Amid the basketball agony that blanketed Wisconsin on Sunday, there was some hockey ecstasy.
The Wisconsin women's hockey team won its third NCAA title in four years, shutting out Mercyhurst, 5-0, on Sunday at Agganis Arena near Boston University.
When the final horn sounded, coach Mark Johnson's Badgers converged on goaltender Jessie Vetter as sticks and gloves went flying into the air. The senior goaltender was outstanding as she turned away 37 shots to earn her NCAA-record 39th career shutout and 14th this season, also an NCAA record.
Wisconsin, the only team to reach the Frozen Four in four straight seasons, also won NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007. The Badgers finished the 2008-09 season with a 33-2-5 overall record. The Badgers ended on a nine-game winning streak and a 12-game unbeaten streak.
Vetter, the Patty Kazmaier Award winner for 2009, was named the Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player for the second time (also in 2006). She stopped 65 of a possible 66 shots in victories over Minnesota-Duluth and Mercyhurst. She finished her career with an NCAA-record four Frozen Four shutouts, two in semifinal games and two in championship games.
Joining Vetter on the all-tournament team from Wisconsin were Hilary Knight, Erika Lawler, Alycia Matthews and Malee Windmeier.
The Badgers and Lakers played to a scoreless tie after one period, just as the Badgers and Minnesota-Duluth had done in the semifinal on Friday. But, just like Friday, Wisconsin got things going in the second.
Brooke Ammerman tucked in the game's first goal to the left of Mercyhurst goaltender Hillary Pattenden 5:28 into the second period. Angie Keseley drew an assist.
Meghan Duggan then knocked in a rebound, with Matthews and Lawler assisting, at 8:48 for a 2-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, Keseley scored on a beautiful give-and-go from Lawler at 10:38. Knight also drew an assist.
Wisconsin added a pair of third period goals, as well. Windmeier scored just her second goal of the season, with assists to Jasmine Giles and Duggan, at 3:26, while Knight put away her nation-leading and school-record 45th tally of the season to close the scoring at 5:38.
Badgers fans are invited to attend a welcome home celebration for the NCAA National Champion women's hockey team at 6 p.m. Monday at the Nicholas Johnson Pavilion (next to gate B of the Kohl Center). Free parking is available in Lots 88 and 91 at the Kohl Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The event will be live video streamed free at UWBadgers.com.