Vetter's shutout hands Badgers title

Updated: March 22, 2009, 6:48 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Meghan Duggan poked the puck out of the Wisconsin zone and began the celebration even before the last seconds had ticked off the clock.

Another championship for the Badgers.

Another shutout for Jessie Vetter.

Vetter stopped 37 shots for an NCAA-record 14th shutout of the season -- her second in a national championship game -- and Wisconsin won its third women's hockey title in four years on Sunday with a 5-0 victory over Mercyhurst.

"What she's done for four years, you saw today," Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. "It's going to be tough to duplicate this senior class."

Vetter earned a second Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player award -- she also won it with back-to-back shutouts in the 2006 tournament -- to go with this year's Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in women's college hockey. Angie Keseley had a goal and two assists, and Erika Lawler had three assists for the Badgers (34-2-5) to join Vetter as three-time national champions.

Wisconsin lost to Minnesota-Duluth in last year's title game.

"We were able to win it our freshman year, and we know how that felt," said Vetter, who has four Frozen Four shutouts and 38 in her career -- also NCAA records. "If you're playing for a trophy, it's just so much better."

Duggan had a goal and an assist and Brooke Ammerman and Malee Windmeier also scored for Wisconsin, which broke open a scoreless game in the middle of the second period with three goals in 5:10 and then rode Vetter to the victory. Mercyhurst (31-6-0) had two power plays in the final three minutes but couldn't get the puck past Vetter.

The Lakers managed one last rush in the final minute before Duggan poked the puck away with about five seconds left and started the Badgers' on-ice party. Alycia Matthews, who took a hooking penalty with 63 seconds left to help protect the shutout, and Rachel Bible cheered the fans on from the penalty box.

"I wanted Vetter to get that shutout and I knew we have a good enough [penalty killing unit]. ... I was just having fun, and they didn't score," Matthews said after rushing the ice to join her teammates for hugs, the trophy celebration and then pictures. "It took me about ten minutes to find my gloves and my stick."

Hillary Pattenden stopped 27 shots for Mercyhurst (31-6-0), which reached the Frozen Four for the first time; the other three teams in Boston all had NCAA title pedigrees. The Catholic college from Erie, Pa., went undefeated in the four-team College Hockey America conference and won 28 of its previous 29 games, including a 5-4 victory over two-time champion Minnesota in the semifinals.

"A lot of people didn't believe in us," said Meghan Agosta, an unprecedented three-time finalist for the Kazmaier Award and an Olympic gold medalist who led the nation in goals and assists per game. "But we showed everyone who Mercyhurst was."

Wisconsin advanced to the championship with a 5-1 victory over Minnesota-Duluth in a rematch of the last two title games.

Johnson played on the United States' gold-medal "Miracle on Ice" team that beat Russia in the 1980 Olympics, and he had no interest in being on the other end of an upset. After having dinner with U.S. teammate Mike Eruzione on Saturday night, he set out his powerful Red team to crush the Lakers.

"They're a worthy opponent and a good team," Johnson said. "Maybe people haven't seen them play, but I think all the coaches who coached against them understand that. They'll become stronger and I'm sure you'll see them back to run at another championship in the near future."

The teams played a scoreless first period, then Ammerman broke the tie with 14:32 left in the second period when she picked up a loose puck on the side of the net and backhanded it past Pattenden. With 11:12 left, Lawler faked a defender and slid the puck to Alycia Matthews, whose shot was tipped into the net by Duggan. Just 1:50 later, the Badgers made it 3-0 when Keseley and Lawler used some back-and-forth passing to get the goalie out of position.

"We gave up three in a short period of time. Obviously, that rattled us a bit," Mercyhurst coach Michael Sisti said. "It's a tough way back from there."

Windmeier ran the score to 4-0 early in the third period, and Lawler worked another give-and-go with Knight to make it 5-0.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press