No. 2 Badgers blank Bulldogs, 2-0, to earn weekend sweep
MADISON -- Supported by a loud home crowd, the No. 2 Wisconsin women's hockey overcame some rough play and a flurry of penalties to shutout WCHA-rival Minnesota Duluth, 2-0, Sunday in the intense conclusion to the weekend's two-game series at LaBahn Arena.
Following a 3-1 win against the Bulldogs yesterday, the Badgers faced a very physical UMD squad in the final game of the series. Both teams saw a wealth of power play opportunities as a combined 12 penalties were called.
But only Wisconsin was able to find success on the power play, as sophomore Erika Sowchuk found the back of the net near the end of the first period. Freshman Sarah Nurse later extended UW's lead by lighting the lamp with five minutes left in the game to tally her ninth goal of the season.
"The game-winning goal came on a power play, so it's one of those scenarios where some power plays work really well, some power plays you score on, and some of them look rather ugly," UW head coach Mark Johnson said. "You might have eight or nine power plays and score 1-for-10 some night, but if it happens to be the game winner, your power play is pretty good."
Senior goaltender Alex Rigsby looked sharp in the Wisconsin net, making 17 saves to record her fourth shutout of the year and the 27th of her career. The win improves her season record to 11-2-2.
"I think it was a huge victory for us today," Rigsby said. "Getting the sweep against them is awesome for us. I don't think we've had a clean sweep in a few years, so it was really rewarding. I thought our team came out and battled this weekend, so it's a great thing to walk away with."
A physical first frame resulted in four penalties called on the Bulldogs and four power play chances for the Badgers. Sowchuk capitalized on UW's third 5-on-4 advantage late in the period, bouncing a shot off UMD goaltender Kayla Black's pads and then tipping in the rebound to record her second power play goal of the season.
The Cardinal and White began the second stanza with a 1-0 lead after outshooting UMD 19-5 in the first.
Neither team was able to score during the second, but the period was not without action. UMD went on a five-minute power play midway through the period, but some big stops by the UW defense and numerous impressive saves by Rigsby kept UMD from knotting the score.
Some shoving that broke out near the Badgers' crease with just seconds remaining of the UMD five-minute power play resulted in a Bulldog penalty and a two-minute power play for UW, but Wisconsin was unable to capitalize with a man advantage.
Nurse tallied UW's second goal late in the third period, as she broke away with the puck, juked a defenseman and sent it over Black's shoulder with five minutes left in the game, creating the 2-0 advantage the Badgers would close the game with. UW outshot UMD 38-17 overall.
"As I told the team, you play the game for a reason and you never know what's going to happen within the game," Johnsons said. "It was a game that we haven't seen in regards to the penalties and things that went on in the 60 minutes, but I thought in a lot of situations we responded well. So it's a good time to go into the break and regroup and reorganize and get ready for the home stretch."
After taking a break next weekend, the Badgers continue their season with a road series against WCHA-foe Ohio State on Feb. 7-8.
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