The Badgers’ (6-2-0) front line of Brette Pettet, Daryl Watts and Sophie Shirley led the way with a combined nine points as the Wisconsin women’s hockey team finished off a sweep of the Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-3-0) on Saturday with a 6-3 win at La Bahn Arena.
It was a game of runs between the two top teams in the nation, but the Badgers pulled away with three goals in the third period to secure their first sweep of a No. 1 team since 2002 when Wisconsin took both games from Minnesota-Duluth.
Pettet got the scoring going early when a Minnesota turnover in the neutral zone turned into a two-on-one break for the Badgers. Shirley skated down the left side of the goal and passed it across to a wide-open Pettet, who lifted it over the Gophers’ goaltender to give Wisconsin a 1-0 lead just four minutes into the opening period.
After both teams managed to kill off a power play, the newest Wisconsin Badger, Lacey Eden, finished off a tic-tac-toe passing display with Delaney Drake by tapping the puck into an open goal to give Wisconsin a 2-0 advantage. Eden joined the team on Wednesday after transferring from Providence following the Ivy League’s cancellation of their season.
Just as it looked like this game was starting to emulate Friday’s walloping, a cross-checking penalty by co-captain Grace Bowlby gave Minnesota a slimmer of hope.
That opening was just enough for the Golden Gophers, who scored on the ensuing power play to cut the Badger lead in half, going into the first intermission down 2-1.
That lead didn’t last much longer, either, as Minnesota’s Amy Potomak knotted up the game by putting a rebound shot passed Wisconsin netminder Kennedy Blair early in the second period.
Both teams would add one more score in the period. First, Wisconsin’s Pettet and Shirley would secure their second points of the game, assisting on Britta Curl’s power play goal just past the midway part of the period. Then, 41 seconds later, Minnesota would equalize once more on an unassisted wraparound goal by freshman defenseman Josey Dunne. That 3-3 score would hold for the rest of the period, leaving up to the final twenty minutes of play to decide the victor.
Coach Mark Johnson has preached all season about finishing games strong, and today was no different.
"I told the group going into the third period, it's a 20-minute game,” Coach Johnson said. “Who's going to dig down, who's going to make a play, who's going to want it a little bit more? We came out and were able to capitalize on a couple things and did what we needed to do to finish it off."
Watts and Pettet must’ve decided that they wanted it a little more because they wasted no time giving the Badgers a definitive lead.
The senior duo gave the Badgers a 5-3 lead that would hold until Watts put the icing on the cake with an empty-net goal with just 54 seconds left to bring the score to its final, 6-3.
For Wisconsin, the sweep sends a message that despite losing the No. 1 ranking to Minnesota after last weekend, they still are the best team in the nation. The eleven goals scored against the Golden Gophers in the two games is the most that the Badgers have ever scored in a series against Minnesota.
Up next for the University of Wisconsin-Madison women’s team is their first of two road series in the state of Minnesota. The Badgers face St. Cloud State on Jan. 22 at 3 p.m and on the 23rd at 2 p.m. Both games will be shown on FloHockey.