While most of the attention of the Border Battle between the Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Gophers surrounds the infamous Battle for Paul Bunyanâ€™s Axe, perhaps the most competitive and heated matchup comes on the ice.
Yes, the Badgers and Gophers womenâ€™s hockey teams have the most intriguing matchup in the rivalry, and on Sunday afternoon that played out in the WCHA womenâ€™s hockey tournament championship game.
It was a true rubber match, as the teams both swept home seriesâ€™ between the two. On Sunday it was Wisconsin prevailing 1-0 over the host Gophers, taking back-to-back WCHA Final Face-Off titles in the process.
Patty KazmaierÂ finalist andÂ WCHA Player of the Year Ann-Renee Desbiens was on point between the pipes en route to leading the Badgers to victory. She stopped a career-high 35 shots and added to her NCAA shutouts record, recording the 20th of the season.
“It usually comes down to one team being a little more opportunistic than the other,” UW head coach Mark JohnsonÂ said via the schoolâ€™s website. “We were fortunate to get the goal in the second period, then withstanding the third period and Minnesota power plays. Our locker room is very excited. It was a tough task, but as I told the team a few minutes ago, that was a gut check effort. Everybody had a hand in it. Iâ€™m very proud of what they put forward.”
The BadgersÂ (34-3-1) were outshot for just the second time this season, with the GophersÂ (32-4-1) leading 35-24. However, that didnâ€™t matter one bit thanks to a Sydney McKibbon (8) goal in the 2nd period.
Her game-winning goal came at the 12:13 mark of the period and was assisted by Sarah Nurse. It als0 gave McKibbon an incredible six total points in postseason play already.
McKibbonâ€™s goal and the Badgers intense third period of defending meant a sweep of the regular season and tournament titles for the first time since the 2010-11 season. It also marks the sixth tournament title for the program.
Wisconsin is also guaranteed a place in the NCAA tournament thanks to the win over the Gophers.
UW will find out its opponent on Sunday at 8p.m. CT as NCAA.com hosts a selection show for the tournament.