Coming off a series sweep of rival Minnesota, The No. 1 ranked Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team (6-2-0) will play St. Cloud State (3-7-1) on the road this weekend.
Wisconsin looked as commanding as ever during the sweep of the then top-ranked Gophers, setting a new record for goals in a series against Minnesota with eleven over the two games. After tying their season-high in a 5-0 shoutout victory in the first game of the series, the Badgers topped that with a 6-3 scoring outburst to secure the sweep.
The Badgers front line of Daryl Watts, Brette Pettet, and Sophie Shirley led the way against Minnesota, netting six of the eleven goals and scoring a combined fifteen points during the two games. Watts and senior defenseman Grace Bowlby — who posted a +/- of +5 — were both honored with WCHA Players of the Week in their respective positions.
For St. Cloud State, this series caps a five-game homestand where they have a win, tie and loss so far. After falling to Minnesota 0-4, the Huskies went unbeaten in their last series against Bemidji State. St. Cloud State won the first matchup against the Beavers 3-1 before securing one point in a 2-2 tie.
Husky forward Emma Gentry has scored the most goals for the Huskies, including an impressive last weekend against Bemidji State. The freshman scored twice — once in each game — including the game-winner to put St. Cloud State up 2-1 before an empty-net goal finished out the scoring.
In the series’ history, Wisconsin has dominated SCSU. The Badgers hold a record of 82-10-2 and have won the last twenty-five meetings between the teams. Last season, Wisconsin swept both meetings between the teams, outscoring the Huskies 27-5 over the four games. The icing on the cake was an 11-1 thumping victory for the Badgers the last time these two faced off. St. Cloud State hasn’t beaten Wisconsin since a 2-1 win in 2015 at La Bahn and hasn’t beaten the Badgers in St. Cloud in over a decade.
A key matchup for this series will be the Wisconsin powerplay unit versus the SCSU penalty kill. Before the last series against Minnesota, the Badgers had converted just 5% (1-20) of their powerplays. In comparison, last season Wisconsin led the nation in powerplay percentage, converting 35.2% of their opportunities (37-105). The Badgers converted two of their six opportunities against the Gophers to more than doubled their season percentage, which now sits at 11.5%.
On the other side of the ice, the St. Cloud State penalty kill has been amongst the nation’s best. The Huskies rank second in the country on the penalty kill, killing twenty-nine of the thirty powerplays they’ve faced for a 96.7% penalty kill percentage.
Of course, the Badgers PK has also remained stout, killing off seventeen of the nineteen opportunities they’ve faced. Powerplay goals will come at a premium during this series, for sure.
We are sure to see some great performances between the respective pipes. All three possible goalies for this series are ranked in the top twenty in save percentage.
Freshman Sanni Ahola and senior Emma Polusny have split times in net for the Huskies, earning a .928 (18th) and a .924 (20th) save percentage, respectively.
Wisconsin has remained true to Kennedy Blair all season, who has played phenomenally for UW. The Badger netminder recorded 30 saves in the Badgers shutout over Minnesota and 23 in the following game and ranks 8th in the nation with a .952 save percentage.
Friday’s puck drop is at 3 p.m. and Saturday’s will be at 2 p.m. Both games can be streamed on FloHockey.com.