Women's hockey: Frozen Four bound

Badgers tally winner in double overtime

The way Wisconsin and Mercyhurst battled back and forth Saturday night, it was only fitting that it took a tip-in in double overtime to decide the outcome.

Mercyhurst sophomore goaltender Laura Hosier had just turned away another in a long line of high-quality scoring chances, when the Badgers won a faceoff in their offensive zone. That led to freshman forward Tia Hanson's tip-in of junior defenseman Kristen Witting's slapshot from the point, beating Hosier 90 minutes and 10 seconds after the puck first dropped to give Wisconsin a 2-1 win in an NCAA Tournament quarterfinal at Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, Wis.

"I didn't see it go in," Hanson said of her goal at 10:10 in the second overtime. "I just saw everyone pile on so I just joined the crowd."

The victory sends the second-seeded Badgers to their first ever Frozen Four, where they will face No. 3 St. Lawrence in a national semifinal on Friday.

"The puck came up to the blueline and happened to come on my stick," Witting said. "I was just trying to get it on net. That was our goal for the period was just to get as many shots on net as possible. I didn't know if I had scored at first or if it had gotten tipped in. I was just happy that it got in."

Hanson's shot was officially UW's third on goal in the second overtime and 35th of the game, as Hosier (33 saves) turned away several sterling opportunities as the game wore on.

UW freshman netminder Jessie Vetter was up to the challenge as well, however, stopping 37 pucks.

"There was definitely a lot of pressure on my end," Vetter said of playing it the overtimes. "One bad move and the game's over. I knew that if we just kept going at them that because we were playing really well, that it would eventually go in the net."

Mercyhurst fired 10 shots on net in the overtime, but Vetter (who improved to 9-1-0) was true to the challenge.

The Badgers had nine shots on goal in the first extra session.

"As you get into overtime, especially when you get into multiple overtimes, anything at the net has the opportunity to go in whether it goes in directly or whether it gets tipped, it creates a rebound and that is something that we had talked about for most of the game," UW head coach Mark Johnson said. "It was just really nice to see the puck go in."

"I think we have said, ‘get the puck to the net' about 3,000 times this season," Mercyhurst coach Mike Sisti said. "I think it was Julia (Colizza) late in the game that threw a backhand at the net and it rebounded into the slot. That is how you win close hockey games and we knew it. Unfortunately they were able to do it before we were."

It was Colizza, a junior forward, that scored the game's first goal, giving the Lakers an early advantage with a short-handed breakaway tally at 9:06 in the first period for her 20th goal of the season.

The Badgers answered less than five minutes later, as defenseman Bobbi-Jo Slusar scored on a power-play slapshot at 13:51 to tie the game at 1-1. It was her 12th goal of the season.

Despite a flurry of shots, the score remained 1-1 for the next 76 minutes and 18 seconds.

Mercyhurst out-shot Wisconsin 14-7 in the second period, but Vetter made sure the game remained tied.

Colizza finished with eight shots on goal for the Lakers, while UW's Hanson had seven shots on net, including the game-winner.

Wisconsin improved to 34-4-1, while Mercyhurst fell to 23-8-6.

The loss was the Lakers' second consecutive heartbreaker in the NCAA Tournament. They fell to Harvard in triple overtime in a national quarterfinal last season.

"Much like last year I couldn't be more proud of my team," Sisti said.

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