The Wisconsin women’s hockey team completed the weekend sweep of WCHA rival Bemidji State on Sunday with a 2-0 shutout at the Kohl Center.
Combining sound puck possession with stifling defense, the Badgers were able to control the pace of the game throughout, pouring in 43 shots on net.
But unlike the 7-1 beating they gave the Beavers on Friday, the Badgers needed a patient attack against a very formidable goalkeeper. Zuzana Tomcikova, net-minder for the Beavers, kept her team in the game with big save after big save, holding Wisconsin to just a one-goal lead until late.
At the 10:01 mark of the third period sophomore right-winger Breann Frykas beat Tomcikova on a two-versus-one that gave the Badgers the comfortable two-goal lead.
“You have to be patient playing hockey… that last goal was crucial in the third period to kind of settle it, ” junior left-winger Carolyne Prevost said.
Early in the game the puck spent most of its time in the Bemidji State defensive zone. The Badgers won the shot battle in the first period 13-4, but weren’t able to capitalize on the many scoring chances they had. Late in the period Prevost caught a pass through the crease on the far post and put it past the Beaver goaltender.
“She’s a big tall goalie, get the forwards crashing to the net and hopefully there are some rebounds because there are not usually pretty goals against this type of goalie,“ Prevost said.
Due to Tomcikova’s remarkable play, the Badgers found themselves in a pressure situation, one that a lot of the young players will have to grow accustomed to as the season progresses.
“It’s really important because the WCHA is such a strong league, it’s the strongest out of the whole NCAA, and it was a good practice for us to have that situation today,” Prevost said.
The other positive to take away from this game was Wisconsin’s penalty killing ability. The Beavers had three power play opportunities but were never able to get anything going.
The storyline for the first game of this two game weekend series ran much differently. The Badgers pounded the Beavers 7-1 at the Kohl Center on Friday behind a hat trick by Prevost and the strong goaltending of freshman Alex Rigsby.
The turning point in the game was when the Badgers came up with a short-handed goal in the middle of the second period to put them up 2-1. From that point on they would never look back.
“That was a big momentum change for the game because it was tied 1-1… I think a lot of people had less pressure off of their backs and then could just relax a little bit better,” Prevost said.
The Badgers definitely relaxed, pouring in four goals in the second period to take a commanding 4-1 lead into the third where they would continue their dominating play.
The start of the game was marred by several uncharacteristic penalties by the Badgers. It took the team most of the first period to get a handle on Bemidji State and find the rhythm of the game.
After the Beavers scored at the 11:21 mark of the first period on a power play, the Badgers seemed to find the pace and intensity they had been without for the first few minutes of the game. They took control of the second half of the first period possessing the puck and keeping it deep within the Bemidji State end.
The second and third periods were also completely controlled by the Badgers, as they outshot the Beavers 29-5 (36-11 overall). Once the Badgers took the lead on the short-handed goal, the game transformed into a track meet and Bemidji State could not keep up with the Badgers’ offense.
“The last 50 [minutes] were good. We knew what Bemidji was going to bring to the table. We seemed to finally respond when they scored a goal, from that point on it was pretty good,” head coach Mark Johnson said.
The Badgers capped off their impressive win with a hat trick by Prevost, who is the leading scorer for the team this year.
“None of the goals were a single effort. The third goal Meghan (Duggan) made a great pass, the second was an open net because Brooke Ammerman made a beautiful pass and I was lucky that I was wide open, and the first goal just happened to be a deflection off their defense,” she said.