DULUTH, Minn. – The Wisconsin women's hockey team fell to Minnesota Duluth in the semifinals of the 2012 WCHA Final Face-Off by a score of 3-1 on Friday afternoon at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn.
Wisconsin (31-4-2) will now wait for the NCAA Selection Show set for Sunday at 5:30 p.m. to learn who they will play against in the NCAA quarterfinals next weekend, March 9-10. Minnesota Duluth (21-13-1) advances to play against the winner of Minnesota and North Dakota for the tournament championship on Saturday night.
Facing a potential end to their season, the Bulldogs took control in the opening minutes of the contest. Wisconsin was not able to weather barrage for long, and conceded the first goal of the game at the 8:10 mark of the opening period. UMD’s leading goal scorer Audrey Cournoyer took a shot that was blocked by a UW defender. Goaltender Alex Rigsby played expecting the first shot to reach her, but consequently was out of position when Cournoyer picked up the loose puck on the far side of the slot, allowing the Bulldogs to take the first lead.
Within the first five minutes of the second period, the Badgers gained their fifth power-play opportunity of the game. After Rigsby set up the play behind the net, Alev Kelter found a head-man pass to Brianna Decker in the neutral zone. Decker entered the offensive zone and toe-dragged the puck around the defending UMD player before sniping the puck over the left shoulder of Bulldog goaltender Jennifer Harss to tie the game at 1-1.
Unfortunately the Badgers’ power-play unit would not find any more success on the power play in the game, going one-for-nine with the man advantage, which included two five-on-three chances.
Minnesota Duluth’s Jenna McParland tallied the eventual game-winner after a defensive lapse by the Badgers allowed the freshman forward a free lane through the UW crease. McParland found the slightest opening to put UMD up 2-1 with less than five minutes in the second period.
The third period commenced without the Badgers being able to find the equalizer they needed. In the waning minutes of the game, Rigsby was signaled to head to the bench for an extra attacker. However, on her way to the bench, Minnesota Duluth gained control of the puck and looked to score on the empty net. Rigsby saw the play develop and skated back to her net. Minnesota Duluth fired the puck on net and at the last second Rigsby dove out and got the heel of her stick on the puck, sending it harmlessly to the corner.
In the final minute of play, the Badgers went on the power play and opted for an additional attacker with Rigsby on the bench. Unfortunately, UMD’s Bridgette Lacquette cleared the puck out of the Bulldog zone and got it on net to score the final tally of the game.
Wisconsin will skate in the NCAA Quarterfinals next weekend, March 9-10. Information on the Badgers’ opponent and game time for the game next weekend will be on UWBadgers.com as it is made available.