Wisconsin Scores Late, Advances to Title Game
Wisconsin advances to title game.
By ALEX SIBLEY
For Meghan Duggan, this NCAA Frozen Four is different than the previous three she has played in.
This time around, if Wisconsin loses, there is no next year.
Maybe that's why she crashed the net with everything she had in the final minute of a 2-2 game with Boston College.
Duggan poked a puck free in the crease before Brianna Decker slid a puck between goaltender Molly Schaus's pads for the game-winning goal, sending the Badgers to their fourth National Championship game in six years with a 3-2 victory in front of 3, 482 at Tullio Arena.
"For me, I'm a senior. If they score, it's over," Duggan said. "I had a lot left in my tank mentally and physically. I wasn't ready to just keel over and die."
The goal for Decker, her 34th goal of the season and 12th game-winning mark, made sure the Badgers would be playing for the title Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
"That's a big time play by a big time player," Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said of Decker's goal. "That was obviously a big play for us because now we get to play for the big trophy Sunday.
Wisconsin built an 2-0 lead early in the first period, as Duggan, a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award finalist, scored her team-leading 39th goal of the season as she corralled a loose puck in the left faceoff circle. She turned and fired-- all in one motion-- beating Schaus for the first goal in the Frozen Four at 4 minutes, 23 seconds.
On their third of four power plays in the opening frame, Brooke Ammerman finished off a pretty display of tic-tac-toe passing for her 16th goal of the season. Wisconsin finished the game 1-of-7 with the man advantage, while Boston College went 1-of-4. The bigger, faster and stronger Badgers club controlled the pace of the game throughout the first 20 minutes, holding an 18-7 advantage in shots on goal.
Boston College showed signs of life in the second period after not testing Wisconsin freshman goalie Alex Rigsby at all in the previous period.
The much more competitive play from the Eagles resulted in Blake Bolen's power-play goal at 8:39, the only tally of the period, making it a 2-1 game heading into the final 20 minutes.
Schaus, one of three Eagles' captains, was the main reason her team was still in contention. Through the opening 40 minutes, the net minder stopped 31-of-33 shots.
"That's Molly. She's capable of making those saves and keeping her team in the hockey game," Johnson said. "Momentum shifts many times in the game."
The momentum built by Schaus' effort carried over to the third period as BC tied the game on a great individual effort by Taylor Wasylk who made a shifty move past a Wisconsin defender before turning the puck to her backhand and roofing her 15th goal of the season.
The energy was in the Eagles favor the majority of the second half of the contest. But with under a minute to go, the much more experienced Badgers stunned the Eagles.
A costly turnover by a BC defender put the puck in the hands of Hillary Knight, who passed it to Duggan. Duggan took the puck hard to the net and jammed away at a loose puck before Decker cashed in on the free puck.
"Hillary was in a great position to pick off the pass," Duggan said. "We were lucky enough (the puck) squirted through the five hole."
Not to be outdone, Rigsby stopped several key shots in the final period and made 23 saves in her Frozen Four debut.
"She's young, but she plays like she's a lot older," Ammerman said of Rigsby. "We're very lucky to have her in our net."
Boston College finished the season at 24-7-6, while Wisconsin moved to an impressive 36-2-2.
~Alex Sibley covers sports for the Erie Reader. You can contact him via e-mail at ASibley@Eriereader.com, or you can follow him on Twitter @ErieReaderSport.