After their thrilling win last night at LaBahn Arena against the No. 10 University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (4-5-2-1 WCHA, 8-7-2 overall), No. 1 Wisconsin (9-1-1-0 WHCA, 17-1-1 overall) came onto the ice tonight and stomped them 5-2.
Both teams came on hot from last night’s match-up, with the Badgers hoping to extend their lead over No. 2 Minnesota in the NCAA polls and the Bulldogs hungry to take down the No. 1 seed.
And in their last game of 2019, the Badgers showed LaBahn what they’ll be missing over the holiday break.
The Bulldogs’ hunger outmatched the Badgers’ when, with Wisconsin’s starting line on the ice, UMD center forward Gabbie Hughes slipped one past with 14 minutes left in the first frame. Hughes, assisted by junior defenseman Ashton Bell, lobbed one past Wisconsin redshirt senior goalkeeper Kristen Campbell in the bottom left corner of the net, much to the chagrin of the LaBahn audience. The Badgers launched nine solid shots at UMD senior goalkeeper Maddie Rooney, but to no avail in the first frame.
The Wisconsin pride showed through in between periods with both the Badger football game appearing on the big screen to show the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis and the Badger volleyball game playing to show the Badgers advancing to the Sweet 16 in their tournament after beating out the UCLA Bruins.
Head coach Mark Johnson pressured the Badgers in between the first and second periods to get puck in the net, and first linemates Roque and Watts assisted sophomore Sophie Shirley within 20 seconds of the second period’s puck drop. This marks Shirley’s 17th goal of the season and 37th of her career.
“I think it was right from the d zone straight to the offensive zone,” Shirley said. “Daryl made a really good out and then Abby made a good chip and I was able to just scoop by and get a good shot on net. It was working from one end all the way to the other.”
After senior defenseman Maddie Rowe “shelved top cookies” from outside and scored her second goal of the season, UMD came alive and slammed a beautiful puck past Campbell, with Hughes dumping a fast one to senior forward Sydney Brodt for the point.
While both teams fought tooth and nail for the next point in the period, the Badgers won out by converting on a treasured power play. Sophomore forward Britta Curl rebounded Steffen’s pass to bring the score up to 3-1, which it stayed until the end of the second frame.
The Cardinal and White started off leading the third period 3-2 and finished it leading 5-2. Although both teams had opportunities to score, neither converted on any of them. The Badgers were handed a power play, which they failed to capitalize on in an unusual two minutes on the ice. Then, UMD had two fast breaks back-to-back to no avail. Sophomore forward Anneke Linser broke away from the crowd, only to get stopped by a strong block tackle.
Later in the period, senior forward Ryleigh Houston simply missed the net during a one-on-one with Campbell on the Bulldog’s second quality attempt on net during the period.
Near the end of the period, UMD decided to make a bold move and take Rooney out of the net, which resulted in their biggest mistake of the game. Moments after Rooney left the net, Shirley and senior forward Alexis Mauermann consecutively scored empty netters, both earning earth-shaking cheers from the crowd. Mauermann proved to be the only skater on both benches to score in both games this weekend.
“We played the last minute and 20 seconds smart, and obviously got a couple of empty net goals to seal the deal,” Johnson said. “We made two mistakes in the period, and Soup came up with a nice save on the breakaway and the other girl missed the open net... We only gave up one shot in the period, so we did something good.”
The Badgers have only recorded four losses this year, with three last season and one this season.
“We’re 20 games in now,” Johnson said. “Our consistency has gotten better and better, and in the last six or eight games, we’ve done good from period to period, game to game. If you get consistent effort every night, chances are you’re going to be successful.”
The Badgers will return to play on January 4, 2020, against Robert Morris in Pittsburgh, Penn.. Wisconsin will play three other games before they will return to LaBahn on January 24 to face off against border rival Minnesota at 7 p.m.