No. 1 Wisconsin (18-1-0) handled Minnesota Duluth (9-9-0) with ease Friday afternoon, beating up on the Bulldogs, winning 5-1. The Badgers played a slower game than usual, controlling the puck and keeping it on the Bulldogs’ side of the ice for much of the game.
Head coach Mark Johnson compared the first period to a chess match, with both sides feeling out the other for much of the period. But it was the Badgers that figured out how to best attack, and once they did, the goals kept on coming. Kristen Campbell and Abby Roque both had great days, something Badger fans are becoming accustomed to seeing. Campbell’s only goal allowed came in garbage time, and Roque put up three points on two goals and an assist.
The first period started slowly, with the Badgers only mustering a few shots on goal in the opening minutes. They possessed the puck in the Minnesota Duluth zone for the first six minutes before they began to truly attack. Wisconsin was able to break through with a slapshot goal from Mekenzie Steffen seven minutes into the period, followed by a Roque goal just 17 seconds later. Wisconsin ended the first period with just eight shots on goal however, and its two goals netted after just the fourth and fifth shots, showcasing just how efficient Wisconsin can be in its scoring.
Johnson knew the early goals were key in setting the tone for the team throughout the game.
“The two quick goals in the first really helped our energy level on the ice, which is something we were looking for after such a long road trip,” he said. “Duluth came into the game hot and those early goals really helped cool them down.”
The Badgers added two more goals in the second period, one by Sophia Shaver and the other by freshman Brette Pettet. Pettet has impressed on the ice so far in her freshman season, racking up 12 points thus far, including two Friday night. Her goal Friday came on a second chance opportunity, which is always a point of emphasis for Johnson. Pettet has worked hard at that this year and knows the importance of crashing the net.
“You really just have to keep going at it, and my linemates were able to crash hard which opened up a lane for me to put the puck in the net,” she said.
In the third, Roque was able to put the finishing touches on Minnesota Duluth, scoring for the second time for the night and putting the Badgers up 5-0. With just two seconds left however, Minnesota Duluth was able to net a goal and ruin a potential clean sheet by Campbell. The goal was inconsequential however, and the Badgers came out of the night with a solid 5-1 victory.
UW came out well and dominated a game they should have after a shaky weekend in Washington, D.C. that saw the Badgers lose their first game of the year. However, Roque thought the loss helped the team coming into tonight.
“Obviously nobody wants to lose, but we definitely felt some pressure had been taken off our shoulders,” Roque said. “It’s nice to be able to see what we need to work on and what little things can be improved going forward.”
Johnson also thought being home for the first time in nearly a month helped propel the Badgers tonight.
“Obviously our crowds are incredible and they really help fuel our team, which had a big impact on our play tonight,” he said.
The Badgers are back in action again at LaBahn arena tomorrow at noon, where they will look to sweep Minnesota-Duluth and draw closer to their 20th win of the season.