With momentum on their side, the No. 3-ranked Wisconsin women's hockey team entered its weekend series against the unranked St. Cloud State Huskies looking to improve on their six-game win streak and a 5-1 WCHA record.
The Badgers did all of that in convincing fashion, sweeping the Sioux with 5-2 and 3-1 victories.
"We did a lot of good things this weekend," head coach Mark Johnson said. "We got the four points on short rest and our players responded well in this survival-of-the-fittest series."
Play got underway Friday night at the Kohl Center, when the Badgers defeated the Huskies 5-2 in a game dominated by Wisconsin. Leading the way for the Badgers was assistant captain and team scoring leader Sara Bauer, who accumulated four points.
The Badgers, who recorded a gaudy 38 shots on goal, broke through 5:50 into the first period with a power play goal after Bauer deflected a Bobbi Jo Slusar slap shot right between the goalie's legs.
A mere three minutes and 10 seconds later, a long rebound bounced off the back boards that landed right on the stick of Wisconsin forward Jinelle Zaugg and she buried it for her fifth goal of the season.
Finishing the first-period scoring for the Badgers was Slusar, who added a slap-shot goal late in the first that deflected off of a St. Cloud forward and into the net.
At 15:50 of the second period, St. Cloud forward Laura Fast scored a rebound goal just over the glove Meghan Horras.
After an undisciplined and scoreless second period for the Badgers, they entered the third period leading 3-1.
Wisconsin wasted no time in the final period as freshman forward Kayla Hagen scored on a pretty top-shelf, rebound goal passed past Lauri St. Jacques. The goal, which was reviewed but later upheld, was Hagen's first of the year.
After penalties on Zaugg, Burish and Kenyon, the Badgers found themselves in a five-on-three situation.
St. Cloud capitalized on it with a rebound goal by Hailey Clarkson.
With a 4-2 lead and 30 seconds remaining in the game, Zaugg sealed the deal for the Badgers with an empty-netter from the blue line.
Wisconsin goalie Meghan Horras was stellar in net, making 25 saves on 27 shots.
Play resumed Saturday afternoon with a different chapter of the same story. Another strong performance by Wisconsin led to a 3-1 victory and a weekend sweep over the Huskies. Similar to Friday night, Bauer began the scoring for the Badgers with a one-timer preceded by a perfect feed by Hagen.
Zaugg, who was very effective camping out in front of the Husky net, added her third goal of the weekend late in the first with a quick snap shot. Assisting on the goal were Slusar and Bauer.
In the second period, freshman forward Angie Kelsey scored on a bang-bang one-timer after sensational passes by linemates Tia Hanson and Erika Lawler.
With a 3-0 lead entering the third period, the Badgers played a defensive style of hockey refusing to allow any form of a comeback by the Huskies. By dropping back their defenders, they effectively neutralized St Cloud's offensive attack.
St. Cloud did add a meaningless goal late in the period, but the Badgers won by a final score of 3-1. Goaltender Christine Dufour got the start Saturday and made a plethora of big-time saves while stopping all but one of the Huskies' 22 shots on goal.
Overall, the Badgers played quality hockey on the weekend, out-shooting the Huskies 75 to 49 on the weekend.
Special teams also proved effective for the Badgers this weekend as Wisconsin successfully killed six out of eight penalties. The power play, which has been a work in progress all season long, converted on four out of 14 opportunities.
Some contributions that didn't make the box score go to the defensive play of the Meaghan Mikkelson and Kristen Witting line. They successfully kept the Huskies away from the puck all game long and maintained possession throughout nearly all of their shifts, refusing to allow any quality scoring chances.
Stealing the show on the offensive side was Johnson's go-to line of Bauer, Cole and Zaugg, who combined for five goals and five assists on the weekend.
"They've been doing well all season long. They're doing a good job of creating chances and scoring goals, which is obviously very important," Johnson said.
The Badgers will next see action this Wednesday when they take on Minnesota State-Mankato in a makeup game from late October.