Badgers open weekend series with win over Bemidji State

Wisconsin looks to extend its hot start to the season against Ohio State this weekend.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

The No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers (9-0-0) took on the Bemidji State Beavers (1-5-1) Friday night in the LaBahn Arena, attempting to stay perfect and become the second Badger team ever to win its first nine games.

Bemidji State came in on a four-game losing streak that included getting swept at home by No. 9 Minnesota last weekend. Bemidji State is a much tougher team than its record appears however, as over the last two weeks it has put up more than respectable fights against both Minnesota and No. 2 Clarkson. It has an ability to make the game sloppy which plays to its advantage and makes it a dangerous team when overlooked.

Wisconsin came out of the gates extremely slow and sloppy in the first period, unable to possess the puck or put any sustained pressure on Bemidji’s defense. Bemidji, on the other hand, came out of the gates fast, stringing multiple possessions together with consistent pressure on goal.

Wisconsin looked lost at times on the ice; passes couldn’t find a target, the team couldn’t keep their form on the ice, and the only pressure really put on Bemidji’s goalkeeper was by a few Abby Roque breakaways. Near the end of the first, Bemidji was able to break through with a goal by Jacquellin Kaasa, that deflected twice in the air and eventually floated over Kristen Campbell’s outstretched glove. The Badgers quickly got what seemed like the equalizing goal seconds later, but after a lengthy delay, it was ruled no goal, and Wisconsin whimpered into the locker room trailing 1-0.

The Badgers came out fast in the second though, putting a shot on goal 40 seconds into the period. It was obvious early on that the number one team in the nation had finally come out to play, and UW simply dominated the whole period.

Finally able to string passes together, the Badgers were constantly in Bemidji State’s zon, putting up shot after shot against Bemidji’s defense. Four minutes into the period, Lauren Williams scored the equalizing goal for the Badgers, energizing the bench and getting the crowd back into the game. Wisconsin continued to pound Bemidji State’s defense, putting up 12 shots in the first 10 minutes of the period, compared to none by Bemidji State. Wisconsin continued to control the rest of the period, scoring another two goals, by Maddie Rolfes and Roque respectively, to give Wisconsin the 3-1 advantage going into the third.

Wisconsin came out strong again in the third, with Claudia Kepler and Sophia Shaver quickly scoring another couple goals. After that, the Badgers were able to put the game in cruise control, ending with a comfortable 5-1 victory. Wisconsin ended the game with 45 shots on goal compared to just 22 by Bemidji State, with 11 of those coming in the first period.

After a shaky first period Wisconsin put its foot on the gas, winning decisively against a Bemidji State team that didn’t seem to have any answers after the first. Badger coach Mark Johnson said he wasn’t fazed by the slow start, explaining that all UW needed to do was string a few passes together and play hard for three periods, which is exactly what the Badgers did.

The Badger women are back in action tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the LaBahn Arena, where they will look to keep their perfect season alive when they play the final game of the series against Bemidji State.

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