Roque, Wisconsin too dominant for Mercyhurst, despite losing Wellhausen to injury

The Badgers rose from No. 2 to No. 1 in the USCHO poll this week. Clarkson dropped from No. 1 to No. 2.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Make that ten.

On Thursday night, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team (3-0) beat Mercyhurst University (0-1), raising its record to 10-0 all time against the Lakers. Four different players scored for the Badgers, and redshirt sophomore goalie Kristen Campbell added her second consecutive shutout to cap off the night.

What started off as a slow game for the Badgers quickly became chippy when seven minutes into the first period, senior captain Baylee Wellhausen was injured on an illegal check into the boards by Mercyhurst’s sophomore forward Emma Nuutinen. Wellhausen would not return, eliciting intervention from head coach Mark Johnson, who was forced to shuffle up his lines. The most common stand-in for Wellhausen was freshman forward Caitlin Schneider, who made the most of her time on the second line by scoring her first collegiate goal with three minutes left in the first period. Still, despite Schneider’s success, Johnson was not ready to slot her into that second line spot permanently. Instead, he simply stated, “it was nice to see her score her first goal.” Johnson did not provide any further update on Wellhausen’s status.

Midway through the second, junior defenseman Mikaela Gardner wasted no time putting in a perfect pass from junior forward Sam Cogan to put the Badgers up 2-0. Only thirty-eight seconds later, senior forward Brooke Hartwick added insult to injury, taking a checking penalty for the Lakers. Quick puck movement and a couple of snappy passes from sophomore forward Abby Rocque and redshirt senior forward Claudia Kepler later, junior assistant captain Sophia Shaver netted her first goal of the season. By the end of the period, it was clear that Wisconsin would not let Mercyhurst take an inch, as they went into the locker room in dominant fashion, up 3-0 and leading in shots on goal 26-13.

Three minutes into the third period, Wisconsin took their first penalty of the game. The Badgers killed the Lakers' power play in stifling fashion and forced Mercyhurst to take its own penalty just a short while later. While Wisconsin had a couple of quality shots on net, its best chance came just after its power play ended. Kepler, an Ohio State transfer originally from Verona and one of the team’s co-captains, scored off of a third fantastic assist from Roque, her third of the game. With the match out of reach for the Lakers, Wisconsin killed off the time remaining to record its second consecutive shutout and a dominant win in the first game of the back-to-back versus Mercyhurst.

Campbell was perfect in net for the Badgers, recording 21 saves against Mercyhurst. The former North Dakota goaltender, a transfer student after the Fighting Hawks ended their women’s hockey program last March, faced three of her former teammates on the opposing roster in forwards Vilma Tanskanen and Emma Nuutinen and goalie Kennedy Blair. Campbell came away with the last laugh as she stopped all 21 shots against. Johnson was particularly impressed with Campbell’s play, commenting on the experience the young goalie gained during the waning minutes of the game when facing a 6-on-4.

Roque had a similarly outstanding game, adding three assists to her line to take the early lead in the NCAA scoring race. The sophomore center looked strides ahead of the other players on the ice, dangling in and out of defensemen and making impossible passes look easy. Roque, though, ever humble, could only credit her defense and linemates after the game.

She added that there was extra motivation for her stellar play that stemmed from Wellhausen’s injury. “Baylee’s obviously a great leader and when you see someone like her go down, you obviously want to step it up and make sure you win the game for her,” Roque said. “I think people filled in and filled her role on the team, trying to get some energy going like she always does.”

While it doesn’t appear that Wellhausen will be back in action Friday night for the second game against Mercyhurst, look for the Badgers to put forward another dominant effort against an overmatched Lakers team.

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