NO MERCY!

The nation's No. 1 team looked every bit the part, as top-ranked Wisconsin got goals from five different players at Patty Kazmaier Award winner Jessie Vetter notches her NCAA-record 14th shutout of the season as UW hammers Mercyhurst, 5-0, to win its third NCAA Championship in four years.

BOSTON - Jesse Vetter, already named the finest hockey player in the nation a day prior, managed to save the best for last.

The Wisconsin Badgers women's hockey team won the 2009 National Championship game, as Vetter stopped all 37 shots to shut down the feisty, powerful Mercyhurst Lakers and national scoring leader Meghan Agosta. With this victory, Vetter moved to 11-1 in the NCAA tournament, and backstopped Badger women to their third and final NCAA championship in a four-year span

When questioned about her career and postseason performances after the game, a jubilant Vetter, cradling the National Championship trophy in her arms, noted that "If you're playing for a trophy, it's so much better. I've enjoyed my career and this was a great way to go out."

Sophomore forward Hilary Knight, the team's leading scorer, reiterated the team's complete confidence in Vetter, noting that, "you go a lot harder into that 50-50 battle and you still know you've got a great goaltender behind you who's going to come up with some great saves."

However, in the early going, it appeared that the heavily-favored Badgers would have trouble keeping up with the Lakers, who advanced to the title game after a stunning 5-4 victory over Minnesota.

Laker junior forward Meghan Agosta led a Mercyhurst attack that out-shot Wisconsin by a tally of 9-7 in the first period, and kept Wisconsin from establishing any sort of offensive rhythm in the Laker end. A key power play generated at least three high-grade scoring chances that were all turned away by the Badgers' senior goaltender.

However, as Mark Johnson's team illustrated vividly in the semifinal against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on Friday night, the Badgers never let a game get away from them. Friday night, this was aptly demonstrated as the Badgers took an evenly matched struggle and turned it on in the second period, scoring on three power-plays in the second en route to a rout of Duluth.

It was no different Sunday as Wisconsin turned on the heat in the second. Brooke Ammerman opened up the scoring at 5:28 of the second. Angie Keseley dished to Brooke Ammerman in the slot, and Ammerman performed a classic wrap-around, stuffing it past Laker goaltender Hillary Pattenden for her 27th goal of the season.

The Badgers did not relent, as junior captain Meghan Duggan notched a power play goal at 8:48 of the second to make it 2-0. Duggan took a rebound off a hard shot by senior captain/defenseman Alycia Matthews and lifted it past Pattenden's stick for her 23rd of the season. Another captain, senior Erika Lawler, was also credited with an assist, her 42nd, on the play.

Not satisfied with their second period output, Wisconsin struck again less than two minutes later. On a 3-on-1 opportunity for Wisconsin, Keseley, skating up the right side of the Laker end, dished a hard pass across the ice to captain Erika Lawler, who gave it to Hilary Knight at center, who tipped it back to Keseley on the right post for the finish to make it 3-0. Wisconsin outshot Mercyhurst 16-10 in the period.

When questioned about the second period outburst after the game, Lawler noted that "the team was excited to go into the second period. As we've seen this season, the second period seems to be our thing."

Lawler admitted that the Badgers should have come out stronger in the first period, but followed that by saying "when that second period hits, we all get extra excited because for some reason that's when they start to go in for us."

Mercyhurst continued to play all out in the third, outshooting Wisconsin by a large margin of 18-9, but were unable to get anything past Wisconsin's Patty Kazmaier Award-winning goaltender. Wisconsin iced the game with two early third-period goals by senior Malee Windmeier (2) and sophomore phenom Hilary Knight (45).

The game also represented a return home for Lawler, who hails from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, just an hour away from the site of her final collegiate performance. As she noted, "It was the ideal way to go out, playing in front of all my family and friends."

She added, "The feeling of winning is so great, but I definitely don't want to feel what if feels like to lose," noting that "the feeling of winning is awesome, but the feeling of losing is so much worse."

With the victory, Wisconsin fans bade farewell to a very strong senior class, including Vetter, Lawler, Matthews, Keseley, defenseman Rachel Bible, and forward Kayla Hagen. The group goes down as what may be considered the strongest class in the history of modern college hockey, with three WCHA titles and three NCAA national championships, with several members of the class likely to represent the United States in the 2010 Winter Olympics and beyond.


Badger Nation Top Stories