No. 1 Badgers finish season as NCAA runners-up

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Despite outshooting Clarkson 41-20, the No. 1 Wisconsin women’s hockey team fell to the No. 2 Golden Knights, 3-0, in the NCAA championship game on Sunday at The Family Arena.

The Badgers (33-4-4) dominated possession, but Clarkson (32-4-5) tallied a power-play goal in the second period before scoring twice in the third.

“As I told the team, we are disappointed with the outcome,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “But the kids played hard, played well, they created opportunities. I’m very proud of their effort, especially our senior class who for four years have done so much to help our program grow and have obviously won a lot of hockey games and created a lot of great memories for our team. It’s a tough pill to swallow. When you lose this game, you’re so close to the end. But I told them too as time goes on and you reflect on the season, it’s a special group, a special season and they are going to have some great memories to reflect on, so I’m certainly proud of that.”

“I think hockey has a funny way of humbling you,” said junior Annie Pankowski, who was named to the all-tournament team. “When you think you’re doing well and you have all the things going the right way, it reminds you that not everything is perfect. I’m really proud of this group and we laid it out there. You can’t ask for much more.”

Clarkson opened up scoring in the second period with a power-play goal from Savannah Harmon 27 seconds into the frame.

CU’s Cayley Mercer doubled the CU lead with less than three minutes remaining before scoring an empty-net goal with 44 seconds to go.

Senior goaltender and 2017 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner Ann-Renée Desbiens made 17 saves in the contest to complete her historic season. Desbiens finished the season leading the NCAA in goals-against average (0.71), save percentage (.963), win percentage (.886) and shutouts (17).

Desbiens departs Wisconsin as the NCAA career record holder for shutouts with 55, a 0.90 goals-against average and save percentage with a .955 clip.

Sunday’s game marked the end of a remarkable season for the Badgers, as UW captured the WCHA regular season and tournament titles while advancing to the NCAA title game for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

“It was a great way to go out, but unfortunately when you don’t win your last game it’s a little bit of a disappointment,” senior captain Sydney McKibbon said. “This is going to sting definitely for a while, being so close, and I thought we played a great game, but it’s definitely going to take a while to process. The group played well today, we had a great group all year and so thanks to them.


Wisconsin’s finale with Lindenwood cancelled due to facility issues

WENTZVILLE,  Mo. — Due to facility issues at the Lindenwood Ice Arena, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team’s contest on Saturday at Lindenwood has been cancelled.

The game, which was originally scheduled for a 3 p.m. puck drop, may or may not be rescheduled.

No. 1 Wisconsin returns home for a six-game homestand that begins with a series against St. Cloud State next weekend. Faceoff on Friday, Jan. 13 is set for 7 p.m. at LaBahn Arena. On Saturday, Jan. 14, the Badgers will host “Fill the Bowl” against the Huskies in the Kohl Center at 4 p.m.


Desbiens breaks NCAA shutout record in 6-0 win

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin women’s hockey goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens is no stranger to rewriting the NCAA record books as she broke the NCAA single-season record for shutouts, goals-against average and save percentage last year.

Desbiens made more NCAA history on Sunday, breaking the NCAA career shutout record with her 44th blank slate as the No. 1 Badgers topped Bemidji State, 6-0, at LaBahn Arena.

“I’m definitely happy about it,” Desbiens said. “I’ll stop getting questions about it now that I have it, maybe not. But it’s fun to have especially after this week, which was a little harder. It’s a victory mentally, I would say. It’s nice to be able to do that as a team to show how consistent we’ve been.”

Desbiens passed former Minnesota netminder Noora Räty on the NCAA all-time list, regardless of division or gender.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a couple good goaltenders,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “Jessie Vetter had a wonderful career, won three national championships and played in a couple Olympics. Then Alex Rigsby came along and duplicated and played very well for us for four years. For Ann-Renée, the bar was set high when she came in and took over.

“She’s reached up and has now gone over it so hats off to her, she has a lot to be proud of.”

“It’s definitely different than a single-season one,” Desbiens said of her recent record. “It shows how I’ve improved throughout my years here. I still have a lot of work to do, I’m not done. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

The Wisconsin (11-0-1, 9-0-1-1 WCHA) netminder stopped 14 shots from Bemidji State (4-7-1, 2-7-1-0 WCHA) in the milestone game, earning her sixth shutout of the season, which leads the country. She sports a 0.74 goals-against average, which also leads the NCAA, while her save percentage of .953 and winning percentage of .958 rank second in the nation.

Desbiens wasn’t the only Badger to make history as Sarah Nurse became the 22nd player in Wisconsin history to reach 100 points with her second goal against the Beavers.

“It was really cool,” Nurse said. “It’s a pretty cool accomplishment, it was actually really cool that Syd (McKibbon) made that pass out to me, I think that brought it all back to where it kind of all started, so I think that was really cool.”

Freshmen Alexis Mauermann and Abby Roque also tallied a pair of goals in the victory as the duo each recorded their first career multi-goal games.

“Our young players, Alexis (Mauermann) and Abby (Roque), stepped up today,” Johnson said. “They made a big contribution and scored some big goals.”

Nurse opened up scoring in the first period with her 10th goal of the season. With Wisconsin on the penalty kill, Nurse received a pass from sophomore Sophia Shaver which she took on a breakaway and beat BSU netminder Erin Deters to put the Badgers up 1-0. This marks Nurse’s sixth career short-handed goal, which ranks fifth in program history.

Roque padded the Badgers’ lead just minutes later, as the freshman collected her second career goal after sniping a pass from Mekenzie Steffen bar-down on the power play.

Heading into the second, the Badgers continued their dominant play, and Mauermann found the scoresheet after burying a rebound off a shot from Shaver.

Mauermann’s goal was the lone tally in the second period, as UW successfully killed off three penalties, including a five-on-three.

The Badgers got back into the scoring groove in the last frame, however, as Mauermann netted her second of the game after receiving a stretch pass from sophomore Mikaela Gardner. Mauermann beat Deters top-shelf to record her third career goal, all of which came during the weekend series against the Beavers.

Nurse extended the lead to 5-0 after one-timing a pass from senior Sydney McKibbon past Deters’ glove-side. The goal marked Nurse’s 100th career point as a Badger, and the senior currently leads the team in scoring with 11 goals this season. Nurse joins teammate Annie Pankowski and 20 former Badgers as the 22nd member of the century club.

Roque recorded the sixth goal of the game on a UW power play in the final seconds, earning her second goal and fourth point of the day.

“It was a great six periods,” Johnson said. “I challenged them after the second period today to pressure the puck and put puck pressure on them. To do that you end up having it and it’s a lot easier game when you have the puck than when you try and chase the puck. I think the people that watched the third period saw, even after five periods and maybe kids a little bit tired they kept pushing and kept their shifts short and played a real solid third period.”

UW outshot Bemidji State 41-14 and earned their eight-consecutive victory of the year.

Following a bye, the Badgers face a tough test on the road with a trip to No. 3 Minnesota Duluth Nov. 18-19.

“It’s nice to get a weekend off,” Nurse said. “I think we actually get the whole weekend off so that’s really exciting for us and it hasn’t happened in a while. I think it’s going to be nice to regroup and come back and get ready for Minnesota Duluth.”