The first two power plays of the second period on Saturday, including a 5-on-3 advantage, were frantic to Makenna Webster.
By the third, the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team had taken a breath, she said, and knew what it had to do.
Webster scored her second goal of the game on that power play to put the second-ranked Badgers ahead by two over No. 4 Minnesota in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Faceoff semifinals in Minneapolis.
A 5-3 victory sent UW into Sunday’s championship game against No. 3 Ohio State, which routed Minnesota Duluth 7-2 in the second semifinal.
“We learned from the past mistakes we had on the first two power plays and on the third we were ready,” Webster said.
Webster fired past goaltender Makayla Pahl’s glove off a rush with 1:22 remaining in the second period to give the Badgers a 3-1 lead going into the third period.
Minnesota twice pulled within one on goals by Amy Potomak and Grace Zumwinkle in the final period, but Lacey Eden and Britta Curl gave the Badgers some breathing room. The latter came on a power play in the final minute.
“I’ve been seeing that for probably 18 years now,” Badgers coach Mark Johnson said. “When we hook up against these guys, it’s usually pretty entertaining. It usually goes down to the wire. Today was no different than most games I’ve been involved in with them.”
Webster, a freshman, scored two goals for the first time in her collegiate career. She put UW ahead 2-0 earlier in the second period after Sophie Shirley provided a lead in the opening frame.
UW had Curl on the top line with Brette Pettet and Shirley, a change Johnson made in the third period of last Saturday’s game against Minnesota Duluth. WCHA player of the year Daryl Watts moved to play with Delaney Drake and Eden.
Webster, fellow freshman center Casey O’Brien and Caitlin Schneider gave some scoring depth.
“It’s fun to watch them improve,” Johnson said of the freshmen on that line. “It’s fun to see them get better. Their confidence continues to grow.”
Kennedy Blair made 23 saves for the Badgers (13-3-1), who won a WCHA semifinal for the seventh straight year. UW extended its postseason winning streak against the Gophers to four games.
Minnesota (11-8-1) pulled Pahl after the second period. She stopped 12 of 15 shots. Lauren Bench made six saves on eight shots in the third.
Minnesota 0 1 2 — 3
Wisconsin 1 2 2 — 5
First period: W — S. Shirley 10 (Curl, Edwards), 12:08. Penalty: Knowles, M, 17:31.
Second period: W — Webster 5 (O’Brien, Bowlby), 7:12. M — Murphy 8 (Brown, Heise), 8:38. W — Webster 6 (LaMantia), 18:38 (pp). Penalties: Heise, M, 11:27; Skaja, M, 13:02; Boreen, M, 17:58.
Third period: M — Potomak 3 (Dunne, Brown), 1:35. W — Eden 7 (Edwards), 5:31. M — Zumwinkle 17 (Nicholson), 15:29. W — Curl 7, 19:45 (pp). Penalties: Kotlowski, W, 8:27; Knowles, M, 19:26.
Saves: M (Pahl 7-5-x, Bench x-x-6) 18; W (Blair 8-5-10) 23. Power plays: M 0-for-1; W 2-for-5.
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