MADISON, Wis. – In a total team effort, Wisconsin clinched the outright WCHA regular-season title in a 7-1 win over Ohio State at the Kohl Center on Friday afternoon.
“Ohio State is still playing for home ice if they can win the game today; we got a share of the championship and we don’t want to share it, but we won it outright,” said head coach Mark Johnson. “It’s nice to see Carolyne score right away, Brooke had a good game and Hilary made some nice plays and assist, so a lot of good things happened.
It’s a good opportunity to go 33 games to win a league championship outright. Give a lot of credit to the players and the upperclassmen led the way, kudos to them.
The No. 1-ranked Badgers improve their record to 29-2-2 (23-3-3-1 WCHA) while the Buckeyes fall to 15-14-4 (12-14-1-1WCHA) on the season. Along with the outright claim to the season title, the Badgers will be the No. 1 seed heading into the WCHA playoffs.
The Badger seniors started their last regular series strong as Brook Ammerman and Carolyn Prévost led the team combining for eight points, along with junior Brianna Decker who contributed two goals and two assists of her own. Two other Badgers found the back of the net while five contributed with assists.
“We have had great chemistry all year and we get along so well,” Brooke Ammerman said of her linemates. “The three of us can finish so we can move the puck really well. Most of our goals we all have been touching the puck and getting open shots and open nets. It’s a lot of talent and really good chemistry.”
Alex Rigsby earned her 29th win of the season making 23 stops and giving up only one goal in 60 minutes of action. Buckeye goaltender Lisa Steffes made 36 saves, but gave up seven goals along the way.
Both teams came out of the gates with high energy levels, but neither side was able to control the puck long enough to score. Midway through the first period, Wisconsin led with a low number of shots on goal, 5-3, before putting the first goal on the board.
Prévost gave the Badgers the lead at the 8:03 mark when Decker found the senior open on the left side of the net after Madison Packer freed the puck along the boards. The goal was Prévost’s 21st of the year.
The high intensity continued into the second period and Wisconsin found a way to control the puck throughout the period. The Badgers then extended their lead with back-to-back goals by Decker within the first six minutes.
Ohio State put its first and only goal of the day on the board at the 9:48 mark from Laura McIntosh, but UW found another opening past Steffes two minutes later to go up 4-1 with Prévost’s second goal of the day.
“The thing about scoring a goal,” Prévost said. “The next shift that comes out is either going to create energy or that other line from the other team gets a goal or something. It always happens like that, something happens in the shift and momentum is created. Today I felt like the energy was on our side and the momentum kept going on.”
The Buckeyes continued to challenge Wisconsin in the third period, evening up the period shots on goal for the first time in the game. The Badgers continued to stay aggressive though, as they wore down the defense tacking on three more goals in the final five minutes of play.
The Ammerman sisters each found the back of the net starting with Brittany at the 15:44 mark finding the back of the net through traffic after picking up Hilary Knight’s rebounded shot. One minute later, Decker dangled Steffes and slid the puck into the crease as Brooke finished off the play for her 90th career goal.
Karley Sylvester put in the last Badger goal at the 17:55 mark from the left side of the net to give Wisconsin the 7-1 win.
The Badgers finish their regular season tomorrow against Ohio State at 12:30 p.m. for senior day as Wisconsin will recognize its five seniors prior to the game.