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.