m. Thanks to the WCHA tournament victory, the Badgers have earned one of the four automatic berths to the dance.