ST. CHARLES, MO – The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team lost to Clarkson University, 3-0, Sunday afternoon in the NCAA Division 1 championship game, ending the Badgers’ attempt to complete a wire-to-wire run as the nation’s top-ranked team.

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.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome, but the kids played hard, they played well, they created opportunities, so I’m very proud of their effort, especially our senior class who for four years have done so much to help our program grow,” said coach Mark Johnson.

Wisconsin had touted the nation’s leading offense heading into the Frozen Four, averaging  4.03 goals per game. But despite peppering the net with 77 shots on goal over the two games, the Badgers managed to find the back of the net just once, that in a 1-0 semifinal victory Friday night over Boston College.

“We were just unfortunate that the puck didn’t go in. It wasn’t due to a lack of scoring opportunities. We created good chances,” said Johnson.

The Badgers seemed to control the first period and Johnson said he thought the opening minutes of the game were some of the best his team had played over the past six weeks.

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Clarkson, ranked No. 2 in the country, scored just 27 seconds into the second period with a power play goal from Savannah Harmon. On just the fourth shot of the game for the Golden Knights, Genevieve Bannon’s shot bounced off Wisconsin goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens and the puck got a bit away from her. She lunged to try and get it, putting her out of position when the puck swung around the net. Harmon swatted it home, giving Clarkson the 1-0 lead.

The Badgers did not seem flustered by the early goal and continued to pepper Clarkson goalie Shea Tiley, putting 35 shots on net over the final two periods. But the Golden Knights moved into a more defensive structure, and as time ticked down, Wisconsin’s players became visibly frustrated.

“It’s coming down to the wire and the clock is running down and the puck is not going the way you want it to go, it’s definitely not an easy feeling. It’s easy to get frustrated when the puck doesn’t bounce your way,” said junior Annie Pankowski. “Hockey just has a funny way of humbling you. When you think you’re doing well and you have all the things going the right way, it reminds you that not everything is perfect.”

The Badgers pushed forward as the game wound down, but Clarkson’s Cayley Mercer scored with 3:04 left and added an empty-netter with under a minute to go to ice the game.

The Badgers were seeking their fifth national title and their first since 2011. They also won in 2006, ’07 and ’09.

Clarkson finished its season with a 32-4-5 record and its second-ever national championship. The Golden Knights last won the title in 2014 and are the only team outside the WCHA to have won a national title.

Desbiens, Pankowski and Friday’s goal-scorer, senior Mellissa Channell, were named to the Frozen Four All-Tournament team for the Badgers.

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