March 04, 2018 08:21 PM
The No. 7 Golden Gopher women's hockey team won the program's seventh WCHA Final Faceoff title and earned the league's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament with a 3-1 win over No. 1 Wisconsin in the WCHA title game at Ridder Arena Sunday afternoon.
Taylor Wente, Taylor Williamson, and Nicole Schammel scored goals for the Maroon & Gold and Sidney Peters made 31 saves on 32 shots faced to lead Minnesota (24-10-4).
"Well, what a game; we are so proud of our team," head coach Brad Frost said. "I was going to be proud of them either way regardless of what the scoreboard said at the end of the night because of how hard we played.
"To be able to throw your gloves, jump on the pile, hang a banner, and the obvious bonus of getting to extend your season... the pressure that these guys were under going into the weekend, especially after yesterday’s loss by Boston College knowing they had to win this tournament to extend their season I think speaks volumes to who they are as people and the competitors that they are."
After making 64 saves on 65 shots faced in two games this weekend, Peters was named the WCHA Final Faceoff's Most Outstanding Player, and Sydney Baldwin, Williamson, and Grace Zumwinkle joined Peters on the all-tournament team.
"Sidney Peters was great again as you guys saw, I’m just so proud of her and her growth and maturity throughout the five years that she’s been here," Frost said. "To be the goalie on the ice when people are jumping on you is a whole lot more fun than being the last one jumping off the bench on the pile. Really happy for our team and continuing to keep going."
The Gophers last won the WCHA Final Faceoff in 2014, having won three-straight titles in 2012, 2013, and 2014; the Maroon & Gold also won WCHA postseason titles in 2002, 2004, and 2005.
Minnesota got on the board just 1:06 into the game -- the team's fastest goal to start a game this season -- when Wente deflected a shot past Wisconsin's Kristen Campbell; however, the Badgers tied the game just 3:15 later when Delaney Drake scored. The teams took a 1-1 tie into the first intermission.
The Gophers then scored another quick goal to start the second period when Williamson buried her third goal of the season off a feed from Olivia Knowles at the 1:40 mark of the middle frame. Minnesota took a one-goal lead into the third period and held off the Badgers despite being outshot 10-7 over the game's final 20 minutes.
"I think with the growth that we have had learning to play a full 60 minutes has been huge for our team," Williamson said. "Our ability to outwork and play that full 60 minutes is huge. These teams are so good, if you let down for a second they are going to capitalize on that opportunity. Us recognizing that you just have to win every single battle every single shift was I think a big difference maker."
Schammel iced the win and the program's seventh WCHA postseason title with an empty net goal with 14 seconds remaining.
Minnesota will play the Badgers in Madison on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
University of Minnesota/Gophersports.com
Created: March 04, 2018 08:21 PM
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