DULUTH, Minn. - It was an epic Sunday afternoon at AMSOIL Arena as the No. 2 Wisconsin women's hockey team scored twice in the final minute to force a 5-5 tie with Minnesota Duluth and earn the 2019-20 WCHA regular-season title outright.
Senior alternate captain Abby Roque led the charge and finished the battle for Wisconsin (27-4-3, 17-3-3-2 WCHA) posting two goals, while junior Daryl Watts brought up the rear by taking the draw point from Minnesota Duluth (16-10-6, 11-8-5-3 WCHA).
For the third-straight game, UW found itself in a 1-0 hole after the first period when UMD scored a power-play goal with less than two minutes on the clock.
But after letting their first shorthanded goal of the season slip through halfway into the second, the Badgers bounced back quickly scoring twice in a 2:32 span.
Roque scored on UW's third power-play of the day knocking the puck past UMD netminder Maddie Rooney.
Minutes later, senior Alexis Mauermann took a pass from Roque on a rush and backhanded the puck to tie the game at 2-2 after 40 minutes.
Three goals were scored in the first four minutes of the third as Watts gave Wisconsin a 3-2 lead just 47 seconds in off a pass by sophomore Sophie Shirley before Minnesota Duluth's Sydney Brodt scored twice in a 2:26 span to take a 4-3 advantage.
The game looked set when the Bulldogs notched another goal late in the third, but the Badgers took full advantage of the 3:32 minutes left on the clock.
In the last 58 seconds on a six-on-four power play, Shirley tapped in the fourth Badger goal with a placed pass by Watts before Roque followed up by clinching the 5-5 tie and the WCHA regular-season cup with 15 seconds left in the game.
After a scoreless overtime, UW took the extra league point as Watts took off down-ice on a breakaway and nailed the top shelf in three-on-three OT.
Three notes of the game:
- The Badgers earned the WCHA regular season title for the eighth time beating out Minnesota by two points.
- Daryl Watts picked up a pair of milestones on Sunday as she broke the Badgers' school record with her 49th assist of the season, breaking Sara Bauer and Meghan Duggan's previous shared best of 48. In addition, Watts picked up her 200th collegiate point on Abby Roque's first goal of the afternoon. The 2018 Patty Kazmaier Award Winner leads the country with 73 points, 10 more than Clarkson's Elizabeth Giguere, who sits in second.
- The Badgers power play was 2-for-5 on the afternoon. UW continues to lead the country in power-play percentage with a .353 clip (36-of-102)
Straight from the Rink:
UW Head Coach Mark Johnson
On the game:
"I thought it had some highs and lows. There were chunks of the games that we didn't play very well, and they played very well. I've seen maybe four or six games this year where the finish was like today. You're down by a couple goals, and you pull your goaltender to give yourself an opportunity to create some chances, and you're able to do it six-on-four and six-on-five. Then you get to overtime, and it comes down to one shot. And then three-on-three, Watts makes a brilliant move and scores an ESPN highlight type goal. The big thing was that we found a way to tie the game and gain the point. We ended up getting two points, but we get the point necessary to have the trophy ourselves. I complimented the team afterwards. The never give up attitude paid off today.
On clinching the regular-season title:
"For people that know our league and understand our league, the team that is able to play consistently throughout the season within our league games, they're usually the ones who earn the trophy. We have four teams in the top seven or eight in the country, and so we're playing against each other quite a bit. If you're consistent and have success against each other, then at the end, you get to hold up the trophy.
On the postseason:
"We're just moving along now. So we get to rest and relax and figure out what we need to do, and we'll probably see (Minnesota Duluth) again. Last year we lost, it was heartbreaking. We tied two of our last games to lose the trophy, which actually helped us win the national championship because we got to play the following weekend got us on track. This year is interesting, and we'll see how things go."
Junior forward Daryl Watts
On winning the title:
"Yeah this game today was crazy. We were down two goals late in the third and then came back, scored two goals and went into overtime. It was maybe one of the most exciting games I've been a part of. We're so excited and happy to win the regular season and win this trophy.
On breaking the Wisconsin assist record:
"It's an honor to be mentioned among those two great players, (Megan Duggan and Sara Bauer). All the credit to my awesome linemates like Sophie (Shirley), Brette (Pettet), Abby (Roque), really everyone. They've finished all my assists, and I'm just lucky to be a part of this special team."
On heading into the WCHA Final Faceoff:
"We're really excited. I think we've got a really good chance to win. Now we have two weeks to prepare, and we're looking forward to it."
On scoring the final 3v3 goal:
"I was racing down the ice. Britta (Curl) gave me an unreal pass, so it was kind of a one-on-one and then I didn't really have a step on her to beat her to the outside, so I guess I just tried to put it through her, and it worked. The top left side was open, and I shot it there. Thankfully it went in, and we won."
After securing the top seed in the WCHA Final Faceoff, UW has earned a bye for the first round of the tournament that will take place on campus sites Feb. 28-March 1. The Badgers will open the WCHA Final Faceoff at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis with a semifinal matchup on Saturday, March 7 at 2 p.m. against the lowest remaining seed in the tournament.