|2nd||0:52||WIS||1-0||EV||Annie Pankowski (21)||Emily Clark/15|
|2nd||8:53||MIN||1-1||EV||Hannah Brandt (33)||Dani Cameranesi/41, Maryanne Menefee/22|
|2nd||10:52||MIN||2-1||EV GW||Maryanne Menefee (23)||Megan Wolfe/16, Hannah Brandt/39|
|2nd||16:54||MIN||3-1||PP||Kelly Pannek (14)||Maryanne Menefee/23, Hannah Brandt/40|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Ann-Renée Desbiens (L, 26-7-4)||56:47||3||7||10||3||20|
|Amanda Leveille (W, 27-3-3)||60:00||1||12||12||10||34|
MINNEAPOLIS - The top-seeded Minnesota women's hockey team advanced to its fourth-straight NCAA title game with a 3-1 win over fourth-seeded Wisconsin in front of a sold-out crowd at Ridder Arena Friday evening.
"We're obviously ecstatic with the result here tonight," said Minnesota head coach Brad Frost. "We're blessed, fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to play again on Sunday. Wisconsin was awesome all night, just like we knew they would be. If not for Amanda Leveille, I'm not sure we would've won that game because she was unbelievable."
Junior Amanda Leveille (Kingston, Ont.) made 34 saves, and fellow juniors Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights, Minn.) and Maryanne Menefee (Lansing, Mich.) recorded three points each to lead Minnesota (33-3-4).
"Our big-time players stepped up tonight and were able to get the job done," Frost said. "We set up a couple huge momentum shifts in our favor throughout the night, which really enabled us to push through and get the victory. So we're very happy to be able to play in our fourth NCAA Championship game in four years. It's pretty incredible."
Wisconsin (29-6-4) was led by Ann Renee Desbiens, who made 20 saves, and Annie Pankowski, who scored the lone Badger goal. The Gophers were outshot for just the third time this season as UW held a 35-23 advantage in shots on goal.
All four goals came in the second period after the teams remained scoreless over the opening 20 minutes. The Badgers outshot the Gophers, 12-7, in the first period, including an 8-1 advantage through the opening 10 minutes.
Wisconsin struck first in the second period, but the Gophers responded with three unanswered goals. The Badgers broke the scoreless tie just 52 seconds into the middle frame when Pankowski scored off a feed from Emily Clark. Clark won the faceoff to Leveille's right, and Pankowski ripped a one-timer to give the Badgers the one-goal lead.
Brandt tied the game with her 33rd goal of the season eight minutes later, burying a rebound from Dani Cameranesi (Plymouth, Minn.) and Menefee. The assist marked Cameranesi's 100th career point in Maroon & Gold.
Less than two minutes later, Menefee scored a goal of her own when she tipped a shot by Megan Wolfe (Eagan, Minn.) past Desbiens. Brandt fed Wolfe at the point to pick up the second assist on the play.
Minnesota then made it 3-1 with a power-play goal by Kelly Pannek (Plymouth, Minn.) at the 16:54 mark of the period as the nation's best power-play solved the nation's best penalty kill unit for the third time this season. Menefee and Brandt set up the play.
"When's the last time Wisconsin even gave up a power play goal?" said Frost. "That was obviously huge for us and was kind of a back-breaker for them. We take a lot of pride in our power plays and I told the team that if we get a power play against Wisconsin, I think we can win, and we were able to do that."
The third period saw the Badgers outshoot the Gophers, 10-3, but Leveille held the nation's fifth-best offense to just one goal as Minnesota moved on to Sunday's national championship game.
"Wisconsin is really good," said Frost. "They just are. They're playing unbelievable hockey, and it took us a while to get our legs. Once Hannah scored that goal, you could really just feel the tide turn a little bit, and the energy of the crowd was tremendous all night. It felt like the roof was going to blow off the place. It took that goal, though, to really get us going offensively."
The Gophers face the winner of Friday's second semifinal game between No. 2 seed Boston College (34-2-2) and No. 3 seed Harvard (26-5-3) in the national championship game at 3 p.m. CT Sunday. The game will be streamed live on NCAA.com and broadcast locally on Sports Radio 105 FM The Ticket.