Badgers find level ground after difficult last weekend, sweep Minnesota State

Wisconsin came out of Thanksgiving weekend with two wins against two different opponents.

Wisconsin came out of Thanksgiving weekend with two wins against two different opponents.

Image By: Téalin Robinson and Tealin Robinson

After beating the Minnesota State (2-5-2-2 WCHA, 6-5-2 overall) 3-2 last night in a tight game, the No. 2 Badgers (5-1-1-0 WCHA, 11-1-1 overall) came out on top today to finish out their weekend series against the Mavericks. Wisconsin is undefeated its last 20 games at LaBahn Arena with an 18-0-2 winning streak coming into this weekend’s home series.

“We knew they would come out with some energy based on how they finished last night, but we responded well,” head coach Mark Johnson said.

With Wisconsin coming out on top, they now hold a 25-game winning streak against Minnesota State.

Although there were plenty of good scoring opportunities throughout the first period, the Badgers only capitalized near the end. Senior Abby Roque assisted sophomore right wing Sophie Shirley with just over three minutes left in the first frame on a power play. It marks the 2019 WCHA Rookie of the Year’s 11th goal of this season. 

Wisconsin leads the country with a low 0.475 power-play percentage and has converted on 21 power-play goals.

“Obviously, they really tried to tighten up top to take away Mekenzie Steffen’s shot as it’s a rocket,” Roque said. “Putting it low to Sophie really worked because they left her there, and she finally got it out and around that goalie.”

Halfway through the second period, Roque, who has 14 points in 14 career games against Minnesota State, scored on an assist by junior linemate Daryl Watts, who leads the country with 20 assists in 13 games.

“Between Abby, Soph and Watt, kids that understand passing lanes, see passing lanes, make passes… it creates opportunity and then you can make goals.”

The Badgers capitalized again with under five minutes left in the period on a power-play. Junior center forward Brette Pettet scored off an assist by sophomore defender Nicole Lamantia and junior defender Natalie Buchbinder. 

“Second period, you got a chance to take control of the game and get a second or third or fourth goal, and we were able to do that,” Johnson said.

Watts and Roque teamed up again in the first three minutes of the third period to sneak one past the Mavericks’ goaltender. Roque smacked in Watts’ pass to bring the score to 4-0. Assisted by Pette, senior left wing Alexis Mauermann kept the fire alive with a backhanded goal minutes later. Watts brought up the rear with another goal within moments of Mauermann’s.

“What just clicked was puck luck, for one,” Roque said of her two goals and one assist. “You’ll have days that you’ll have it, you’ll have days that you won’t. I think I was just in the right spots today and I think our line was making sure we got pucks deep, got pucks in before we did anything fancy.”

With seven minutes left in the final frame, Minnesota State snuck one past redshirt senior goaltender Kristen Campbell. Maverick junior forward Brittyn Fleming tossed it past Campbell’s shoulder and into the back of the net. But even that slip up couldn’t save the Mavericks from defeat. The Badgers swept the Mavericks with a 6-1 score in the final match-up of the weekend.

Wisconsin returns to the road for next weekend’s game against unranked St. Cloud State with a Friday night and Saturday afternoon match-up. Puck drops at 6 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday in Minnesota.

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