How Did We Get Here?

#1 Wisconsin

Wisconsin held Clarkson’s top line in check, aided by a few posts, and struggled their way to a 5-0 win.  The game was much closer than the score or shots indicated, with Wisconsin sticking to the perimeter to shoot and taking just a one goal lead into the third.  Once they got a fluky second goal that bounced in off the goaltender’s stick, and then a Clarkson defender, they were able to find space to operate as the Knights had to start gambling.

#2 Minnesota

Minnesota also struggled to break the defense of their opponent, carrying their one goal lead until Cornell pulled their goaltender and surrendered an empty netter.

For all the attention on Cornell’s defense, Minnesota did allow some time and space to Cornell’s forwards, but the Big Red couldn’t execute well enough in the offensive zone to find a goal.

#1 Wisconsin vs. #2 Minnesota (2:30 PM ET)

We’re certainly not lacking for matchup data as these two met five times during the regular season with Wisconsin getting the best of Minnesota 3 times overall, and when it counted most in the WCHA Championship game.

That said, the Gophers found success with Gulstene in net, and on special teams where they posted a slight advantage over their rivals.

Tournament Meetings: 6

  • 2018: Wisconsin defeats Minnesota in quarterfinal, 4-0
  • 2016: Minnesota defeats Wisconsin in semifinal, 3-2 (OT)
  • 2015: Minnesota defeats Wisconsin in semifinal, 3-1
  • 2014: Minnesota defeats Wisconsin in semifinal, 5-3
  • 2012: Minnesota defeats Wisconsin in final, 4-3
  • 2006: Wisconsin defeats Minnesota in final, 3-0

The Numbers

It’s hard to argue that these two don’t belong here, coming in first and second in most statistical categories, and at least in the top half in any others.  In years’ past you might bill this as Minnesota’s offense versus Wisconsin’s defense, but I think that both teams really made a commitment to keeping pucks out of the net this season.

Wisconsin keys to victory:

Don’t blow it.  There is something to be said for sticking to the plan.  I harp on Wisconsin a lot for not altering tactics too much, but you can’t say that they aren’t really good at what they do.  Like Clarkson last year, if they believe that their game is unbeatable, there’s no reason to change anything.

Minnesota keys to victory:

Before yesterday’s game between Clarkson and Wisconsin I privately thought whoever scored first would win.  Where I was wrong was that I expected a second goal to come shortly after and to see one team holding a 2 goal lead for much of the game.

So score first.  The Badgers are 29-1-1 when they score first, with Bemidji State netting the lone victory, and Ohio State the draw, and just 5-3-1 when they do not score first.  Even more, the Badgers averaged 4.3 goals per game when they scored first, and allowed just 0.9.  When they didn’t score first, even though they still won 5 of the 9 games, the Badgers averaged just 2.1 goals for and allowed 18 against.

Make them play from behind and you can beat them.