Colgate delivers double-overtime heartbreak to Wisconsin Badgers in Frozen Four semifinal
MINNEAPOLIS — They suffered multiple stinging blows, so University of Wisconsin women’s hockey players had to rally to keep their national championship hopes alive.
They did, but the final strike was the cruelest of all.
Breanne Wilson-Bennett scored her third goal of the game on a power play, 16:03 into the second overtime as Colgate ended the Badgers’ national championship dreams.
A 4-3 Raiders victory in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinal at Ridder Arena on Friday saw Colgate score three times on four power plays and hold off a number of UW charges.
“Our team did a great job of pushing until the last second,” senior co-captain Baylee Wellhausen said. “We had so many chances and we just tried to will those in but we came up short.”
Colgate took the lead three times, including in the final minute of the second period and with less than six minutes to play in regulation.
But the second-ranked Badgers were able to respond each time until Wilson-Bennett ended their season with a shot from the left side while Presley Norby was serving a holding penalty.
Colgate advanced to Sunday’s national championship game against No. 1 Clarkson, which defeated Ohio State 1-0 in overtime earlier Friday.
At 96:03, it was the second-longest game in Badgers history. Only a four-overtime victory over Harvard in the 2007 NCAA quarterfinals was longer (127:09).
The Badgers scored twice in the third period, each time tying the game.
UW’s power play made it 2-2 with 13:23 left in regulation, with Claudia Kepler scoring on a deflection of a Maddie Rolfes shot just 11 seconds after Colgate’s Kaila Pinkney was called for interference.
Colgate regained the lead after UW’s Abby Roque was called for body checking on a hit on Shelby Perry in front of the Badgers bench.
Jessie Eldridge scored the Raiders’ second power-play goal of the game, squeezing a shot between goalie Kristen Campbell’s pads from the right side with 5:47 remaining.
But UW had an answer again, this one from an unlikely source. Defenseman Mekenzie Steffen fired home a shot through traffic from the right circle with 3:24 left for only her third goal of the season.
That sent the Badgers to overtime for the fifth time in their 30-game NCAA tournament history. They won their first three but lost the most recent, a 3-2 decision to Minnesota in the 2016 semifinals.
UW had two great chances to win it in the first eight minutes of the extra session, but Colgate goalie Julia Vandyk (45 saves) turned away shots by Alexis Mauermann and Sophia Shaver.
The Badgers launched 99 shot attempts to the Raiders’ 58 and had a 48-24 advantage in shots on goal.
“We had chances. We had the opportunities,” UW coach Mark Johnson said. “We didn’t capitalize on those opportunities, and Colgate had a chance late in the second overtime that they capitalized on.”
Both teams’ coaches said on Thursday that their squads had similarities, and that played out — for a long time — on Friday.
“It was everything we thought it was going to be,” Colgate coach Greg Fargo said. “Two really good teams going head to head and a lot of excitement on both ends.”
The game’s start went according to plan for the Badgers (31-5-2), except that Colgate (34-5-1) managed to score on one of its only prolonged stretches of pressure in the first period.
Wilson-Bennett both started and finished that. Her rush up the right side was thwarted but she eventually recovered the puck out of the right corner and fired a shot that hit Badgers defenseman Grace Bowlby in front and eluded Campbell.
It was only the eighth time in 38 games this season — but the fourth in the last seven — that the Badgers allowed the first goal.
Otherwise, UW had the better of the play in the opening period, which was a key in the season in which the Badgers held the No. 1 ranking in 18 of 21 polls by USCHO.com.
Vandyk survived a 30-second flurry in the second period in which the Badgers got four quality shots on goal.
The goalie couldn’t stop Wellhausen’s fifth shot on goal of the game, however.
She tied things at 1-1 less than seven minutes into the second period after Roque’s wraparound effort was stuffed by the right post.
It was Wellhausen’s 11th goal of the season, six of which have came in five games at Ridder Arena. The senior co-captain crafted a hat trick in the Badgers’ Western Collegiate Hockey Association semifinal victory over Bemidji State on March 3.
UW continued to pressure the Raiders until it got in trouble with penalties late in the period. Roque was whistled for roughing with 2:34 remaining, and Colgate got 19 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage after Steffen was called for hooking after tying up an opponent’s stick in front of the net.
Not long after the 5-on-3 ended, and with 29.9 seconds left in the second period, Megan Sullivan snuck a shot from the left side just past Campbell’s left leg, with Wilson-Bennett waiting on the doorstep to get a touch before the puck went into the net.
The four goals the Badgers allowed was a season high, and they conceded more than one power-play goal in a game for the first time this season.
“We did everything we could,” Wellhausen said of the penalty kill. “Sometimes bounces are going to go in.”
And sometimes they’re not, which is why UW saw a season that gave promise for a fifth national championship end with Frozen Four heartbreak for a fifth straight year.
Colgate 1 1 1 0 1 — 4
Wisconsin 0 1 2 0 0 — 3
First period: C — Wilson-Bennett 17 (Zafuto, Sullivan), 16:43.
Second period: W — Wellhausen 11 (Roque), 6:22. C — Wilson-Bennett 18 (Sullivan, Eldridge), 19:30 (pp). Penalties: Zafuto, C, 7:51; Roque, W, 17:26; Steffen, W, 19:07.
Third period: W — Kepler 22 (Rolfes, Cogan), 6:37 (pp). C — Eldridge 22 (Wilson-Bennett, Zafuto), 14:13 (pp). W — Steffen 3 (Bowlby, Norby), 16:36. Penalties: Pinkney, C, 6:26; Roque, W, 12:31; Wildfang, C, 14:26.
First overtime: No scoring or penalties.
Second overtime: C — Wilson-Bennett 19 (Perry, Wildfang), 16:03 (pp). Penalty: Norby, W, 14:13.
Saves: C (Vandyk 11-13-6-8-7) 45; W (Campbell 4-6-4-4-2) 20. Power plays: C 3-for-4; W 1-for-3. Att. — 3,369.