Minnesota loses NCAA Championship game to Wisconsin

Wisconsin goaltender Kristen Campbell made 27 saves as Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 2-0 to win its first NCAA title in eight years.

Forward Sarah Potomak chases after the puck at Ridder Arena on Sunday, March 10. 

Jack Rodgers

Forward Sarah Potomak chases after the puck at Ridder Arena on Sunday, March 10. 

Erik Nelson

In Hamden, Connecticut, it was a border battle far from the teams’ home states for the national championship. 

Badgers goaltender Kristen Campbell recorded her third shutout of the 2019 postseason as Wisconsin (35-4-2) defeated No. 2 Minnesota (32-6-1) 2-0 in the NCAA championship game at People’s United Center on Sunday. The Badgers won their first national championship since 2011 and avenged their 2012 title game defeat to Minnesota. The Badgers also defeated the Gophers in the 2006 national championship game.

Campbell made 27 saves to win her 35th game of the season. Minnesota goaltender Alex Gulstene made 30 saves in the losing effort.

“We were willing to do whatever it takes to get the puck out,” Campbell said. “It was a complete team effort. They have to be making the plays in order for you to get that done. I couldn’t be more proud of how the team was able to execute in this postseason run.”

Head coach Brad Frost said he was proud of Minnesota for its effort on Sunday.

“This is an awesome group,” Frost said. “I enjoyed every day with them. They left it out there tonight. We were inches away all night. We were close, but not close enough.”

Badgers center Sophia Shaver scored the game-winning goal in the first period at 10:20 of the frame. Shaver beat Gulstene with a one-timer from the blue paint after receiving a pass from right winger Presley Norby. It was Shaver’s 11th goal of the season.

Wisconsin right winger Annie Pankowski extended the Badgers’ lead to 2-0 in the second period. While the Badgers were shorthanded, Pankowski sent a backhand shot over Gulstene at the 9:15 mark of the period for her 28th goal of the season.

The Gophers couldn’t score on two power play opportunities and had six shots on net during those power-play chances. This is the first time Minnesota has been shut out since March 10, 2018, when the Gophers lost 4-0 to Campbell and Wisconsin.

Gophers captain Kelly Pannek said the Badgers play very desperate defensively.

“We were trying to get a lot of shots,” Pannek said. “We were having a hard time finding those second chances. It’s hard getting good looks against that team. They take care of the front of the net.”

After the final horn sounded, the Badgers tossed their equipment in the air in celebration as they skated toward Campbell. The Gophers consoled Gulstene before the two teams shook hands.

Left winger Taylor Williamson said she is grateful to have played for Minnesota. Williamson was a member of the Gophers’ 2016 national championship-winning team.

“It’s a huge blessing to be able to play up until the last game,” Williamson said. “These past four years have been the best years of our lives. We can only thank our teammates and our coaches and all the support staff for their constant devotion that they have given to us. We are eternally grateful for the way that they have served us and helped us grow not only as hockey players, but as people.”