The No. 1 Wisconsin women’s hockey team (9-2-1) plays host to Bemidji State (2-10-2) this weekend at LaBahn Arena in their last home series of the regular season.
The top-ranked Badgers are coming off a tight weekend against Minnesota where both games required overtime to decide a victor.
In the first game in the series against the Gophers, Wisconsin used third-period goals from Caitlin Schneider and Britta Curl to claw back from a two-goal deficit in the final 20 minutes of play to send the game to overtime. There, Daryl Watts showed why she’s up for so many national awards this year and buried the game-winner to give the Badgers the win and the extra point.
The second game saw a script reversal between the teams. This time, Wisconsin got out to the two-goal lead in the second period. From there, it was Minnesota’s turn to mount a comeback — and so they did. Goals in the second and third periods meant this game was also headed to extra time. After neither team scored in the overtime period, a lone shootout goal for the Gophers sent them home with the extra point and a series split.
Bemidji State also played two overtime games in their previous series, but that was two weeks ago. Unlike the Badgers, however, the Beavers weren’t able to find a goal in either overtime periods, suffering two devastating overtime losses.
The first game of the series against Minnesota State saw both teams remain scoreless through regulation, meaning it was up to a three-on-three period to decide the winner. The five-minute overtime period wouldn’t last anywhere near that time, though, as Minnesota State’s Kelsey King scored just 45 seconds in to hand BSU their first overtime loss in the series.
The second game of the series saw more scoring with goals from Bemidji State’s Graysen Myers and Abby Ecker to send the 2-2 game into overtime once again. Again, though, the period wouldn’t last long. Minnesota State’s Jessica Kondas netted a goal under a minute into OT to take the extra point away from the Beavers.
Wisconsin does hold an advantage all-time — including an 11-game home winning streak — but the Beavers got the best of the Badgers the last time these two faced off.
Last season, Bemidji State was able to pull off the 3-2 upset victory over Wisconsin — who was ranked No. 1 then as well — to split the series.
If Bemidji State is going to pull off the upset again, they’re going to need senior goaltender Kerigan Dowhy to find a way to shut down the Badgers, who lead the WCHA with 3.75 goals per game.
They’ll also need senior forward Clair DeGeorge to re-enter the scoring column. The team leader in goals and points, DeGeorge has failed to register on the scoresheet in any of her past three games.
On the other hand, Wisconsin can win these games by continuing their phenomenal play as of late. The Badgers have not lost a game in regulation in over a month, and their play has garnered national acclaim. Last week, following the series against Minnesota, three Badgers earned WCHA honors. For the third time this season, Daryl Watts and Grace Bowlby were awarded WCHA Forward of the Week and Defenseman of the Week, respectively.
Freshman Lacy Eden joined them on the honoree list, being named Rookie of the Week for the second time in less than a month since deciding to enroll at UW-Madison.
Of course, the Badger between the pipes, Kennedy Blair, will also play a factor. The senior goaltender was recently named to the Women’s Hockey Commissioners Association Goalie of the Year Watchlist. Blair tops the WCHA in win percentage at .792 and finds herself second in both goals against (1.53) and save percentage (.944).
The puck drops at 2:07 p.m on both Friday and Saturday. Both games can be streamed through BTN+.