Ohio State women’s hockey entered the WCHA tournament semifinal likely needing a win to have any chance of qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
On Saturday, Wisconsin redshirt senior forward Annie Pankowski likely dashed those chances with a third period goal to send the Badgers to their fifth-straight conference tournament championship game.
No. 9 Ohio State (20-13-2, 12-10-2 WCHA) dropped to No. 2 Wisconsin (31-4-2, 18-4-2 WCHA) in a 3-2 loss that saw three lead changes Saturday in the WCHA Final Faceoff in Minneapolis.
Pankowski, the WCHA Offensive Player of the Year, scored her team-leading 22nd goal on a game-winner assisted by junior forward Abby Roque 15 minutes into the final period.
Wisconsin tripled the Buckeyes in shot output at 42-14, which was its fifth-straight game of the season dominating Ohio State in shot discrepancy.
Just four Buckeyes attempted more than one shot in the game, while 12 Badgers had multiple shot attempts.
Ohio State freshman goalie Andrea Braendli, the WCHA leader in save percentage at .939, stopped 39 shots from the NCAA’s second-highest scoring team, but it wouldn’t be enough for the Buckeyes.
Badgers’ redshirt junior goalie Kristen Campbell earned her NCAA-leading 31st win amid her WCHA Goaltender of the Year campaign.
Wisconsin battled back from a 2-1 second period deficit to end the game with two unanswered goals in the final 21 minutes.
A hooking penalty on Ohio State senior forward Jacyn Reeves allowed the Badgers a first period power play opportunity that Wisconsin freshman forward Britta Curl converted 10 minutes into the action.
Curl’s 21st goal of the season came assisted by junior defenseman Mekenzie Steffen on Wisconsin’s first shot of the power play.
Wisconsin entered the game with the most power play goals in the WCHA with 28 on 112 opportunities, while the Buckeyes lead the conference with 7.1 penalty minutes per game.
Ohio State sophomore forward Tatum Skaggs retaliated eight minutes later with her team-leading 17th goal on a rebound from a long range shot by redshirt junior Jincy Dunne to enter the first intermission locked at 1-1.
Senior forward Charly Dahlquist extended the Buckeyes’ lead when she deflected senior defenseman Lauren Boyle’s shot past Campbell 12 minutes into the second period.
Wisconsin knotted the game up again in the second period’s final minute with freshman forward Sophie Shirley’s 20th goal of the season to send the semifinal to the third period tied at 2.
Following Pankowski’s third period strike, Ohio State played with an empty net in the final two minutes, but to no avail.
The Badgers advance to the WCHA Final Faceoff championship game Sunday where they seek to avenge last year’s 3-1 loss to Minnesota.
The Buckeyes, who achieved their first back-to-back 20-win seasons, await Sunday’s NCAA selection show where they hope to sneak into their second straight national tournament.