After being swept by rival Minnesota at LaBahn Arena last weekend, including an overtime loss Saturday, No. 2 Wisconsin will hit the road to take on Bemidji State.
The Badgers (6-2-0 overall, 4-2-0 WCHA) will be looking to bounce back from an agonizing defeat at the hands of the Gophers last Saturday. Following a 4-1 loss Friday night, Wisconsin bounced back in the second game and appeared to be on the verge of defeating its rival for the first time in three years.
However, Minnesota tied the game on a power play goal with 1:28 remaining in the third period, Wisconsin had a potential game-winning goal bounce off the goalpost in overtime, and Minnesota’s Rachel Ramsey scored with just under a minute to go in the extra frame to give the Gophers the win.
Despite the tough loss, UW head coach Mark Johnson still believes there were plenty of positives to take away from the game.
“There were a lot of positives in Saturday’s game,” Johnson said. “We got a response from our effort Friday in a real positive way, and I thought we played really well and competed at a high level.”
Now, the Badgers will try to get back on track this weekend against Bemidji State (4-2-0, 0-2-0), who are off to the best start in school history under new coach Jim Scanlan.
The Beavers have had a well-balanced offense so far this season, with 17 different players recording at least one point. Junior forward Megan Lushanko leads the team with two goals and three assists.
The Beavers have also split their goaltending duties between sophomore Brittni Mowat and freshman Erin Deters this year, with each one starting three games at this point. Deters has been particularly stellar thus far, ranking second in the country with a .971 save percentage and a 0.67 goals against average.
Thanks to solid play from its goaltending and defense, Bemidji State ranks eighth nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 1.50 goals per game.
“[The Beavers] have gotten off to a good start; they’ve played with a lot of energy,” Johnson said. “Certainly, with a new coach in there, players want to impress him and they’re playing at a real high level. It’ll be a good test for us.”
Like the Badgers, Bemidji State was swept last weekend, with the Beavers falling to Ohio State in their conference opener.
Despite scoring just two goals in the series against Minnesota, Wisconsin still ranks third in the country, scoring four goals per game. The defense has also been stingy, surrendering just 1.25 goals per game, which is tied for fifth-best in the nation.
Behind players like senior forward Karley Sylvester, who ranks first in the country with 13 points, and freshman forward Annie Pankowski, who leads the nation with 10 assists, the Badgers are hoping to get their offense back on track and get back to their winning ways.
“If we come out on Friday night like we just did on Saturday [against Minnesota], we’re going to be successful,” said senior forward Blayre Turnbull. “The most important thing we can focus on now is forgetting about the losses and coming out hard in Bemidji on Friday.”
The series kicks off at the Sanford Center Friday night at 7 p.m., with the second game to be played Saturday at 4 p.m.