Junior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens put together a historic season in front of the net for the Wisconsin women’s hockey team.
Her performance was so impressive that head coach Mark Johnson attributed much of the team’s success this season to her efforts.
“[Desbiens] has been consistent,” Johnson said. “She’s gotten better over the course of the season … I think she made another step after our Christmas break … as I looked at [the numbers] Saturday night, they’re a little mind boggling because as a coach you don’t think about individual players, a goaltender doing that.”
This past weekend, Desbiens continued her dominance as Wisconsin swept Minnesota State in the first round of the 2016 WCHA playoffs and the Badgers advanced to the Final Face-Off. The goaltender shut out the Mavericks during both games, 4-0 Friday and 6-0 Saturday.
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“We’ve played 36 games and over half of them have been shutouts,” Johnson said. “That’s probably an unrealistic number if you’re sitting here in September looking at what you might want to do over the course of the season.”
Desbiens allowed just 26 goals over the course of the 34-game regular season and allowed on average less than a goal per game.
From Oct. 10 to Nov. 13 the Badgers rode her nine-game shutout streak to equally as many wins, while the team outscored its opponents 42-0 during the same span.
Minnesota-Duluth, who Wisconsin will face in the second round of the tournament, snapped that shutout streak on Nov. 14. The two programs will meet for the fifth time this season Saturday, with the chance to advance to the championship game on the line.
Johnson believes Duluth will be confident offensively after the team’s 5-1 stomping Friday and a 2-1 overtime victory Saturday over Bemidji State.
“From their standpoint they have to be confident coming out of this past weekend, and their top line is probably as good as any line in the league,” Johnson said. “Offensively they can create some problems. They can score some goals. It makes their power play effective, so our standpoint is preparing similar to what we did against Mankato.”
But with Desbiens in the net, Johnson is optimistic about the team’s chances.
“In our business, a goaltender can win you a game,” Johnson said.