MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - March 7, 2021 - WCHA Player of the Year Daryl Watts scored twice in regulation and freshman Lacey Eden banged home the game-winner 42 seconds into overtime to give No. 1 seed Wisconsin a 3-2 victory over third-seeded Ohio State in the 2021 WCHA Final Faceoff championship game at Ridder Arena on Sunday afternoon.
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Postgame Press Conference Video |
"It was an exciting finish for us obviously," Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson said following the game. "Any time you get a chance to win a game in overtime, especially when there is so much meaning in the game and a championship is on the line. It was a good hockey game. Very tight checking. We'd bend for a bit then they'd bend, and it went back and forth. It was very similar to last year's game. Somebody has got to make a play. There was a breakdown early in the overtime and we capitalized on it. "We're excited about that."
The win is the Badgers' ninth WCHA postseason title, all won during Johnson's tenure, in Wisconsin's 14th trip to the league title game. The championship is also UW's fourth in the last seven seasons.
After battling to a 0-0 regulation tie a season ago before Ohio State ultimately won in overtime, the two teams extended their consecutive scoreless regulation minutes streak over the last two WCHA championship games to 80 minutes as both squads fired five shots on goal but could not get past Buckeye goaltender Andrea Braendli or Wisconsin netminder Kennedy Blair in the first period.
The Badgers eventually broke the seal, with Watts scoring her 16th goal of the year just 2:19 into the second period to put Wisconsin up 1-0. The goal snapped an 86:44 scoreless streak for Braendli over the last two WCHA title games against Wisconsin.
The lead was short-lived however as Jennifer Gardiner equalized for the Buckeyes three minutes later to knot the score at 1-1. But Watts put the Badgers back on top with 7:25 left in the period, beating Braendli again for a 2-1 lead that stood as the period came to an end.
The lead held until the midpoint of the third period when Sophie Jaques floated a shot from the blueline past Blair to tie the score at 2-2 with 10:01 left in the contest. That was it for scoring in regulation as the two teams headed to overtime for the second year in a row. But Eden ended the drama quickly as she took a pass from Delaney Drake, cruised into the slot and ripped the game-winner over Braendli's glove to end the contest.
With the victory, Wisconsin (14-3-1, 12-3-1-2-1-0 WCHA) claims the WCHA's automatic berth in the NCAA Championship. The full tournament field will be announced Sunday evening.
2020-21 WCHA Final Faceoff All-Tournament Team
F- Daryl Watts, Sr., Wisconsin
F- Emma Maltais, Sr., Ohio State
F- Lacey Eden, Fr., Wisconsin
D- Sophie Jaques, Jr., Ohio State
D- Chayla Edwards, So., Wisconsin
G- Kennedy Blair, Sr., Wisconsin
About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Women's League
The Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association will mark its 22nd season in 2020-21. The nation's premier women's hockey conference, WCHA member institutions have won a record 17 national championships since the league's inception in 1999 (including 16 of a possible 19 NCAA titles), while producing seven Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners, 105 All-Americans and numerous Olympic and national team members. The seven-team, NCAA Division I conference consists of: Bemidji State University (Beavers), the University of Minnesota (Golden Gophers), the University of Minnesota Duluth (Bulldogs), Minnesota State University (Mavericks), The Ohio State University (Buckeyes), St. Cloud State University (Huskies) and the University of Wisconsin (Badgers). The WCHA will grow to eight members with the addition of the University of St. Thomas (Tommies) beginning with the 2021-22 season. For more information, visit wcha.com.