The Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team (4-0-0) took down the Penn State Nittany Lions (0-2-2) once again on Saturday night by a score of 3-0 in front of a sold out crowd to stay undefeated in their 2019-20 campaign.
Wisconsin came out of the gates much slower than they did last night in the first period. Penn State played a clean period of hockey, accruing 13 shots on goal. The Badgers only managed to gather 10 shots and had two minor penalties in the period.
Redshirt senior goaltender Kristen Campbell staved off all of Penn State’s shots, but the Nittany Lions certainly had their chances to put one in the back of the net.
Daryl Watts’ goal proved the Badgers’ lone bright spot of the first period, when the junior forward took PSU’s junior goaltender Chantal Burke glove side for a point-blank goal in the 12th minute. The assists on the goal came from line partners sophomore forward Sophie Shirley and senior forward Abby Roque, highlighting the chemistry the three have had early in the season.
“Sophie and Abby obviously played together last year, so they already had some natural chemistry already there,” Watts said. “They’re both unbelievable players so it’s been easy to play with them, but still I’m kind of learning their habits. Every game, we are getting better and developing better chemistry with one another.”
The second period had no goals, but showed a few momentum swings. Penn State started the period with a breakaway that landed squarely in Campbell’s chest. Campbell stopped six more shots in the period, but Burke proved equally, if not more, impressive by saving 20 shots in the second period alone.
Penn State’s aggressiveness surfaced halfway through the period when a scrum in front of the goal resulted in a minor penalty for both senior winger Presley Norby and senior center Katie McMillan. Referees assigned penalties to McMillan and Norby for roughing.
Later in the period, Penn State senior forward Abby Welch tried to confront Wisconsin sophomore forward Britta Curl post-play, but a referee stymied her efforts.
“Penn State played harder,” said Coach Mark Johnson postgame. “Tonight, they were a little more focused in. The first period they played aggressively, had a power play four minutes into the first period. They didn’t score on it, but they created some energy. They were skating and assisting really well, and we weren’t doing things to offset what they were doing well.”
Wisconsin came out revitalized and swinging in the third period. Junior wing Caitlin Schneider scored a no-angle goal by bouncing the puck off of Burke’s right pad into the net just 54 seconds into the period. The Badgers kept the heat on as Watts scored her second of the night into a wide open net thanks to a rebound off of a shot by junior defender Grace Bowlby.
“In the second period, we had 20 shots without a power play and that’s quite a few shots without a power play,” said Johnson when asked about his message to the team during the second intermission. “Just a matter of playing smart in the last 20 minutes, and don’t do anything that, you know, is unnecessary.”
The Nittany Lions had more chances as the final period went on, but did not capitalize on their opportunities, including a power play with two and a half minutes left in the game.
The Badgers will look to continue their winning streak next weekend in Columbus against ninth-ranked Ohio State in a rematch of last year’s WCHA semifinal.
“In the past two years, we’ve gone down [to Ohio State] and been unable to complete a sweep,” Campbell said of last year’s series when the Badgers played against Ohio State and split the series. “Going in, I think our mentality is we’re going in for two wins and we’re coming back with those.”