Badgers continue dominant start, crush WCHA rival Bemidji State

In the opening game of their series against Bemidji State (2-1-0 WCHA, 3-3-1 overall), No. 1 Wisconsin (3-0-0 WHCA, 9-0-0 overall) earned a 4-1 win against the unranked Beavers, in the Badger’s first home WCHA game of the season.

BSU and Wisconsin split their last series of the 2018-19’ season, with the Beavers beating the Badgers 2-1 in the first game, and Wisconsin outskating BSU 4-0  in their rematch the next day. It was the last time Wisconsin has lost in the last fourteen games.

In the first frame, Senior right defenseman Mekenzie Steffen scored her fourth goal of the year 12 minutes into the match. It was a rocket of a puck past BSU’s junior goalkeeper Lauren Bench. 

It marks the 2019 All-WCHA First-Team Defenseman’s 15th point of this season. 

Juniors left defenseman Grace Bowlby and center forward Delaney Drake assisted the team captain’s goal, earning their 10th and fifth season points respectively.

“We knew they were gonna bring a hard game because they swept last weekend,” Steffen said of Bemidji’s tenacity. “They’re gonna play the whole 60 minutes and they’re gonna play as hard as they can, and they did that. But, we outcompeted them and came out winning the game.”

Steffen’s goal stood alone as the only score for both teams in the first period, marking an uneventful start to the game. While the Beavers challenged the Badgers on offense with back-to-back power plays, BSU failed to capitalize on the opportunity and only put up two shots on goal, compared with Wisconsin’s zero power plays and eight shots on goal.

The second frame heated up with Bemidji coming off strong with a goal three minutes in. Freshman right wing Reece Hunt for Bemidji State captured her first career goal with a puck knocked right past Wisconsin senior goalkeeper Kristen Campbell.

“Obviously, it is a little disappointing when you give up a goal like that but I think there was a good response by us,” Sophomore left wing Britta Curl said. “We kept battling and we didn’t let it get in our heads and kept playing our game.”

BSU got close again two minutes later, but the puck bounced off the post.

The Beavers and Badgers battled throughout the second period. Curl tipped Rowe’s shot past BSU’s defense to bring the score up to 2-1 with nine minutes left. It was Curl’s fifth goal this season, and eighth point.

“First part of the second period we weren’t very good, but that’s okay,” head coach Mark Johnson said. “You bend a little bit, you don’t break, and you learn from all that stuff.”

Sophomore defenseman Nicole Lamantia posted another point against the Beavers, bringing the score to 3-1. Senior left wing Alexis Mauermann assisted the Minnesota native with 10 minutes left to go in the third frame. 

“The big thing is that we pushed back,” Johnson said. “The last 7 or 8 minutes of the second period we started playing like we were capable of playing.”

Sophomore right wing Sophie Shirley scored an empty netter with a minute left to go in the game, assisted by Lamantia, and secured the Badger’s win over BSU. 

“We just need to make sure we are competing fully for 60 minutes,” Steffen said. “I thought we had a great compete level today but there’s always room for improvement. I think bringing more energy tomorrow will make us play even better.”

The Beavers and Badgers will face-off again tomorrow at LaBahn Arena to finish out their series. Puck drop will be at 2 p.m..

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