For the second straight Saturday, Wisconsin battled a conference rival to a 1-1 stalemate, when senior Sarah Nurse scored an unassisted goal with 6:25 left in regulation.
“Whenever we play Minnesota, it’s definitely an exciting game, and I think there’s a lot of pride on the line,” Nurse said. “It’s just like any other game, but you’re more excited.”
She also scored to keep Wisconsin (27-2-3, 22-2-3-3 WCHA) alive in the shootout after overtime. The Badgers gained the extra point when Jenny Ryan converted a round later, but because the teams’ playoff seeding had been determined at the point, only pride was riding on the outcome.
Nurse’s third-period tally ruined Sidney Peters’ 30-save shutout bid in what was likely her best game for Minnesota (23-5-4, 19-4-4-2 WCHA).
“She played really well today,” Nurse said. “She’s been pretty good taking down low, short side away, so I knew I wanted to go far side. I took the shot, and I think she was screened a little bit, but it ended up going in.”
Peters came up with some big saves, particularly in the second period, to keep the game scoreless.
“”I got to play against some old teammates,” she said. “Annie Pankowski was my roommate in high school and [Ryan] lived across the hall from me. For me it was just a blast getting to play hockey.”
The crowd of 3,498 was also the largest that Peters had played in front of at Minnesota.
“It was loud and crazy in there,” she said. “Once you’re on the ice, you try to tune all that noise out, but it’s still super fun to look up and see everyone going crazy with their pompoms that they had and all the cheers that they did.”
Sophomore Nicole Schammel had given the Gophers the lead in the waning seconds of the middle period when she took a pass from Kelly Pannek, and despite being tripped, got off a shot that eluded Ann-Renée Desbiens, who finished with 34 stops.
The fourth-ranked Gophers came into the game knowing they needed at least a point to finish ahead of No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA standings, and they accomplished that via the tie.
“I really feel like we’ve been playing well over the last few weeks,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “To be able to now do that against the No. 1 team in the country just kind of gives some validation to those feelings. We’re excited about getting back at it tomorrow.’
The teams close out the regular season on Sunday with the Badgers knowing that day two of series has been kind to them.
“When we play three, four lines the first night, and then we go into the second, the other team is tired,” Nurse said. “I think we’ve had a lot of success because of that.”