College hockey: Clarkson upends Wisconsin to claim second NCAA women's championship

Ann-Renee Desbiens

The Badgers beat Clarkson 3-2 in overtime in the first game and 4-1 the next afternoon. Power plays: C 1-for-3; W 0-for-2. "That's the No.1 team, they've only lost two games, and we're not supposed to be here and they responded so well".

Desrosiers soon learned that the 2016-17 Knights were a resilient group.

The Badgers were widely regarded as the best team in NC women's ice hockey this season, finishing first-ranked in both team offense and team defense with an out-of-this-world goaltender in Ann-Renée Desbiens, the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Award victor.

Cayley Mercer scored two goals and Shea Tiley recorded a shutout as Clarkson captured the NCAA women's hockey national championship with a 3-0 win over Wisconsin on Sunday.

Clarkson struck first with Savannah Harmon's power-play goal 27 seconds into the second period.

The seniors for Wisconsin have a hunger to bring home a championship banner.

It was a heart-breaking loss for the Badgers, especially for the team's six seniors who had reached the title game after losing in the Frozen Four semifinals in each of the past three seasons. "We created good chances", said Johnson. "They played so well, and all year long they've done everything we've asked of them".

To compensate for that uneven ice time, the Golden Knights were immediately committed to a dump-and-chase strategy that was largely foiled in the early going by Wisconsin's breakout. Wisconsin held the No. 1 spot in the rankings wire to wire.

All the wins, though, didn't come easily. The Badgers knocked off Boston College 1-0 in an instant classic semifinal.

Up by a single goal, Clarkson knew the game remained wide open, taking 11 shots on goal through the second frame. Clarkson's questionable physical play went largely uncalled, while the Badgers had a potential game-tying goal waved off after Emily Clark was whistled for interference at 10:19 of the second period.

Instead of getting down or showing signs of anxiousness that the defending champion was about to pull out a come-from-behind win, the Knights continued to press the action the way they had the entire contest.

Lynn native Katie Burt stopped 35 shots, one shy of her career high, before Melissa Channel scored the game-winner in the final seconds. "I'm so proud of the way my hockey team played for 60 minutes. That is when our team is rolling best".

It seems ridiculous to admit that people weren't expecting Clarkson, who finished with an overall record of 32-4-5 in addition to an ECAC title, to best Wisconsin. In-game adversity doesn't rattle them. Which means the Lady Golden Knights are the only team east of the Mississippi River to have won this championship.

"We didn't really fold under the pressure even though they tied the score a couple of times there", Desrosiers said.

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