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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, June 09, 2023
Kristen Campbell made a season-high 30 saves, including 18 in the third period, to hold off the Gophers on Sunday.

Kristen Campbell made a season-high 30 saves, including 18 in the third period, to hold off the Gophers on Sunday.

Wisconsin blanks Minnesota on Senior Night

Defense was the name of the game Saturday afternoon, as No. 1 Wisconsin faced off against No. 7 Minnesota in the final game of the WCHA regular season. With sold out LaBahn Arena rocking, the Badgers (20-2-2-2 WCHA, 28-3-2 overall) were able to pull out a gritty 1-0 win against the Gophers (16-7-32, 20-9-3) thanks to a first period goal by Maddie Rolfes that deflected off two Gopher defenders before finding the back of the net. Kristen Campbell recorded her NCAA leading 11th clean sheet on the year, but Campbell got a huge lift all night from her defense, which actually recorded more blocked shots,19, than Campbell had saves, 16. After the game, seniors Lauren Williams, Baylee Wellhausen and Claudia Kepler raised the WCHA regular season trophy for the third straight year.

The Gophers set the tone early in the game, playing fast and physical. The opening minutes of the game featured a flurry of activity, but the pace didn’t slow much from there. Both teams had multiple power play opportunities, however stellar defense on both sides prevented a goal from scoring. The Badgers finally broke through and scored their first and only goal 16 minutes into the period. Officially, Maddie Rolfes scored the goal, however it was deflected by two Minnesota defenders before it scored.

“It was probably the worst goal I’ve ever scored in my life,” Rolfes said. “But coach wanted us to get as many shots on net as possible, and that one just happened to go in.”

The goal whipped the LaBahn Arena crowd into a frenzy, and the Badgers went into the second period riding high.

The second and third periods were all about defense. Wisconsin held tight to its one-goal lead, blocking 19 shots and not allowing Minnesota a good opportunity to score. The team was led in blocks by Maddie Rolfes and Lauren Williams, who each had five on the night.

“We have the mindset that we all have to sacrifice our bodies, because a bruise can last two or three weeks, but a loss lasts a lot longer than that,” Rolfes said.

The team embodied that physical nature all night, fighting back at Minnesota every time it was shoved or checked. However, that style of play can wear on a team, and the bye in the WCHA tournament that Wisconsin earned with the win tonight is a much-needed break.

“We made it through the finish line, and there weren’t any big injuries tonight, so we have a chance to heal and rest up the next week,” Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson said. “Hopefully we can get a couple players back and can put ourselves in position to win the tournament.”

Saturday also marked an important day for the three seniors on the team. Lauren Williams, Baylee Wellhausen and Claudia Kepler played their final game in LaBahn Arena on senior night.

Johnson wanted to win tonight to send the seniors out with a bang, and his team did just that tonight.

“It was a really good win,” Johnson said. “I’m happy for the seniors, especially getting to raise that trophy at the end. It was a deserving moment.”

Maddie Rolfes said she was beaming with pride after the game tonight especially when the seniors got to hoist the trophy.

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“They really led us all year,” Rolfes said. “They’re all my best friends and they’ve made me so proud, I’m really going to miss them next year.”

Wisconsin’s seniors will get more chances to play in the tournament when it will play March 3 at 2 p.m. in Minneapolis. Their opponent will be decided next weekend after the first round of WCHA tournament action.

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