Roque nabs hat trick as the Badgers fend off Minnesota comeback in OT win
The No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team (12-2-1-0 WCHA, 22-2-1 overall) started the second round of the Border Battle season series with an overtime win against the No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-3-2 WCHA, 20-3-3 overall) by a score of 5-4.
The high-stakes series between the Badgers and the Gophers is even more important for the top two teams in the country, as Minnesota would be able to control its own destiny in the WCHA regular season race with only two points this weekend.
Head coach Mark Johnson split up his three highest scorers (senior forward Abby Roque, sophomore forward Sophie Shirley and junior forward Daryl Watts) across two separate lines. The three had started every game on the first lineup to this point and were known as the most dangerous forward line in collegiate hockey. Instead, Johnson kept Watts and Shirley on the first line and switched Roque with junior forward Brette Pettet.
“[Roque] played with [sophomore forward] Britta [Curl] at the two games with Team USA and those two seem to be comfortable,” said Johnson. “You put in [senior forward Alexis] Mauermann and it’s this sort of breath of fresh air, it’s like something new for everybody … we did that up in the second and third period in Bemidji and I liked what I saw. We had a couple weeks to practice, I met with the players individually, and so you’re looking for matchups and how it’ll work well against this group. Minnesota, as I look at it, they have two strong lines, so how are you gonna be able to put two groups together to compete against that?”
Coach Johnson’s decision paid off early in the first period with a goal from Roque less than three minutes into the game. Sophomore forward Britta Curl stole the puck in the Minnesota zone and snuck a pass behind the net to her new linemate for a slick wrap-around.
Despite a good chance late in the period for the Gophers and a power play for the Badgers, neither team was able to score another goal, and the Badgers returned to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
Early in the second frame, junior forward Grace Zumwinkle was stymied by Wisconsin’s senior goaltender Kristen Campbell. Ten minutes in, however, Zumwinkle managed to sneak a puck past Campbell to tie the game up for the Gophers.
The second half of the period was nothing short of spectacular for the Badgers. It started with a coast-to-coast breakaway for junior forward Caitlin Schneider just a minute and a half later for her seventh goal of the season. It put the Badgers back up 2-1.
“Fortunately enough the puck popped out to my teammate Delaney and I was just skating up ice and calling for the puck,” said Schneider. “Then next thing I know I’ve got a clear shot at the net, so I was like, ‘Okay, here we go.’”
Seventeen minutes through the period, a chaotic sequence led to Roque with the puck right in front of senior goaltender Sydney Scobee. A quick turnaround and backhand gave Roque her second of the night and set the Badgers up 3-1.
“I saw their wing up on the defender so I knew I had a lane to the net. I figured I’d go for it, it got poked from me but two of their players were still in front of me,” said Roque. “I figured I’d drive the net, hopefully free up some space. Presley shot it, got to it and it hit me and I knew the goalie was down so I went to my backhand and it went in.”
With just 57 seconds left in the period, an indecisive play by Scobee allowed Roque to poke the puck right from Scobee’s stick into the net. Scobee contested that she had control of the puck, but the referees ruled she did not in a review as hats rained down from the LaBahn arena stands. Tonight marked her first hat trick of the year and the second ever by a Badger against Minnesota; it put Wisconsin up 4-1.
But after a fiery second, the Badgers went ice cold in the third period. The Gophers dominated on both sides of the ice, and it showed with a goal from redshirt senior forward Sarah Potomak seven minutes into the frame. The collapse continued as Zumwinkle deked through the entire Badger defense to score her second of the night, closing the deficit to 4-3.
“Momentum is a funny thing. They got it and we couldn’t get it back,” said Coach Johnson. “When they scored the third goal, that momentum keeps going and they get a little bit more excited and we get a little bit … I don’t want to say nervous but you start playing on your heels. And that’s not a good thing.”
With five minutes left, redshirt sophomore forward Amy Potomak completed the Gopher comeback and tied the game at four goals apiece late in the third. Neither team was able to end the game in regulation, so the bitter rivals had to play another five minutes.
Less than a minute into overtime, Watts placed a perfect pass from behind the net to a cutting Shirley, who put a one-timer from the crease home. LaBahn Arena exploded as the horns blared and the referees had no objections.
“You take a period where you’re up 4-1 and all of the sudden it’s 4-4 … it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” Coach Johnson said. “You end up getting the overtime winner, and you know, if you learn from it, then it’s good going through.”
The two rivals will be back in action Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at LaBahn Arena in a game that could decide the WCHA regular season title.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter