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Wednesday, December 08, 2021
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Abby Roque scored an important goal against Minnesota-Duluth, but her energy on-ice was more important for Wisconsin.

Badgers sneak by Bulldogs in scrappy contest

The No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers’ women’s hockey team (9-1-1 WCHA, 17-1-1 overall) scraped by the No. 10 University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (4-5-2 WCHA, 8-7-2 overall) by a score of 4-3 on Friday night for the Badgers fifth straight win.

Though head coach Mark Johnson said that the Badgers have started to prioritize “secondary” scoring, Wisconsin’s stars shone bright early with a rebound goal from senior forward Abby Roque. But the Bulldogs responded quickly with a barrage of shots on senior goaltender Kristen Campbell, resulting in a score by sophomore forward McKenzie Hewitt.

A two on zero fastbreak started by Bulldog senior forward Sydney Brodt and junior forward Anna Klein against Campbell resulted in Duluth’s second goal by Klein. The Badgers seemed to take offense to trailing, and rushed senior goalie Maddie Rooney. Thirty seconds later, Roque found junior forward Daryl Watts from behind the net and set her up for her second point and Wisconsin’s second goal of the night. 

Despite a power play for Duluth and a flurry of shots for each squad, the score stayed level at 2-2 for the rest of the period.

The second period saw no goals from either side, which seemed to frustrate each side as the game got progressively scrappier. An early power play for the Badgers was killed by Duluth, and was then followed by some back-and-forth play until about eight minutes remaining in the period.

A miscommunication by Wisconsin led to a 1-on-1 between sophomore forward Gabbie Hughes and Campbell, but it resulted in a stuffing that she apparently had leftover from Thanksgiving, and as the puck careemed away from the net it earned a raucous applause from the LaBahn crowd. 

Seconds later, Roque and senior defender Jalyn Elmes engaged in a small scuffle by the Bulldog bench, but were quickly separated by the referees. 

“It’s a game where you gotta take care of the puck and manage the puck as well as you can, and in the second period I thought there were times we didn’t do a very good job of that,” said Johnson. “Yet we didn’t give up much.”

Tensions boiled over as the buzzer sounded when a Duluth player slammed Roque to the ground. Watts bumped into the player on her way back to the locker room and was then pushed by a Duluth player on the bench. Each team quickly retreated off the ice, except for senior defender and captain Mekenzie Steffen, who waited for Campbell before she left the ice.

“I gave that girl a bump, I guess I wasn’t really expecting to get it back,” said Roque. “Was hoping I might get a penalty called when I went down. A lot of their players were just yelling and stuff, I kinda love that stuff so I just laughed… it fires me up and I think it helps me play my game.”

Both Badgers and Bulldogs came out swinging in the third frame, metaphorically and literally. Roque scored her second and Wisconsin’s third of the night six minutes into the final period to give the Badgers a 3-2 advantage.

When all seemed to be lost for Duluth, Anna Klein snuck a shot past Campbell stick-side high to tie the game with just 2:38 remaining. 

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But like Coach Johnson said after the game, “Some nights it’s a strange game.”

Roque found senior forward Alexis Mauermann on a fastbreak with little over a minute left. Mauermann settled the puck, skated forward, and rocketed the puck behind Rooney to give the Badgers a 4-3 lead with little over a minute left.

“We got to the red line and Abby dished the puck over, and I just shot it as hard and as fast as I could and it just went in,” Mauermann said. “The parts after that I don’t even remember.”

The play also resulted in Roque’s 100th career assist.

The Bulldogs were unable to score on the Badgers in that final minute of play, which culminated in Steffen and sophomore defender Maggie Flaherty throwing punches at each other as the buzzer sounded. Like before, they were quickly broken up by the referees.

“They like to play bodies, play physical and that’s the kind of game we like to play too,” said Roque. “It’s nice to play a team that can hold their own like that.”

The Badgers take on the Bulldogs for round two tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at LaBahn Arena. 

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