Photo credit: Scott Kinville/315 Hockey.
By Scott Kinville/315 Hockey.
NCAA hockey in March means seeing the best teams from across the country squaring off trying to achieve national championship glory. On Saturday afternoon at the Class of 1965 Arena in Hamilton, NY, two of the fastest teams in Women’s Hockey faced each other as the #3 Colgate Raiders (32-5-2 overall) hosted the #6 Wisconsin Badgers (26-10-2 overall) in a one-game winner take all NCAA Regional game. The winner would advance to the NCAA Frozen Four in Duluth, Minnesota while the loser would have their season end.
The 315 Hockey preview of Wisconsin at Colgate: #3 Colgate Raiders vs #6 Wisconsin Badgers Game Preview 03-11-2023.
Both teams entered Saturday’s game riding a wave of momentum. After defeating Princeton in the best three Quarterfinals series, the Raiders ran the gauntlet of the ECAC Tournament Semifinal and Final last weekend in New Haven, Connecticut. They defeated #8 Quinnipiac 5-1 last Friday in the Semifinal and dominated #9 Clarkson the next night in the Final to win their third straight ECAC Tournament Championship.
The Badgers made it to the WCHA Final Faceoff to conclude their conference postseason play but fell to #2 Minnesota 4-2. Despite not receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the Badgers were awarded an at-large bid and traveled to Hamilton to face LIU in the opening round of the tournament on Thursday night. Wisconsin thrashed the Sharks 9-1 in that game and tied a postseason record for most goals in a single game. The win set up Saturday’s showdown with the Raiders at the Class of 1965 Arena.
Despite giving the home team an early power play, the Badgers clearly carried the momentum of their blowout victory from Thursday night into Saturday. They used their team speed, aggressive forecheck, and crisp passing to keep the Raiders on their heels for the vast majority of the opening period. That speed would lead to a goal seven minutes after the start of the game when Nicole LaMantia burst down the left side of the Colgate zone and unleashed a laser from the left circle past Raiders goaltender Hannah Murphy and into the top right corner of the net.
Although she gave up the goal to LaMantia, Murphy made several key stops throughout the first period to hold the Badgers to just one goal. Despite getting outshot 12-4 in the opening frame, the score remained 1-0 after twenty minutes.
“The first period wasn’t really indicative of how we’ve been playing all year, unfortunately we came out a little on our heels”, Colgate Head Coach Greg Fargo said of the first period. “Wisconson had a lot to do with that but it just wasn’t the kind of hockey that we had been used to over the last handful of weeks”.
A determined Colgate Raiders team came out of the locker room to start the second period, and it paid off just thirty-four seconds after the opening faceoff. Allyson Simpson stickhandled around a Wisconsin defender at the right point and wired a shot past Badger goaltender Cami Kornish to tie the game at one. The Raiders continued to apply pressure, but the Badgers weathered the storm an after the Simpson goal and began to turn the tide. They took the lead with four and half minutes left in the period on the power play when team leading scorer Casey O’Brien fired a shot from the left point that redirected off a Colgate defender past a surprised Murphy and in.
The Raiders had three power play chances in the second period but an aggressive Wisconsin penalty kill prevented them from capitalizing on them. At the end of the second period, Wisconsin held a 2-1 lead but had outshot the Raiders 24-9 at that point – a spot Colgate rarely found themselves in throughout the season.
“The biggest thing was we went 0 for 3 on the power play there in the second period, and credit to Wisconsin they did a great job of killing it”. Fargo said. “That’s been such a great source of pride for us all season long has been being able to pull through on the power play. We needed one there in the second and that could have changed the whole way the game was going”.
The action was back and forth through the first half of the third period with both Kronish and Murphy stopping everything that came their way. After exchanging penalties halfway through the last twenty minutes, Wisconsin put the game away. Right after an abbreviated Colgate power play had ended, O’Brien skated down the left side of the Raiders zone and left a pass for Vivian Jungels who blasted a one timer past Murphy. They added an empty net goal with 1:44 remaining when Laila Edwards lobbed a shot from the neutral zone into the yawning Colgate net to seal the victory.
Colgate’s dynamic duo of Kalty Kaltounková and Danielle Serdachny connected for one last goal with nine seconds remaining when Kaltounková lit the lamp with Serdachny drawing the assist. It was too little too late however, as the Badgers secured the 4-2 victory advancing to the Women’s Frozen Four this weekend in Duluth, Minnesota. Wisconsin will face WCHA rival the second-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Semifinal round on March 17th.
“They (Wisconsin) worked really hard tonight defensively to get above us, and made it really hard for us to get out of our end and establish in the offensive zone” Fargo said after the game. “Credit to them, I thought their kids played really hard to do that”.
Three Observations From the Game
Wisconsin Played Colgate’s Game
The Colgate Raiders won a lot of games this season by using their team speed to constant pressure on their opponents. On Saturday afternoon they ran into a team that could do the same exact thing.
The Badgers used an aggressive forecheck enabled by their team speed to keep the Raiders off balance all game. That translated into thirty-five shots on Colgate goaltender Hannah Murphy and limited the Raiders to just fifteen of their own for the entire game. If this sounds familiar to Colgate fans, it should because this is exactly what the Raiders have been doing to most of their opponents this season.
The Power Play Needed Some Power
Despite the disparity in shots, the score was close throughout the game and the Raiders had opportunities. They were uncharacteristically blanked on the power play, going 0 for 5 (although one of them was an abbreviated twenty second opportunity). A big part of the fourth ranked Colgate team offense this season was it’s proficiency on the power play – which operated at a 27.5% efficiency rate going into Saturday’s game.
Coach Fargo noted in the postgame press conference, “the biggest thing was we went 0 for 3 on the power play in the second period and credit to Wisconsin, they did a great job of killing it. That’s been such a source of pride for us all season long has been able to pull through on the power play. We just needed one there in the second and that could have changed the whole way the game was going there”.
Congratulations to the Colgate Raiders on a Great Season
Although the outcome of Saturday’s game wasn’t what they wanted, the Colgate Raiders still had a fantastic season by any measure. They went 32-6-2 overall this season, won the ECAC Championship Tournament for a third consecutive season, and rose to third in the national rankings. Captain Danielle Serdachny had a record-setting season and became the school’s all-time leading scorer and Serdachny, Elyssa Biederman, Alyssa Simpson, Hannah Murphy, Kayle Osborne, Tanner Gates, Sydney Bard, and Head Coach Greg Fargo all earned individual honors or milestones.
Bonus Observation – Congratulations Sydney Bard!
New Hartford’s own Sydney Bard played in the final game of her senior season for Colgate on Saturday, and had an astounding career for the Raiders. The standout defender played a total of 140 games for Colgate, totaling 11 goals and 73 assists for 84 points while recording 242 shots as well. She earned several ECAC Player of the Week and Player of the Month honors and was named to the ECAC Hockey Third Team All-League twice.
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