Wisconsin upsets Ohio State to win NCAA women's hockey title

ByGREG WYSHYNSKI via logo
March 19, 2023, 7:19 PM

Wisconsin upset No. 1 seed Ohio State in the NCAA hockey national title game in Duluth, Minnesota, on Sunday, capturing an unprecedented seventh championship at the Women's Frozen Four with a 1-0 victory.

Freshman forward Kirsten Simms' first-period goal stood up as the game winner thanks to a 31-save performance from redshirt senior goalie Cami Kronish.

The Badgers' seventh national title broke a tie with Minnesota for the most ever by a women's hockey program in the Frozen Four. Coach Mark Johnson has been behind the Badgers' bench for 19 years.

"I felt in the last month we've been in a good space, playing very well," Johnson said. "The group figured things out about six weeks ago. Got everyone on the same page. I'm happy for them. It was struggles at times, it was difficult. But through it all, they ended up getting through the end and now they'll have memories that'll last a lifetime."

Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead at 6:32 of the first period on a goal by Simms that was produced by the team's ferocious forecheck.

Freshman defender Caroline Harvey knocked the puck deep into the Ohio State zone before changing off. The Badgers went to work with layers on the forecheck. Forward Lacey Eden created some chaos, and forward Claire Enright kept the puck in the attacking zone and passed to Simms, who got a good look in the high slot, shooting across goalie Amanda Thiele's body through a screen for her 16th goal of the season.

Wisconsin was 26-1-1 entering the third period with a lead. Ohio State had not been shut out this season and was last blanked on Jan. 21, 2022 -- a stretch of 57 games.

The low-scoring result in the title game was a surprise given that Ohio State (second) and Wisconsin (third) were two of the top three scoring teams in Division I this season.

Kronish was named the tournament's most outstanding player with the 1-0 shutout, stopping 82 of 87 shots in four games.

"She took the torch this year," Johnson said. "She's worked hard for five years and this was the first year she really got an opportunity to play. She wanted the baton and she took us to the end. Today, she was a difference in the game."

Wisconsin lost to Minnesota in the WCHA semifinal and needed three upset wins to make the national title game. The Badgers routed Long Island 9-1 in their tournament opener and then beat 3-seeded Colgate 4-2. The Frozen Four semifinal was a rematch with 2-seeded Minnesota, which Wisconsin won 3-2 on an overtime goal from Harvey at 16:47 to set up the title showdown with Ohio State.

Ohio State was trying to become the fourth straight NCAA Division I champion to win a second consecutive title. Minnesota (2015-16), Clarkson (2017-18) and Wisconsin (2019, 2021) were the others.

After losing to Minnesota in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association final, Ohio State rallied to beat Quinnipiac 5-2 in their regional. In the Frozen Four semifinal, the Buckeyes used 15 saves from Thiele to shut out Northeastern 3-0.

The WCHA continued to dominate the Women's Frozen Four. Teams from that conference have won 19 of the 22 Frozen Four championships, with Clarkson from the ECAC winning three times.