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Whenever the Wisconsin women’s hockey team needs a big goal, Brooke Ammerman is the person they turn to score it.
The Wisconsin sophomore forward scored her second straight game-changing goal, this time a back-breaker against Minnesota with just 2.3 seconds left in the second period to break a 2-2 tie and power Wisconsin past No. 2 Minnesota 4-2 Friday afternoon at the Kohl Center.
“It’s always great to beat the Gophers, especially after we had a rough start to the season,” Ammerman said. “This is a big win early in the season and hopefully we can keep the momentum going for a long time now.”
Just as they did against Ohio State last Saturday, Wisconsin trailed 2-1 in the second period. Again, the Badgers rallied to take control of the game.
With just over five minutes left in the second, Wisconsin tied the score when junior forward Kelly Nash made a sweet move around the left side of the Gophers’ defense. Nash then fed senior forward Emily Kranz, who one-timed the puck. Kranz did not get all of the shot, but the change-up fooled Gophers’ freshman goaltender Loss-Noora Raty.
Then Ammerman worked her magic.
With just under two minutes left in the second, Ammerman snuck around Raty, but could not squeeze the puck past the Gophers’ defense. However, with just 2.6 seconds left, Ammerman quickly jumped on a faceoff win and this time beat Raty with a smooth deke to her forehand for the game-winning goal.
“I got pretty lucky with how they lined up their defenseman, which was pretty far back,” Ammerman said. “I went to the net, put the puck through the defenseman’s legs and slid it through (Raty’s) five-hole.”
Wisconsin added to the lead just 53 seconds into the third period when junior forward Mallory Deluce squeaked home a goal through a scramble in front. Play continued for over a minute after the goal was scored, but after a stoppage in play, the officials checked the monitors and awarded Wisconsin a 4-2 lead, which would stand as the final score.
Minnesota’s best period came in the first, when the Gophers took the play to Wisconsin, and were rewarded with a 2-1 lead after the opening stanza.
The Gophers opened the scoring just over five minutes into the game after a great individual effort by junior forward Emily West. West cut around the right side of the Badgers’ defense and put a shot on goal. The rebound caromed right out to sophomore Sarah Erickson, who buried the puck behind Badgers’ freshman goaltender Becca Ruegsegger.
“Wisconsin has great defense and great forwards up front, so we have to use the big ice against them and drive to the net,” West said. “I threw it on net and Sarah put it in.”
Just under two minutes later, Wisconsin tied the score on a great individual effort of their own. After the Badgers’ defense forced a turnover, senior forward Jasmine Giles raced up along the left-hand boards and snuck around the flat-footed Gophers’ defense. Giles then roofed a backhand shot behind Raty to the tie the score.
Minnesota regained the lead 2-1 late in the first when forward Laura May again penetrated the right side of the Badgers’ defense. May fired a wrist shot on net that banked off Olivia Jakiel, deflecting high above Ruegsegger.
In the win, No. 8 Wisconsin (4-3-0, 4-3-0-0 WCHA) got a stellar 26 save performance from Ruegsegger, who won easily the biggest game of her young college career.
“It was exciting playing against a team like that and to get hard shots and good plays,” Ruegsegger said. “I was ready for it all week long and biting at the bit to get started today.”
The Badgers also broke their early season trend of dropping the first game of each weekend series.
“Our focus coming in tonight was to set a new trend and come out strong the first game,” Wisconsin coach Tracy DeyKeyser said. “We have been making steady progress over the last month and it was exciting that we were able win that first game (over Minnesota).”
Meanwhile, formerly undefeated Minnesota (8-1-0, 6-1-0-0 WCHA) is left with an extra day to ponder what might have been. A good way to start would be to avoid taking bad penalties, as the Gophers were short-handed eight times in the game.
“We started well,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “But I don’t know what happened because Wisconsin kind of kicked us around a little tonight. We didn’t play our game and obviously we took too many penalties.”
The two rivals will take day off Saturday to enjoy Halloween weekend in Madison before finishing the series Sunday afternoon. Faceoff is set of 2:05 p.m.