The Clarkson University Women’s Hockey team stunned the #1-seeded Wisconsin Badgers 3-0 in Sunday’s 2017 Frozen Four title game in front of 3,016 fans at the Family Arena to celebrate their second National Championship in four years.
The Knights’ victory brought upon the Badgers their first loss in 23 games. Clarkson is still the only team from outside the Western Collegiate Hockey Association to have ever won the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey National Title. The Knights advanced to the pinnacle game after defeating two-time defending champion Minnesota 4-3 in Friday semifinal action.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” stated Clarkson Head Coach Matt Desrosiers. “This group is a resilient bunch. To think we started this season on rocky footing with a losing record and going the rest of the way only losing one game since mid-October, shows this team knew what it took to pull together. We just got better each and every week.”
Cayley Mercer (Exeter, ONT) may have not won the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, but the senior, left wing did one better on Sunday afternoon. A Top 3 Finalist for the impressive honor, Clarkson’s Co-Captain played a pivotal role in Clarkson’s win over top-ranked Wisconsin and was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2017 Frozen Four. Mercer, joins her sister, Carly ’14, as a captain of a Clarkson National Championship team.
Wisconsin goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens, who won the prestigious individual award as the top player in women’s college hockey, earned the headlines this season with her out-of-the-world stats, but it was Clarkson junior goaltender Shea Tiley (Owen Sound, ONT) who stole the show on Sunday.
Tiley shut out the number one offensive team in the country behind 41 saves to backstopped the Green and Gold to their 11th straight victory and program-best 32nd win of the season.
Remarked Desrosier on Tiley’s performance, “Shea has been phenomenal all year. Throughout her entire three years here at Clarkson. Shea is a big game goalie. She kept us in it tonight when we needed her to. Just a great performance. In a setting and an atmosphere like this, in a National Championship game… just phenomenal.”
The Badgers, who entered the title game, averaging 4.03 goals per game, outshot Clarkson 41-20, including a 35-17 advantage over the final 40 minutes. Tiley, who was named MOP of the ECAC Hockey Championship Tournament earlier in the month, was at her best in the biggest game of her career, finishing just one save shy of tying her career mark for saves in a game.
Wisconsin, behind two power-play opportunities, put intense offensive pressure on Clarkson in the third period, but Tiley turned aside all 18 Badger shots.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Clarkson got on the scoreboard just seconds into the middle frame with junior defenseman, co-captain Savannah Harmon‘s (Downers Grove, IL) 11th goal of the season. Harmon, an All-American, took a behind-the-net pass from senior Genevieve Bannon (Candiac, QUE) and flipped in a shot from the side that beat Desbiens over the shoulder just 27 seconds into the period. The power-play tally was the first goal given up by Wisconsin’s all-star netminder in 178 minutes. Freshman defenseman Ella Shelton (Ingersol, ONT) started the scoring play with a pass to Bannon from the point.
The score stood just 1-0 until late in the contest, then the nation’s leading goal scorer went to work. Mercer tallied the final two goals to preserve the national championship victory.
Mercer connected for the Knights’ second goal at 16:56, finishing off assists from linemates, sophomore Loren Gabel (Kitchener, ONT) and Bannon. She then sealed the win with an unassisted, empty-net score with 44 seconds remaining for her 28th goal of the season and 80th of her stellar collegiate career.
Joining Mercer on the 2017 Frozen Four All-Tournament Team from Clarkson were Bannon and Harmon.
Tiley may have been overlooked for tournament honors, but she played a major role in the triumphant Green and Gold celebration at the end.
Back in mid-October, Clarkson and Wisconsin faced off at Cheel Arena in a pair of non-league games that the Badgers won 3-2 in overtime and 4-2 to extend a Golden Knights’ winless stretch to four games (0-2-2). Since then a lot of impressive things happened for the Green and Gold. Clarkson went 30-1-4 after those games on October 14-15, posted a school-record 32 victories, earned its third ECAC Hockey regular season title with a 19-1-2 league mark, claimed the program’s first ECAC Hockey Tournament Championship, hosted and won an NCAA quarterfinal game (3-1 over Cornell), knocked off two-time defending national champion Minnesota, 4-3, on Friday in Frozen Four semifinal action and capped it all off with its second National Championship in four years on Midwest afternoon on Sunday.