The No. 2 Wisconsin women's hockey team took care of business Saturday afternoon, defeating the No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes, 3-2, at Ridder Arena to advance to the WCHA Final Faceoff Championship.
Freshman Britta Curl, freshman Sophie Shirley and senior Annie Pankowski all scored for Wisconsin (31-4-2, 18-4-2-0 WCHA) in Saturday's’ matchup.
The Badgers struck first, lighting the lamp thanks to Curl’s clean-up effort at the front of the OSU net with 9:42 remaining in the period at the tail-end of the UW power-play.
Ohio State (20-13-2, 12-10-2) would answer back with a goal of their own to close the first frame tied at one-apiece heading into the second period.
The Buckeyes would take the lead at the start of the second frame, holding the lead and the momentum throughout the length of the period.
However, Shirley knotted the game up at 2-2 with just 45.7 seconds left in the second as she launched a beautiful shot that snuck behind OSU netminder Andrea Braendli. The effort was Shirley’s 20th goal of the season making her just the third Badger to reach the 20 goal mark this year.
With just under five minutes left in the third, Pankowski broke the game open, going five-hole to give UW a 3-2 lead.
The Badgers held on for the victory to advance to their fourth WCHA Final Faceoff title in the last five seasons.
Three Notes of the Game
- Annie Pankowski’s clutch game-winning goal was her 200th career point during her Badgers career. Pankowski is now only the sixth player in UW history to reach that mark.
- The win marked UW head coach Mark Johnson’s 490th win as he passed UW men’s hockey legend Jeff Sauer as the winningest coach in Wisconsin Athletics history.
- UW has now won 16 of its last 17 WCHA postseason games and holds a 50-15-0 all-time record in conference playoff games.
Straight from the Rink
UW Head Coach Mark Johnson
On the game:
“Certainly happy with the outcome of the game. Thought from start to finish we played well, we had a lot of energy and we created some opportunities. As I mentioned earlier in the week, our ability to try and get some pucks past the goaltender, and we were able to do that enough tonight and get an opportunity to play in a championship game tomorrow against Minnesota. We’ll look forward to that challenge and opportunity tomorrow, so I’m excited, the team’s excited and should be a good game tomorrow.”
On the long intermission:
“It’s never easy, it’s playoff hockey and as Annie mentioned we got great momentum scoring late in the second period. I was ready to start the third period without making the ice just because when you get excited, you’re tied 2-2 and in the second period we played really well. I just kept encouraging the team to keep putting the effort that they were putting in and eventually something was going to happen. It may not happen within this game, but usually it does happen and that goal late in the second period was a big goal for us.”
Freshman forward Britta Curl
On her goal:
“It was just really good for our team to get one in the first period. It was a good shot from the point and the puck came right out to me so it really got the team going and we played from there. It was good to get one under us to start.”
On scoring a similar goal last week:
“I just try to stay in front of the net and get my stick on the ice in case the puck comes out. It’s probably the easiest job, but I get the credit for it so it was really good to get one for my teammates who put me in that position.”
On her fifth goal in her last three games:
“I think it’s a lot of credit to my two linemates, they put me in positions to do good things and I try to stay patient when things aren’t going my way.”
Senior forward Annie Pankowski
On overcoming the last two Ohio State tied games for a win today:
“It’s a bounce one way or the other and I think that our team was ready for that adversity because we weren’t expecting the bounces to go our way. We showed a lot of character battling through that, especially coming back after they put that goal in. It just speaks to the character of this team and how excited we are to move forward.”
On the emotion she displayed after her game-winning goal:
“I’m still not sure why I shot that five-hole but when you can put a goal in like that for your team. It was just the perfect set-up by Abby and I told her a million times but that’s just a huge goal to get especially late in the game there.”
On her 200th career point coming on that game-winning goal:
“That’s definitely going to be a special one.”
The Badgers take on Minnesota for the WCHA Final Faceoff Championship Sunday at 2 p.m. in Ridder Arena. The game can be seen live on Fox Sports Wisconsin, Fox Sports North and can be heard on 1070 AM.
Following the game, the NCAA will announce the field for the 2019 NCAA National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey Championship at 8 p.m. CT live on NCAA.Com.