Minnesota captures three crucial points and first place spot in the conference

For a series with so much on the line, the ending seemed fitting. The No. 2-ranked Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team solidified its spot atop the WCHA and put its fate in its own hands as they head into the last four games of the season after taking away 3 points in a critical series against Wisconsin. The GophersâÄô 4-2 Saturday win jetted them ahead of No. 1 Wisconsin to first place in the WCHA. However, Minnesota needed at least 1 point on Sunday to stay at the top. It wasnâÄôt easy, but the Gophers got that 1 point as the game ended in a 3-3 tie before the Badgers got the extra 1 point, winning the shootout 1-0. âÄúJust like Saturday, we battled from the drop of the puck,âÄù Frost said. âÄúThis is what we wanted. This is what we needed. [A conference title] is in our hands, itâÄôs in our control.âÄù And it was obvious that Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson wanted his team in that driverâÄôs seat heading into the last four games of the season. Knowing his team needed the 2 points from a win without giving up a point to the Gophers in the event of a tie, Johnson pulled his goalie with a little more than 30 seconds to go in overtime, giving him an extra skater, but leaving his goal wide open. âÄúWhy not?âÄù he said after the game. âÄúWeâÄôre here to win and weâÄôre going to do everything we can to win, even if that means pulling our goalie in overtime.âÄù The risk didnâÄôt come back to haunt him, but it didnâÄôt pay off either. When the buzzer sounded to end the overtime period, the Gophers had sealed the crucial 1 point. That 1 point, though, was a tough one for Minnesota to nail down. Wisconsin was less than two minutes away from sealing a 3-2 win when sophomore forward Emily West found the back of the net, which erupted a crowd of 2,895 at Ridder Arena. âÄúI was impressed with the way we were able to come back,âÄù Frost said. âÄúBeing able to see our kids battle back was special.âÄù But West was also on a line that had some troubles defensively in the second period. The Badgers netted two quick goals, both with less than two minutes to go in the period, giving Wisconsin a 2-1 lead heading into the third. âÄúEveryone on this team gave all they had,âÄù she said. âÄúWe let up on a couple of our shifts at the end of the second period and a good team like Wisconsin took advantage of it.âÄù Now, however, as the Gophers look ahead to its final two series against North Dakota next weekend at Ridder and then a home-and-home against St. Cloud State to end the regular season, Frost said his team is well aware of the fact that the conference title is not there quite yet. âÄúI donâÄôt expect us to not come out strong,âÄù Frost said. âÄúOur destiny is in our hands, and our kids are excited most about that.âÄù