After the Badgers struggled to bury the puck on in the first game – the first time they’d been held scoreless all season – they returned to the ice for a televised game in front of a sold-out crowd and came out firing on all cylinders.
“There’s losing hockey games and there’s getting your butt kicked and that’s exactly what happened tonight,” said Minnesota coach Brad Frost. “There’s a lot for us to learn from. Up and down our lineup from our goaltender to our defense to our forwards didn’t have it tonight. It was one of those nights where it went extremely bad very quickly.”
Sarah Nurse tallied her second career hat-trick and tied a career high in points with four. She opened the scoring for Wisconsin just three minutes into the game. After Saturday’s game, Wisconsin captain Sydney McKibbon said she wanted the Badgers to “come out flying” in game two and her team responded.
It was the only hat trick a Wisconsin player had ever scored against Minnesota in program history.
The eight goals were the most given up by a Gopher team since before women’s hockey became an NCAA sanctioned sport, way back on Nov. 7, 1999 – 670 games ago.
Gopher goalie Serena D’Angelo, who took over net-minding duties in the third period, was just a year old at the time.
The last time the Minnesota gave up five goals was March 5, 2011 – the national championship game they lost to Clarkson.
The win was a confidence builder for the Badgers, not only as a statement, but as a response to Saturday’s loss.
“It was good growth from yesterday,” Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. “Yesterday, we didn’t play poorly, but if we’re going to beat the quality opponents that we run up against, we have to be able to push ourselves through that and figure out how to win.”
Nurse opened up the scoring just three minutes into the game with a beauty of a goal. She carried the puck in on Minnesota goalie Sidney Peters’ right side and put home a perfect shot to the far upper corner that bounced down and in.
Minnesota evened the score three minutes later when a bad change from Wisconsin gave Caitlin Reilly time to gather the puck and carry it up most of the sheet with nothing but time and space in front of her. The Wisconsin defense was too late to catch up and Reilly did not miss.
McKibbon put Wisconsin up 2-1 when she buried the rebound from a blocked shot by Nurse. Wisconsin had carried the puck in the zone only to turn it over. A bad Gopher pass was intercepted by Nurse, who carried it in. Minnesota’s Lee Stecklein had no problem blocking the shot, but the puck deflected right to McKibbon’s stick and she put it in with a one-timer.
Baylee Wellhausen extended the Badger lead to 3-1 with a breakaway goal that showcased her speed. She stripped the puck in the neutral zone and took off towards net. It was a no-doubter.
Nurse scored her second of the period when she intercepted a pass at center ice and took it in by herself. Both Stecklein and Peters will wish they had the play back as Nurse beat them both and drew a penalty.
Megan Wolfe scored a power play goal for Minnesota in the final minutes of the opening frame to make it 4-2. Just eight seconds into the man advantage, she ripped a shot from the point and put it top shelf past Desbiens who was shielded by about four players.
There was a ten-minute delay to the start of the second period when the ice crew lodged a drill bit into the cement below the goal post peg hole and couldn’t get it out. Eventually, a blow torch was used to melt some of the ice and play eventually resumed.
Between the drill bit and the score, Johnson could only laugh.
“I’ve been around hockey a long time, I’ve seen a lot of strange things. Strange things happen, funny things happen. It’s a good confidence builder for our team,” he said.
Nurse completed her hat trick just 1:54 into the second period on a play started by Maddie Rolfes behind the net. As Rolfes won possession, Nurse and Presley Norby broke out and Rolfes hit Norby in stride with a cross-ice pass. Norby nudged the puck to Nurse, who got Peters to commit before wrapping the puck around her to make it 5-2 and kill any chance the Gophers might have had to rally.
“You go in to the second period thinking if we can get the next one, it’s a different game, but they got the next one,” said Frost. “And a few more after that.”
Wellhausen scored her second of the game thanks to a nifty behind-the-back pass from Abby Roque to make it 6-2 and the rout was on.
Alexis Mauermann joined the scoring with a snipe midway through the third before Annie Pankowski continued to light the lamp with a pretty snipe off a give and go play from Emily Clark to close out the scoring and give Wisconsin the definitive win.
“We came out today and really showed how good of a team we are and I think that we have even another gear to kick it in,” said Nurse.