Women's hockey: UW advances to title game

Freshman Jessie Vetter excellent in net, Tia Hanson's lone goal stands up in 1-0 win

Thanks to Tia Hanson's second consecutive game-winning goal and freshman Jessie Vetter's marvelous play in net, the University of Wisconsin women's hockey team is one victory away from a national championship.

The second-seeded Badgers won a tightly contested, physical matchup with No. 3 St. Lawrence, 1-0, Friday afternoon to advance to Sunday's championship game at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis at 3 p.m. UW will face No. 4 Minnesota, the two-time defending national champion, who topped No. 1 New Hampshire 5-4 in Friday's nightcap.

The way Vetter and Saint senior Jess Moffat were playing between the pipes, it was going to take a great shot for either team to get on the board. Hanson, a freshman forward, delivered.

About five-and-a-half minutes into the third period, Hanson deked a defender near the low circle and cut into the low slot, where she was one-on-one with Moffat. Hanson broke the scoreless tie with an exceptional wrist shot that found the farside top shelf, beating Moffat's glove.

The goal stood up thanks to a sparkling penalty kill and Vetter, who made 27 saves.

St. Lawrence played frantic, desperate hockey in the final six minutes of the game, but the Badgers survived the challenge.

With a little more than six minutes left in the game, Saint senior forward Emilie Berlinguette stick-handled past junior defender Meaghan Mikkelson and was all alone with Vetter just above the crease. Vetter, though, showed great patience and turned away Berlinguette's attempt to go 5-hole. Moments later junior forward Crystal Connors had a good chance to Vetter's left, but the Badger goalie stopped that wrist shot as well.

Vetter's best save, however, came early in the second period.

Connors' initial shot went off Vetter's facemask and caromed into the air above the net, coming down in the crease behind Vetter. The netminder dropped to the ice, swung her glove hand blindly behind her back and knocked the puck out of harm's way as it danced on the edge of the goal line.

Vetter made 14 saves in the first period, as the Badgers killed off three St. Lawrence power plays.

The Saints entered the game with the nation's second-best power play, scoring on 23.1 percent of their chances. But UW blanked St. Lawrence on four chances with the man advantage.

Vetter's shutout Friday was her second in her past three games and her fourth in just 11 career starts. She now owns a 141:04 shutout streak, stretching back to the only goal she allowed in the NCAA quarterfinal last week against Mercyhurst, at 9:06 in the first period.

That 2-1 Badger win ended with Hanson's tip-in of junior defender Kristen Witting's point shot at 10:10 in the second overtime. Hanson, who had eight goals in 37 games prior to the NCAAs, now has scored arguably the two most important goals in the seven-year history of Wisconsin's program.

Though St. Lawrence out-shot UW 14-8 in the first period, the Badgers controlled the action for most of the opening 20 minutes. The ice shifted, however, when St. Lawrence had near back-to-back power plays late in the first session. UW, though, was able to maintain a scoreless tie despite seven power-play shots for the Saints in the first period.

UW's first line of center Sara Bauer and wings Jinelle Zaugg and Cyndy Kenyon put the pressure on St. Lawrence throughout the game, but Moffat stopped seven shots from Bauer and five from Zaugg. Moffat finished with 24 saves.

Hanson, though, was able to find enough daylight to break through, her unassisted goal at 5:22 in the third period proving decisive.

Box score


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