Although the final score made the Wisconsin women’s hockey victory over Lindenwood seem like a lop-sided affair, the 4-1 winning margin for the Badgers wasn’t indicative of how close the game was. Despite a strong effort from the Lady Lions, Wisconsin notched two third period goals to edge Lindenwood in the second game of the series, as the Badgers swept their second consecutive series at home.
Following the game, Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson referred to strong goaltending from Lindenwood’s Nicole Hensley as the key factor for keeping the Badgers (6-2-0 overall, 4-2-0 WCHA) from pulling away until the game’s later stages.
“If a goaltender from either team is playing well, usually the game is going to be tight. We were up 2-0, obviously, and if you can get it to three, it’s a big difference … They jumped on an opportunity and made it 2-1 and then it becomes a much tighter hockey game,” Johnson said of Lindenwood’s goal by Caitlyn Post with 11 minutes, 17 seconds left in the second period.
Thanks to a strong first period from the Badgers, the lone goal by the Lions (0-9-1) only got them back in the game and nothing else. What proved to be the eventual game winner came all the way back in the first period when freshman defenseman Melissa Channell ripped a shot from right near the blue line past Hensley for the 2-0 lead.
Wisconsin might have gotten a little too content with the lead after dominating the Lions Friday night, according to freshman forward Sarah Nurse.
“I think we got a little comfortable and I think that didn’t really work in our favor. And we kind of lacked a little in intensity, but I think we picked it up in the third period,” Nurse, who picked up her third goal of the season and the game’s first goal, said.
The Badgers did exactly that as they notched two goals to open the score and then put it away late. With 7:31 left in the game and the Badgers on the powerplay, sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke wristed a shot on goal that found its way past Hensley for a 3-1 lead. Then, a little more than five minutes later at 2:27, sophomore forward Kaitlyn Harding scored to put the finishing touches on the win.
Meanwhile, freshman goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens took over in net for the Badgers after senior goaltender Alex Rigsby earned the win in between the pipes Friday night. Desbiens was more than enough, stopping 22 of 23 shots to earn her second career win in as many games.
“The goal she let in was on a double rebound. A girl sort of took a sand wedge and chipped it over her and it goes in. Over the course of the season, the puck bounces a lot … of funny ways. Some nights it bounces for you, some nights it doesn’t,” Johnson said.
In what was a closer series than it has been the last two years, Wisconsin still found a way to win again Saturday, sweeping the Lions and improving to 6-0-0 against them all-time.
“You just have to live with those things. As long as you keep competing and working hard and doing the little things, that sets up for you to be more successful than not,” Johnson said.