Posted-March 21st, 2014 11:50 pm
HAMDEN, Conn. -- To call the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four semifinal between No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 1 Minnesota a roller coaster would be an understatement.
After holding leads heading into the first and second intermissions, the Badgers could not overcome a three-goal third period by the Golden Gophers as Wisconsin fell 5-3.
“It was a game with momentum swings” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “We saw them both ways. I thought both teams battled hard. I thought we played a solid game. But it was going to come down to who was going to make a play.”
Juniors Brittany Ammerman, Katy Josephs and Karley Sylvester all scored for the Cardinal and White, who appeared in its seventh NCAA Frozen Four.
“We were happy with our offensive production,” Ammerman said. “Obviously it wasn’t enough. We put our hearts out there, and we just couldn’t get bounces our way.”
The Badgers jump on the board early, as Ammerman scored her 23rd goal of the year on a 4-on-4 play to give UW a 1-0 lead with less than three minutes left in the first. The Badgers outshot the Gophers 17-7 in the first.
“I was leaving the ice thinking we should have been up 3-0,” Johnson said. “We had good opportunities and came out with good energy. We had them on their heels a bit, but we needed to capitalize. They are a high scoring and deep team. It was nice that Brit scored a goal and that we won the first period.”
Minnesota scored twice in a 1:41 span early in the second period to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead as Kelly Terry and Maryanne Menefee scored for the Gophers.
The Badgers countered with a pair of their own goals to close out the period with a 3-2 lead. Josephs tallied her 12th of the year, while Sylvester earned her ninth goal of the season to give Wisconsin a 3-2 advantage heading into the second intermission.
“In the first couple of minutes of the second period, it shifted back to their favor with a goal and a penalty on the play,” Johnson said. “They scored with 10 seconds left on the power play to make it 2-1. But we responded in the last seven or eight minutes. We started to create some opportunities. Josephs gets a nice goal to make it 2-2 and Karley scores off the faceoff and now we go into the locker room 3-2.”
In the third period after a Rachel Jones penalty, Minnesota evened the game at 3-3 with just six seconds remaining in its power play to tie it up with less than 15 minutes remaining.
Minnesota’s Rachel Bona beat senior netminder Alex Rigsby on a breakaway to give Minnesota a 4-3 advantage with 11:54 left in the contest. A goal by Balyee Gillanders at the 17:32 mark put the game out of reach for the Badgers.
Rigsby ended her final game with 23 saves, and leaves Wisconsin as the school leader in wins (100) and saves (3,103).
The Badgers end their season with a 28-8-2 record, while Minnesota moves on to the national title game on Sunday.