The No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers took on the No. 1 Minnesota Gophers this weekend in a captivating two-game home series.
On Saturday, the Badgers battled it out to earn a point in a tie game at 3-3, however, Minnesota ultimately won the shootout. On Sunday, the Badgers came out stronger winning the game by three goals, 4-1. Goaltender Cami Kronish garnered some warranted praise, as she made unbelievable saves and came through for her team after having to unexpectedly play on Sunday. Her hard work paid off, and she was announced goaltender of the week.
To start the series, the Badgers came out playing aggressively on Saturday. The aggressiveness earned them a penalty only two minutes into the period. Fortunately, they managed to kill off the penalty and keep the score at 0-0. Freshman Vivian Jungels put the Badgers on the board first. Jungels’ goal looked effortless as she received a centering pass from Jesse Compher and sailed the puck right past the Minnesota goalie.
Three minutes after assisting the first goal, Compher seemingly extended the Badger lead. However, the call was overturned, and the goal was taken away after a challenge by Minnesota. So, the score remained 1-0 Badgers. With about four minutes left in the period, the Gophers scored, tying the game and ending the period at 1-1.
The Badgers opened up the second period by scoring their second goal of the game. Laila Edwards skated easily though Minnesota’s defense, centered the puck and scored. The puck ricocheted off the top of the goal and went in. Five minutes later, the Gophers responded with another goal. With three minutes left in the period, the Gophers took their first lead at 3-2. The second period ended shortly after, with no more scoring.
To start the third, the Badgers faced a tall task if they hoped to avoid their third loss of the season. The teams played back and forth for the majority of the period. Then, with 10.5 seconds left in the game, captain Britta Curl scored a tying goal. This was a heads up play for Curl, as she received the puck after a scrummage in front of the net. The puck came loose and Curl sent it straight into the net, sending the game into overtime.
There was no scoring in overtime, so the game went into a shootout. On the third shot, the Gophers scored, earning the extra point in the WCHA standings. Even though the Badgers lost the shootout, the game was a close, competitive matchup between two of the nation’s best teams.
Senior captain Britta Curl had the right perspective when she said, “There’s a lot of good that came out of today. Obviously we want all of the points, but we just have to look at the bright side.”
Sunday, the Badgers came out looking even stronger. They started the game by winning the face-off, which foreshadowed the rest of the game. The majority of the first period was a tense battle between the teams, but once the scoring started for the Badgers, it did not stop. Nicole LaMantia started it off with just over five minutes left in the period. LaMantia skated the puck to the left side of the goalie and made an impressive shot through defenders to put the Badgers on the board. The Gophers went on a power play with three minutes left and tied up the game at 1-1 to end the first.
The second period was full of aggressive play as each team tallied two penalties, making it 3-on-3 for a stretch. The teams managed to stay tied throughout the power plays and penalty kills.
Then, with just under three minutes left in the period, Sarah Wozniewicz scored a maximum-effort goal to put the Badgers back in the lead. After receiving a pass from Casey O’Brien, Wozniewicz fell to the ground, shooting as the puck bounced off the goal post and in. The period ended with the Badgers in the lead 2-1.
With the third period underway, Kirsten Simms extended the Badgers’ lead to 3-1. This goal was somewhat controversial because the shot buzzer did not go off. Laila Edwards blasted a shot that bounced off the back wall. Off the ricochet, Simms poked the puck towards the goal. It hit the goalie’s skate and spun over the goal line before leaving the goal. Because the puck completely passed the goal line, the Badgers earned the point. Jesse Compher ended the scoring, making it 4-1 with an extremely difficult shot through two Minnesota defenders.
The Badgers’ play this weekend was the definition of determination. After tying the first game, Wisconsin learned from their mistakes and came back Sunday even stronger. The Badgers’ next game is away against Bemidji State on Dec. 2 at 3 pm.